GCBA Header
GCBA April 2016 Newsletter
President's Message

Spring has certainly sprung on Galveston Island, and the GCBA events calendar is in full bloom with a few outstanding events planned during the month of April!  First up is a reception honoring Judge George C. Hanks on Thursday, April 14th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Olympia Grill at Pier 21.  I hope many of you are able to attend this wonderful opportunity to visit with Judge Hanks and his staff in a less formal setting than in the courtroom!
Spring also bring us to Law Day.  This year marks the 50th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona.  The theme for this year's Law Day celebration, Miranda: More than Words, provides us with an opportunity to explore the procedural protections afforded to all of us by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to our liberty.  Our featured speaker will be Jeffrey Rosen, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center.  Mr. Rosen is also a professor at The George Washington University Law School, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a contributing editor for the Atlantic.  He is a graduate of Harvard College; Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar; and Yale Law School.  In addition to Mr. Rosen's presentation, various awards and scholarships will be presented during the luncheon.
Please mark your calendars, and I hope that you will be able to join us at one of these events!
Kelly M. Haas
President, Galveston County Bar Association

Reception To Honor 
United States District Judge  George C. Hanks, Jr.

The Galveston County Bar Association

invites you to a reception in honor of 

United States District Judge George C. Hanks, Jr.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Olympia Grill at Pier 21

100 - 21st Street, Galveston

Please RSVP by April 12, 2016

This event is made possible due to generous donations from

Galveston County Bar Association

Greer, Herz & Adams, LLP

Jones Robinson, LLP

The Law Firm of Alton C. Todd

The Law Offices of McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel, PC

Mills Shirley, LLP

Royston, Rayzor, Vickery & Williams, LLP

Law Day 2016

RSVP for Law Day 2016

Spread the Word: GCBA Law Day 2016 Flyer

2016 Law Day Scholarship Application and Essay Question

The Galveston County Young Lawyers Section ("GCYLS") is now accepting applications from Galveston County high school seniors, who indicate an interest in pursuing a secondary degree toward a career in the legal profession, including, but not limited to, the practice of law, law enforcement or public service.  The GCYLS hopes to award several scholarships, including one for the Bill Todd Memorial Scholarship.  All scholarship awards will be based on responses to the attached application .  Please forward this application to any Galveston County high school senior you know and urge them to apply.  The completed application and essay must be received by Friday, April 15, 2016 at 5pm.  The scholarships will be presented to the winners at our Annual Law Day Luncheon at the San Luis Resort in Galveston on Thursday, April 28, 2016.

The Flat Tax - Delivering More with Less?
Written by David W. Alexander, GCBA Member
The annual ritual of filing taxes is here and April 15 looms large. [1] As humorless as the subject of taxes may be, there are occasional gems. Justice Harry Blackmun is given to say, "[i]f one's in the doghouse with the Chief [Justice], he gets the crud. He gets the tax cases..., which I like but I've had a lot of them." We are all familiar with the phrase, death and taxes, as standing for the inevitable. In the movie, Meet Joe Black, the dialogue between the Grim Reaper - embodied in Joe Black (Brad Pitt) - and Drew (Jake Weber) speaks volumes about taxes: "Drew: We all know this deal is as certain as death and taxes. Joe Black: Death and taxes? Drew: Yes. Joe Black: What an odd pairing."
But does tax season and paying taxes have to be so stressful and filled with complexity? Some think not. And several notable economists and tax policy experts have for years proposed a "flat tax" as a solution. Flat tax proposals have been suggested since at least the 1950's and most notably by Milton Friedman in 1962 and Hall and Rabushka in 1981. As late as this current campaign season, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) floated flat tax proposals as part of their 2016 presidential bids. 
Many tax proposals are labeled "flat tax," even though there are significant differences between them. There are two major categories of flat taxes - the true flat rate income tax and the marginal or modified flat tax. A true flat rate income tax is a taxation system where one tax rate is applied to all income with no deductions. In a marginal or modified flat tax, deductions are allowed resulting in a "flat tax" with the special characteristic that above the maximum deduction, the rate on all further income is constant. The difference between a true flat tax and a marginal flat tax is that the latter excludes some income. After that distinction, both may be called a flat tax on income.
Among the marginal or modified flat taxes, there are three. The first is the flat tax with limited deductions. It allows only a very few deductions; charitable deductions and home mortgage interest being the most prominent. Another approach is a single, large, fixed deduction; a blanket deduction that combines a myriad of fixed living costs which has the simplifying side-effect that many low income individuals and families may not have to file tax returns.
The second is the Hall-Rabushka flat tax. Since it was first proposed in 1981, it has garnered the most publicity by the media and been the basis of many politicians' flat tax or tax reform proposals. Because of its prominence, the Hall-Rabushka flat tax for individuals is discussed briefly below.
The third is the negative income tax; first proposed by Milton Friedman in his 1962 book Capitalism and Freedom and is a type of flat tax. It is the same as a flat tax with personal deductions, except that when deductions exceed income, the taxable income is allowed to become negative rather than being set to zero. The flat tax rate is then applied to the resulting "negative income," resulting in a "negative income tax" the government owes the household, unlike the usual "positive" income tax, in which the household owes the government.
The most outstanding feature of the Hall-Rabushka flat tax is that your tax form fits on a postcard.  On February 24, 2015, Michael C. Burgess (R-TX 26th District) introduced a bill in the 114th Congress, 1st Session, titled the "Flat Tax Act." His bill embodies all the attributes of the Hall-Rabushka flat tax. Burgess' Individual Form 1040 would look something like this.
Every taxpayer would agree there is an attractive simplicity and elegance to the "flat tax" Form 1040. Nevertheless, since 1982 some 67 bills have been introduced in Congress to adopt a flat tax system, but not one has made it past either the Senate Finance or House Ways and Means Committees. For this reason, no matter how attractive a flat tax may be, it will take a "Reagan-type Revolution" to bring it to fruition. Maybe this is the season.

                  [1] Taken from a paper authored by David W. Alexander, Patent Attorney, for the course, Tax Policy, at the University of Houston Law Center, as part of the requirements for a L.LM. in Tax Law. Footnotes in the original paper omitted.

Upcoming Veteran's Clinic

The next Veteran's Clinic will take place from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at the Galveston VA Outpatient Clinic, 3828 Ave. N, Galveston, TX 77550.  If you able to attend please register in advance and arrive a little early on the day of the clinic for a brief orientation on how to best help the veterans in attendance.  Lisa Marie Windsor, Staff Attorney at Houston Volunteer Lawyers can answer any questions and can be reached at 713.275.0124 or Lisa.Windsor@hvlp.org.

GCBA Board - Call for Nominations
The Galveston County Bar Association Nominations Committee is pleased to announce the call for nominees to serve on the 2016 - 2017 GCBA Board of Officers and Directors.  Participating on the Board of Officers and Directors enables you to lend your leadership and vision to the Galveston County legal community and to contribute to defining its path forward.  If you are interested in serving or nominating a fellow member, please contact Robert Booth regarding the open positions.

Follow us on Facebook!

Facebook has become the most popular social networking site on the internet.  Sharing photos and information between friends and family members has never been easier with the rise in popularity of Facebook.  Please follow us on Facebook and share your photos with fellow members from our upcoming events.  You can find our page at:  https://www.facebook.com/GalvestonCountyBarAssociation