Sing This Tax Opinion with a Twang

Think judges of the U.S. Tax Court are staid? Well, yes, probably. But in 1983, one of them cut loose with a rhyming opinion in a case involving country singer Conway Twitty’s defunct “Twitty Burger” restaurants:

Twitty Burger went belly up

But Conway remained true

He repaid his investors, one and all

It was the moral thing to do.

His fans would not have liked it

It could have hurt his fame

Had any investors sued him

Like Merle Haggard or Sonny James.

When it was time to file taxes

Conway thought what he would do

Was deduct those payments as a business expense

Under section one-sixty-two.

In order to allow these deductions

Goes the argument of the Commissioner

The payments must be ordinary and necessary

To a business of the petitioner.

Had Conway not repaid the investors

His career would have been under cloud,

Under the unique facts of this case

Held: The deductions are allowed.

Interesting factoids in the opinion include the revelations that Conway Twitty’s real name was Harold Jenkins and that he began his career in rock and roll before crossing over to country music in 1965.

Jenkins v. Comm’r, 47 T.C.M. (CCH) 238 (T.C. 1983). Thanks to Professor Jose Gabilondo.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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