BOTTOM LINE: 100 Million Tax Returns To Be Delayed, Unless the Obama/Boehner Cockfight Is Halted

Lack of AMT fix could delay 100 million tax returns

cnn

By Jeanne Sahadi @CNNMoney

Without an AMT “patch” in place by Dec. 31, up to 100 million taxpayers may not be able file their 2012 taxes until late March. And their refunds will be delayed, the IRS says.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

As many as 100 million taxpayers may be unable to file their returns until late March and would face refund delays if Congress fails to reach a fiscal cliff deal by Dec. 31 that includes an Alternative Minimum Tax fix.

That’s the latest estimate from the IRS, which would have to do some serious system reprogramming in the absence of an AMT provision.

Here’s the problem: Income exemption levels under the “wealth tax” — as the AMT is known — were never adjusted for inflation since it was enacted decades ago. So Congress has regularly passed an AMT “patch” to correct for that by raising the exemption levels.

Except that lawmakers have so far failed to do so for 2012. And tax filing season begins in less than two weeks.

Without a patch, $45,000 for joint filers and $33,750 for single taxpayers is exempt from the AMT. But adjusted for inflation, those levels would jump to $78,750 and $50,600 in 2012, according to bills in the House and Senate.

CNN: Obama, Boehner remain at odds

No AMT fix would mean “lengthy delays of tax refunds and unexpectedly higher taxes for many taxpayers, who will be unaware that they are newly subject to AMT liability,” IRS Acting Director Steven Miller said in a letter to House and Senate tax writers on Wednesday.

Without a patch, he estimates that close to 30 million additional taxpayers would have to pay the AMT.

And, he added, “[I]f Congress were to act at some point next year to enact a new AMT patch, the time and substantial expense necessary for the IRS to reprogram its systems to reflect expiration of the patch would ultimately be wasted.”

The most aggravating thing about the situation: Both parties will agree to patch the AMT. The only question is when. At the moment, the patch is being held hostage to the fiscal cliffnegotiationsTo top of page

Advertisements

White House Hides Culpability for Mumbai Attacks Beneath Judicial Immunity for ISI

“These facts and statements, though not yet in admissible form, require additional  investigation and discovery as to whether the ISI is a legitimate political subdivision of the Government of Pakistan. If facts elicited during jurisdictional discovery further support plaintiffs’ belief that the ISI is not a true political subdivision of Pakistan but, rather, an autonomous organization, the ISI would not be entitled to invoke the immunity Congress has afforded sovereign governments under the FSIA nor could it or its leadership rely on the common-law immunity available to legitimate state actors for official government acts.”–Rosenberg et al vLashkarETaiba et al

“The defendants’ motion to dismiss on political question grounds should be denied or, at a minimum, deferred to allow the Executive Branch a chance to submit a statement of interest on the issue.”

[Evidently, whatever was in this “statement of interest,” it was the documentation which was ruled-upon this past week in NY Federal Court, Eastern District of New York.  The evidence given by the White House (which none of us will ever see), was sufficient to satisfy the court that the ISI is a legitimate extension of the Pakistani state and NOT a fully independent autonomous entity.  Between this case in New York and its counterpart in Chicago ( UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. ILYAS KASHMIRI, ET AL. ), the ISI has been given carte blanche to commit terrorism against the citizens of the United States, without paying any penalty in US courts.  The relevant claims against ISI by counsel for the defense are included beneath the DAWN article below]

Mumbai attacks case: India ‘disappointed’ at US immunity for ISI

dawn

In this picture taken on November 27, 2008, flames rush out of the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, during an attack by militants. A US federal court is hearing a case filed by US survivors of the Mumbai attacks and family members of the victims against former Pakistani intelligence chiefs Shuja Pasha, Nadeem Taj and other ISI officials.—AFP Photo

NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday called a declaration that Pakistan’s intelligence service and former chiefs enjoy immunity in a case related to the 2008 Mumbai attacks a “serious disappointment”.

The Indian government has long alleged that the Inter-Services Intelligence agency was behind the Islamist attacks which left 166 people dead – an accusation denied by Islamabad.

The Indian statement was in response to an affidavit filed in a US court earlier in the week in which the US government said Pakistan’s ISI and its former chiefs, Ahmed Shuja Pasha and Nadeem Taj, “enjoy immunity” in the Mumbai attacks.

The US affidavit is “a matter of deep and abiding concern”, the Indian government statement said, noting Washington has publicly said it is committed to bringing “those responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks to justice”.

“The decision of the US authorities in this case is a cause of serious disappointment,” said the Indian statement.

The New York federal court is hearing a case filed by US survivors of the Mumbai attacks and family members of the victims against Pasha, Taj and other ISI officials.

Leaders of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, including its founder Mohammed Hafiz Saeed, are also named in the suit. India has accused Pakistan’s ISI of collaborating with the LeT to mount the attacks.

The US government insisted in its affidavit that Pakistan must take steps to dismantle the LeT and support India’s efforts to counter militant threats, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).

But at the same time the affidavit said, “the ISI is entitled to immunity because it is part of a foreign state”, the PTI report stated.

India last month hanged Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving gunman of 10 attackers who raided targets including top hotels and a Mumbai railway station while holding elite Indian Special Forces at bay.

 

 

A. The Uncertain Status of Defendant Inter-Services Intelligence
The ISI exists without any legislative statute or executive order founding, creating or
authorizing its activities. Kreindler Decl., ¶¶ 5 – 8. Pakistan’s own current Attorney General,
Maulvi Anwar ul Haq, said to the Supreme Court of Pakistan less than nine months ago that no
rules or laws govern the ISI. See Kreindler Decl., ¶ 5.3 Similarly, Lieutenant Colonel Khalid
Iqbal Sahoo, Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Pakistan Army, filed a brief on behalf of
Pakistan’s Ministry of Defence with the Pakistan Supreme Court on July 11, 2006 in which he
stated that his ministry had no operational control over the ISI. Id., ¶ 7.4 On July 19, 2006, in
that same action, Tariq Wazeem Ghazi, a Defence Secretary with the Government of Pakistan,
submitted an affidavit to the Pakistan Supreme Court in which he also asserts that the
Government of Pakistan has no control over the ISI. Id., ¶ 8.5 Likewise, Sherry Rehman, a
Member of Pakistan’s National Assembly from 2002 to 2007 and Pakistan’s Minister of
Information from 2008 to 2009, wrote in June 2005 that the ISI “remain[s] above the law and
unaccountable.” Id., ¶ 10(g).
3 Plaintiffs are attempting to obtain the records from the proceedings at which Attorney General
Haq made these statements, which directly contradict the assertions in the declaration before this
Court. Kreindler Decl., ¶ 5.
4 Plaintiffs are attempting to obtain the brief Lt. Col. Sahoo submitted to the Pakistan Supreme
Court. Kreindler Decl., ¶ 7.
5 Plaintiffs are attempting to obtain the affidavit Secretary Ghazi submitted to the Pakistan
Supreme Court. Kreindler Decl., ¶ 8.

With increasing frequency, the ISI has, in fact, operated autonomously and even contrary
to the stated missions, laws and objectives of the Government of Pakistan. For example:
• According to Pakistan’s current Ambassador to the United States, between 1977 and
2002, the ISI attempted to manipulate Pakistan’s official government-held elections on at
least five occasions. See Kreindler Decl., ¶ 10(c).
• A United Nations commission concluded that the ISI hindered the investigation into the
assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and that it may have been
involved in other attempted assassinations of Ms. Bhutto. See id., ¶ 10(d) – (f).
• The ISI has long and deep ties with the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba. See id., ¶ 11(a) –
(b). In the late 1980’s, the ISI created the LeT to fight proxy wars, including efforts
against the Soviet presence in Afghanistan and against India in the Kashmir region. See
id.
• The United designated the LeT a Foreign Terrorist Organization on December 26, 2001.
See id., ¶ 11(d). Shortly thereafter, on January 12, 2002, Pakistan’s then-leader, General
Pervez Musharraf, outlawed the LeT. See id., ¶ 11(e).
• For years after the LeT was outlawed, the ISI, acting in direct contradiction to the orders
of Pakistan’s government, continued to offer financial, logistic and personnel support to
the LeT. See id., ¶ 11(e) – (i).
• The LeT’s leader Hafiz Mohamed Saeed was imprisoned in light of General Musharraf’s
January 12, 2002 declaration. See id., ¶ 11(e). Despite this, the ISI facilitated Mr.
Saeed’s release from prison and thereafter made substantial financial payments to him.
See id.
• In 2008, the civilian Government of Pakistan attempted to put the ISI under the control of
Pakistan’s Ministry of the Interior, but the ISI refused to comply with those efforts. See
id., ¶ 10(b).
Western leaders, like their Pakistani government counterparts, have also called into
question the legitimate authority of the ISI, noting that it has and continues to act in ways that are
contrary to the stated goals and missions of the Government of Pakistan. For example, the
United States Ambassador to Pakistan from 2007 to 2010, Anne Patterson, noted in November
2008 the troubling “extent of [Lashkar-e-Taiba’s] current relationship with the ISI,” despite the
fact that the Pakistan government had outlawed the LeT. See Kreindler Decl., ¶ 11(l), Exhibit

Russia stares down the West on Syria

Russia stares down the West on Syria

The Hindu

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN

FOLLOW THE LEADER: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has cautioned against attempts to circumvent the authority of the United Nations in finding a solution to the Syrian crisis. The picture is of a European security conference in Moscow on March 23, 2012.
FOLLOW THE LEADER: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has cautioned against attempts to circumvent the authority of the United Nations in finding a solution to the Syrian crisis. The picture is of a European security conference in Moscow on March 23, 2012.   AFP

 

The West has accepted that Moscow has a key role to play in settling the Syrian crisis.

If one needed a textbook example of how propaganda can help turn defeat into victory then one should look at Western media coverage of recent diplomatic battles on Syria.

Everybody agrees that the so-called “presidential statement” on Syria the U.N. Security Council adopted on March 21 was a turning point in efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis. It marked the first time the Security Council (SC) had reached an agreement on Syria and endorsed a peace plan proposed by U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. The surprise consensus in the Council, which was earlier riven by divisions, raised the question of who had made concessions — Western powers or Russia and China, who had vetoed two West-backed SC resolutions.

To believe Western news outlets it is Russia and China that blinked first.

Christian Science Monitor saw Russia’s support for the SC statement as a “distinct shift” in Moscow’s stance. Radio Free Europe said Moscow had “finally relented,” while the Economist categorically declared: “Russia shifted firmly to the side of Al Assad’s detractors.”

The text of the SC statement, however, shows that it is the West that embraced the Russian stand.

First, the statement did not mention the West’s earlier demand for Mr. Assad to step down. (The February SC draft did not openly call on Mr. Assad to leave but voiced support for the Arab League’s plan, which explicitly demanded his resignation as a precondition for political settlement in Syria.)

Second, the Western powers for the first time endorsed the Russian view that the opposition in Syria should talk to the government. The SC statement said that the Syrian crisis should be resolved through “a comprehensive political dialogue between the Syrian government and the whole spectrum of the Syrian opposition.”

In line with Russian proposals

Third, the SC statement addressed the demand to stop the fighting, not only to the government forces, as the West had insisted earlier, but also to the opposition, as Russia had demanded all along.

Finally, the SC statement did not contain any threats of sanctions or foreign military intervention in Syria that were implied in previous Western drafts.

Moscow had good reason to heartily welcome the SC statement.

Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said the document was “in line with the proposals Russia has been advocating from the very beginning.”

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained what made consensus possible.

“I’m very glad that our [Security Council] colleagues have finally… abandoned ultimatums, threats and attempts to resolve [the Syrian crisis] by making demands to the government only.”

The Arab League has also backed away from “ultimatums”: its head Nabil al-Arabi said that the group is “unlikely” to call for Al Assad to step down at its current summit in Iraq.

Ground realities in Syria have vindicated Russia’s assumptions and proved the West wrong.

Three realities

First, the Syrian regime has turned out to be much stronger than many expected, thanks in part to Russia’s and Iran’s military aid. Large sections of the Syrian population see Al Assad as their best guarantee against inter-confessional violence that may erupt if the ruling regime falls.

Second, the Syrian opposition has failed to unite and speak in one voice. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that she does not see in Syria “the elements of an opposition that is actually viable.”

Third, al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist groups have established a foothold in Syria raising the spectre of another Iraq.

The strategy of having armed opposition topple the Syrian regime with outside help failed and the West was forced to listen to Russia’s arguments and accept that Russia has a key role to play in settling the Syrian crisis. The initiative has passed to Moscow.

“I share the view that this is a big victory for Russian diplomacy,” said Vitaly Naumkin, head of the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies. “Even the U.S. is edging closer to the Russian stand.”

Russia has said all along that it is not defending the Syrian leaders, but upholding the principle of international law and the interests of regional stability. As far back as last August, Mr. Medvedev had urged Al Assad to “carry out urgent reforms, come to terms with the opposition, restore peace and create a modern state,” if he had wanted to stay in power.

“If he cannot do this, a sad fate awaits him,” the Russian leader had warned.

Last week Mr. Lavrov stated that the Syrian leadership had not only “responded incorrectly to the very first manifestations of the peaceful protests,” but was still “making a lot of mistakes” that are aggravating the crisis.

Mr. Lavrov made it clear that Moscow is not against Al Assad’s eventual departure, but this has to be the decision of Syrians themselves.

“I’m convinced that if a comprehensive dialogue is launched involving all members of the opposition and the government, then it should be possible to solve all questions within this framework, including the question of who would lead Syria during the transition period, the way it was done in Yemen.”

In Russia’s view this scenario of power transition for Syria is not equivalent to foreign-engineered forceful “regime change” advocated by the West.

The unanimous support in the U.N. Security Council for Mr. Annan’s plan focused on facilitating an intra-Syrian dialogue means that Russia’s approach has won the day.