US Treasury and IRS Recognize Same-Sex Marriages for Federal Tax Purposes

Posted on Categories Constitutional Law, Public, Tax Law1 Comment on US Treasury and IRS Recognize Same-Sex Marriages for Federal Tax Purposes

accounting-calculatorYesterday the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that legally married same-sex couples will be recognized and treated as married for all federal tax purposes. As long as the couple is legally married it does not matter if they live in a jurisdiction that does not recognize same-sex marriages. The announcement comes just months after the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor, which held that a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated principles of equal protection under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. The ruling gives married same-sex couples the freedom to move throughout the United States without having to worry about federal tax implications. However, the ruling does not apply to couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions.

Yesterday’s “ruling applies to all federal tax provisions where marriage is a factor, including filing status, claiming personal and dependency exemptions, taking the standard deduction, employee benefits, contributing to an IRA, and claiming the earned income tax credit or child tax credit.” IR-2013-72. The ruling is to be applied retroactively so married same-sex couples have the opportunity to file or amend federal tax returns for the 2010, 2011, and 2012 tax years. Before amending returns, couples will want to determine if their combined income will subject them to the “marriage penalty” which could place them in a higher tax rate bracket.

Manipulation by the Media: Lessons to be Learned from Zimmerman v. NBC

Posted on Categories Civil Procedure, Criminal Law & Process, Media & Journalism, Public, Race & Law2 Comments on Manipulation by the Media: Lessons to be Learned from Zimmerman v. NBC

George ZimmermanNow more than ever, journalism appears to be no longer about reporting facts or the search for truth, but instead about manipulating facts to maximize ratings. A case in point is the complaint George Zimmerman filed last December against NBC. The complaint alleges NBC’s use of edited 911 audio, as part of its coverage of Trayvon Martin’s death, was defamatory and an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The transcript of the 911 call, released by the City of Sanford, begins as follows:

Dispatcher: Sanford Police Department. . . .

Zimmerman: Hey we’ve had some break-ins in my neighborhood, and there’s a real suspicious guy, uh, [near] Retreat View Circle, um, the best address I can give you is 111 Retreat View Circle. This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy is he white, black, or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

Dispatcher: Did you see what he was wearing?

Zimmerman: Yeah. A dark hoodie, like a grey hoodie, and either jeans or sweatpants and white tennis shoes. He’s [unintelligible], he was just staring . . .

Dispatcher: OK, he’s just walking around the area . . .

Zimmerman: . . . looking at all the houses.

Dispatcher: OK . . .

Zimmerman: Now he’s just staring at me.

Dispatcher: OK – you said it’s 1111 Retreat View? Or 111?

Zimmerman: That’s the clubhouse . . .

Dispatcher: That’s the clubhouse, do you know what the – he’s near the clubhouse right now?

Zimmerman: Yeah, now he’s coming towards me.

Dispatcher: OK.

Zimmerman: He’s got his hand in his waistband. And he’s a black male.

Zimmerman’s complaint alleges “NBC saw the death of Trayvon Martin not as a tragedy but as an opportunity to increase ratings, and so set about to create the myth that George Zimmerman was a racist and predatory villain,” reported a “reprehensible series of imaginary and exaggerated racist claims,” and created a “false and defamatory misimpression using the oldest form of yellow journalism: manipulating Zimmerman’s own words, splicing together disparate parts of the [911] recording to create the illusion of statements that Zimmerman never actually made.” Continue reading “Manipulation by the Media: Lessons to be Learned from Zimmerman v. NBC”

Stand Out in Today’s Competitive Job Market

Posted on Categories Legal Practice, PublicLeave a comment» on Stand Out in Today’s Competitive Job Market

I know it’s the time of the year when the only thing law students are talking about is where they will be (or want to be) working next year; so, I thought I would write about how to land the legal job you want despite today’s competitive job market.

GRADES/GPA

First and foremost, grades are not everything. This goes for everyone, no matter if you are currently in the top 10 or in the bottom half of your class. If you are ranked high in your class, my advice to you is do not act entitled or above others. Your classmates will be your future co-workers and colleagues. Also, interviewers will be less impressed with the accomplishments you’ve worked so hard for if they see or sense arrogance. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are in the bottom of your class, be happy for those who have found early success in their legal career because again, they will be your future co-workers and colleagues. Further, do not be discouraged from applying for any job you are interested in, even if there is a stated prerequisite such as being in the top 20%. Any good employer will consider much more than your law school GPA, especially if you have only completed your first year.

RESUME

Law firms will look at where you completed your undergraduate work and how well you did, if you have any work experience (legal or non-legal, including unpaid internships), if you volunteer (firms can tell the difference between “real” and “resume builder” volunteer work), if you are on any committees and if you have leadership experience. This list is not comprehensive, but I have seen all of these factors used on a consistent basis. Therefore, if your grades are not the best but you have some of these other tangible factors, make sure to adequately illustrate them in both your resume and cover letter. Remember that you are your biggest advocate, so if you don’t share your experiences a potential employer will not be able to consider them as part of your candidacy.

Continue reading “Stand Out in Today’s Competitive Job Market”