Letters

The Story connected to a great American legal writer

Nathan Dane, the subject of an interesting piece in the Fall 2014 Bulletin, was more than just a fine lawyer and visionary politician. He was the first great American legal writer: His eight-volume “A General Abridgment and Digest of American Law,” published in 1823, a few years before Kent’s “Commentaries on American Law,” surveyed the entire national field, and was such a best-seller that it provided the funds which enabled Dane to endow the Dane Professorship (Dane specifying that the first incumbent would be his great friend Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story).

 

We need someone of Lloyd Weinreb’s stature

 

I read with great interest Richard Fallon’s recent story about the retirement of my Criminal Law professor, Lloyd Weinreb, who even in 1967 was a superb teacher. After learning from it how he has grown in the last 47-plus years, it occurs to me that he might be just the person to help the United States out of its present standoff between many of our minority communities and their police forces.

Mr. Weinreb certainly appears to retain the energy to chair a Warren-type commission, which would recommend changes to a system of justice that might alleviate the impasse that has developed, and the
expertise to be respected by both the police unions and the residents of our ghettos. Clearly, now more than ever after the senseless killing of the two officers in Brooklyn, we need someone of his stature to address the problems that the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have brought to the fore.

 

A backlash against feminism

In regard to “Keeping Faith,” the article about the nonprofit law firm which represented Hobby Lobby (Fall 2014), it is becoming increasingly apparent to us that what masquerades as a religious objection to contraception and abortion is in actuality a backlash against feminism, because arguing that a miniscule embryo has the legal status of a human being is as ludicrous as the medieval debate concerning how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

By facilitating Hobby Lobby’s refusal to offer a plan that insures certain common methods of birth control, Lori Halstead Windham is propagating the narrow-mindedness of a white religious fundamentalist minority which continually attempts to impose its will on the plurality, with dire social consequences as the result.

Shame on Windham and her partners for perpetu­ating a cycle of poverty in which teenage girls are forced into having their babies, which more often than not condemns both mother and child to a grim existence during which they lack the opportunities that Windham enjoys.

 

Territorial taxation disguises largest theft in taxpayer history

Tax Inversion (HLB-Fall 2014)

Credit: Adam McCauley

I must take exception to the statement in “Tax Turnaround Time?” (Fall 2014) that “both sides agree on the need for a reduced tax rate and the move to a territorial system. … ” That is simply not true.

A territorial system would allow multinational corporations to avoid taxation on any profits they claimed they earned offshore and would put domestic companies against whom they compete at a great disadvantage. While it is true that our nominal corporate tax rate is high, the effective U.S. tax rate on multinational corporations is on a par with those of other developed countries.

No one disputes that our tax system is riddled with loopholes or subsidies which should be eliminated.

We need to adopt a system of apportioning the multinationals’ income, rather than exempting them from taxation of income they claim they earned offshore. For almost one hundred years, the states have adopted either a three-factor
apportionment of taxable income based on the amount of property, personnel and sales within their boundaries or simply on the amount of sales in their state, and the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that that is at least as accurate as using transfer pricing to determine where profits are earned.

Territorial taxation is merely a very clever way of disguising perhaps the largest theft from taxpayers in our history. Is it any wonder that such a sophisticated campaign is so well-funded and -led?

 

Tax journal has wide reach

As a contributing editor to Tax Notes, I was surprised to see it referred to as an “arcane tax journal” (“Tax Turnaround Time?”). Far from being “arcane” (or obscure), Tax Notes is generally regarded in the tax community as the leading publication of tax news and commentary. That’s the reason why Professor Shay chose to publish his views in Tax Notes (“Mr. Secretary, Take the Tax Juice Out of Corporate Expatriations,” 144 Tax Notes 473 [July 28, 2014]). He wanted to reach tax policy-makers and practitioners. His article was subsequently referenced by the mainstream media, including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Incidentally, the Bulletin missed the role played in this story by an HLS alum. A key figure in developing Treasury’s anti-inversion notice [last] summer was international tax counsel Danielle Rolfes ’02.