News

TBA to Introduce Legal Document Generation

The TBA will soon launch a new subscription-based product for Tennessee lawyers — automated legal forms. The initiative will use HotDocs, a custom documentation generator that creates form templates and speeds up the preparation process based on client and case data. In order to provide this valuable resource to our members, we hope to obtain your comments and ideas on forms you deem beneficial for replication. With across-the-board participation, we can comprise a substantive, comprehensive database where subscribers will have access to forms submitted by all TBA sections. Please send suggestions and comments to TBA Membership Director Mindy Fulks.

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IRS Faces Huge Backlog After Government Shutdown

The IRS is facing a considerable backlog after the shutdown, as employees returned to an estimated 5 million unanswered pieces of mail after the 35-day hiatus, Forbes reports. This is a wrench in the cog of an already hectic tax season, with the agency stretched because of changes in code from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and a revised 1040 form that has at least six additional schedules. The recent furlough, compounded with customer service questions on these changes, is expected to delay the agency considerably this tax season. While it’s currently back to business for the IRS, there is no guarantee of continued funding with another shutdown looming, as the government was only guaranteed budgeting for three weeks. 

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Senate Republicans Move to Kill 'Death Tax'

Three Republican Senators on Monday proposed a plan to repeal the federal estate tax, The Washington Post reports. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) introduced the bill that aims to kill the already weakened “death tax,” of which the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel estimates only 5,000 taxpayers are expected to claim. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 currently allows married couples to gift up to $22,360,000 exempt from federal estate and gift taxes. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the estate tax is projected to account for about 0.6 percent of the federal budget in 2018, down from more than 1 percent in the 2000s. 

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State Lawmakers to Consider Transparency Measures for Business Tax Incentives

State lawmakers are reconsidering state laws that keep information on business tax credits confidential, the Tennessean reports. Proponents of transparency will introduce a bill that would require companies seeking incentives to release tax information along with business grant details, an approach that advocates contend is essential for formulating good economic development policy. Gov. Bill Lee after a budget hearing last Friday for the Department of Economic and Community Development, referring to the release of tax information for these companies, said: "Under the right circumstances things would be made public, but until it's the right timing … If it may not allow a job creating deal to come to Tennessee, then we certainly would be smart about that so that we bring jobs here." Details of the legislation will be made public by the bill filing deadline on Feb. 7.

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Filing Deadline is Feb. 15 for Candidates Interested in TBA Offices

Candidates interested in running for a TBA leadership position have until Feb. 15 to turn in their qualifying petitions. Voting in contested elections for TBA Board of Governors, House of Delegates, TBA Delegates to the ABA House of Delegates and YLD leadership positions will be carried out electronically, with voting set to begin on March 1 and end on April 1. Full details of TBA positions to be voted on this year can be found on the TBA website. This page was updated following a special meeting of the Board of Governors held Jan. 2 to update the TBA Bylaws. An Election Guidelines packet also is available on the TBA website with information on running for a TBA leadership post. Guidelines for candidates interested in a YLD leadership position are also available online.
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TBA Weekly Legislative Update

The Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives are back in session and are referring newly introduced bills to the appropriate committees, which are primarily holding organizational meetings this week. The deadline for filing all legislation is Feb. 6, so there will be a flood of bills introduced over the next two weeks. The TBA Governmental Affairs Team will be reviewing all bills and begin the process of forwarding the legislation affecting the practice of law to the appropriate Section Executive Councils for review and feedback. Stay tuned for more info.
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Meditation Apps Help Incorporate Mindfulness Each Day

Consider a meditation app for your phone to help incorporate mindfulness into your day. The accessibility and variety of meditation apps can make them beneficial and easy to try. Some, such as Mindbody, Stop, Breathe & Think, 10% Happier, Breethe, Omvana, Insight Timer, Sattva Meditations & Mantras, and Smiling Mind (which can be tailored to different age groups) are free. Others, such as Calm, Headspace, and the Mindfulness App, have free trials and can be upgraded to a paid subscription. Comparisons of various apps are available on www.healthline.com or www.bestproducts.com.
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Vandy Law Receives $12.75 Million Gift

The Vanderbilt University School of Law has landed a $12.75 million gift that will provide support for its law and business program, The Nashville Post reports. Vandy Law grad and former Board of Trust chairman Mark Dalton and his family are providing the gift. The Law and Business Program offers a certificate to upper-level law students who complete an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes five required courses and nine elective credit hours. Students also can pursue Vanderbilt’s J.D./M.S.F. joint degree program, allowing them to earn in only three years a law degree and a Master of Science degree in finance from the Owen Graduate School of Management. Conversely, they can choose the four-year joint J.D./M.B.A. degree path.
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AARP Foundation Files Federal Class Action Suit Against Reverse Mortgage Provider

The AARP Foundation — through its litigating arm, AARP Foundation Litigation — has filed a class action lawsuit in federal court alleging that reverse mortgage provider Live Well Financial Inc. improperly paid the property taxes of customers with Home Equity Conversion Mortgages before the taxes were due, then demanded repayment out of homeowners’ personal funds under the threat of foreclosure. The complaint maintains that the company failed to provide the required notice to the mortgage holder regarding prepayment of taxes and in fact had no contractual or other legal authority to do so. Also named in the suit are Celink and Reverse Mortgage Funding LLC.

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Join Us Today: LAW TECH

Today's the day! Discover the newest technology for your law practice and law office at this year's Law Tech Blast at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville!

The flexible open house format allows you to create your own schedule. You can attend CLE sessions, enter to win prizes, network with attendees, visit with sponsors and interact with speakers. Take as many or as few CLE hours as you need. Only those seeking to be awarded CLE Credit will be charged. The registration desk will be open all day, so you can come and go for the hours you need when it is convenient for you. Attendees can earn up to 6.5 hours of Dual CLE credit.

CLE TOPICS:
  • GDPR, Cloud and Technological Competency
  • The Bill and Phil Tech Show 2019: BEAT THE CLOCK
  • Best Practices: Information Security for Firms
  • Judicial Panel: Technology in the Courtroom
  • Know When to Hold 'Em
  • Digital Evidence – A Technical Life Raft for the Legal Mind
  • Make it Rain: Ethics Guidelines and Practice Essentials

ATTEND TO WIN: Attendees will have a chance to win prizes, including an iPad Pro. The tech prize drawing will be held at the 10:30 a.m. break. Must be present to win.

TAKE A LYFT: TBA has partnered with Lyft to offer attendees a discounted ride.

  • New to Lyft?: Get $5 off 2 rides at http://lyft.com/i/lawtech5 or download the app and enter code LAWTECH5
  • Already Have Lyft?: Save 10% off 2 rides to or from Law Tech Blast with code LAWTECH

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS & EXHIBITORS:


 

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Give the Gift of TBA Membership

Give yourself (or a friend) the gift that keeps giving — one-year of unlimited access to professional development opportunities and a number of programs and services designed to help you become a better practitioner. Founded in 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association is dedicated to enhancing fellowship among members of the state's legal community. Oh, and did we mention some of the benefits? Earn three pre-paid credits to use on any live or online course featured in the 12-days of CLE. Join now!

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Tax Changes to be Aware of in 2019

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has made sweeping changes to U.S. tax code, affecting estate planning, retirement contributions and insurance penalties. In addition, the IRS will be updating its tax brackets for 2019 to adjust them for inflation. This brief summary from CNBC puts these changes in a nutshell, offering a synopsis of issues relevant to your practice and allowing you to stay on top of these recent developments.

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Ohio Now Accepts Bitcoin as Tax Payment

Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel said this week that businesses operating in the state will be able to pay for 23 different types of taxes using bitcoin, Huffington Post reports. Businesses will need to register for the program through a website that utilizes a third-party processor, BitPay. The digital currency is converted into dollars and deposited in the state’s account. Bitcoin is the only cryptocurrency currently accepted, but Mandel is looking to add others in the future. This Forbes article analyzes the tax implications for business that choose to use this type of payment, including triggering tax gains and losses.

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Best Twitter Accounts for Legal Issues

Looking for some great social media follows? The American Bar Association is out with its list of best legal Twitter accounts of 2018. Included for the first time this year is @inspiredcat, the account of Vanderbilt Law School professor Cat Moon. Members can also always keep up locally with the TBA at our Twitter accounts, @TennesseeBar, @TennBarJournal or @TBAYLD.

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IRS Proposal Protects Large Gifts from Estate Tax

The IRS last week issued a proposal to suspend the estate tax on large gifts made between 2018 and 2025 that are currently exempt from the gift tax, Bloomberg reports. The proposed regulations are intended to protect those who made large gifts during a period when higher exclusion amounts applied. The IRS has scheduled a public hearing on March 19, 2019, to solicit input on the proposal. Comments can also be sent electronically via the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov (IRS REG-106706-18), or by mail at CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-106706-18), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044.
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This Friday: Estate Planning & Probate Forum 2019

This year’s Estate Planning & Probate Forum to be held at the Embassy Suite Cool Springs this Friday! The annual staple allows you to learn from seasoned practitioners and top players in the field while being a beneficiary of necessary CLE credits. Topics for the forum will include:
  • Income tax planning for estates
  • Medicaid protection
  • Charitable planning
  • Legislative updates
  • Ethics in estate planning
  • A Clerk and Master’s panel
  • And more
A networking event will follow the program. Don’t sleep, missing out is irrevocable.
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December CLE in 6 Cities

TBA offers CLE in six locations during December. See offerings in Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville, Johnson City and Jackson. Find last-minute by the hour through Dec. 31 or take any of the TBA's online CLE packages.
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U.S. Mulls Doubling Tariffs on China

According to Business Standard, Recently at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence took a hard line Saturday when asked about China and tariffs stating, "The United States, will not change course until China changes its ways." The U.S. is asking China for improve market access and intellectual property protections for U.S. companies, cut industrial subsidies and slash a $375 billion trade gap. With no end in sight this warning will likely be unwelcome news to financial markets that had hoped for a thaw in relations and maybe even some sort of deal at a G20 meeting later this month in Argentina. For his part, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said, "History has shown that confrontation, whether in the form of a Cold War, hot war or trade war will produce no winners."

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Mark Your Calendars!

Charitable Giving and the New Tax Laws

When Congress signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it fundamentally changed the U.S. tax system. WROC takes a look at how it will affect your charitable giving this year. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act almost doubled the standard deduction. Take a look at how these changes will affect charitable giving, who and what you should give, and when to do it. 

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The New Tax Laws, What you Need to Know

When Congress enacted the largest overhaul to the tax system in a generation many questions where left unanswered. The Wall Street Journal takes a look at everything you need to know about the new tax laws before the end of the year. Who are the winners and losers?

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Basic Tech Checklist for Firms

Law firms attempting to stay competitive and state-of-the-art need to consistently evaluate their use of technology. In addition to staying competitive, technological competency is required. In 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court amended Rule 8 of the Rules of Professional Responsibility to include this obligation. Above the Law presents a simple and straightforward tech checklist for law firms or lawyers seeking guidance in this area.   

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October TBJ Highlights Online Sales Tax, Celebrate Pro Bono Month

What does a South Dakota case have to do with us here in Tennessee? After Wayfair, our cover story points out, there will be significant impact on commerce and tax collection in our state, too. Also, it is the 10th anniversary of Celebrate Pro Bono Month! Read about its impact and how you can get involved; a word from TBA President Jason Pannu on the legal needs of low-income Tennesseans; and the remembrance of pro bono lawyer and historical hero, Lutie Lytle. Read the whole October issue here.

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Tax Law Holds Annual Forum

The TBA Tax Law Section held its annual forum this week in Nashville. The theme of the forum was the impact of the new tax laws. The all-day event was well attended. Did you miss out? Don't worry the forum will soon be available online through our website. A special thank you to all the presenters and attendees for making this year's forum a success! 

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State Supreme Court to Hear Dispute Between Tullahoma, Coffee County Education Board

The ongoing lawsuit between the City of Tullahoma and the Coffee County Board of Education over the distribution of liquor-by-the-drink taxes will now be heard by the Tennessee Supreme Court, The Tullahoma News reports. The school board claims that since 1980, the city has been collecting tax revenue that rightfully belonged to the county, and that the money should have been distributed among the three school systems in Coffee County. The county estimates it should have received $387,488 from 1980 to 2014.
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