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Oakland's Suit Against Wells Fargo Moves Forward

Wells Fargo will have to answer for property tax losses in Oakland, based on evidence that the bank caused hundreds of foreclosures in the city.

Judge Edward Chen said the city had enough evidence to prove a connection between the bank's loan practices, subsequent foreclosures, and lost property taxes. However, the judge dismissed the city's claim for municipal costs from abandoned homes in the area.

Scandal after scandal, it's another case that shows how far the bank has fallen since its storied days. It also shows how far plaintiffs will go to hitch a ride on the Wells Fargo wagon.

At this point, nearly everyone has at least heard of Bitcoin. The intangible cryptocurrency has been making headlines recently for reaching an all-time high, soaring to over $11,000 per Bitcoin.

However, a recent decision out of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California may have some crypto-investors concerned, as the IRS wants to get to know Bitcoin users in a way they're likely not going to like, and the court is giving the federal agency the go ahead. The Bitcoin exchange service, Coinbase, was just ordered to identify to the IRS the 14,000 plus users who have exchanged $20,000 or more worth of Bitcoin per year for 2014 and 2015.

Law Firm Loses $1 Million Tax Deduction for Standby Airplane

To the lawyer who wanted a standby deduction for his aircraft, the Ninth Circuit said, "Oh no, that's not gonna fly."

At least, that's the gist of what the Ninth Circuit said about the lawyers' ill-fated attempt to deduct more than $1 million in travel expenses.

Engstrom, a plaintiff's firm in Los Angeles, tried to write off "standby" expenses for a Gulfstream IV and a Beechcraft King Air 350 turboprop between 2008 and 2010. Partner Walter Lack and attorney Thomas Girardi, a partner in his own firm, set up an aviation company to split the cost of keeping the aircraft.

A U.S. Tax Court found that Engstrom owed $1.12 million for improper travel expense deductions on more than 100 flights. The Ninth Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, said the tax court was correct.

Irwin Schiff, Notable Anti-Tax Advocate, Turned Away by 9th Cir.

Irwin Schiff is famous in certain circles -- so much so, that he has his own Wikipedia page. Schiff has been in and out of prison for much of his life due to his leadership in the tax protester movement, with convictions and protests spanning multiple decades. He's also written a number of books on the subject, each advocating ways (legal and illegal) to avoid paying income taxes.

In 2005, Schiff and two associates were convicted of tax evasion and other false filing and conspiracy charges. Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit, in a brief, unpublished memorandum, declined to come to the rescue, despite Schiff's claims of ineffective assistance of his appellate counsel.

Blue Lake Rancheria is Common-Law Employer Under FUTA

Mainstay Business Solutions won its case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act this week, but the victory is too little, too late. The company was forced to close in April as a result of an ongoing dispute with the California Economic Development Department (EDD).

Blue Lake Rancheria, a 53-member, federally recognized Indian tribe located in Humboldt County established Mainstay Business Solutions, a staffing firm, in May 2003 as a for-profit business owned by, and operated for the benefit of, the Tribe.

Healthcare Litigation Makes Its Way to 9th Circuit Court

Rumor has it that the healthcare litigation is finally making its way to the Golden State.

Well, it’s not quite rumor if it’s in a press release .

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has joined the ranks of the 4th Circuit and the 6th Circuit in hearing the case against health insurance reform. According to a press release at Standard Newswire, the 9th Circuit at the federal courthouse in Pasadena will hear the constitutional challenge to the “individual mandate” on July 13, 2011. Written briefs on this matter have already been submitted.

Comm'r. of Int'l. Rev. v. JT USA, LP, No. 09-70219

Dismissal of Appeal From Interlocutory Tax Order

In Comm'r. of Int'l. Rev. v. JT USA, LP, No. 09-70219, the IRS's appeal from a tax court's interlocutory order in a partnership tax proceeding, the court dismissed the appeal where the court lacked appellate jurisdiction under either the practical finality doctrine or the collateral order doctrine.


Lowe v. Washoe Cty., No. 09-15759

Property Tax Challenge

In Lowe v. Washoe Cty., No. 09-15759, an action by the putative representatives of a class of approximately 9,000 Incline Village and Crystal Bay, Nevada property owners, alleging that the valuation of their Nevada real property used to calculate their ad valorem property taxes for the 2008-09 taxable year violated both the Nevada Constitution and the Due Process Clause, the court affirmed the dismissal of the complaint where the Tax Injunction Act barred the action because: 1) as to individual taxpayers, Nevada's administrative and judicial review process provided an effective and adequate means by which a dissatisfied taxpayer may contest his property valuation; 2) plaintiffs did not demonstrate that the state court remedy in this case was uncertain and therefore not "plain"; and 3) plaintiffs' claims of bias did not impeach the adequacy of the state court remedy.


Stahl v. US, No. 10-35006

Income Tax Refund Action

In Stahl v. US, No. 10-35006, an action for a refund of personal income taxes, the court reversed summary judgment for the U.S., holding that plaintiff was an employee of the corporation at issue, and, therefore, his medical and meal expenses were deductible at the corporate level when the company's taxable income was determined.


D.N. v. US, No. 10-35037

Tax Refund Action

In D.N. v. US, No. 10-35037, a tax refund action involving funds paid from deceased father's 401(k) retirement account to plaintiff-son because mother, the primary beneficiary, was ineligible under Oregon law to receive them because she was the "slayer" of plaintiff's father, the court affirmed summary judgment for the IRS where plaintiff was the distributee of the funds, not his mother, and thus plaintiff was properly liable for the tax.