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US Tax & Administrative Law

Questions for discussion by students in the CAS Legal English course
US Tax & Administrative Law

Questions for discussion

Federal Tax Law

  1. What is the primary reason that the U.S. first introduced an income tax in 1861?
  2. What tax form has recently celebrated its 100th anniversary?
  3. What are some reasons for the rapid development of tax laws?
  4. Why is administrative law so important to understanding tax law?

Administrative Law

  1. Why are agencies sometimes referred to as the "fourth branch" of government
  2. Name some reasons why governments make use of agencies.
  3. What is the difference between an agency's enabling act and the statutes setting out the procedures an agency follows?
  4. Describe three key subjects described in an agency's enabling act.

Internal Revenue Code

  1. Describe the difference between a proportional and a progressive tax system, and give examples of both.
  2. How complex is the U.S. tax code? Discuss this in terms of number of pages or words, changes to the tax code, and the ability of average citizens to complete their returns?
  3. How large an industry is the tax compliance industry, measured in number of hours to comply with filing requirements and number of full-time equivalents?
  4. What is the difference between gross income and taxable income?
  5. Review instructions to Form 1040 and find out how to fill in line 1: wages, salaries, tips, etc.

Tax Compliance

  1. Why do employees report almost all their income, while small business owners do not?
  2. Describe what a whistleblower is, and why an individual may be tempted to become a whistleblower.
  3. Reading: Offshore Tax-Dodger Dragnet Widens . . .
    a. Describe what is meant by the term "leaver".
    b. What is the IRS voluntary disclosure program?
  4. Reading: Swiss Private Bank Shuts Up Shop . . .
    a. What are the "unsustainable costs" that Bank Frey refers to that led to its closure?
    b. Special usage – discuss usage of the terms "row," "at odds," "cracked open," and "felled."
  5. Reading: Arresting Developments . . .
    a. What are the two paths followed by the U.S. crackdown on tax evasion?
    b. Special usage – discuss usage of the terms "long arm of American justice," "wipe the slate clean," "top brass," "remain at large," "on the back foot," and "death knell."
  6. Reading: IRS Probes Singapore Asset Manager
    a. Describe the difference between an "enabler" and a "leaver."

Administrative Adjudication & Informal Action

  1. What are three key sources of guidance on the administrative process of a particular agency?
  2. Describe the informal rulemaking process, including the notice and comment process.
  3. What are some similarities between formal adjudication and civil trial? What are some differences?
  4. How are procedures governing informal agency action established?

Judicial Review of Agency Actions

  1. What is the concept of agency discretion and why is it important to understanding administrative law?
  2. What are some threshold questions that must be considered when deciding whether to seek judicial review of an agency action?
  3. What is the doctrine of primary jurisdiction?
  4. Describe the difference between the doctrine of exhaustion and the doctrine of ripeness.
  5. Name some grounds upon which a court may overturn an agency action.