Need help in the office? Ask a celeb

If you’re feeling short-staffed and don’t know where to turn, take a page out of Tina Clarke’s (cook)book. Clarke, the kitchen manager at Edward Peake Middle School in Biggleswade, U.K., was left alone in the kitchen on a school day after two employees called out sick.1 In a moment of creative genius, she called a BBC radio show – the guest being interviewed that morning was Gordon Ramsay. When her call was put through, she (somewhat jokingly) asked if Mr. Ramasy could come to the school after the interview and lend a hand.

Ramsay himself wasn’t available but he immediately dispatched a chef from his Lucky Cat restaurant in London, who went from prepping honey-glazed quail with tofu cream and plum hoisin to preparing large-batch cauliflower cheese for students.

So if you’re still fielding calls from new clients you don’t have the bandwidth for, try calling a tax celebrity. I’m sure even if Commissioner Rettig can’t come personally to your office to help, maybe he can send someone he knows. 

Woman behind pile of binders

They’re baaaaack…

April 1 just passed, but it’s no joke: Spidell’s live seminars are coming back! Starting with the 2022/2023 Federal and California Tax Update, we will be offering a live seminar option at several locations in northern and southern California.

Get ready to stock up on post-its and highlighters, and stay tuned for more information!

Possible new reason for tax agencies to grant more waivers

Back in 1996, Michael Jackson filled a sports arena in Bombay (now Mumbai) for his only concert in India. The government in power at that time was the Shiv Sena party, which waived the entertainment/leisure tax on the show because Jackson had waived his performance fee, donating the over $1 million in profits to a Shiv Sena youth employment project. As such, the show was deemed to have a philanthropic and charitable purpose.

A consumer protection group challenged the tax waiver in the Bombay High Court, which resulted in the freezing of more than 30 million rupees in ticket sales and suspension of the waiver while the government reviewed the merits of the case. The tax exemption was eventually denied, and the performance organizer paid the tax and sued for a refund.

Finally, in 2021, after 24 years and numerous court hearings, the current government in the state where Mumbai is located reinstated the waiver, which applied to 3.3 million rupees (about $45,000) of entertainment tax for the Michael Jackson concert.

During the intervening years, there were evidently a series of reversals. In 2011, before it was overturned again, the Bombay High Court permitted the tax exemption, citing a term of art in India known as “non-application of mind.” In this case, at the time the decision was made, the decision maker “had not taken all of the related information, circumstances, and authorized provisions into consideration … had not utilized his thoughts completely to the problem.”1

Plenty of people here in the U.S. also frequently suffer from non-application of mind. Sounds like a reasonable basis for tax agencies to grant waivers, right? Next time I owe a penalty, I’ll give that excuse a try.

Apparently, in order to assert a tax exemption at the outset, the government had to redefine Jackson’s presentation as “classical.” That was a stretch considering some members of Shiv Sena felt that the concert had “touches of obscenity.”2 And they questioned how a Hindu right-wing party could back a pop concert that represented Western values. The founder of Shiv Sena defended Jackson as “a great artist, and we must accept him as an artist. His movements are terrific. Not many people can move that way. You will end up breaking your bones.”3

A few fun facts about this week’s writers:

Kathryn Zdan, EAKathryn Zdan, EA, spends her non-Spidell hours on photography and watching horror films (and then sleeping with the light on). She also enjoys hiking, biking, and watching foreign films.

Diane FullerDiane Fuller loves to read, cook, and go to Ketchum/Sun Valley, Idaho, as many times as possible during the year with her family including grandkids and dogs.

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