October 15, 2005

Tax Shelters: Miers to the Supreme Court While KPMG, etc. are Indicted?

A rather amazing paradox: Harriet Mier's Dallas law firm: Locke, Liddell & Sapp provided legal opinions for Ernst & Young's tax shelters. The firm, unlike KPMG and it's former partners, has not been indicted.

Allen Kenney has more (PDF):

"Ms. Miers was obviously not directly involved in the CDS opinions. Most otherwise sophisticated non-tax lawyers inside law firms wouldn't be able to decipher what is or isn't accurate in a lengthy tax opinion," said Chuck Rettig, a tax litigator in the Beverly Hills, Calif., firm of Hochman, Salkin, Rettig, Toscher & Perez. "If [E&Y] approved something like CDS, it was historically unlikely to be significantly questioned by other professionals."

However, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee might be forced to consider whether Locke's involvement with the opinion letters affects Miers's fitness to serve on the country's highest court. President Bush has emphasized her experience managing a major law firm in defending her nomination.

"She had the opportunity to have her ethical antennas tweaked here," said Paul Caron, a tax law professor at the University of Cincinnati and the operator of the popular "TaxProf Blog" Web site. "Those ethical antennas were, perhaps, not as sensitive that they should have been."

One item on the Judiciary Committee's questionnaire for Miers asks her to disclose if her firm has been subject to any investigations: "State whether, to your knowledge, you or any organization of which you were or are an officer, director, or active participant has ever been under federal, state, or local investigation for a possible violation of any civil or criminal statute or administrative agency regulation." Another item asks Miers to provide the committee with any "unfavorable information that may affect your nomination."

Posted by James Zellmer at October 15, 2005 4:52 PM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Taxes