Feb 24
7:34 PM

Equality, IRS-style

California Registered Domestic Partners (RDPs) and married same-sex couples probably have become used to the oddities of their status when filing their income taxes.  For State income tax, they have had the choice of Married/RDP Filing Separately or Married/RDP Filing Jointly (Franchise Tax Board Publication 737).  Since the Federal government does not recognize these unions, they can use only the single filing status, or if they qualify, the head of household filing status (IRS Publication 555).  This means extra cost, like having to pay a tax return preparer for the added time of computing tax owed under two different filing statuses for each partner, or having to purchase two Turbo Tax programs.  For the current tax season, the IRS has tweaked its rules in the publication cited above, which was revised in December and posted last week.  For 2010, these couples still must file as single people, but each partner is now required to report half of their partner's income (as defined by the Community Property rules in the same publication) on their single filing status return.  Just to help to keep things straight, and to prevent IRS auditors from stressing to figure out where this "extra" income came from on a single filing status return, the helpful publication suggests, "[Y]ou may want to write the social security number of your partner or same-sex spouse in the 'Notes' section of the worksheet to avoid delays in the processing of your return." Oh well. Finally making it to the "Notes" section of a worksheet might be viewed as some kind of progress for life partners.  Altruism, or did the IRS figure out they could be pulling in more cash?  [BB]

Feb 23
3:49 PM

University of San Diego competes this weekend in Jessup Pacific Super Regionals

This weekend the University of San Diego will battle 21 other schools in the Pacific Super Regionals for the 2011 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.  This year's competion addressed the legality of the use of unmanned drones and international anti-corruption law. 

For updates on the competition you can follow The Jessup and White & Case Jessup on Twitter. For more information on the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in general click here. [MF]

Feb 18
5:05 PM

Outrageous or Creative? Tax Plans to Balance Budgets

You're all well aware of the situation: looming and seemingly uncontrollable budget deficits threaten all levels of government.  Here's a story from msnbc.com that lists what the authors say are several "outrageous new taxes."  One of them is the "crash tax" proposal from the New York City Fire Dept. which calls for up to a $500 charge for anyone in an accident or car fire requiring emergency response vehicles.  Here's the actual NYFD proposal–the authors don't have the details exactly right.  And if a method of taxation has been adopted in some 28 states and 68 cities in California, isn't it more of a growing trend than an outrageous develpment?  Some may find the taxes to be creative solutions.  What do you think?  And remember, as with any "news account" you read on the Internet, it might be wise to do a bit of further research before jumping to a conclusion. [BB]

Feb 16
12:48 PM

USD Event: Drug Violence in Mexico: Recent Findings from a New TBI Report

When: 3:00p – 4:00p, Thursday, February 17, 2011

Where: Institute for Peace & Justice, Room A

What: The Trans-Border Institute of the University of San Diego will present findings from a new report on "Drug Violence in Mexico" that examines recent developments in Mexico's drug war and their implications for the coming year.  The report will be presented by David Shirk, the director of the Trans-Border Institute, and a panel of security experts. Click here for more information from the TBI website. [MF]

Feb 9
11:09 AM
Feb 7
9:59 AM
Feb 3
8:06 PM

Good News for Short Sale Sellers

A California law which went into effect January 1 prohibits a seller's first trust deed lender from obtaining a deficiency judgment against the seller after a short sale, per Cal. Civ. Proc. Code Sec. 580e.  Of course, the holder of the first deed of trust or first mortgage must give written consent.  And it applies to a dwelling of not more than four units.  But that certainly covers the average California homeowner and more.  (Read the full text of Stats. 2010, c.701, including the Legislative Counsel's Digest here.)  And the even better news is that  California tax law conforms to Federal mortgage forgiveness debt relief, which means no income tax will be due on the forgiven debt for short sales concluded during taxable years 2009 through 2012.  See the California Franchise Tax Board's explanation here.  See IRS Publication 4681for the feds' explanation.  [BB]

Feb 2
11:57 AM
Feb 1
3:55 PM

The Wayback Machine

Have you ever gone to website cited by an author only to find that the webpage cited no longer exists? It may be possible to find that old page!

The Wayback Machine has been around since 2001 and provides an archive of billions of webpages back to 1996. Just type in a URL and you can see the page as it existed on a variety of dates.

If you don't know the exact URL, you can browse through a list of pages that existed on a particular organization's website on a range of dates. Just type in the URL of organization's homepage and add an asterisk at the end e.g., http://www.sandiego.edu*.

The "classic" Wayback Machine has always been an amazing resource, but users complained that it was slow and difficult to use. A new and improved Wayback Machine has just been released in beta. Faster loading and easier navigation are among the chief improvements. The "classic" Wayback Machine is still available and allows for some advanced searching not yet available on the new beta version.

Hat tip to ZiefBrief. [JML]