Sunday, November 28, 2004

Let the Mishegaas Begin

The TaxProf Blog reports here on the pending Tax Court case of Michael and Marla Sklar, who are trying to deduct their children's private school tuition based on the IRS's closing agreement entered into with the Church of Scientology. In essence, the Sklars are arguing that the tuition they pay is deductible because (i) the religious instruction their children receive is the same as that received by Scientologists, and (ii) that there is an administrative inconsistency in the Service's treatment of Scientologists and its position vis a vis the Sklars.

My sense is that the Service has the far better argument here. Indeed, I have always wondered why the Service entered into a consent agreement with the Church of Scientology in the first instance. However, the purpose of this post is not to discuss tax law. Rather, it is to highlight the great opportunity for humor that the Sklar case presents.

The TaxProf's recent post was triggered by an article in the National Law Journal entitled Scientology Settlement Puts IRS in a Kosher Pickle. In his concurring opinion in the Sklar case when it was before the Ninth Circuit, Judge Silverman mused "Why is Scientology training different from all other religious training?" He went on to state that "The sole issue before us is whether the Sklars' claimed deduction is valid, not whether members of the Church of Scientology have become the IRS's chosen people."

Clearly, this is a case that is ripe for non-sexual double-entendre. In this regard, the case of Paul V. Hornung, 47 T.C. 428 (1967) comes to mind where the Tax Court stated in part:
In making this argument, petitioner shifts into a shotgun formation, contending that his accomplishments in the championship football game constitute educational, artistic, scientific, and civic achievements within the meaning of section 74(b). We believe that petitioner should be caught behind the line of scrimmage on this particular offensive maneuver.
(By the way, am I showing my age? Do I have to point out to the young that Mr. Hornung was one of the greatest running backs in pro football history?)

In any event, I hereby announce a contest for the most clever double-entendre commentary concerning the Sklar case. Commentary can be as short as one line.

The deadline is the date the Sklar case becomes final and non-appealable. I am the sole judge of the quality of the entries and my decision as to the winner is final and non-appealable. The prize: The pure satisfaction of having your witticism broadcast far and wide over the blogisphere.

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