Turn Your Expertise into a Magazine Article

It’s no surprise that some of the best articles in the Tennessee Bar Journal have come from TBA section members. Your membership in this section shows that you have a keen interest in trends, developments and case law in this practice area. Sharing this knowledge with your colleagues is one of the best traits of the profession.
How can you become a Journal author? Think of and refine your topic. It should be of interest to Tennessee lawyers, which is a broad criteria. This could mean you might explain a new state law, explain a complicated area of law, or take a larger issue and connect it to what it means for Tennessee attorneys and the justice system. Find a global issue within your particular experience or knowledge and tell about it and how it affects Tennessee law. Then take a look at the writer’s guidelines, which will tell you about length, notes and other details. Once it’s in the proper format, send it in! It goes to the editor, Suzanne Craig Robertson, who will then get it to the seven members of the Editorial Board for review.
If you are published, you may apply for CLE credit for your work under Supreme Court Rule 21 Section 4.07(b). For details on claiming the credit, check with the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education or access an Affidavit of Sole Authorship or an Affidavit of Joint Authorship from the Commission's website.

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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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TBA Activates Disaster Legal Assistance for Wildfires

In response to the wildfire disasters in Gatlinburg and Sevier County, the TBA is partnering with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS), Legal Aid of East Tennessee (LAET) and the Supreme Court's Access to Justice Commission to help those affected with their legal needs. Attorneys who want to help can access training resources and other materials on the TBA's Disaster Legal Assistance page. Legal clinics and outreach related to losses from the fires are anticipated and volunteers will be needed. For more information or to volunteer in the area, contact Kathryn Ellis at Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Those who are not in the area but still want to help can volunteer to answer online questions at TN Free Legal Answers or respond to calls on the HELP4TN helpline. The TBA's Young Lawyers Division Disaster Relief Committee has also been activated and will be assisting with volunteer recruitment and coordination efforts. To volunteer, complete the Disaster Legal Assistance Volunteer Form. If you know someone in need of legal assistance, please have them call the legal helpline at 844-HELP4TN, or visit

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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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Volunteers Needed for Pro Bono Opportunities

The TBA Tax Law Section is commited to offering pro bono assistance this year to those in the community who may have tax questions but cannot afford an attorney.  If you are intested in participating, please contact me via email by Nov. 11 with the following information: 

  • Name
  • BPR#
  • Firm Name
  • Address
  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Please list the types of cases you are willing to accept.
  • Please list the counties where you will accept case.

Please put TBA TAX LAW SECTION PRO BONO OPPORTUNITY in the subject line of your email. Your information will then be submitted to local organizations that may have a need for your services in the future.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. We look forward to you joining our efforts to supply pro bono services to the Tennessee community.

Christy Gibson, TBA Tax Law Section Coordinator

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Looking for a Few Good Lawyers to Join TBA Tax Law Section Executive Council!

The TBA Tax Law Section Executive Council is looking for individuals who would like to join the executive council. The council assists with development of CLE programming,  discusses and provides opinions on potential legislation and produces news for section members.

If you are intested in joining the executive council, please contact me via email by Aug. 19.  Please put TBA TAX LAW SECTION EXECUTIVE COUNCIL in the subject line of your email. Your information will be submitted to the executive council for review.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. 

Christy Gibson, TBA Tax Law Section Coordinator

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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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Register Today for the TBA Tax Law Section CLE

I would like to announce our next TBA Tax Law Section CLE, which will address the latest developments in Tennessee and Federal tax law. This CLE will be held on Sept. 12 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. The TBA Tax Law Section sponsors the CLE and our Executive Council has worked hard to put together an informative and beneficial program for our section members, as well as all tax attorneys in the State of Tennessee.

Speakers include Commissioner Richard Roberts from the Tennessee Department of Revenue and others from across the state. Topics include the repeal of the Hall Income Tax, Section 1031 exchanges; variability of sales and use tax in the emerging technological realm; and IRS changes to the Partnership Tax audit regulations.

As a bonus, TBA Tax Law Section Members receive a section discount for this program and all other CLE sponsored by the Tax Law Section throughout the year. If you know someone who is not a section member, please encourage him or her to join and start saving today.

You can register for the Tennessee and Federal Tax Law Forum 2016 online now.

It should be a very exciting year for the TBA Tax Law Section, and I am looking forward to meeting each of you at this year’s annual CLE program.

Brad Sagraves
TBA Tax Law Section Chair

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Changes in Requirements for a Qualified Data Center

The Tennessee General Assembly recently passed legislation (Public Chapter 1001 (2016)) amending the requirements for a qualified data center. The new law became effective July 1, 2016. 

Under the amended law, the taxpayer, in order to be considered as a qualified data center, must do the following over a three-year investment period:

  1. Make a capital investment of more than $100,000,000 in real property, tangible property or computer software, and
  2. create at least 15 new full-time permanent jobs paying at least 150% of the state average occupational wage with minimal health care.

Learn more about the new requirements for a qualified data center

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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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Department of Revenue Offers Details on Diplomatic Tax Exemption Cards

The Tennessee Department of Revenue has posted a new sales and use tax notice concerning diplomatic tax exemption cards. The new post provides detailed information and examples on how a person with a diplomatic tax exemption card is exempt -- either fully or partially -- from state and local taxation. 

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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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