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The Noto decision and double state income taxation of dual residents

By Edward Zelinsky
Lucio Noto worked for Mobil and ExxonMobil in Virginia and Texas before retiring in 2001. In his retirement, Mr. Noto and his wife Joan maintain homes in Greenwich, Connecticut and in East Hampton, New York. For state income tax purposes, the Notos are residents of both Connecticut where they are domiciled and New York where they spend at least 183 days annually at their second home.

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Pension fund divestment is no answer to Russia’s homophobic policies

By Edward Zelinsky
A group of California state senators, including senate president pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, has called for California’s public employee pension plans to protest Russia’s homophobic laws and policies by ceasing to make Russian investments. While the senators are right to denounce Russia’s assault on human rights, they are wrong to call for the divestment of the Golden State’s public pension funds.

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Add a fourth year to law school

By Edward Zelinsky
President Obama has joined with other critics of contemporary legal education in calling for the reduction of law school to a two year program. The President and these other critics are wrong. Indeed, the remedy they propose for the ills of legal education has it exactly backward.

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The Gaied Decision: a rare victory for tax sanity in New York

By Edward Zelinsky
In a unanimous decision, New York’s Court of Appeals, the Empire State’s highest court, recently held that John Gaied was not a New York resident for income tax purposes because he had no New York home. Mr. Gaied was domiciled in New Jersey and had a business on Staten Island to which he commuted daily.

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The First Amendment and parsonage allowances

By Edward Zelinsky
Confronting an important constitutional question about religion and taxation, the US District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, in Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Lew, held that Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code violates the First Amendment.

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The Sister Wives make the case for abolishing civil marriage

By Edward Zelinsky
Judge Clark Waddoups of the US District Court for the District of Utah has declared unconstitutional parts of Utah’s statute outlawing polygamy. Utah’s statute was challenged in Judge Waddoups’ courtroom by the Brown family of the television show Sister Wives. Days later, Judge Robert J. Shelby, also of the US District Court for the District of Utah, declared unconstitutional Utah’s Amendment 3 which restricts Utah’s definition of marriage to a man and a woman.

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The Oracle of Omaha warns about public pension underfunding

By Edward Zelinsky
As the American public debated the legislation ultimately enacted into law as the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, no person was more influential than the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett. Much attention was given to billionaire Buffett’s complaint that his federal income tax bracket was lower than his secretary’s tax rate. President Obama invoked “the Buffett Rule” to bolster the President’s successful effort for the Act to raise income tax brackets for high income taxpayers.

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The federalist argument for the Multi-State Worker Act

By Edward Zelinsky
The Multi-State Worker Act (the current version of the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act) would, if enacted into law, prevent states from taxing non-resident telecommuters (like me) on the days such telecommuters work at their out-of-state homes. Can someone who values the states and their autonomy (also like me) favor the Act?

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For stronger gun control laws; against the divestiture of gun stocks

By Edward Zelinsky
Even before the events in Newtown, I supported the strengthening of gun control laws. Advocates of gun rights correctly assert the need for better enforcement of existing laws as well as the urgency of confronting the violent nature of our culture. But General McChrystal is also correct. There is no compelling reason for civilians to own or possess high capacity weaponry designed for military missions.

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And the winner is… George W. Bush

By Edward Zelinsky
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 is widely understood as a victory for President Obama. However, the long-term story is more complicated than this. The Act in large measure confirms in bi-partisan fashion the tax-cutting priorities of George W. Bush.

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Limit the estate tax charitable deduction

By Edward Zelinsky
One widely-discussed possibility for reforming the federal income tax is limiting the deduction for charitable contributions. Whether or not Congress amends the Code to restrict the income tax deduction for charitable contributions, Congress should limit the charitable contribution deduction under the federal estate and gift taxes. Such a limit would balance the need for federal revenues with the desirability of encouraging charitable giving.

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Contraception, HSAs and the unnecessary controversy about religious conscience

By Edward Zelinsky
Among the bitter but unnecessary controversies of this election year was the dispute about the federal government’s mandate that employers provide contraception as part of their health care coverage for their employees. Employers religiously opposed to contraception believe this mandate infringes their right of Free Exercise of religion under the First Amendment. Advocates of the contraception mandate characterize it as vital to women’s health and choice.

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Adopt the Marketplace Fairness Act

By Edward A. Zelinsky
The Marketplace Fairness Act, now being debated in the US Senate, is a rare phenomenon: a bill with strong bi-partisan support and an accurate title. The Act would indeed establish fairness in the marketplace by imposing on out-of-state internet and mail order sellers the same sales tax withholding requirements now imposed only on in-state brick-and-mortar businesses.

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The continuing irrationality of New York’s “Convenience of the Employer” rule

By Edward Zelinsky
On Friday, 17 May 2013, two Metro-North commuter trains collided near Bridgeport, Connecticut. Through the following Tuesday, the Metro-North accident disrupted normal commuter train service between parts of Connecticut and New York City. To cope, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy asked residents of the Nutmeg State to work from their homes until rail service could be restored.

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The HSA/HRA response to Hobby Lobby

By Edward Zelinsky
Few recent decisions of the US Supreme Court have engendered as much controversy as Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. In that case, the Court decided that a closely-held corporation’s employer-sponsored medical plan need not provide contraception if the shareholders of such corporation object to contraception on religious grounds.

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