Tuesday, June 24, 2014

New Policy on Not Approving Comments that Are Not Helpful to the Intended Audience of this Blog (6/21/14)

Beginning immediately, I will not approve comments that are not helpful to the intended audience of this blog.

This invites me to articulate the intended audience for this blog.  I initially intended the blog to be for respectful discussions among academics, tax professionals and students in the processing of training for academia or a tax profession.  In many ways, I intended it as an extension of my courses I teach at University of Houston School of Law.  The target audience did not include lay people.

Since the IRS started its offshore initiative and specifically implemented the first OVDP in 2009, however, many lay people began using the blog as a resource to better equip them to make the decisions appropriate to their circumstances involving offshore accounts.  At first, I did not welcome that development because I was concerned that the content of the blog entries, not pitched to lay people, would be confusing to them and might lead to poor decisions.  I thereafter began to feel that such lay readers were getting something useful, even as I maintained my principal approach to target tax professionals and tax students in the content provided.  I have thus expanded my vision of the intended audience for the blog.

For that intended audience, I will use the comment moderation feature to block those comments that are not helpful.  Let me just use an example from today's comments:
Censorship in defense of bigotry. Such was a favored practice of the Nazi regime. Is this America's desired future?
This is a fairly typical comment by this person.  This comment does not help my intended audience deal with real issues.  I therefore have rejected the comment and will reject others by any commenter that I do not believe to be helpful to serious readers of this blog.

My goal is to be helpful.  I will strive to serve my intended audience in moderating the emails.


  1. Jack if someone has domestic tax issue let's say expenses related (claiming more expenses on his domestic tax returns) can this be fixed under SDOP. Is their any certification out their that states that all expenses from 2010-2012 can be fixed under this program?


  2. Jack, I am a layperson, and I have learned a lot from your blog. I can say this, if it were not your blog, I might have paid 40K for less than 2K tax due (related to offshore bank account). I did not need to understand the law as your legal professional --- but I learned from role model like Just Me, Mboy, and many other -- and I understood what would be the worst outcome if I chose to opt-out vs signing 906 (taking this outrages penalty), it was a mathematical decision to me. I want to thank you for maintain this blog as constructive as it has been.

  3. I too am a layperson and grateful for everything I've learned and the considerable time you've put into this. Thanks!

  4. Jack,

    Good move on eliminating the off topic rants/comments.

    It cheapened the website and also put you in a position where you got dragged into the mud.

    The blog was actually better when it was straight legal and the only opinions were related to law/facts/etc.

    Please don't approve this comment. Just know that I think the blog will get back on track and be a much better venue without the rants (mine included).

  5. Jack, I waned to thank you for keeping this blog open to lay people like me and many others. Only after reading again and again the stories of just_me, anon5percent and others, I got the courage to call directly the IRS agent and literally bargain (unheard of in OVDI!) for a whole year, in order to obtain something that even my fancy (read expensive) lawyer did not bother to bring up: exclusion from the OVDI penalty of pension accounts which did not generate unreported income. Thus, I payed only half of the initially imposed penalty. If I had the necessary stamina, I would have opted out, again encouraged by the examples of other successful stories published in your blog.

  6. Fair enough and thanks for your forebearance and allowing lay people to learn and ask questions. Unfortunately it seems, the law has become the providence of the intellectual elites far removed from normal peoples lives, and you have gone a long way to open it up for the mere mortals impacted by the complexity we deal with today. It has been much appreciated. We on the fringe (non professionals or students) that comment or ask questions from time to time, do have to understand that this is "your" blog and as such you can create moderation filters that are rightfully yours to control. You put a LOT of effort into this blogging effort, and your goal of being helpful, in my opinion, has be 'over' achieved. I might not always agree with some of your POVs, but I still learn from your postings and appreciate the respectful conversation. Thanks again for what you do.

  7. Good question. I've done it for OVDP cases, but statute was reopened for those years through OVDP. Wondering if one can open statute under SDOP & SFOP, but then again, not sure if you would want to do that.


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