The Contraceptive Mandate: Birth Control or Business Control?

by Jennifer Brown June 12 2014, 11:28
The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 25th, 2014, on the Tenth Circuit Case Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius and the Third Circuit Case Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius; a ruling is expected in late June. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are two prominent examples from over 71 cases involving for-profit businesses challenging the contraceptive mandate in the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the grounds that this provision violates their religious beliefs under the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). [More]

Owning the Internet: The Demise of Net Neutrality

by Inessa Goodman April 17 2014, 09:40
The Internet is the modern day printing press; a revolutionary game changer. The Internet owes much of its success to the theory of net neutrality. While net neutrality is not a new topic of discussion, it has been thrust in the limelight with the recent case of Verizon v. FCC, which many are proclaiming signifies a dangerous change in the policies of net neutrality. This article gives an overview of what net neutrality is, and what this means for people and businesses. [More]

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Technology

National Security Space Launch: No Contest

by Mathew Rayman April 13 2014, 16:13
Competition and innovation are key ideals in American society, and they were the main focus on March 5, 2014 when the CEOs of SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (“ULA”) testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. The ULA, a joint venture between aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin, currently provides launch services for the U.S. National Security Space Launch programs. SpaceX, a relative newcomer to the space launch business, is seeking to break ULA’s current monopoly on national security launches and open the procurement process to other launch providers. [More]

Lessons from Hartney: How to Reduce Tax Forum Shopping by Illinois Retailers

by Jennifer Brown April 12 2014, 21:26
The Illinois’ Local Retailers’ Occupation Tax Acts (ROT Acts) allows “municipal governments and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) to impose a retail occupation tax ‘upon all persons engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property at retail within the county, municipality, or metropolitan region.” Leading up to the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision in Hartney Fuel Oil Co. v. Hamer, a number of Illinois retailers with selling activities in multiple jurisdictions sought to pay Illinois Local Retailer Occupation Taxes only in the lowest tax rate jurisdictions where they accepted purchase orders, even when their predominant selling activities occurred in other places. This narrow interpretation of the “business of selling” in the ROT Acts complies with the Department of Revenue (DOR) regulations regarding the Acts, which establish a bright-line rule for purchase order acceptances. [More]

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Corporate | Tax

In-App Purchases: the classic game of bait-and-switch, now available on Google Play

by Maddie Davis April 12 2014, 20:51
In February, a New York mother of a five-year-old boy did what many busy parents do to keep their kids occupied: she gave him a game.

This particular game, Marvel’s “Run Jump Smash”, was on her tablet. She purchased the game for 99 cents at the Google Play Store, but in the 30 minutes following that purchase, her son accrued $65.95 in charges to her debit card for “game currency.” The game did not ask for the mother’s password in order to make the charges; Google required a password in order to make the initial purchase of the game, but for 30 minutes after that, a user can make as many subsequent purchases as he or she likes, unfettered by a password or other controls.
[More]

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Technology

Likely Effects of US immigration Reform on the National Deficit and Social Security System

by Philip Rukosuev April 1 2014, 21:50
There has been growing bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform the laws that govern U.S. immigration policy. On June 27, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744). If this proposed reform becomes law, it will likely help reduce the growing budget deficit and add to economic growth. It is important to not mistake immigration reform with pure amnesty, because a comprehensive or piecemeal reform will address the problem of millions of “illegal” and undocumented immigrants as well as: “specialized programs for agriculture and hi-tech industries, border security and visa‐tracking capabilities, temporary work programs, the future of undocumented adults and children already present in the U.S., systems for employer verification of work eligibility, and other dimensions.” [More]

Extortion and Professional Irresponsibility

by Ryan Richardson April 1 2014, 21:17
Most people often have the misconception that being a member of the legal profession automatically affords one a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. Needless to say, such a privilege has not and will not, ever be available to any member of society, including those who make, shape and enforce the law. A lesson which two Tennessee lawyers chose to learn the hard way, instead of in a Professional Responsibility course. “Two Tennessee lawyers have been indicted by a grand jury [on March 12, 2014] in an extortion case . . . They are accused of pressuring a client [Michelle Langolis] several years ago to pay $50,000 in probate case legal fees she had not agreed to pay by threatening her with arrest.” Additionally, attorneys Carrie Gasaway, and Fletcher Long, who once worked together as law partners, did go on to have Langolis arrested on a theft-of-services charge, alleging that she had issued them a bad $50,000 check, eventually these charges were dropped. However, after being arrested Langolis retained the services of another attorney who had her bond reduced to a reasonable amount, and on February 28, 2012 “at the request of District Attorney General John Carney, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) began looking into the allegation. In October 2010, Langlois sought the legal services the accused, in the reading of her father’s will. “An initial fee for the services was agreed upon by both parties….after the will reading, Gasaway asked Langlois to sign a contract for an additional $50,000…when Langlois refused, Gasaway and Long made continued demands for the additional payment and then obtained an arrest warrant for the victim with a $75,000 bond.” [More]

Family Leave in the United States: Time for a Change?

by Mathew Rayman March 22 2014, 13:43
On February 5, 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) was signed into law by Bill Clinton, mandating 12 weeks of unpaid family leave for companies with over 50 employees, if the employee has worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months with the company.[1] In its findings, Congress specifically recognized the importance of parent participation in early childhood and the lack of job security available to working parents, and sought to give new parents more flexibility with work-life balance.[2] Since the FMLA was passed, the United States has fallen far behind other developed countries in providing leave for new parents. After more than 21 years, U.S. lawmakers should reexamine the national family leave policy and increase the benefits guaranteed for family leave. A more generous family leave policy is not only good for individuals and families, but also good for business. [More]

Legal and Tax Considerations for Retirees Choosing a Retirement Destination

by Philip Rukosuev March 11 2014, 22:28
There are quite a few factors to consider for seniors facing retirement in the United States. While retirees will still owe federal taxes regardless of where they choose to retire, various states’ tax laws will often play at least some role in weighing a retirement destination. For example, some states are especially tough on retirees since, in addition to levying tax on most pensions and other retirement income, they also have high top tax brackets. “Economic security of seniors is being challenged by dramatically increasing expenses, such as for healthcare and housing. These fundamental changes in the lives of older Americans make it not only more difficult for seniors to enter retirement with economic security but also to remain economically secure throughout retirement.” [More]

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Tax

23andMe: Regulating the Snake Oil Salesman

by Maddie Davis February 23 2014, 19:48
Crowds would gather when the snake oil salesman came around. His magical elixir could cure many ailments, from headaches to kidney problems. Before anyone realized that the cure-all was nothing more than mineral oil, the peddler was long gone with their money. One of the more famous snake oil salesmen, Clark Stanley, made quite a name for himself in the early 20th century – enough to attract the government’s attention. In 1917, federal investigators seized his product, and upon finding that it was not what it claimed to be, Stanley was fined under the Pure Food and Drug Act. When the government exercised this FDA-precursor’s power, snake oil sales likely took a turn for the worse. [More]

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