Tax

Four trademark infringement scenarios. Spot the real one: Late one winter night, an old pickup gives out and the driver is forced to pull off onto the shoulder of a desolate country road. Fortunately, he belongs to the Automobile Association of America. Pulling out his cellphone, the cold, tired driver accidentally dials the “other” AAA, the American Arbitration Association. He later reports his confusion to the driving group, leading one AAA to file suit against the other. So excited are a newly engaged couple with their honeymoon plans that they mistakenly try booking their flights to Rome on the Alcoholics…
Question:        I am a salaried employee and I also receive self-employment  income from a side business unrelated to my salaried employment.  Am I entitled to a qualified business income tax deduction for my earnings? Answer:          Taxpayers meeting the statutory requirements are entitled to a deduction of 20% of their qualified business income.  Qualified business income (“QBI”) generally consists of income derived from sole proprietorships and so-called pass-thru entities such as partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations where business income is reported on the owners’ personal income tax returns. Your self-employment income may be eligible for the QBI deduction.  No…
Recently, the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, clarified a point of defamation law which had created confusion over the years:  Whether a false statement imputing an association with a criminal enterprise, such as a street gang, can support a cause of action for defamation per se (statements that are so obviously and naturally harmful on their face that they are actionable without proof of special damages). In Hardiman v. Aslam, 2019 IL App (1st) 173196, an on-air “teaser” for a television newscast stated, “A former gang member who was once accused of beating his wife wants to be your governor.”…
On September 27, 2019, Francis Suarez, the Mayor of Miami, sponsored an OZ Expo conference for the City of Miami.  Prior to the conference, one of our clients hosted a lunch for the dignitaries who attended the conference that included Secretary of HUD Dr. Ben Carson, Mayor Francis Suarez, the Acting Administrator of the of SBA for the United States, Chris Pilkerton, as well as national and local representatives of the SBA, representatives from HUD, representatives from the Opportunity Zone Division of the Federal Government including Scott Turner, Executive Director, White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, representatives of the local…
Question: I am a salaried employee and I also receive self-employment income from a side business unrelated to my salaried employment. Am I entitled to a qualified business income tax deduction for my earnings? Answer: Taxpayers meeting the statutory requirements are entitled to a deduction of 20% of their qualified business income. Qualified business income (“QBI”) generally consists of income derived from sole proprietorships and so-called pass-thru entities such as partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations where business income is reported on the owners’ personal income tax returns. Your self-employment income may be eligible for the QBI deduction. No…
Question:       I own an interest in a limited liability company with others through which we operate a professional service business. Our company holds a significant amount of assets largely consisting of equipment, accounts receivable and cash. How can we protect the company assets from creditors in a tax-effective manner? Answer:          There are various actions you can take to protect limited liability company (“LLC”) assets from creditors.  As a professional, your greatest liability concern is likely malpractice creditors.  Procuring and maintaining professional liability insurance is no doubt the best form of protection from clients and others  who file malpractice claims  against the…
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…

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