Tag Archives: tax

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Greenberg Traurig among ‘Best Corporate Law Firms’

The international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, with more than 50 Arizona-based attorneys, has been named one of America’s Best Corporate Law Firms by Corporate Board Member, an NYSE Euronext company, and global business advisory firm FTI Consulting, Inc. in their annual survey of directors and general counsel of publicly-traded companies. The award was presented Tuesday as part of Corporate Board Member’s 6th Annual Legal Recognition Dinner in New York.

“We are very grateful for this honor,” said John Cummerford, a co-managing shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office. “This is especially noteworthy since this recognition comes from our peers in the industry – general counsel of public companies – and reflects the respect our firm has earned worldwide.”

Each year, Corporate Board Member and FTI Consulting team up to conduct research to reveal those law firms that directors and general counsels believe to be the most respected legal counsel nationwide. This year, Greenberg Traurig is included on the 2013 Top 25 National Law Firm General Counsel’s Rankings list.

Greenberg Traurig attorneys represent both public and privately-held clients in a wide range of industries and in transactions including mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, public and private offerings of securities, as well as litigation, real estate, intellectual property, tax and other matters.

skd258400sdc

Greenberg Traurig among 'Best Corporate Law Firms’

The international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, with more than 50 Arizona-based attorneys, has been named one of America’s Best Corporate Law Firms by Corporate Board Member, an NYSE Euronext company, and global business advisory firm FTI Consulting, Inc. in their annual survey of directors and general counsel of publicly-traded companies. The award was presented Tuesday as part of Corporate Board Member’s 6th Annual Legal Recognition Dinner in New York.

“We are very grateful for this honor,” said John Cummerford, a co-managing shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office. “This is especially noteworthy since this recognition comes from our peers in the industry – general counsel of public companies – and reflects the respect our firm has earned worldwide.”

Each year, Corporate Board Member and FTI Consulting team up to conduct research to reveal those law firms that directors and general counsels believe to be the most respected legal counsel nationwide. This year, Greenberg Traurig is included on the 2013 Top 25 National Law Firm General Counsel’s Rankings list.

Greenberg Traurig attorneys represent both public and privately-held clients in a wide range of industries and in transactions including mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, public and private offerings of securities, as well as litigation, real estate, intellectual property, tax and other matters.

Banner Good Samaritan Hospital

Phoenix health tax ordinance approved

Phoenix has received federal approval of its plan to tax local hospitals and use the resulting revenue to obtain a larger amount of federal dollars for health care provided under the state’s Medicaid program.

The Arizona Republic reports that city officials announced Wednesday the federal approval of the ordinance adopted last December by the City Council.

The ordinance will be imposed on 11 hospitals and is expected to generate about $130 million of revenue, producing about $200 million in federal matching funds to care for uninsured and underinsured patients.

Under the ordinance, hospitals cannot pass the tax along to patients.

Officials said the ordinance will allow 33,000 additional children to enroll in the Medicaid program, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System.

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Wanslee Elected to Gust Rosenfeld Executive Committee

Gust Rosenfeld announced that Madeleine C. Wanslee has been elected to its Executive Committee, the governing body of the firm.

Wanslee is Co-Chair of the firm’s Bankruptcy, Restructuring and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group.  Her practice focuses on creditors’ rights and related state and federal court litigation, including commercial and consumer bankruptcy, loan workouts, foreclosure, deficiency and guarantor actions.  She has handled numerous appeals and has argued a case before the United States Supreme Court.  Wanslee is recognized in the Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights Law category of The Best Lawyers in Americaâ and in the Bankruptcy and Creditor-Debtor Rights category of Southwest Super Lawyersâ.  She earned her law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law.

Founded in 1921, Gust Rosenfeld provides legal counsel to individuals, businesses, and governments. Our firm’s attorneys enjoy thriving practices in public law, litigation, finance, real estate, corporate, environmental, employment, creditors’ rights, franchise law, estate planning, and tax. Gust Rosenfeld maintains offices in Phoenix and Tucson.

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Tobacco Tax Funds Kindergarten Scholarships

Eighty qualifying families in the City of Chandler will have the opportunity to apply for preschool slots funded by tobacco-tax dollars.

The $270,000 First Things First Pre-Kindergarten Scholarship Grant awarded to the Chandler School District is paid for with tobacco-tax dollars approved by Arizona voters. In 2006, Proposition 203 increased statewide cigarette taxes by 80 cents for the First Things First programs.

In addition to the 80 preschool slots made available for qualifying families, the grant also pays for dental and health screenings, nutrition education, and family literacy programs. Families must be below a certain poverty level based on income and household size in order to be eligible for the scholarship grant. A family household of four people for example, must have an annual income of less than $46,100.

The preschool slots offer reduced tuition rates to the recipients of the First Things First Scholarship award. Children must be 4 years old, and classes meet five days a week, Monday through Friday. The Chandler School District offers half day programs for $50 per month, and full day programs for $100 per month.

“The Chandler Unified School District will place 40 of the 80 available preschool slots in Title 1 school areas, where the majority of low-income families live,” said Frank Narducci, assistant superintendent for elementary education. The other half of the slots will be distributed throughout the school district.

Barb Mozdzen, governing board member of the Chandler School District, emphasizes the importance of early childhood care. “From birth to age five is the most crucial development period of a child’s life,” Mozdzen said.

Certified teaching staff help children get ready for kindergarten by using hands on activities, and early learning standards curriculum. Daily meals and snacks are also provided as a part of the preschool programs grant.

Narducci explains the main goal for the First Things First grant, and how it helps families with young children. “The grant award is intended to reduce any barriers for individuals to access quality pre-kindergarten programming,” Narducci said.

Families are being made aware of this opportunity when they request information about preschools, and also through the school district’s website. “Word of mouth is pretty strong too,” Narducci said.

The First Things First Scholarship Grant application can be found on the Arizona Department of Education website at www.ade.az.gov. When applying for the grant, families are required to provide the child’s birth certificate, and immunization record, along with proof of residence and income. The grant is awarded on a first come first serve basis.

State Budget Cuts Will Hit Arizona Hospitals - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Despite Restoring Some Funds, State Budget Cuts Will Hit Arizona Hospitals

It was looking pretty grim at 1700 W. Washington St., as Gov. Jan Brewer and a badly splintered Arizona Legislature struggled to cobble together a state budget that would have the appearance of being balanced.

Taking a follow-the-money tactic, policymakers targeted programs such as education and health care that annually receive large sums of taxpayer dollars. The budget Brewer and Republican lawmakers put together, addressing a $3.2 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2011, sent shock waves throughout the health care community.

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) estimated the cuts would reduce hospital revenue by $1.15 billion in state and federal funds in FY 2011, which began July 1, and cost the overall health care community $2.7 billion. For example, the budget package eliminated coverage under the state’s Medicaid program — Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) — to 310,500 adults and children, and eliminated KidsCare, ending health care coverage for 47,000 children. KidsCare provides low-cost insurance for the children of parents who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but are still considered the so-called working poor.

Before the ink was dry on the bills the governor had signed, officials learned that the landmark health care reform bill passed by Congress prohibited such budget cuts under the threat of losing federal funds. So lawmakers passed another bill to restore money stripped from AHCCCS and KidsCare. Failure to have taken the follow-up action, officials said, could have cost Arizona more than $7 billion in federal money for health care.

AzHHA strongly supported the governor’s push for a temporary 1-cent sales tax increase, which voters approved by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin. The tax increase remains in effect until May 31, 2013, and is expected to generate about $3 billion over three years to protect education, public safety and health and human services from further cuts.

Despite avoiding a funding disaster, hospitals still are forced to deal with a considerable loss of government dollars. Laurie Liles, president and CEO of AzHHA, says hospitals sustained $50.1 million in cuts to the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program, which provides special funding to hospitals that treat a significant number of AHCCCS and uninsured patients. The state cut $16.7 million, resulting in a loss of $33.4 million in federal funds. The federal stimulus act of 2009 matches state dollars three-to-one for DSH, so when the state trims $1 from the program, the total loss is $4.

Hospitals also lost some $37.3 million in funding for graduate medical education, which helps pay for physician instruction programs.

“There is no funding for 2011,” Liles says. “That is a huge loss for Arizona, considering the significance of our physician shortage.”

In addition to those losses, the Legislature authorized AHCCCS to reduce all provider payments, including those to hospitals, by up to 5 percent for fiscal 2011.

“We don’t know what percentage cut that hospitals will receive,” Liles says. “Hospitals are planning on the full 5 percent, but we’re hoping it will be somewhat less.”

Since 2008, Arizona hospitals have sustained several hundred million dollars in payment cuts and freezes, which impact hospital employees — medical and non-medical, Liles says. The association has been monitoring how its member hospitals are dealing with the recession.

“We have found that hospitals are managing through a variety of ways,” Liles says, “with some staffing reductions, delays in capital construction and services to the community. Hospitals have had to make some very hard choices about services. Strategies that hospitals have been forced to employ affect all Arizonans.”

For example, Liles says, when hospitals are underpaid, either by AHCCCS or Medicare, hospitals shift those costs onto commercial health plans to make up the difference.

“We call that cost shift a hidden health care tax,” she says. “That results in higher premiums for businesses and families. We all end up paying for the cost shift that hospitals are forced to make.”

Liles, who previously was the chief lobbyist for AzHHA, says she spent a lot of time over the past few years visiting with legislators regarding the impact of the hidden health care tax.

In 2009, the Arizona Chamber Foundation, an affiliate of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, determined that all purchasers of health care coverage pay 40 percent more for hospital care through commercial insurance as a result of underpayments from AHCCCS and Medicare, Liles says.

“We look for more of the same,” she says.

Hospitals are counting on Congress to continue funding AHCCCS at an increased level.

“We have shared our concern with our congressional delegation,” Liles says. “The enhanced federal medical assistance percentage is absolutely vital to Arizona.”

The increased funding amounts to about $480 million — money needed to cover the expanded AHCCCS population — that the state is mandated to continue covering as a result of national health care reform. Without additional federal funding, Liles wonders: “How are our Legislature and governor going to pay for that? We are concerned about the care we provide. There are only so many places our state can cut.”

By The Numbers: Health Care Cuts

  • $50.1 million in cuts to the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program
  • $37.3 million in funding for graduate medical education
  • AHCCCS can reduce all provider payments by up to 5 percent

Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Estate Tax Laws Are In Flux - AZ Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010

Estate Tax Laws Are In Flux — Start Strategizing Now

Let’s begin with a reasonably well-founded observation: The official repeal this year of estate taxes has seriously flawed most testamentary plans and created mild chaos for estate practitioners. Traditionally, estate planning attorneys have employed “word formula” dispositions phrased in terms of tax concepts for their drafted wills and trusts. For example, for people with larger estates, dispositions are divided into two categories:

One portion equal to the unused estate tax exemption often called the unified credit or the credit shelter trust for the benefit of a surviving spouse and descendents.

The other portion is allocated to equal the “optimum” marital deduction amount, usually expressed as the minimum amount necessary to reduce a person’s federal estate tax to zero.

In other cases, testators will cause a portion of their estate to equal the unused generation skipping tax (GST) exemption to pass in favor of or for the benefit of grandchildren. The word formula is applied because, historically, it has resulted in the optimal division or disposition of a decedent’s property.

Unfortunately, none of the above has any meaning if the concepts used to define them are no longer represented by federal statute. Accordingly, decedents of 2010 and their beneficiaries are confronted with impossible circumstances. An unintended outcome is the possible disinheritance of a surviving spouse or children.

Another interesting issue relates to existing generation-skipping trusts that are normally subject to GST on taxable distributions to “skip persons.” In
2010, none of the taxable distributions or “taxable terminations” will be subject to the tax. Possibly, the optimum outcome has arrived for GST trusts.

Within the current environment, grandparents can literally transfer fortunes to grandchildren and be subject to a one-time 35 percent gift tax.

Caution is appropriate, however, because it is impossible to predict what Congress will do. From a constitutional perspective, retroactive legislation remains a risk. If Congress retroactively reinstated estate and GST tax law, which Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has formally pledged to accomplish, then the above identified actions would be problematic.

Reinstatement of the estate tax system, notwithstanding a valid constitutional argument, would represent a symbol of poor legislation, in this author’s opinion. Here’s why: Executors and trustees of estates created in 2010, as fiduciaries, must act on current law and distribute inherited assets in a timely fashion. Would it not be legally awkward for Congress to force executors and trustees to rescind those distributions and formally adjust all 2010 estate tax returns?

So given the testamentary chaos resulting from the political process, what can we expect? Many practitioners believe legislation will occur that will reinstate the 45 percent tax rate for estate and GST applications with a $3.5 million unified exemption for each spouse. But, if Congress fails to act this year, then beginning in 2011, we will face the imposition of a 55 percent tax rate and a $1 million unified exemption. Given the current federal budget crisis, inaction will produce higher tax revenue.

This uncertain environment may provide compelling reasons for proactive folks to act. Seek qualified help with your own estate planning issues now — not later.

Philanthropic causes are becoming more meaningful to us
Everyone has been affected in some way by the deep recession. As a result, nonprofit service demand is up, but contributions are down. However, more people are contributing their time and efforts to help others. Due to a strong philanthropic lobby and the generous nature of American values, Congress has not tinkered with key charitable planning techniques. Many creative planning options exist that can help one accomplish their nonprofit objectives and enjoy enormous tax and estate benefits.

Source: Coyote Financial

Trends in Estate Planning:
More families are seeking qualified help with their financial lives

Interestingly, the revolution in technology and communication has not changed the desire or need for a personal advisory (coaching) relationship with someone deemed competent and trustworthy. Technology may help you find the right person, but no substitute is yet available for a caring, personal relationship.

Opportunities in Estate Planning

  • A grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) is an estate planning technique that allows one to utilize the currently low federal discount rate to transfer assets to the next generation in exchange for a note. All appreciation, above the interest payment, inures in favor of the next generation. Short-term, zeroed out GRATs have been popular, resulting in significant estate tax savings for many wealthy families. The House Ways and Means Committee has passed a bill designed to eliminate short-term GRATs and zeroed out techniques. President Obama has proposed (endorsed) similar legislation that would require a 10-year term and no zero out gifting for GRATs. The opportunity for short-term, zeroed out GRATs could disappear in the next several months.
  • Congress has pending legislation to limit fractional discounts for lack of control and marketability applicable to intra-family transfers. Historically, when assets are placed into properly drafted limited liability companies (LLCs) and family limited partnerships (FLPs), discounts on the transfers to children of financial units or limited units, respectively, apply. For the present, case law and court verdicts honor the integrity of fractional discounts. As in the proposed GRAT legislation, the new rules will not apply retroactively and will only take effect coincidental to formal enactment. Keep in mind that the Treasury Department is desperately seeking methods to raise revenue. The opportunity to sell, transfer or gift assets inclusive of a fractional discount, especially among family members, may disappear in the next several months.
  • In 1995, the federal discount rate represented 9.5 percent. Today, the rate ranges between 3.4 percent and 3.6 percent. The discount rate is indirectly associated with the applicable federal rate (AFR), which can be utilized on an “arms-length basis” to make loans to children. For example, the current mid-term intermediate rate equals 2.85 percent, whereas demand-note interest rates are currently less than 1 percent. The opportunity to initiate intra-family personal or business loans at de minimis interest rates could disappear in the next several years.
  • Since generation skipping taxes have been repealed for the 2010 tax year, and the federal gift tax rate has been reduced from 45 percent to 35 percent, the opportunity to transfer/gift assets to grandchildren is economically advantageous, as noted previously. The opportunity to transfer assets to grandchildren without the imposition of estate and generation skipping tax may disappear under new legislative regulations in the next several months.
  • Because of recent market conditions, the valuation of business and real estate assets has potentially decreased. Accordingly, the cost to sell or gift assets to the next generation is lower than it may have been in 2007. The opportunity to transfer assets to family members using low valuations may disappear in the next several years.
  • Source: Coyote Financial

    Arizona Business Magazine Sept/Oct 2010