Tax

Question:        I own a policy of insurance on my life that I am selling to a third party at a profit.  What tax consequences and other concerns do I have? Answer:          Any gain from the sale of a life insurance policy you own will be subject to income tax.  Like the sale of most other assets, the difference between the amount realized or the amount you receive from the sale and your tax basis in the policy will be subject to tax.  Based on recent legislative changes, your tax basis in the policy will generally be the aggregate amount of…
William Valle’s commission lawsuit against Powertech Industrial Co. Ltd. offers a little bit of everything. Two versions of a contract, changing commission rates, enforceability questions, and the duty of good faith and fair dealing are all raised in this dispute. (So too is the perennial employee v. independent contractor battle, but that part of their contest will be saved for another day.) The case recently went to trial before the Hon. Diane J. Casper, who years ago demonstrated her mettle while presiding over the criminal trial of Boston mobster and FBI “most wanted” list mainstay James “Whitey” Bulger. The beginning…
Question:        I personally realized a large capital gain from the sale of my stock.  Can I avoid or defer the gain by reinvesting some or all of the sale proceeds in a qualified opportunity zone investment? Answer:          A new trilogy of tax benefits are provided by the Federal government for those willing to make long-term investments in economically-distressed community areas.  The tax on the capital gain itself can be deferred for a number of years. Further, the amount of the capital gain which ultimately will be taxed can be reduced. Finally, the appreciation in the qualified opportunity zone investment itself…
Former Chicago Ald. Willie Cochran will be sentenced next week. After admitting helping himself to the proceeds of a donors’ fund earmarked for ward activities, Cochran asked the court for the proverbial wrist slap (six months’ home confinement), rather than the 12 to 18 months in prison indicated under federal sentencing guidelines. Fittingly, among the improper aldermanic purchases with monies meant to benefit the citizens of the 20th Ward was a CD titled “Call Me Irresponsible.” By Cochran’s own count, he is the 35th alderman to get indicted, yet few public corruption defendants before him have sought to avoid the…
Property owners are receiving reassessment notices with increases of 200% or even 300% on commercial property and apartment buildings. Even those who planned for the reassessment this year never imagined increases on this scale and do not know how to budget for the potential tax increase. As an attorney who contests property tax assessments, I have been hearing a lot from taxpayers this year. Townships in the north and west regions of Cook County are being reassessed in 2019 as part of the triennial reassessment cycle. All other counties in the state are also being reassessed this year on the…
Workplace violence is one of the primary causes of all homicide incidents in the U.S., and the devastation after a violent incident in the workplace is costly to persons and the entities exposed to this type of violence. The business impact of workplace violence can result in low employee morale, loss of productivity, worker’s compensation claims, expensive litigation, and permanent damage to a business’s reputation. On average, the annual cost of workplace violence to American businesses is estimated to be over $120 billion. Workplace violence has the potential to involve gun violence and it is an unfortunate reality that workplace…
Question:        I am buying an insurance policy on my life that contains a long-term care insurance rider. Can I transfer the policy to an irrevocable insurance trust and still benefit from the long-term care feature? Answer:          You can benefit from the long-term care feature of a life insurance policy held by an irrevocable life insurance trust (an “ILIT”) you create. Neither the ILIT policy ownership nor you benefitting from this type of policy is an issue. The concern is ensuring you can benefit in a manner that does not defeat the tax benefits you are seeking with an ILIT. Insured…
Owning a home can be a long-term proposition, so it is not a surprise that older Americans are more likely than their younger peers to have paid off their mortgages. On average, 36% of owner occupied housing units in the United States do not have a mortgage, and for homeowners who are 65 and older, the rate is more than 65%. Even if you still have mortgage payments, the equity in your home is a valuable asset. If you are happy with your home and don’t need to tap the equity, living free of a monthly mortgage could make a big difference…
The Vacationing Lawyer. In concept, it would stir envy for the practitioner contrarian enough to use it as an autobiography title. In practice, it’s an oxymoron. I’m just back from a long-planned 10-day African getaway, and rather than actually getting away, it sure felt like work stowed away. I was expecting more from the international customs officials, but without a ticket or even an invitation, work was waved right through. It’s old hat by now to complain about ubiquitous cellphones and tablets, borderless email and texting, and the long reach of the office. Per bestselling author Curt Steinhorst, we check…
Updated Information After the Annual IIUSA Meeting Held in Washington, DC May 6 and May 7, 2019 IIUSA hosted a very targeted annual conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss the status of the EB-5 industry and focused on various specific matters of interest to the group. The major takeaway from the meeting was a speech by Charles Oppenheim, Chief Analyst for USCIS, who provided overall information related to retrogression in various countries, the visa backlog, the utilization of the program among the major countries and the rest of the world as well as the panelists’ general comments related thereto.  In…
Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi took office on December 3, 2018 and close to six months into his four-year term, we are beginning to see the effects of his new policies.  In the five townships that he has reassessed in 2019 including Norwood Park, Evanston, New Trier, Elk Grove and Maine Townships, we are seeing significant assessment increases particularly with commercial, industrial and multi-family properties.  Kaegi has stated publicly his policies are to remedy the fact that Cook County homeowners bear more of the tax burden than they should while commercial, industrial and apartment building owners bear less of a…
Five attorneys of the Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP firm attended the annual OZ Expo Conference in Las Vegas.  The conference was very well attended with an estimate of 1,400 participants and further solidifying that the OZ Expo team is best in class with its reach and expertise in this space.  The two-day event had an extremely diversified agenda that addressed many of the issues currently faced in the industry.  Takeaways from the meeting can be summarized as follows: 1. Various governmental agencies were represented at the conference, including specific states as well as a contingency from Puerto…
You are cordially invited to a presentation at The Union League Club of Chicago on the day after Labor Day -May 28th, 2019 at 6PM- on the Power of Micro Finance Entrepreneurship. Micro-Finance lending is changing lives and empowering entrepreneurs in Developing Countries like never before. We will feature a presentation on micro-finance by Jeffrey L. Hartman.  Jeff is a long-time entrepreneur and recently retired from his latest start up. To become President of the CareLink Foundation, (CareLinkFoundation.org) a non-profit that provides micro-finance capital to entrepreneurs in Honduras.  Jeff will provide information on how micro-finance works, the impact it is having…
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The DOL has issued its much-anticipated proposed rule on white-collar overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA). This rule replaces the prior Obama-era rule that has been enjoined by a federal court judge since 2016. The DOL’s proposed rule increases the annual salary threshold employees must meet to qualify as “exempt” from $23,660 to $35,308. In comparison, the Obama administration’s rule had increased the threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. The newly proposed rule’s preamble states that the threshold should be increased every four years, though unlike the Obama Administration rule that included an automatic adjustment mechanism,…
The reasons why smaller law firms offer significant advantages to companies are well known—this is especially true for businesses that are midsized or emerging. But the following is a primer for in-house counsel when their businesses are facing litigation and need help from outside counsel. With a smaller law firm, experienced lawyers are the norm, rather than the associates who typically handle the day-to-day business for large law firms. The attention given to the client is second to none. As a result, relationships between the law firm and general in-house counsel tend to be closer. Then, of course, there is…

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