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Thursday
Sep192013

Over the Rainbow: Treasury Allows Gay, Married Couples to File Taxes Jointly 

by Lovette T. Mioni

 

As of September 16, 2013, same-sex, legally married couples must file federal tax returns as married couples – whether they are filing jointly or separately. Both the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of the Treasury announced August 29th that they will now recognize the State of Celebration rather than the State of Residence/Domicile, for federal tax purposes.

The announcement came following the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings regarding DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) in June. But what exactly, does the State of Celebration policy mean?

Gay couples married in California but who live in Nevada for example – where same-sex marriage is not recognized – should complete federal tax returns as married, since California sanctions these weddings.

Things get a little more complicated for same-sex couples filing state income taxes where gay marriage is not recognized, i.e. in Hawaii. They may need to file two separate, state returns. Californians won't need to worry about this though, since our state culls info from the federal filing to apply its own rates to the California income tax return.

This State of Celebration approach by the Treasury and IRS affects the following provisions on federal tax returns:

  • Child Tax Credits
  • Earned Income
  • Employee Benefits
  • Gift and Estate Taxes
  • IRA Contributions
  • Marriage Penalties

Couples who are registered domestic partners or who have same-sex unions will neither benefit, or be affected by, the State of Celebration policy.

The same-sex couples who will benefit most from the federal policy, are those that have a large disparity in income between the two partners. Tax savings are greatest for those couples with one working spouse, for example.

Based on household income $100K, standard deduction, no children and no tax credits. Source: Bankrate.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Sep122013

Modifications to Orders – Not All Family Law Decisions Are Set in Stone

Encino Tarzana Divorce LawyerChild Custody and Support Attorney Los Angeles

by Vanessa Soto Nellis
818.907.3274

 

When a divorce becomes final, a court issues rulings regarding spousal or child support, and child custody and visitation. These rulings are based on the circumstances of each spouse at the time of the divorce.  However, those circumstances often change, sometimes drastically.

One parent may make a dramatic career change; lifestyles evolve or regress; and health can improve or deteriorate because of a variety of causes. These are all good reasons to seek modifications, whether  you think you are paying too much, or receive too little child support.

The following changes may justify seeking a modification to previous agreements:

  1. Care Requirements: If a child requires substantially more (or less) care, than at the time of divorce, you may want to have your support order modified. This usually happens when children go to school and no longer need day care; or if ongoing medical treatment or prescriptions are no longer needed, or are suddenly required.

  2. Parent's Relocation: One parent moving out of state could affect the visitation vs. custody balance previously ordered fair by a family law court.

  3. Parent's Lifestyle: If one of the parents loses a job; engages in chronic, risky behavior (i.e. becomes addicted to drugs or alcohol); remarries – which can either add more fiscal obligations or merely increase household income.

  4. Parent's Health: Mental or physical health can change in a moment, affecting the welfare of the child. A traumatic accident or the development of a chronic condition can impose both physical and emotional burdens.

  5. Family Preferences: An older child's preferences are sometimes taken into consideration. Other times, both parents may agree that a child living with one parent rather than the other is better for the child.

Whether you seek an increase in child support, or are hoping to decrease your payments, proceed with caution. Often, more than one factor applied to a child support calculation changes over time.  While you are counting on your or your ex's change in career to work in your favor for example, be warned that the Court may also consider a changed visitation schedule, your child's increased age, etc. to weigh against you.

A family law court will have final say, but a good family law attorney can help you evaluate the risks beforehand.

Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Family Law Attorney experienced in modifications to child and spousal support agreements. Contact her via email: vnellis@lewitthackman.com, should you have any questions.

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Monday
Sep092013

Employers: Affordable Care Act Deadline Approaching

Wage and Hour DefenseEmployee Leave of Absence Claim Defense

by Sue M. Bendavid

818.907.3220

 

NOTE: Per the Department of Labor as of September 13, employers must still comply with the mandates to provide notices as outlined below, but will not be penalized for failure to do so.

by Sue M. Bendavid
September 9, 2013

 

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all employers covered by the FLSA, or Fair Labor Standards Act, are required to provide written notice of health coverage options to their current employees, before October 1st.

   

Employer Lawyer California

 

After that date, employers must provide the same notice to all new employees, whether they are full or part-time workers, when they are hired.

The ACA mandates the following information be provided in the notice:

  1. The existence of a Health Insurance Marketplace or Exchange
  2. Description of the Marketplace's services
  3. Contact information for the Marketplace
  4. Employee's potential qualification for tax credits, if employee purchases a qualified plan
  5. Employee may lose employer contributions, if employee purchases a plan through the Marketplace
  6. Information regarding the employer's health plan or lack of health plan

Employers may find detailed information regarding the notice on the Department of Labor website.

 

Other Requirements of the Notice

 

As mentioned, the ACA notice must be in writing, but it also must be stated in language easily understood by the average employee, free of charge - via first class mail, or electronic delivery.

Employers will not need to provide notice to dependents or other individuals who may become eligible for coverage, if they are not employees.

There are model notices provided by the Department of Labor, in both English and Spanish, for employers who offer a health plan and for employers who don't. Click the ACA Notice to Employees of Coverage Options to access these forms.

As usual, if you have any questions regarding employer compliance for this notice, please contact us.

 

Sue M. Bendavid is an Employer Defense Attorney, and Chair of the Employment Practice Group at our firm. Contact her via email: sbendavid@lewitthackman.com, should you have questions regarding this notice.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Thursday
Aug292013

Wage & Hour Claims: Prevailing Employers Must Prove Bad Faith to Recover Fees

Lawyer for EmployerWage and Hour Defense

 

by Nicole Kamm
818.907.3235

 

California Senate Bill 462, providing a prevailing employer may only recover attorneys’ fees if the court finds the wage claim was brought in bad faith, was recently signed into law.

But what does this mean for California employers?

The new bill is an amendment to California Labor Code Section 218.5, which generally states the prevailing party in a wage and hour claim may recover attorneys' fees and costs, if requested on initiation of the action. Under the former code, an employer who prevailed in a claim for unpaid overtime, wages, meal and rest break penalties, etc. could request the recovery of attorneys' fees and court costs against the employee.

But under SB 462, it will no longer be enough for an employer to be the “prevailing party” (i.e., win the case). If a company wants to recover its defense costs, the employer must prove the employee or agency making a wage and hour claim did so in bad faith – proving an intention to defraud or deceive.

 

Lessons for Employers

 

As we've long been telling our employer clients: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  1. Minimize Employee Claims – Properly pay all wages, overtime, commissions and benefits on a timely basis, and provide all required meal and rest breaks, in compliance with California Labor Code.

  2. Document – Keep accurate records. If an employee complains of short pay, missed breaks or makes another wage and hour claim, you should have complete and accurate records confirming whether the claim has merit or not.

  3. Communicate with Employees – Because of SB 462, it is now more important than ever to ensure your employees understand how and when they are to be paid earned wages and other amounts.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I highly recommend all employers to take proactive steps to minimize the risk of wage and hour claims before they occur.

 

Nicole Kamm is a Wage and Hour/Employment Defense Attorney for employers. Contact her via email:  nkamm@lewitthackman.com.

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Wednesday
Aug282013

Lessons in Commercial Lease Charges: Incorrect Estimates Could Lead to Fraud Claims

Business LitigationSan Fernando Valley Business Litigation Lawyer

 

by Nicholas Kanter
818.907.3289

Business Litigation Google+ 

A recent decision from the California Court of Appeals should give commercial landlords pause before providing estimated common area maintenance charges (CAM) and other lease expenses to prospective tenants.

In Thrifty Payless, Inc. v. The Americana at Brand, LLC, (2013) 2013 WL 3786374, Thrifty and Americana entered into lease negotiations for a space at the Americana Glendale shopping center prior to the development of the center.

A letter of intent (LOI) submitted to Thrifty set forth the annual property taxes at $3.00 per square foot , insurance at $0.80 per square foot and CAM at $14.50 per square foot. The CAM amount, stated as an estimate, was Thrifty’s proportionate share, based upon its square footage, was 2.2 percent of the total CAM. The parties executed a lease.

In 2009, when the first expenses became due, Americana charged Thrifty $169,686 in taxes, instead of the $43,836 that would have been due under the rate specified in the final LOI; $28,110 insurance, instead of the $11,689.60 that would have been due under the rate specified in the final LOI; and $412,307 for CAM, instead of the $211,874 that would have been due under the rate specified in the final LOI.

Thrifty sued Americana for fraud and negligent misrepresentation, claiming, among other things, Americana knew the estimated taxes, insurance and CAM charges, set forth in the LOI, were false at the time they were made, or made without a reasonable basis to believe they were true. Americana demurred to the complaint, arguing an integration clause in the lease, wherein Thrifty agreed it was not relying on statements made by Americana and that Thrifty had performed its own investigation, barred Americana from suing based on estimates in the LOI, which were superseded by the lease.

Citing the recent decision in Riverisland Cold Storage, Inc. v. Fresno-Madera Production Credit Assn., (2013) 55 Cal.4th 1169, 1174-1175, the Court of Appeal ruled Americana could not rely on the integration clause, or the parol evidence rule, to prevent Thrifty from presenting extrinsic evidence to show the lease was procured by fraud.

The court held that under Riverisland, extrinsic evidence (i.e., the LOI and evidence that Americana had told other tenants that their pro rata shares would be substantially higher than the rates Americana represented to Thrifty) is admissible to establish fraud or negligent misrepresentation, despite the lease’s integration clause. The court also noted the large discrepancy between the estimates and ultimate costs supported an inference of misrepresentation.

The Thrifty decision makes clear that landlords cannot rely on exculpatory or integration clauses to avoid liability for misrepresentations, innocent or not, made during lease negotiations.

To protect against such claims, the lease negotiations cannot contradict the lease terms. If estimates are provided without equivocation, a lease provision stating the estimates are only estimates and may vary significantly will likely not protect against a misrepresentation claim. Based on Thrifty, a landlord should anticipate that, despite language to the contrary, evidence of lease negotiations will likely be admissible to prove the landlord made misrepresentations.

 

Nicholas Kanter is a Commercial Real Estate Litigation attorney. You can reach him via email: nkanter@lewitthackman.com. 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
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