France Gets It Right

We like what we hear from France’s Constitutional Council, which recently thumbed its collective nose at President Hollande’s Obama-like attempt to punish the successful, in discarding the plan to tax the super rich at an astronomical 75% tax rate!

Interesting to note that the plan would have nicked only a small number of taxpayers, and would have raised only something like 200 million Euros, a flyspeck in the context of France’s roughly 85 billion Euro deficit.

Sound familiar?

The court basically found the proposition just downright unfair – not arguing with the size of the tax, but with the way it discriminated amongst taxpayers.

Reminiscent of any other recent discussions you’ve heard about?

And speaking of hammering taxpayers, we hear (first hand, actually) that more and more folks have just about had it with California’s recently even more confiscatory tax policy – they’re just checking out of the state – and in droves.

“More is never enough for these people, “Kris Vosburgh, Executive Director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association said about the Democrat-espoused tax increase recently passed by the voters.  “It’s hard to believe people will not leave.”

A recent Manhattan Institute report notes that ex-Californians over the past decade have already put some $5.67 billion into Nevada’s economy as well as $4.96 billion into Arizona and $4.07 billion in Texas!

And if you think you’re a “real estate professional,” thus entitling you to exemption from some of the tough passive activity loss limitation rules of the Internal Revenue Code, you had better dot your i’s and cross your t’s to assure that your position will fly when the Revenooers come calling.

So learned taxpayer Kutney, in suffering a Tax Court loss on the issue.  The law says a taxpayer qualifies as a “real estate professional” if:

  • More than half of the personal services that he performs during the year are performed in real property trades or businesses in which he materially participates, and
  • He performs more than 750 hours of services during the tax year in those

real property trades or businesses.

Kutney was an aeronautical engineer, engaged in consulting in this profession,

while also owning and renting several rental properties.  He managed the properties, and contracted with various other folks to perform maintenance and repair services.  He maintained no separate bank account for the rentals, and used his personal account to pay expenses.  Importantly, he kept no contemporaneous log or other documentation to record the number of hours he spent working on the rentals.

In general, he just couldn’t convince the Court that he performed more than half of his personal services in real property trades or businesses.  His testimony regarding the time he spent on his consulting activities and his rental real estate activities was vague and indefinite, and he further testified that one of the maintenance people he hired actually performed most of the work on the rentals during the years at issue.

No bueno.

Happy New Year!

CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters.  You should consult your CPA regarding the implications to your particular situation.

Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He can be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at

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