Taxes in New York (TiNY) is a blog by the Hodgson Russ LLP State and Local Tax Practice Group members Chris Doyle, Peter Calleri, and Zoe Peppas. The weekly reports are intended to go out every Tuesday after the New York State Division of Tax Appeals (DTA) publishes new ALJ Determinations and Tribunal Decisions. In addition to the weekly reports, TiNY may provide analysis of and commentary on other developments in the world of New York tax law.

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Posts from February 2024.

There are exciting changes here at the TiNY editorial offices. My colleagues, Zoe Peppas and Peter Calleri, have agreed to help out on some of the case summaries. This week’s edition includes examples of our new authors’ work, and they seem worthy of TiNY’s high editorial standards. I hope you agree.

As editor-in-chief, I get to hold the pen last. So, TiNY’s twelve (or so) loyal readers should continue to blame me for anything written in TiNY that is wrong, offensive, or just plain stupid. And absent special acknowledgement, the introductory paragraphs will continue to be written by yours truly. We wouldn’t want to deprive you of my wit.

We are also revising our editorial schedule since we followed the old schedule only accidentally. Under our new schedule, we’ll post our summaries on the Tuesday following the Thursday the cases are issued by the DTA.

Finally, TiNY’s “Portraits in Courage” award this week goes to the Honorable Jennifer Baldwin, who was the Division’s advocate in Matter of E. & J. Gallo Winery and the ALJ in Matter of Charles.

This week: An observation from the middle of the road. Feel free to ignore it and skip directly to the case summaries if you correctly assume I am woefully ill-equipped to provide any sort of political commentary and should stick to tax.

Hi. I’m Chris, and I think I may be a “bothsider.”

As I write this, Comedian/Activist Jon Stewart is being lambasted by some for the content of his first Daily Show episode following a nine-year hiatus. In the episode Mr. Stewart took to task the presumptive presidential candidates from both major parties in a style that has been referred to as “bothsidesism” by certain commentators. Mr. Stewart doesn’t need me to defend him. He’s demonstrated that he can hold his own in pretty much any argument.* And the commendable ratings his return to the Daily Show attracted suggest that maybe there is a significant swath of “bothsider” Americans who: 1. Have healthy senses of humor, priority and proportion; 2. Appreciate when our late night talking heads identify and pillory hypocrites of every ilk biasing only in favor of whomever seems the most awkward or tone-deaf at the moment; and 3. Wonder how the heck the vociferous occupants of both extreme ends of the political spectrum were allowed to hijack political discourse and policy-making away from the occupants of the middle of the spectrum who now find themselves disenfranchised even though they hold an overwhelming majority. 

Our Founding Fathers should have been less worried about the tyranny of the majority and more worried about the tyranny of the unrelentingly loud. 

There were a decision and three determinations posted on February 15.

I am writing this on the day after “Super Sunday,” a day which for many Americans is “Mediocre Monday.” I read in the news that a poll indicated 17 million of us were planning to call in sick for work today, and I observed that the parking garage near my office was pretty empty this morning. Not me. I need to get out another edition of the TiNY report for my twelve or so loyal readers!

But before I get to the cases, let me make this pop culture observation: 2023’s Super Sunday commercials were much better than 2024’s. The 2024 Budweiser Clydesdale ad was pretty derivative, borrowing heavily from prior years’ efforts. And “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer?”  Not a solid effort. And most of the other commercials seemed like an effort to vomit into my TV as many famous people as possible in a 45 second window. Along these lines, I thought the Dunkin’ ad was worthy of comment. I love watching J-Lo, Ben Affleck, and Matt Damon act. Heck, I’d be in heaven just watching them read me the instructions for programming my Roomba. But the Dunkin’ ensemble commercial didn’t resonate with me, and I was really turned off when Tom Brady was added to the mess.

And normally I’d feel the same lack of appreciation toward a commercial featuring Western New York native Rob Gronkowski (Tom Brady’s Travis Kelce) in the totally irrelevant “Kick of Destiny” field goal challenge … except that FanDuel nimbly tacked on a Happy-Gilmore-esque homage to Carl Weathers who was in the K-o-D teaser commercials, and who passed away on February 1. It was both wry and poignant, which are two words that I rarely use when describing TV commercials.

On the other hand, I thought Disney+’s commercial featuring some of the more iconic phrases from its video library was pretty classy. A plain white screen with text. No voice-over. Understated background music. And some of the best-known quotes in video-dom. It had me at “When you wish upon a star.” Of course, it may not rise to the level of “Typical timey. Typical result.” But not everyone has my ear for catchy phrasing.

The DTA batted for the cycle on February 8, posting a decision, a determination and an ALJ order.

Over the past two weeks the Groundhog did not see his shadow, and there have been a decision, a determination, and two ALJ orders. None of these developments seem particularly noteworthy to me, but you may find something interesting, constant reader.

And now I can forget (for the umpteenth time) how to spell “Punxsutawney” for another year.

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