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first_imgThen again, the IRS is accustomed to winning at Tax Court. Thousands of people annually challenge their taxes through the Washington-based court, whose 19 judges handle conflicts that can be technical, poignant and peculiar all at the same time. Two days before the Sept. 12 ruling in Burton’s case, for instance, a Moreno Valley man was ordered to pay taxes on $12,258 in racetrack earnings. The man unsuccessfully argued he was simply collecting the money for another, who didn’t want his wife to know he was “playing the horses.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! This month, a U.S. Tax Court judge disagreed. Antarctica may be utterly alien, but for tax purposes, the judge reasoned, it is not a foreign country. The ruling cost Burton thousands of dollars and priceless peace of mind. “I feel like I’ve challenged the mob,” Burton said in an e-mail interview. “I have the niggling feeling that for the rest of my life someone, somewhere has my name on a very special list.” A one-time resident of Fresno, Burton paid $3,364 in back taxes following the judge’s ruling. The back taxes were for the portion of her income earned while she was in Antarctica. Burton accepts the Tax Court’s ruling; that is to say, she won’t appeal it. Still, she thinks it defies reason to consider Antarctica’s 5.4 million square miles effectively part of the U.S. “It’s one of those common-sense realities that seem to easily get ignored by the government when it’s convenient,” Burton said. By Michael Doyle FRESNO BEE WASHINGTON – Amber Burton loves adventure, which is why she works in Antarctica. Challenging Uncle Sam over taxes owed there, though, offered the kind of excitement she could do without. In an offbeat but costly conflict over what “foreign country” means, Burton and her colleagues fought the Internal Revenue Service and lost. The workers contended they shouldn’t pay U.S. taxes on income earned at the bottom of the world, on the basis that Antarctica is a foreign country. last_img read more

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