TBA Mashup and Mini Legal Hackathon this Friday

In conjunction with the Law Tech UnConference CLE this Friday, the TBA is also offering a variety of free events and programs for lawyers we’re calling a Mashup. One program will teach you about Legal Hackathons and see one in action. A Legal Hackathon is a collaborative effort of experts in the legal profession collaborating with a computer programmer to find a technology assisted solution to a problem in the legal industry. Join the TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market for a mini legal hackathon that will demonstrate the power of collaborative minds at work. We will have tasty beverages and snacks to help you get your collaborative juices flowing.  
Other programs that will be a part of the Mashup include Pro Bono In Action which will show you various pro bono programs you can participate in to help your fellow Tennesseans and Member Benefit Programs that will provide you information on  Fastcase 7, health insurance options for small firms, ABA retirement funds and professional liability insurance.
Please sign up now to let us know you are coming.

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State Faces Legal Challenge Over Online Sales Tax

Tennessee is facing a legal challenge to the state requirement that online vendors collect state and local sales tax, according to comments from Gov. Bill Haslam reported by the Times Free Press. Haslam said that the legal challenge was a welcome opportunity to bring the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court. Details surrounding the proceeds are secret, with a Haslam official citing state confidentiality laws regarding taxpayer information.

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Tennessee Department of Revenue to Launch New Tax Filing Website in March 2017

The Tennessee Department of Revenue will be launching a new tax filing website, called TNTAP, or the Tennessee Taxpayer Access Point, in March 2017. Returns can be filed through the website for the following tax types:

  • sales and use tax
  • liquor-by-the-drink tax
  • professional privilege tax
  • tobacco tax, tobacco stamp orders, and tobacco licenses

Some Department of Revenue forms may be changing when the new website launches.

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Issues, Legislators to Watch as New Session Starts

Tennessee lawmakers are set to return to Nashville tomorrow to officially convene the 110th General Assembly. According to analysts with the the Tennessean, there are several issues likely to dominate the session. They include: increasing the gas tax with a possible offsetting reduction in food tax; tackling criminal justice reform; allowing marijuana for medical conditions but cracking down on cities that try to reduce penalties for possession; pay raises for teachers; and expanded use of school vouchers. The USA Today network reporting also looks at legislators to watch in the new session.

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State to Launch New Tax Filing Website

The Tennessee Department of Revenue will launch a new tax filing website in March. Preliminary information about the site, dubbed the Tennessee Taxpayer Access Point or TNTAP, is now available on the department’s website. Watch a video about the service or visit a frequently-asked questions page to learn more.

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Chambers of Commerce Lobby for Internet Tax

The state’s four largest chambers of commerce have joined forces to push the legislature to impose a tax on Internet sales, the Tennessean reports. A joint legislative agenda from the Chattanooga, Knoxville Memphis and Nashville chambers lists the tax among their top priorities for the 2017 legislative session. Tennessee currently charges a sales tax, but lacks enforcement for out-of-state retailers that do not pay it according to the paper.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Judge Dismisses Mosque’s Discrimination Claims

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger yesterday dismissed a religious discrimination lawsuit brought by the Islamic Center of Nashville, saying the case should have been brought in state court. In her opinion, Trauger said state law is clear that tax matters should be handled in state chancery courts, and that a federal district court “does not have jurisdiction over state and local tax matters where a plain, speedy and efficient remedy is available in state court.” The congregation had claimed it was unfairly denied a state tax exemption because it followed its religious teachings, the Tennessean reports.

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Legislative Panel Meets Thursday on Internet Sales Tax

A Tennessee lawmaker says it is unclear what action a legislative panel will take this week on Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed rule to require out-of-state retailers with no physical presence in the state to collect state and local sales taxes on Internet purchases. “What happens Thursday is anybody’s guess right now,” Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell, R-Riceville, told the Times Free Press. The Department of Revenue’s proposed rule would apply to out-of-state Internet retailers and catalog sellers with sales exceeding $500,000 annually. 

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New 1-Click Packages Make CLE Easy

Three new CLE packages are now available through the TBA's 1-Click Program. We have gathered together the most popular CLE programs on key practice areas and are making them available for a special price. Visit the 1-Click page to find packages on Creditors Practice, General Practice, Tax Law, Transactional Law and more. New packages are always being added, so check back if you don't find the one you want.

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Internet Tax Case Could Change Online Shopping

States can require Internet retailers to tell customers how much they owe in sales taxes thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday that could help officials recoup billions of dollars lost to online retailers. The court declined to hear a challenge to a Colorado law requiring online sellers to notify customers and the state how much they owe in taxes. At least three other states – Louisiana, Oklahoma and Vermont – have passed similar laws. Though the court did not rule on the merits of the case, states are likely to see the move “as a green light to step up collection efforts,” WRCB TV reports

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Get Multiple Courses with TBA’s New '1Click CLE'

This month the TBA is launching a new way to purchase CLE courses. The 1Click series allows lawyers to sign up for multiple course with one click. Look for sets of programs in a variety of categories, including ethics programs and courses by practice area. Current offerings include two three-hour ethics series, an eight-hour general practice series and a five-hour tax law series.

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Tax Law Updates Now Available as Online Video

A number of CLE programs on current tax law issues are now available as online video. Programming includes sessions on the Tennessee Sales and Use Tax, including a discussion of technologies that impact tax policy; repeal of the Hall Income Tax and update on the Tennessee Tax Regulation Project; tax deferred exchanges under Section 1031 of the tax code; and proposed regulations under Section 385 dealing with inversions. Register for and watch these course at the links above.

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State, Mosque Debate Proper Venue for Case

The Islamic Center of Nashville is battling with the state over whether the center’s lawsuit seeking a retroactive tax exemption is a valid federal case, the Tennessean reports. The state argues that since the suit disputes a state tax law it should be brought in state court. The mosque says it filed the case in federal court because the state law violates federal law and the constitution by restricting religion. The issue arose when the mosque negotiated a special banking agreement to pay for construction of a school without paying interest. 

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Police Bust IRS Scam Center in India

Indian police said three nondescript office buildings on the edge of a Mumbai suburb were packed with hundreds of people posing as Internal Revenue Service officials in a scam that has vexed Americans for years. According to CNN Money, the scammers posed as IRS officials and threatened Americans with jail time if they did not pay money that allegedly was owed. Among the 70 people arrested were those who alleged that 700 people in nine call centers made thousands of calls a day to try to trick Americans into sending money.

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Vanderbilt AD Williams to Speak on ‘Today’s SEC’

David Williams II, athletics director and vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs at Vanderbilt University, will share his perspective on the Southeast Conference (SEC) Aug. 30 from 1-3 p.m. at the Williamson County Public Library in Franklin. Williams, who has represented the SEC in negotiations over television contracts and currently chairs an infractions appeals committee for the NCAA, holds a master of business administration and law degree from the University of Detroit as well as a master of laws in taxation from New York University.

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State Wants to Collect Sales Tax from All Internet Sellers

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has proposed a rule that would require out-of-state businesses to collect and pay state sales tax if their sales exceed $500,000 in Tennessee, the Tennessean reports. Under current federal court rulings, only those sellers who have a physical presence in the state must collect state sales tax. The Tennessee Department of Revenue estimates that the state has missed out on $300 to $450 million in annual sales tax from out-of-state sellers. A number of states have proposed similar measures in hopes Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court will provide a nationwide solution.

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Annual Tax Law Forum Coming in September

A CLE on Tennessee and federal tax law will be held at the Bar Center on Sept. 12. The program will include updates on Section 1031 exchanges, the Tennessee Tax Regulation Project, sales and use tax, and new proposed regulations under § 385. Richard H. Roberts, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, also will present a special legislative update on the Hall Income Tax Repeal. Learn more or register online.

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Haslam Pushing Expansion of Internet Sales Tax

Gov. Bill Haslam wants Tennessee to join a growing group of states seeking to revisit rulings preventing collection of sales taxes from out-of-state online retailers, the Times-Free Press reports. State Department of Revenue officials will hold a rulemaking hearing in August on a proposed rule that would require out-of-state online companies with more than $500,000 in annual sales in Tennessee to collect and remit sales taxes starting July 1, 2017. At least a dozen states also are pushing a patchwork of laws or rules they hope will pressure Congress to act or, more likely, force the issue back before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Franklin Man Convicted in Romney Tax Fraud Scheme

A federal jury in Nashville has found Michael Mancil Brown guilty of engaging in an extortion and wire fraud scheme involving former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns, the Humphrey on the Hill blog reports. The Franklin man was convicted of six counts of wire fraud and six counts of using facilities of interstate commerce to commit extortion for his scheme to defraud Romney, the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and others, by falsely claiming that he had gained access to the PricewaterhouseCoopers internal computer network and had stolen tax documents for Romney and his wife, Ann D. Romney. A sentencing hearing will likely be in August.

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Memphis Tax Law Firm Opens Nashville Office

Monypeny & Associates, a Memphis-area tax litigation firm, announced today it will open a Nashville office in the Fifth Third Center. The Nashville Post reports Tyler DeWitt, a principal attorney and CPA with the firm, will oversee the Nashville office.

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Register Today for the 135th Annual TBA Convention

Join us on June 15-18 in Nashville for the 135th Annual Convention! Registration for the 2016 TBA Convention includes:

  • free access to all TBA CLE programming;
  • the Opening Reception;
  • the Bench Bar Programming and Luncheon;
  • Law School and general breakfasts;
  • the Lawyers Luncheon;
  • the Thursday evening Joint (TBA/TLAW/TABL) Reception;
  • the Thursday night dinner and entertainment at the George Jones Museum;
  • and the Friday night Dance Party.

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Court Upholds Tax Variance on Verizon Parent Company

The Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld a decision by the Tennessee Department of Revenue to impose a tax variance on the parent company of Verizon Wireless and ruled the Commissioner of Revenue was within his authority to impose the variance. The lawsuit, filed in 2007 by Vodafone Americas Holdings Inc. and its subsidiaries, asked Tennessee to refund nearly all state franchise and excise taxes it had paid from 2002-2006. The company claimed the apportionment formula in Tennessee’s franchise and excise tax has been incorrectly applied. The Commissioner of Revenue then decided to impose on Vodafone a tax variance that required the company to pay franchise and excise taxes by a formula that varied from the standard apportionment formula in Tennessee’s tax statutes. The trial court and the Court of Appeals both upheld the Commissioner’s decision to issue the tax variance. Read the majority opinion in Vodafone Americas Holdings, Inc. v. Reagan Farr, authored by Justice Holly Kirby, and the dissent by Justice Jeffrey S. Bivins.

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Mentoring Program Seeking Volunteers

The TBA Mentoring Program is seeking volunteer mentors from across the state in the area of tax law. Those participating in the program will commit to a formal mentoring relationship for one year, with a requirement to meet face-to-face at least once a month. For more information, visit the TBA Mentoring Program webpage or contact TBA staff member Kate Prince, 615-277-3202.

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Revenue Rulemaking Process Update

The Department of Revenue has begun the formal process for issuing updated rules for sales tax, franchise and excise tax and business tax, as well as a small number of administrative rules. Over the past several months, the Department has been in the process of receiving and evaluating informal feedback from parties who previously contacted the Department expressing interest in the process.

On February 25, the Department filed a Notice of Rulemaking Hearing with the Secretary of State. That filing can be found here. The Department anticipated the need for new or updated rules due in part to recent legislative changes. Additionally, a number of obsolete or outdated rules need to be updated or repealed.

The rulemaking hearing will be held on April 26 at 1 p.m. Central Time at the Andrew Jackson State Building in Nashville. The hearing will be held in Hearing Room 201. Oral or written comments are invited at the hearing. Additionally, written comments from the public may be submitted to Department prior to the hearing.

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