Gilles Vidal has posted some great panoramic news scenes.
Yesterday’s hearing in the complex KPMG tax shelter case brought about some interesting discussions:
A federal judge accused prosecutors Thursday of overreaching in their attempt to show that former KPMG executives sold questionable tax shelters to wealthy clients.
Lawyers involved in the case expect U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to reject defendants’ calls to dismiss the case.
The New York judge, however, faulted what he called the government’s “shameful” activity that led the accounting firm not to pay defendants’ legal bills, contrary to past practice. He also suggested that prosecutors drop some lesser counts.
- Lynnley Browning:
A federal judge raised questions yesterday about the prosecution of 16 former KPMG employees over aggressive tax shelters, criticizing prosecutors for what he called murky definitions of fraud and evasion.
The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said he was confused by what prosecutors said was a conspiracy by the defendants to make and sell aggressive shelters that allowed hundreds of wealthy investors to evade $2.5 billion in taxes from 1996 to 2002.
“Frankly, I’m very bothered by it,” the judge said, saying the document “puts the government’s thumb on the scales” and raises questions about the Sixth Amendment constitutional right to legal representation.
No court has ruled the shelters illegal, but the I.R.S. has never considered them valid for deductions.
Nonetheless, Steven Bauer, a lawyer who represents John Larson, a former KPMG partner who is one of the 18 defendants, said prosecutors had withheld important information detailing, among other things, debate inside the I.R.S. over whether the shelters were legitimate.
Judge Kaplan ordered the prosecution to turn over any withheld information.
Citizens for Tax Justice:
has released Who Pays The Individual AMT: State-by-State Estimates for 2006. Wisconsin ranks #6 – ouch!
Maynard Handley writes:
The issue of importance is not the cost of broadband; that is higher than it should be in the US, but it will fall.
Neither is the issue of importance the speed. Higher speed is nice, but what’s available in the US is adequate for now.
What is important is the extent to which home users on the internet are empowered:
Do their terms of service allow them to run their own web pages off their home machines? Can they run personal blogs and wikis for their friends to visit? Can they log into their home machines from somewhere else? And so on.
The common place TOS in the US prevent such activities; the powers that be in the US are interested in making the US an alternative form of television, and very much a one-way medium. Not only is this profoundly immoral, it is profoundly undemocratic, and profoundly stupid (since it is yet one more attempt to freeze an existing business model rather than looking at the big picture of how to take advantage of new, as yet undreamed of possibilities); but of course, this sort of trifecta is about what one expects from US business these days.
The point of my writing is to express my disappointment that these issues were not raised; either in the context of the US or in the context of France. I would like to hope that French companies are being better citizens about this than their US counterparts, but I have no reason to believe so. I would, however, hope that a newspaper article would include at least some nod to issues more important than saving a few bucks on one’s cable bill.
Handley is correct. www.schoolinfosystem.org is a very small attempt to address some of these issues.