Author Archives: Andy Grewal

The Whitaker Appointment Controversy and Some Potential Collateral Damage

by Andy Grewal — Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018

Shortly after the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump accepted Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ resignation. Under a default statutory rule, when the office of Attorney General becomes vacant, the Department of Justice’s Deputy Attorney General may “exercise all the duties of that office.” See 28 U.S.C. § 508. If this provision had applied, Deputy Attorney […]

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The Battle for Trump’s Taxes and the President’s Potential Revenge

by Andy Grewal — Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018

The 2018 midterm elections are around the corner, and Democrats are favored to retake the House. Democratic leaders have indicated that, should they regain control, they will perform robust investigations into President Trump and his administration. Trump’s tax returns have drawn particularly strong interest, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has already promised that obtaining […]

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When IRS Guidance Backfires

by Andy Grewal — Friday, Sept. 7, 2018

This week, the IRS tried to clarify how proposed regulations on state tax credit programs apply to Section 162(a) business deductions. But its attempted clarification has created only more problems. Under the proposed regulations, a taxpayer who makes a transfer to a Section 170(c) organization must reduce her charitable contribution deduction by the amount of any state […]

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The New SALT Regulations Need a Few More Sprinkles

by Andy Grewal — Friday, Aug. 24, 2018

After Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, several states adopted a charitable contribution strategy to help their residents avoid the new Section 164 deduction limits for state and local tax payments. Under the strategy, taxpayers would make donations to state-controlled funds and receive state tax credits for those donations. Taxpayers would then use […]

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Can Montana Force the IRS to Break the Law?

by Andy Grewal — Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The IRS recently changed the rules on how some tax-exempt organizations must report information related to their “substantial contributors” (that is, those who donate $5,000 or more in a year). This change has sparked a political controversy, fueled by concerns over “dark money” in politics and the Citizens United decision. One state (Montana) has already […]

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District Court Adopts Purpose-Based Approach in Emoluments Lawsuit

by Andy Grewal — Thursday, July 26, 2018

This week, a federal district court ruled that a lawsuit brought by D.C. and Maryland under the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses, against President Trump, could proceed. See D.C. v. Trump, 2018 WL 3559027 (D. Md. 2018). The decision is notable because it offers the first extended judicial interpretation of “emolument,” as that term appears […]

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The Charitable Contribution Strategy: An Ineffective SALT Substitute

by Andy Grewal — Monday, July 23, 2018

In May, the IRS announced that it would issue regulations addressing state efforts to avoid some new deduction limits enacted under the 2017 tax bill. My prior blog post on the states’ strategy is here. I have also posted my full length article, The Charitable Contribution Strategy: An Ineffective SALT Substitute, on SSRN. Here’s the abstract: The Tax […]

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The DOJ Quietly Made Campaign Finance Violations Easier to Prosecute

by Andy Grewal — Thursday, May 3, 2018

My prior post examined the often-overlooked and extremely strict requirements for establishing criminal violations under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). Although ignorance of the law usually provides no defense to criminal liability, in FECA, it does. That is, under 52 U.S.C. 30109(d)(1)(A), criminal violations arise only when someone “knowingly and willfully” violates FECA’s requirements. Under the Department […]

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Scott Pruitt’s Security Detail–A Tax Problem?

by Andy Grewal — Monday, Apr. 16, 2018

Over at PostEverything, Professors Daniel Hemel and David Herzig argue that Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, “could be in tax trouble on top of his ethical and political problems.” Hemel & Herzig, “Scott Pruitt’s travel could leave him with a big tax bill,” (April 16, 2018). The authors note that Pruitt’s […]

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The Supreme Court’s Weird Definition of Tax Obstruction

by Andy Grewal — Monday, Apr. 2, 2018

In Marinello v. United States, 584 U.S. — (2018), the Supreme Court wrestled with whether the federal tax obstruction statute reaches conduct unrelated to an ongoing or contemplated IRS proceeding. Section 7212(a) states, in relevant part, that anyone who “corruptly or by force . . . obstructs or impedes, or endeavors to obstruct or impede […]

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