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Introduction Outline

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This is an extract of our Introduction document, which we sell as part of our Taxation Outlines collection written by the top tier of Harvard Law School students.

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Introduction A. WHAT IS INCOME?

1. HaigSimons Definition. Personal income is "the algebraic sum of (1) the market value of rights exercised in consumption and (2) the change in the value of the store of property rights between the beginning and end of the period in question."

2. Section 61. Gross income is "all income from whatever source derived." SS61 provides a nonexclusive list of items included within gross income, including compensation for services, business income, income from dealings in property, interest, rents, royalties, dividends, pensions, annuities, and income from the discharge of indebtedness. In general, gross income includes not only cash receipts, but receipts in the form of services, property, or payments to third parties on the taxpayer's behalf. However, Congress has excluded from income certain receipts (e.g., certain fringe benefits provided by an employer to employees) that would otherwise be included.

3. Glenshaw Glass. Glenshaw Glass held that SS61 reaches all "undeniable accessions to wealth, clearly realized, and over which the taxpayer has complete dominion."

4. Gotcher. Gotcher (5th Cir.1968) held that, although SS61 should be broadly interpreted, "exclusions from gross income are not limited to the enumerated exclusions." But see Cesarini (6th Cir.1970), suggesting that, under the Code, "income from all sources is taxed unless the taxpayer can point to an express exemption." The Gotcher Court concluded that a taxpayer had no taxable income from an expenditure by his employer that benefitted him unless (1) there was an economic benefit to the recipient (2) that primarily benefited the taxpayer personally. B. INCOME TAX TERMINOLOGY AND CONCEPTS

5. Basis and Adjusted Basis. Basis is the portion of the sale proceeds from a piece of property that the taxpayer may recover without incurring tax liability. Adjusted basis in a purchased asset is typically the purchase price adjusted upward or downward to reflect subsequent expenditures or tax benefits attributable to the asset.

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