Monday, November 26, 2007

Tax Law Test for "Abode"

One of the cool things about knowing a lot of lawyers is that one realizes that "the law" is a silly concept. No such thing, no way.

There is "the statute," but often that tells you too little, or too much.

This is more true in taxes than in other areas, as far as I can tell.

But sometime I am still surprised. Here is Joe Craven, on the concept of "abode."

Where is one's abode, for tax purposes? Joe is able to say more than "I don't know." The answer is, "NO ONE knows." The statute doesn't say. You have to guess.

Given all the folks working in the Middle East, trying to serve their country, or even just trying to make a buck...well, WTF? WTFingF?

I reproduce Joe's last section in full:

A Potential Storm of Cases May be Brewing

As these US Citizens come home and prepare returns claiming the exclusion of their income earned abroad while living in Iraq and Afghanistan, there could emerge a firestorm of confrontation between those taxpayers and the US government. Unless the courts move toward a test that is more focused on defining “abode” as the place where, for the time being, a taxpayer exists to meet the conditions of the daily life encounter outside the US, our jurisprudence will continue to focus on location of houses and other assets, family, voting registration, licenses and the like. The fact that citizens are thoroughly investing their lives in another country for and with another people may be of little significance if the test for a taxpayer’s abode is not modified.

Fix this, for heaven's sake. The IRS can't fix. The courts MIGHT be able to fix it, but that is chewing gum and bailing wire. The STATUTE. Fix the STATUTE, Congress. The Dems say they can't do much to help the troops. Do THIS. No one is stopping you. Just give a clear definition.