Friday, December 6, 2013
Hawaii’s Legislature passed a law last month allowing gay marriage, and same-sex couples are now taking advantage.
Hawaii’s marriage laws allow for couples to register for a license and then be married the same day, which is a process conducive to tourism. Research from the University of Hawaii estimates the state will see a $217 million boost in tourism over the next three years.
See Oskar Garcia, Gay Weddings Become Reality in Hawaii with New Law, Yahoo! News, Dec. 2, 2013.
Special thanks to Laura Galvan (Attorney, San Antonio, Texas) for bringing this article to my attention.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Effective January 1, 2014, the new Israeli tax reform law will subject many previously tax-exempt trusts to significant income tax liability.
For years, Israel hasn’t taxed its residents on any distributions received from trusts created by a U.S. resident with a U.S. trustee unrelated to beneficiaries. Israelis receiving money from such trusts weren’t even required to report distributions.
Under the new law, any trust with foreign settlors and at least one Israeli resident beneficiary will now be taxed. In situations where the settlor is related to the beneficiary, known as a Relatives Trust, trustees must choose between the Deferred Tax Regime and the Alternative Regime.
See Julie D. Goldstein, Israel Changes Its Tax Law to Include the Taxation of Many U.S. Trusts, Mondaq, Nov. 16, 2013.
According to a recent study by the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, if President Obama limits the value of the charitable deduction, donors would withhold over $9 billion in gifts a year, a decrease in donations by about 4.4%.
Think tank president Arthur Brooks says that President Obama’s longstanding proposal to limit the tax savings for charitable gifts from 39.6% to 28% would cause “massive” harm to nonprofits.
This estimated effect on donations is larger than previous studies.
See Alex Daniels, $9-Billion in Gifts at Risk if Deduction Is Reduced, Study Forecasts, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Nov. 21, 2013.
Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.
Friday, November 29, 2013
A study conducted by the U.N. revealed that just eight years after India amended the Hindu Succession Act that gives equal inheritance rights to agricultural land to sons and daughters, a dowry is still considered 'adequate' compensation for inheritance. Even though the law did not accomplish its goal, the study shows the positive impact similar laws have had. Andhra Pradesh, a state in India, has had a similar law for 20 years longer than Bihar and Madya Pradesh, and has experienced four times the rate of female inheritance. Additionally, the rate of female inheritance has increased substantially in Andhra Pradesh.
See Just One In 10 Women Inherits Land, The Hindu, Nov. 28, 2013.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Nancy Nixon, a Pennsylvania resident, is hoping to have the state forgive thousands in death taxes that were charged on her late same sex partner's estate. Nixon believes she will be successful in getting $21,000 in death taxes waived. The couple was together for 31 years. Nancy explained, " We would've gotten married if we were afforded that possibility." Gay marriage is not permitted by a same sex couples in Pennsylvania. The panel has two months to make a decision.
See Ivey DeJesus Pennsylvania Woman Confident Death Tax on Partner's Estate Will be Waived, PennLive.Com, Oct. 30, 2013.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Same-sex couples legally married in other states can now file joint returns in Missouri.
Governor Jay Nixon cited the need to follow federal tax law for this change and will issue an executive order telling the Missouri Department of Revenue to accept joint state tax returns from same-sex couples.
Nixon’s decision drew the ire of the Republicans, who control the Missouri House and Senate. They claim Nixon, a Democrat, was going against voters’ will because voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 that defined marriage as between a man and woman. Nixon said he would like to take another vote on recognizing same-sex marriages.
See Joe Harris, Another First for Same-Sex Marriages, Courthouse News Service, Nov. 18, 2013.
Republican Representative and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp has said he will not attempt to change estate and gift taxes as he tries to make the biggest alterations to the tax system since 1986.
Camp, of Michigan, plans on releasing a tax bill that would lower individual and corporate tax rates while curtailing tax breaks. Many Republicans and business groups want the estate tax repealed, but Camp says, “I don’t think that policy needs the reform the rest of the code does.”
See Richard Rubin, Republican Camp Says Estate Tax Won’t Be Changed in Plan, Bloomberg, Nov. 20, 2013.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
The British Columbia Law Institute (BCLI) recently published an article entitled, Report on Common-Law Tests of Capacity, BCLI Report no. 73 (Sept. 24, 2013). Provided below is the abstract from SSRN:
The British Columbia Law Institute's Rationalizing and Harmonization of BC Common-Law Tests of Capacity Project concerned itself with how the law determines whether a person has the mental capacity to make a legally effective decision, to enter into a transaction, or to form a relationship with another person. For a very long time, the law’s basic position has been that a medical diagnosis of mental illness, disability, or impairment is not enough, standing on its own, to compel the conclusion that a person is mentally incapable. Instead, the law has applied a series of distinctive tests of capacity, which are geared to the specific type of decision, transaction, or relationship at issue.
This project examined nine tests of capacity that have developed, and that continue to be embodied, in court decisions. These selected tests of capacity cover some major legal decisions, such as those that are made when a person wants to make a will, to make a gift, to enter into a contract, and to marry or separate from a spouse. The project’s final report makes 31 recommendations for reform of the law govern-ing the selected tests of capacity. Some of these recommendations call for legislative changes, which the report illustrates with a draft statute.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Kristen Raymond (University of Connecticut School of Law) has recently published an article entitled, Double Trouble- An Ex-Spouse's Life Insurance Beneficiary Status and State Automatic Revocation Upon Divorce Statutes: Who Gets What? 19 Conn. Ins. L.J. 399 (2013). Provided below is an excerpt of the article:
Although the marriage rate in the United States has declined in past ten years, 1 the divorce rate has consistently hovered around fifty percent. 2 Fifty percent of first marriages end in divorce, sixty seven percent of second marriages end in divorce and a staggering seventy four percent of third marriages in the United States fail. 3 While many Americans are aware of rising wedding costs, 4 they don't realize that divorce can cost just as much. The US divorce industry generates about $ 28 billion a year, with the average cost of divorce estimated at about $ 20,000. 5 Although many couples take into account the high divorce rates before their wedding by signing a prenuptial agreement, 6 few Americans realize that simply saying "I do" may give their soon-to-be ex-spouse a legal right to their life insurance policy's proceeds, regardless of a prenuptial agreement.
Another burgeoning industry in the United States is the life insurance industry. According to Prudential, life insurance is "one of the largest sources of capital in the nation, with $ 4.5 trillion invested in the U.S. economy." 7 In total, life insurance premiums alone accounted for 3.8% of U.S. GDP in 2009. 8 Not only does the life insurance industry have a significant impact on the U.S. macro economy, but about "70% of U.S. households depend on life insurance industry products to protect their financial and retirement security." 9 Americans rely on the $ 59 billion in yearly death benefits paid ...
Monday, November 11, 2013
Seven states currently have laws granting fiduciary access to the online accounts of an incapacitated or deceased person, and at least eighteen other states are considering passing such a law. The Uniform Law Commission is also drafting a Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets model act.
These state laws granting fiduciary access may have a limited effect due to federal preemption or supremacy, especially the privacy protections under the federal Stored Communications Act. However, a court may conclude that state fiduciary laws, as well as the Uniform Law Commission’s model act, generally would not conflict with, or be preempted by, the Stored Communications Act.
Check out Jim Lamm’s Digital Passing Blog for background information on the Stored Communications Act, reasons why fiduciaries need access to online accounts, and his thoughts on federal preemption and supremacy.
See Jim Lamm, Thoughts on the Stored Communications Act, Federal Preemption and Supremacy, and State Laws on Fiduciary Access to Digital Property, Digital Passing, Nov. 4, 2013.