skip to Main Content
  • October 15, 2019

CHARITABLE GIVING FALLING DUE TO NEW TAX LAW

In 2017, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act gave charities great concern that donations would be falling.  This is because the standard deduction was doubled (to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly) and other deductions (such as State taxes and mortgage interest) were capped.  Fewer people would itemize deductions on their 2018 tax returns, and without a tax benefit to their charitable contribution, they would give less.  New data shows that those fears were well-founded. In 2018, a year of record employment and sustained economic growth, the number of taxpayers who itemized dropped from 46 million to 19 million.  Individual…

Read More
  • June 17, 2019

A Spouse May Be Barred from Receiving Statutory Share from a Deceased Spouse’s Estate by the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

On May 29, 2019, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland issued an opinion in In the Matter of Robert H. Watkins, Jr. in which the Court denied to a widow a spousal share of the Estate under the common law doctrine of “unclean hands” because the marriage was procured by undue influence.  This was a case of first impression in Maryland. Robert F. Watkins, Jr., was a real estate and racehorse owner in Maryland.  Mr. Watkins was raised by an affluent family in Maryland and he was married three times.  It was during his second marriage to Jasmine Watkins that he…

Read More
  • March 4, 2019

The Form 990 as Public Relations

Form 990 is the Internal Revenue Service filing required annually for most nonprofits. Since 2009, it has included questions that have little to do with the tax rules, but rather concern the organization’s purpose, activities, and governance.  This makes the 990 Return not simply an accounting function.  Instead, the 990 can be a strong public relations statement, or it can be full of damaging disclosures for anyone to read. Unlike almost all other tax returns, Form 990 is a public disclosure document. It is a substantial form, requiring several schedules.  All Form 990s are available for public inspection, and available…

Read More
  • October 23, 2018

New Maryland Statute Strengthens Condo Associations Against Owners

Owners who do not pay their condo assessments are the bane of condominium associations.  The association can bring a lawsuit or establish a lien on the unit, but that might be of little value against an owner who holds the unit in an LLC and has little equity in the unit because of a substantial mortgage. One tool that condo associations have turned to is to deny the owner’s common element privileges.  Denying use of the pool or common element parking creates an incentive to keep condo assessments paid. In 2017, the Maryland Court of Appeals struck down a condominium…

Read More
  • August 2, 2018

Submit to an Examination Under Oath or Lose Coverage

  On June 28th, 2018, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued an opinion in Dolan v. Kemper Independence Insurance Company, 218 WL 3199548 (Sept. Term, 2017) in which the appellate court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment in favor of the insurer against an insured who refused to submit to an examination under oath (EUO).   Most insurance policies, including the one at issue, contain policy conditions that require a person seeking coverage to cooperate with the insurer in the investigation, settlement, or defense of any claim or suit. These conditions usually require a person seeking coverage to submit to…

Read More
  • April 3, 2018

Donor Advised Funds Top Planning Tools Under New Tax Law

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) went into effect on January 1, 2018. Economists argue over the winners and the losers, but one obvious loser was charitable donations and the charities that depend on them. The new tax law nearly doubles the standard deduction in 2018 — to $12,000 for singles and $24,000 for joint filers younger than age 65 — while capping or eliminating other deductions. This means it will no longer make sense for as many taxpayers to itemize deductions. In 2017, 30% of taxpayers itemized; under the new tax law that is expected to drop to…

Read More
  • December 21, 2016

The Special Needs Trust Fairness Act

On December 7, 2016, the Senate approved the 21st Century Cures Act (HB 34).   Included in this legislation is the Special Needs Trust Fairness Act (the “Act”).  The Act now adds provisions to allow disabled individuals to establish their own self-settled special needs trusts.   In general, special needs trusts allow disabled beneficiaries to receive the benefit of trust assets without disqualifying those beneficiaries from receiving means-tested benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income.  A special needs trust allows for trust assets to be used to pay for expenses that are not covered by these means-tested governmental programs, without…

Read More
  • December 16, 2016

Church’s “Public Accommodation” and Gender Identity

The question of churches and gender identity have again come to the forefront of the news. The recent events in North Carolina and the recent joint guidance provided by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have raised issues of religious freedom and civil rights. Churches have expressed questions on (i) whether church buildings and services are required to comply with the recent joint guidance provided by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, (ii) whether churches are exempt from this joint guidance and/or state law, and (iii) if compliance is mandated, what liability do churches face in failing to…

Read More
  • November 30, 2016

Employee Benefit Plans and the Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program

The Voluntary Fiduciary Correction Program (“VFCP”), sponsored by the Employee Benefits Security Administration of the Department of Labor, provides relief from civil liability and an exemption from excise taxes under the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”). VFCP is designed to encourage self-correction of certain violations and fiduciary breaches of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. VFCP covers many different transactions. One of the most commonly violated transactions that it covers is delinquent contributions. Plan sponsors have a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that participant contributions are deposited in a plan’s trust on a timely basis. Participant contributions are defined as…

Read More
  • November 16, 2015

Correcting Retirement Plan Errors: 2015 IRS Guidance Favors Employers

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has modified the Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (EPCRS), which is the IRS correction program for retirement plans. In general, EPCRS allows retirement plan sponsors to correct plan mistakes and continue to provide retirement benefits on a tax-favored basis. It includes self-correction without IRS involvement, voluntary correction with IRS approval, and correction during audit under a closing agreement. The recent modifications to EPCRS are found in Revenue Procedure 2015-27 and Revenue Procedure 2015-8. They are a welcomed relief to employers who have discovered and need to correct past errors. Revenue Procedure 2015-27: Rev. Proc 2015-27…

Read More
Back To Top