Justices reluctant to let medical residents skip taxes

The Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2010

Several Supreme Court justices appeared reluctant Monday to overturn an Internal Revenue Service requirement that medical residents pay Social Security taxes.

Arguing before the court on behalf of the Mayo Clinic, lawyer Theodore B. Olson urged the court to reject the IRS rule as arbitrary. He argued that like other students, medical residents attend lectures, perform laboratory work and are focused primarily on learning.

Full-time students who work are generally exempt from Social Security taxes, but law clerks and tradesman apprentices are not. In a 2005 rule, the IRS said medical residents are full-time employees, not students.

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