Coolidge Wall Co., L.P.A.
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Business Law Archives

IRS Finalizes Regulations Governing De Minimis Safe Harbor Expensing

The IRS has released final regulations governing when taxpayers must capitalize expenditures and when they can deduct expenditures related to the acquisition of tangible property. These regulations are effective for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2014. Importantly, the final regulations provide for a de minimis safe harbor election that allows taxpayers to immediately deduct the cost of acquiring certain items of tangible property, provided that specific requirements are satisfied. The election is made annually by attaching a statement to a timely filed income tax return.

Asset Protection: Sometimes, being attached to your spouse means that your creditors cannot attach your assets

HISTORY LESSON: Back in days of yore (2/9/72 - 4/4/85) in Ohio, a form of property ownership known as Tenancy By the Entirety (TBE) was recognized. The TBE form of property ownership harkens back to times when women had much less control over their affairs and needed to be protected from their husband's debts. It is useful now to protect assets from creditors.

IRS Announces 2014 Pension Plan Limitations

On October 31, 2013, the IRS announced cost-of-living adjustments for 2014 retirement plan contributions. For 2014, the amounts that individuals will be able to contribute to retirement plans will remain the same as 2013. Highlights of the IRS announcement include:

IRS Modifies the Health Flexible Spending Account "Use It or Lose It" Rule to Allow a Limited Carry Over of Unused FSA Funds

On Halloween, the IRS treated employers and health flexible spending account participants to a change in the longstanding "use it or lose it" rule. Beginning immediately, employers may amend their cafeteria plans to allow participants to carry over up to $500 of unused FSA funds at the end of the plan year so that the carryover can be used to reimburse qualified medical expenses incurred in the following plan year. In addition, the amount carried over will not count against the permitted $2,500 salary reduction limit applicable to the next plan year.

A True "Black Swan": How unpaid internships were good, but are now bad

I love when a movie comes out that makes me smarter, even without watching it. A good example is The Black Swan. I had never heard of such a thing and had no idea what it symbolized before Fox bombed the airwaves with commercials featuring dark, elegant-looking shots of Natalie Portman in ominous poses. Intrigued, I looked up the metaphorical use of a black swan in literature and film. I learned that a black swan represents an event that surprises the observer, has a major effect on the observer and others, which is usually negative, but is often inappropriately rationalized in hindsight.

How to Increase the Odds that the Loser Really Pays

Often, a client seeking our advice asks if they can recover their attorney's fees in a lawsuit. We explain that an award of attorney's fees to a prevailing party only occurs in a few situations: when a Federal or State law mandates an attorney fee award to the lawsuit's winner, or when a court, in its discretion, determines that the behavior of the losing party is so egregious that punitive damages and attorney's fees should be awarded. We explain that the necessary egregious behavior needs to almost rise to the level of criminal activity before a court will even consider a request for attorney's fees. While most clients believe that the wrongs done to them by adverse parties are always "criminal" in the sense of being intentional and outrageous, it is rare when a court will award attorney's fees purely based on bad business behavior.

When Charity Invites Liability, a Simple Contract Can Help

If you are a small business owner, you may often consider how you can give back to the community or make a charitable use of your commercial property. Picture this: A local nonprofit is hosting a 5K race and asks to use your business's parking lot as a pre-race staging area. While you would like to help out the nonprofit (and get some good PR in the process), you are concerned about liability. If someone gets hurt at the race, could your business be sued for its involvement? The old saying is that "no good deed goes unpunished," but, with a little planning and foresight, your business can sidestep liability while still meeting its charitable goals.

When Employees Commit Electronic Theft

For business owners, holding an edge in the market depends on safe communication and storage of data and proprietary information. While theft of trade secrets once conjured up the image of cumbersome files bring stuffed into a briefcase, loss of essential data now occurs with the simple click of a mouse.

Supreme Court Asked to Decide If Corporations Have Religious Freedom

As discussed in an earlier blog post, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") created a controversy about whether for-profit corporations have religious freedom. The issue concerns the requirement under ACA that health insurance sufficient to avoid penalties must include coverage for certain forms of birth control. Businesses closely held by families with strong religious convictions are objecting to this requirement as an infringement of religious freedom.

Do For-Profit Corporations Have Religious Freedom?

A provision under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has raised the question of whether for-profit corporations have religious freedom. The ACA through guidelines from the Health Resources and Services Administration requires that non-grandfathered group health plans and individual health insurance cover, without cost to the individual, all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. The FDA-approved methods include contraception known as the "morning-after pill" and the "week-after pill", which the FDA has acknowledged can terminate pregnancy after conception. While exemptions for contraception coverage have been made for religious non-profit corporations, no exemptions are available to for-profit corporations.