In a zombie apocalypse the two certainties in life, death and taxes, may not be so certain. Fortunately, College of Law professor Adam Chodorow has recognized that the current estate and income tax laws do not adequately address the tax implications of being undead and has tackled the topic of estate planning for the living dead in his article Death and Taxes and Zombies, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the Iowa Law Review.
The article’s abstract details the subject matter: “This article fills a glaring gap in the academic literature by examining how the estate and income tax laws apply to the undead. Beginning with the critical question of whether the undead should be considered dead for estate tax purposes, the article continues on to address income tax issues the undead are likely to face. In addition to zombies, the article also considers how estate and income tax laws should apply to vampires and ghosts. Given the difficulties identified herein of applying existing tax law to the undead, new legislation may be warranted. However, any new legislation is certain to raise its own set of problems. The point here is not to identify the appropriate approach. Rather, it is to goad Congress and the IRS into action before it is too late.”
Chodorow’s article brings up issues that may actually have to be addressed if technology designed to bring back individuals from death is ever developed. In the mean time, however, it’s a really fun read, as exemplified by footnote 91 below:
91 Given their longevity, vampires would also have significant advantages with compounding interest and the tax deferral provided by IRAs and other tax advantaged savings plans, such as whole life insurance. Vampires would presumably be subject to mandatory withdrawals at age 70 and 1/2, see I.R.C. §§ 408(b)(3), §401(a)(9), but it is not clear how the amount of withdrawals would be calculated because the traditional actuarial mortality charts would not apply.
Another interesting question would be whether a vampire qualifies as a “life in being” for purposes of the rule against perpetuities. If so the rule would functionally cease to operate in those states that have not already abandoned the rule. While vampires would not need to create trusts to exercise the undead hand, they might want to create self-settled asset protection trusts or trusts to provide for underage or spendthrift offspring in the event they are exposed to sunlight or a well placed wooden stake. If they could find a jurisdiction that does not tax trust income, such as Alaska, all the better. This may explain why the vampires who threatened Bella in the first Twilight book spent time in Alaska.
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The city of Tombstone is waging an epic legal battle against the federal government for access to the wilderness area of the Huachuca Mountains in order to repair its damaged water system.
Tombstone relies on a number of mountain springs for its water, which is piped in to the city. The pipelines that deliver the spring water were damaged in last year’s Monument Fire and the ensuing mud and rock slides. Tombstone officials have attempted to make repairs to the pipeline and restore the water flow to the city, but the National Forest Service has blocked the majority of these attempts. The Forest Service maintains that any work done in the Huachucas must comply with the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Tired of the slow pace of repairs, the city of Tombstone has filed a lawsuit against the federal government seeking unrestricted access to the springs and to easement rights for the land 50 feet on either side of the pipes leading from the springs to the city. Because the case raises constitutional questions about the relationship between local, state and federal governments, it may end up in front of the Supreme Court.
Read more about the case and the city of Tombstone on CNN’s online article, Showdown at the H20 Corral.
Law Students: Are you taking summer classes? Do you have a summer job with a firm?
If you find yourself in need of some research help this summer, remember that our Reference Librarians are here for you!
Did you know you can make an appointment with a Librarian for one-on-one help? We’ve added an online form to the Law Library website to make it easy! Just click here to request an appointment.
You can also find a link to the form on the Ask a Librarian page or the Law Students page.
Cornell’s Legal Information Institute (LII) recently announced that the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is now available on its website. The CFR is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government.
The LII website allows for searching of the CFR and includes linked cross-references within the CFR to relevant parts of the United States Code, as well as to rulemaking dockets for pending regulations. It is updated concurrently with the GPO’s Federal Digital System data, and links users to the Office of the Federal Register’s e-CFR webpage for more recent updates.
This year’s Law Day theme is “No Courts, No Justice, No Freedom,” and according to the Presidential Proclamation, “recalls the historic role our courts have played in protecting the fundamental rights and liberties of all Americans. Our courts are the guarantors of civil justice, social order, and public safety, and we must do everything we can to enable their critical work. The courthouse doors must be open and the necessary services must be in place to allow all litigants, judges, and juries to operate efficiently. Likewise, we must ensure that access to justice is not an abstract theory, but a concrete commitment that delivers the promise of counsel and assistance for all who seek it.”
President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day in 1958 for the people of the United States to appreciate their liberties and reaffirm their national loyalty. It is celebrated every May 1st, and observance of the day was codified at 36 U.S.C. § 113 in 1961.
If you are interested in reading more about Law Day, the Library of Congress has a Law Day Research Guide which provides an overview of the day, links to past Presidential Proclamations (1958 – 2011), and lists research sources. You can also find more information and resources for celebrating Law Day on the ABA’s website.