Author Archives: Aaron Meyer

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Bitcoins are Property, Not Replacements for the Dollar

When the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) announced its rules for Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies” a little over a year ago, observers knew it was only a matter of time before the IRS would follow suit with its own guidance on how to treat virtual currencies for tax purposes.  This past Tuesday the Service finally did so, releasing Notice 2014-21 which clarifies the Service’s position on how to properly report transactions involving Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, effectively killing any chance of Bitcoin’s widespread adoption as a substitute for official currency in the US.

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Bad Reviews are not Defamation

It’s an unavoidable fact of running a business that, sooner or later, a customer will be dissatisfied.  Decades ago this would have meant that they told a few of their friends, but today it can often mean a negative review on any one of a number of widely trafficked consumer review websites like Yelp.

When the inevitable happens, there are a few ways you can handle it.  For example, if you want to avoid bad publicity, you can simply ignore the review or respond calmly and professionally.  If you don’t mind things potentially blowing up in your face, you can respond angrily and irrationally.  And, of course, if you actively want things to go south in a great big hurry, you can do what a watch repair shop in New York did and threaten to sue the person leaving the unflattering review for defamation. Continue reading

Deferred Prosecution Agreements and Tax Write-Offs

Earlier today the US Department of Justice announced that it has reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Toyota Motor Corporation regarding the “unintended acceleration” issues that owners of certain models claim to have experienced back in 2009 and 2010.  The announcement is of little note; as with most announcements of its kind it represents a chance for the DOJ to publicize itself and it is understandably a bit over-eager to praise the victory for safety.  The agreement itself, however, is interesting as Toyota has agreed to treat the $1.2 billion settlement amount as a penalty paid to the US government, including for tax purposes.  The upshot is that Toyota will not be able to take a tax deduction or credit for paying the settlement. Continue reading

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An Introduction to Anti-Trust

One of the first legitimately important things that law students learn during their time in law school is that almost everything laypersons think they know about the law is wrong.  Sometimes the wrongness is simply the result of a catchy urban legend, like the famous (and false) story of a Winnebago driver who went back to make a sandwich after setting the cruise control and then supposedly sued Winnebago for the resulting accident.  Sometimes it’s a combination of superficial reporting and a lack of time or desire to look into the suit closely enough to see that there is legitimate substance to it, as was the case with the undeservedly infamous McDonald’s hot coffee case.  And sometimes it’s simply the result of people not understanding that their middle school and high school history classes gave only a rather superficial outline of events because it’s not really possible to do more than that within the constraints of the class. Continue reading