Creativity in Tax Law

The opportunity for creativity in the area of tax law has always kept me interested in the practice of tax law and business law. With every new presidential administration, there are often many changes to the tax laws or to tax policy. These changes concern everyone because they affect individuals, businesses, and families. The changes that occur are often reflective of current values and goals for society because they are a direct result of the current tax policy which considers the overall quantity of taxes to collect and how to fairly allocate those taxes among U.S. taxpayers.

Currently, the U.S. continues to watch closely as we wait to see what will happen to the top corporate and individual tax rates, how small “pass through” businesses will be taxed and whether it will change, and the controversial border adjustment tax proposal.

These issues and questions cause us all to stop and think about what our own opinions are about tax policy. Do we agree with the tax proposals? What is the best way to allocate taxes among individuals and businesses? What is fair? What is good tax policy and good tax law?

I can think of no better time for a tax law and business law issue, since these subjects are at the forefront of many of our minds. Thankfully, we have some very talented tax and business law attorneys who are members of the Contra Costa County Bar Association.

J. Virginia Peiser at Archer Norris has written a very technical article on corporate spin-offs, but has masterfully applied this technical area to a real-world context that is very applicable to many tax and business lawyers. Jonathan Watts, Esq., has written an article about the benefits and some of the requirements of a close corporation, as well as discussed its application. This article provides great information for lawyers who work with small businesses.

Rita Holder of Rita A. Holder Law submitted an article regarding tax issues in divorce; J. Melissa Schmitt at Temmerman, Cilley & Kohlmann, LLP, wrote an article on avoiding real property tax reassessment in a settlement agreement context; and Leighton A. Burrey at Hartog Baer Hand authored an article on the federal priority statute in the context of an estate administration, reminding us that the tax laws touch on aspects of almost every other area of law.

Also, in this issue is an article on the recent case Hassell v. Bird, which is likely of particular interest to law firm owners who have ever had to deal with a bad Yelp review. This article was co-authored by Natasha S. Chee at the Law Offices of Natasha S. Chee and Jeffrey Thayer at Hawkins Parnell Thackston and Young LLP, and has the added bonus of providing self-study MCLE credit.

Matthew D. Miller, Director and Supervising Attorney at the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic of the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco was gracious enough to provide us an article about pro bono opportunities for tax law assistance to low-income taxpayers.

And finally, I had the honor of interviewing Judge David Laro, senior judge for the United States Tax Court. This is the first time a United States Tax Court Judge has been interviewed for the Contra Costa Lawyer, and I hope that you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed writing it and interviewing Judge Laro.

It has been enjoyable coordinating efforts with so many brilliant tax and business lawyers in the county, and I hope the members and readers of the Contra Costa Lawyer enjoy this issue.