Jim Brown: All Lives Should Matter

June 12th, 2015
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


The rallying cry by protesters that has gained momentum after Ferguson and Baltimore is that “Black Lives Matter.” Within the context of all society, that’s a truism. But like so many other older citizens, I volunteered to join the military (something few protesters or politicians do any more) because, liked most Americans, I felt that all lives matter.

But let’s call it like it is in real life. Some black lives do not matter. Pick up a large city daily newspaper, turn to page 9 or 10, and you read too often that a young black man was shot and killed by another young black man. The killing gets scant attention and becomes merely a statistic.

When major demonstrations take place as was seen in Ferguson, Long Island and South Carolina, protesters are too often selective about just who they are demonstrating against. Do black lives really matter to them that much, or is the protest more an effort to scores points against the police?

A case in point is what happened last week in Lafayette, Louisiana. Robert Minjarez had been arrested last year for“making a disturbance” outside a Texaco gas station. He was unarmed when the police came to investigate. Video surveillance cameras at the gas station and dash cam film from several police cars on the scene tell the story of just what happened.

Minjarez had no weapon and had his arms in the air when approached by police with canines in tow. Four officers wrestled him to the ground. ; His voice is heard on the video saying: “I didn’t do nothing to nobody, why are ya’ll doing this to me?” Minjarez continues to scream as the officers struggle with him. “You’re going to kill me, you’re going to kill me!” he exclaimed. “I can’t breathe.” “You’ve got 265 pounds on your back,” one of the officers tells him. “You’re not going anywhere.” Three more times, you can hear Minharez scream that he can’t breathe. Continue Reading……………

Good Morning Vietnam!!!!

And do I have a special treat and surprise in store for those of you in the reading audience who have been checking in while I tended to mundane matters with a certain taxing agency. That said this is also continuing education season and the tax update I attended yesterday had some very interesting case law presented. My personal favorites were ABC Beverage Corp. v. U.S., 113 AFTR 2d 2014-2536 (6th Cir. 2014), which also made the Forbes list of the top ten tax cases of 2014 along with another of the Forbes 2014 top ten tax cases in Shea v. Commissioner, 142 T.C. 3 (2/12/2014).

In ABC Beverage, the company was paying exorbitant rent to its landlord, paying over $1.1 million in annual rent when the fair market value of that rent was in the neighborhood of $356,000 per year (“excess rent”). To get out of the bad lease, ABC exercised an option to purchase the building, with the purchase price to be determined by the fair market value of the building including the value of the remaining lease. ABC ultimately paid $11 million after conducting several different appraisals of the property that valued the property without a lease at $2.75 million. Upon purchasing the building, the corporation capitalized as the cost of the building only the $2.75 million value of the building without the lease, and currently deducted the remaining portion of the purchase price as the cost of terminating its lease with the landlord. The Service denied the deduction for the lease termination expense, contending that the entire amount paid for the building must be capitalized. ABC begged to differ.

Litigation ensued and ABC found a case from 1948, Cleveland Allerton Hotel, Inc. v. Commissioner, 166 F.2d 805 (6th Cir. 1948) which allowed the deduction of the cost of terminating the lease under almost identical circumstances. The IRS countered with three cases decided since 1948, that had a slightly differing fact set from Cleveland Allerton which required the costs associated with a real property purchase, such as professional fees and litigation expenses in connection with the purchase to be capitalized and written off over a period of years. In allowing the deduction the Sixth Circuit reconciled the 4 different prior rulings, three of which went in favor of the IRS and concluded that those previous decisions cited by the IRS and the three principles that emerged from them did not require modification of the Cleveland Allerton decision, explaining its view in the following manner: Continue reading “Good Morning Vietnam!!!!”