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  Tax - Legal News


When the U.S. Supreme Court decided this month that the presidency isn’t a shield against a New York prosecutor’s criminal investigation, the justices didn’t say whether the same goes for civil suits against the president in state courts.

That has quickly become a question in two closely watched defamation lawsuits filed by women who say President Donald Trump smeared them while denying their sexual assault allegations.

Lawyers for the women, E. Jean Carroll and Summer Zervos, are now trying to persuade New York courts that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling  strengthens their arguments for letting the suits go forward. Trump’s attorneys are contending just the opposite.

The dispute comes with one of the cases now before New York’s highest court, which is weighing whether a sitting president is constitutionally protected from being sued in state courts.

“The answer is no” under the U.S. Supreme Court’s reasoning, Zervos attorneys Beth Wilkinson and Moira Penza wrote in a letter Friday to the top-level state Court of Appeals.


Rejecting President Donald Trump’s complaints that he’s being harassed, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of a New York prosecutor’s demands for the billionaire president’s tax records. But in good political news for Trump, his taxes and other financial records almost certainly will be kept out of the public eye at least until after the November election.

In a separate case, the justices kept a hold on banking and other documents about Trump, family members and his businesses that  Congress has been seeking for more than a year. The court said that while Congress has significant power to demand the president’s personal information, it is not limitless.

The court turned away the broadest arguments by Trump’s lawyers and the Justice Department that the president is immune from investigation while he holds office or that a prosecutor must show a greater need than normal to obtain the tax records. But it is unclear when a lower court judge might order the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena to be enforced.

Trump is the only president in modern times who has refused to make his tax returns public, and before he was elected he promised to release them. He didn’t embrace Thursday’s outcome as a victory even though it is likely to prevent his opponents in Congress from obtaining potentially embarrassing personal and business records ahead of Election Day.

In fact, the increasing likelihood that a grand jury will eventually get to examine the documents drove the president into a public rage. He lashed out declaring that “It’s a pure witch hunt, it’s a hoax” and calling New York, where he has lived most of his life, “a hellhole.”

The documents have the potential to reveal details on everything from possible misdeeds to the true nature of the president’s vaunted wealth – not to mention uncomfortable disclosures about how he’s spent his money and how much he’s given to charity.

The rejection of Trump’s claims of presidential immunity marked the latest instance where his broad assertion of executive power has been rejected.

Trump’s two high court appointees, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined the majority in both cases along with Chief Justice John Roberts and the four liberal justices. Roberts wrote both opinions.

“Congressional subpoenas for information from the President, however, implicate special concerns regarding the separation of powers. The courts below did not take adequate account of those concerns,” Roberts wrote in the congressional case.


Washington’s Supreme Court has denied Seattle’s bid to reinstate an income tax on wealthy households.

In a majority decision, the Supreme Court on Thursday declined to review the city’s request to overturn rulings against the tax by a King County Superior Court judge and the state Court of Appeals, The Seattle Times reported.

Without issuing an opinion, Supreme Court dismissed Seattle’s petition for review and a petition written by the Economic Opportunity Institute, a Seattle-based progressive think tank.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman declined to report the tally and how each justice voted.

The ruling means Washington and its cities will remain barred from enacting graduated income taxes, with different rates based on wealth. But some advocates may still see a way to move forward, because the Supreme Court let stand a decision by the Court of Appeals last year to void a state law that banned taxes on net income.

“Seattle has the authority to adopt an income tax, and I believe we can craft a proposal that can help make our tax system less regressive,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement Friday.

“We are once again confronted with the reality that in times of crisis, those same residents that earn or have the least are the first to feel economic stings of job loss and instability,” Durkan added. “As we emerge from this emergency all of us need to rebuild a city that is more just and equitable.”

Washington is one of the few states without an income tax, and its system has been labeled by tax reformers as the most regressive, meaning poor residents pay a much higher percentage of their earnings than do rich residents.


President Donald Trump does not have to disclose his tax returns to appear as a candidate on California’s primary ballot next spring, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday.

The law, the first of its kind in the nation and aimed squarely at Trump, violates a specification of the state constitution calling for an “inclusive open presidential primary ballot,” the court said.

“Ultimately, it is the voters who must decide whether the refusal of a ‘recognized candidate throughout the nation or throughout California for the office of President of the United States’ to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box,” Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye wrote in the 7-0 decision.

Trump has broken with tradition among presidential candidates by refusing to disclose his financial information.

A U.S. judge had temporarily blocked the state law in response to a different lawsuit, and the high court ruled quickly because the deadline to file tax returns to get on the primary ballot is next week.

The state Republican Party and chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson challenged the bill signed into law this year by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom because it singled out Trump.


President Donald Trump’s tax returns can be turned over to New York prosecutors by his personal accountant, a federal appeals court ruled Monday, leaving the last word to the Supreme Court

The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upholds a lower court decision in the ongoing fight over Trump’s financial records. Trump has refused to release his tax returns since he was a presidential candidate, and is the only modern president who hasn’t made that financial information public.

In a written decision, three appeals judges said they only decided whether a state prosecutor can demand Trump’s personal financial records from a third party while the president is in office.

The appeals court said it did not consider whether the president is immune from indictment and prosecution while in office or whether the president himself may be ordered to produce documents in a state criminal proceeding.

According to the decision, a subpoena seeking Trump’s private tax returns and financial information relating to businesses he owns as a private citizen “do not implicate, in any way, the performance of his official duties.”

Several weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan tossed out Trump’s lawsuit seeking to block his accountant from letting a grand jury see his tax records from 2011.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. sought the records in a broader probe that includes payments made to buy the silence of two women, porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal, who claim they had affairs with the president before the 2016 presidential election. Trump has denied them.


President Donald Trump’s lawyers are saying they’ll immediately go to the Supreme Court if an appeals court in New York says his tax returns can be released to state prosecutors.

The lawyers notified the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan Tuesday that they’ll need time to appeal if the 2nd Circuit rules against them.

The appeals court is hearing the challenge to a judge’s ruling tossing out Trump’s challenge to a subpoena of his tax returns since 2011. The records were sought from Trump’s accounting firm for a criminal probe by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Oct. 23. A ruling would be likely soon afterward. A spokesman for Vance declined comment.

EU court: Dutch tax deal with Starbucks is legal

  Tax  -   POSTED: 2019/09/24 21:00

A European Union court overturned Tuesday a ruling by the European Commission that a tax deal between the Dutch government and Starbucks amounted to illegal state support for the coffee giant.

Dutch authorities had clawed back 25.7 million euros ($28 million) from the multinational following the 2015 ruling by the EU's executive.

The court's findings in appeals by the Dutch state and Starbucks against the 2015 ruling could have implications for EU efforts to crack down on favorable tax deals offered by some member states to multinational companies.

In its decision on the appeals, the General Court of the European Union said the commission "was unable to demonstrate the existence of an advantage in favor of Starbucks."

Starbucks and Dutch State Secretary for Finances Menno Snel welcomed the ruling. "This judgment means that the tax service did not treat Starbucks better or differently from other companies," Snel said in a written statement.

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