President Obama signed a “Plain Writing Act” on October 13 that would require federal agencies to write tax forms, instructions and other public documents in plain English. Unfortunately, it does not apply to government regulations. Critics are having a hard time articulating what bothers them about the measure . . . . The IRS said in an internal legal memo that became public in mid-October that a company that purchased a vineyard in one of the 198 designated “American viticultural areas”—geographic areas with distinct grapes that the vineyard can use as an appellation on its wine bottles— had to allocate part of the purchase price to the right to use the appellation. The agency said the right was a separate intangible whose cost must be recovered over 15 years. The memo is Chief Counsel Advice 201040004 . . . The Netherlands Antilles, previously a separate country under Dutch sovereignty, ceased to exist on October 10. Some multinational corporations have used offshore ownership structures that run partly through the Antilles. Curaçao and Saint Maarten have become separate countries with the same status as Aruba with full responsibility for their own internal affairs. Holland will continue to handle their foreign affairs. They are not part of the European Union. Both will still use the same laws, including tax laws, as before. — contributed by Keith Martin in Washington.