Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Judge Me Not

I've been self-employed for 17 years, except for one 18-month diversion prefaced by a wiser brother's "why would you want to do that?"  Januarys tend to welcome me to each new year with a reminder of the benefits, as if I need one, such as -- when the inevitable snow falls or ice gathers, I can admire it through a window or retrieve my cross-country skis from the barn.  In fact, it's a perfectly good excuse to stay inside and get some work done, work I then won't have to do on balmy Spring-like days.

This January has been no exception.  As a result, I've immersed myself in court decisions.  Today I read one that worried me a bit because it contradicted something I've written.  I almost left it dangling, certain to pester me in the middle of the night when a train waked me and sent me to the bathroom.  One of the advantages of advancing age is a tendency not to procrastinate about things like this.

According to the judge, a provision of the financial reform bill (Dodd-Frank Act) relating to the Truth-in-Lending Act did not take effect until January 1, 2011, the first day of "the taxable year" following enactment of Dodd-Frank.  I didn't remember this.  In fact, I remembered using too many words to explain what I thought were possible effective dates, none of which was January 1, 2011.

So I pulled up the Act and searched for the words quoted by the judge as calling for January 1, 2011.  They appeared once in the Act, at its very end, after the last section:  "(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act."

"You're boring your readers," says Virginia.  "Cut to the chase."

All right.  The section referred to has nothing to do with the topic the judge was addressing.  The effective date for that topic lies elsewhere.

"Assuming your search function worked," says Virginia.

Yes, good point, but I'm not going to spend half of tomorrow reading the bill word by word, something I've already done several times.

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