After Ever After Legal Advice: Time Traveling Income

Blah blah, disclaimer, blah blah.

I was going to wait until after Exams to post this as it would be fun to do a more serious analysis, but I have a Tax Crimes final in the morning and no other post ideas so it’s now or never.  This question was posed by recent contributor John Murphy. If any IRS agents are listening in, I have no knowledge living or present as to the veracity of the efficacy of the claims therein presented in this blog in the following blockquote thing:

if I travel back in time to 1800, deposit $100 in a back account, then come back to the present day and collect the interest, do I owe back taxes for all the intervening years, or just right now? What if I got tired of pedaling and just went back to 1930? Hypothetically, I mean.

Fortunately for you, the statute of limitations on collection is 10 years from date of assessment.  The statute of limitations on assessment is 3 years for most cases, 6 years for fraud, and basically indefinite for failure to file so the first question we need to ask is at what point were you required to file a return.  There are two theories the IRS could pursue: you were required to file from the moment of birth because the account was in your name, or you were only required to file after the time you returned.  If they go with the first route, then they’re going to have to explain to the Tax Court judge why no one was required to file in the intervening years leading up to your birth (and also: indefinite period to assess the tax so you’re kindof screwed).  If they go with the second, then it might be premised on the theory that you were not entitled to the money until you returned at which point you’ll be taxed on the entire amount (but under current tax brackets, that’s not so bad).  So depending on the numbers with penalties and interests… one of those may be better than the other.  I would do the math but math is hard and all my professors say the answer in this case is to use a Macro or hire an accountant.  I have neither on hand.

The best thing, clearly, is to take the five minutes to set up a trust in your name which will pay the tax on interest until liquidation in the present year. You’re going to have some Rule against Perpetuities problems (“No interest is good unless it must vest, if at all, not later than twenty-one years after the death of some life in being at the creation of the interest.”) but no one understands those anyway.

The other best thing is to just go forward by about 3 days and write down the winning lottery numbers.

And give them to me because that just so happens to be what I charge in legal fees.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s