Written by: Theodore M. David,

Chair, Tax Law Committee

Current Items:                                                                                    

1) The Lemonade Stand Saga  

2) Filing Checklist Cocktail

1). On one balmy day, two enterprising kids in my neighborhood set up a lemonade stand. The hand-painted sign said a glass of lemonade cost $.50. I went over for a glass. Their parents had obviously gotten the stuff from a local Costco as the jug was right at their feet. That does reduce manufacturing costs, but nonetheless, I told the kids I thought they were selling their lemonade too cheaply. I also recommended that they move over to the corner on the sunny side of the street, where they would be more visible. They were unimpressed with my business acumen. I reached into my pocket and gave the kids a dollar. One of them began to root around a plastic bowl looking for change. I told him to keep it as a tip. One kid immediately stuffed the dollar bill into his pants pocket. This kid obviously had experience running a cash business before. I was about to lecture him about IRS Notice 2023-13, but I decided just to sip the lemonade and walk back home. Clearly, my young friend had no intention of reporting that tip income to the Internal Revenue Service. Like many people in service industries, tip income has been a tax-free emolument of doing all kinds of jobs. Now IRS is well aware that vast amounts of tip income goes untaxed. So it does not come as news that with the advent of credit card charges which in some places automatically include an 18 to 20% tip that the service would be able to attack the tip income problem. So Notice 2023-13 provides and advises of a proposed revenue procedure that would establish the Service Industry Tip Compliance Agreement Program (SITCA.) This is a voluntary tip reporting program between the IRS and employers in various service industries. SITCA is “designed to take advantage of advancements in point of sale, time and attendance systems, and electronic payment settlement methods to improve tip reporting compliance.” Yipes! According to the notice, the proposed program would also decrease taxpayer and IRS administrative burdens and provide more transparency and certainty to taxpayers. Is it any wonder restaurants have trouble finding servers? I wouldn’t be surprised that lemonade stands across the country will be folding in the near future when kids get word of this new reporting arrangement.

2). It’s tax filing season once again, and IRS puts out its annual “reminder” checklist. You can go to IRS.gov for more on this subject, but the checklist seems pretty simple. The IRS suggests: gathering tax paperwork and records for accuracy; reporting all types of income on the tax return; filing electronically with direct deposit to avoid refund delays and using online resources. To this well-crafted checklist, I would add at least two tumblers full of Tito’s vodka on the rocks.

3) The amended tax return form 1040 X is a powerful tool to correct tax returns you’ve already filed and screwed up. Tax professionals use them all the time. Actually, about 3 million amended returns are filed every year. There are statutes of limitations that limit when these forms can be filed and the amount that you can actually have refunded, but assuming you have already consulted those, you should be aware that if you file your form 1040 X electronically, IRS has now agreed to directly deposit any refund into your bank account. Up to now, refunds issued because of the filing of an amended tax return were required to be sent via an old-fashioned check. As you know, that process could take forever. So if you are trying to amend a tax return, do it electronically and get your dough back sooner rather than later.

 Questions or Comments   should be sent to: Tdavidlawyer@gmail.com

 

 

The Bergen County Jail (BCJ) has created a computer lab where inmates can view discovery weekly during scheduled blocks of time. Tablets may be available for inmates to access Lexis/Nexis for research purposes. Laptops may also be utilized as necessary and in the discretion of the BCJ. Viewing time for discovery may be expanded by court order during the inmate’s trial upon consultation with BCJ officials. Read More

The attorney online registration and payment period for 2023 begins today,
January 9, 2023 and runs through February 24, 2023. During this period, New Jersey
attorneys may complete their annual registration and payment through the Judiciary’s
web-based application at https://www.njcourts.gov/attorneys/attorney-registration.

My November 14, 2022 notice (1) announced those dates, (2) advised of the
new information security policy that requires attorneys to use a 14-character
password/passphrase to access the application rather than the prior 8-character
password, and (3) also announced the availability of no-cost virtual training sessions
on the updated attorney registration application, with CLE credits provided for
completing the training.

All New Jersey attorneys must complete their annual attorney registration and
pay the required annual fee electronically, except those attorneys who qualify for one
of the limited exceptions approved by the Supreme Court. The total fee for the 2023
registration and payment cycle is $239. That consists of the following components:
Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection ($46), Disciplinary Oversight Committee
($173), Lawyers’ Assistance Program ($10), Continuing Legal Education ($4), and
Board of Bar Examiners ($6).

In addition, attorneys maintaining a plenary or limited license to practice law
in New Jersey must certify to the completion of their continuing legal education
(CLE) requirements in accordance with Rule 1:42. A noncompliance fee of $50 will
be assessed against attorneys who report that they failed to complete the requisite
CLE credits by the deadline for course completion. An additional $50 (for a total of
$100) will be assessed against attorneys who fail to complete their required CLE
credits within the grace period provided by BCLE Reg. 402:1 and against attorneys
who fail to report regarding CLE compliance at all. Information on Continuing Legal
Education requirements is available at https://www.njcourts.gov/attorneys/cle. For
concerns related to CLE, please contact SCTCLE.Mailbox@njcourts.gov or 609-
815-2930.

For questions or information related to this notice, please contact Michelle M.
Smith, Clerk of the Superior Court, at michelle.smith@njcourts.gov or 609-815-2900
ext. 54200.

/s/ Glenn A. Grant
Administrative Director of the Courts
Dated: January 9, 2023

Notice – 2023 Attorney Registration – Formal Opening of Registration-Payment Period – dated 01-09-23

 

WRITTEN BY: THEODORE M. DAVID, ESQ., CHAIR, TAX LAW COMMITTEE

Current Items:

1) Einstein, Apples and IRS
2) A Closer Look

1). Albert Einstein, with his electrified hairdo feet up in an easy chair while at Princeton University, found time to make cracks about our beloved tax system. As I remember what Al had to say went something like this: “The tax code dances before my eyes in a meaningless gesture.” Now, of course, Al never studied federal tax law. And while he may have been a genius in theoretical physics, we all know he actually had trouble with mathematics while in school. But having grown up with Isaac Newton’s physics and the fact that apples were thought to fall straight down from trees, Albert couldn’t believe that any country needed over 1 million words to form its federal tax law. And that doesn’t include another 10 million words of interpretation issued by the Internal Revenue Service and case law of all varieties. When observed that way, it is more than an oddity. But as any student of taxation can tell you, our federal tax law does a hell of a lot more than just raising revenue. If, in fact, that was its only objective, a one-sentence tax code would go something like this:

“One for me and One for you.” Done. But it is all the economic tweaking and political assuaging that results in the monster we have. And the poor IRS, understaffed and underpaid, tries to make sense of it all. Add to that fact that IRS these days attempts to be more taxpayer “friendly.” Take for instance, its announcement on January 6, 2023, that it had recently completed the final corrections of the tax year 2020 accounts for taxpayers who overpaid taxes on unemployment compensation they received in 2020. Now the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021(You have to love these catchy names) excluded up to $10,200 of 2020 unemployment compensation. The exclusion applied to individuals whose modified adjusted gross income was less than $150,000. The new law became effective March 2021. But being so friendly, IRS took it upon itself to review the tax returns that were filed prior to the law’s enactment. IRS determined the correct amount of the taxable unemployment compensation. So some taxpayers received refunds while others had that refund applied to taxes owed. IRS says it corrected 14 million tax returns which resulted in 12 million refunds totaling $14.8 billion with an average refund of $1232. If someone feels they were entitled to a refund but haven’t gotten anything from this unemployment compensation exclusion, they may need to file an amended 2020 tax return. Getting back to Albert Einstein. You see, the federal tax law is whatever Congress says it is. You may
remember the days when unemployment compensation was simply not taxed at all. But with the stroke of a pen, it can be fully taxable, partially taxable, and everything in between. In the world of taxation, apples, Dear Albert, can fall from trees in any direction without consistency and end up in apple pie or applesauce. Sort of the direction physics has recently taken as well. Heck, we all can remember when there were just nine planets.

2). Now it’s getting cold these days, and unless you have wisely purchased a ticket south of the border, you are going to be spending a lot of days indoors staring at your screen. If you have run out of good books to read, take heart in the fact that the IRS publishes a column called ”A Closer Look.” It is written by IRS executives and covers a variety of timely issues of interest to taxpayers and the tax community. It also provides a detailed look at key issues affecting everything from IRS operations and employees to issues involving taxpayers and tax professionals. The latest issue is from Holly Paz, Acting Commissioner of Large Business and International Branch. She discusses her dedicated workforce and the important role it plays in IRS operations. Or you can reread “War and Peace.” As for me, I‘ve got one of those tickets southbound.

Questions or Comments should be sent to: Tdavidlawyer@gmail.com

 

NOTICE FROM HONORABLE JOHN D. O’DWYER, P.J.Cv.

As of March 1, 2023, all mandatory Civil Arbitrations in the Bergen County Vicinage will be conducted In-Person at the Bergen County Courthouse. The provisions of Rule 4:21A-4 as to appearance at Arbitration will be in effect.
Please alert colleagues as to this change and requirement.

Theodore M. David, Chair, Tax Law Committee                       

Current Items:                                                                                    

1) The Crime Season   

2) The Real “Holidays”

 1). Santa’s tiny reindeer clip-clop across your roof. Poor unsuspecting evergreens have been yanked out of the ground and covered by all manner of plastic doodads. Some folks light real candles nightly and pray that they don’t need their fire insurance. Oh, it’s the Holidays!

Once the celebration is over, the pain begins. I don’t mean just paying off all those credit card bills. No, not by a long shot. It’s the start of Tax Season! Now tax administration in the United States is based upon voluntary compliance. Every citizen has the opportunity to step up and deal directly with his or her government. Ben Franklin said a citizen must “Turn square corners.” I think he meant trying your best to be honest. These days behind baseball, football and now soccer is the annual sport associated with filing an income tax return. It is a wonderful game and can be played by anyone with a decent income. No particular training, affiliation or uniform is necessary. Whether you choose to use TurboTax or simply a well-sharpened number two pencil, the result can be the same.

The object of the game is to pay the least amount of tax possible under the most strained interpretation of federal tax law. Those players who are picked up for audit by the Internal Revenue Service Examination Branch are immediately disqualified. To be frank, many accountants are very good at this game and have earned a tidy sum over the years with not a disqualification in sight. Some tax preparation programs actually will give you the likelihood of a civil audit! This is a vast improvement over just guessing what your odds are of surviving tax audit season.

Now let’s be clear about one thing. IRS is well aware of the tax game. They play it too. They use a great deal of smoke and mirrors to convince taxpayers that they are there watching your every move. Those damn computers do, in fact, tend to match up information supplied by payers to items missing on individual tax returns. But in many cases, game players enjoy the suspense associated with not knowing whether they will be caught. In most cases, only a tiny bit of interest and a few dollars worth of penalty make the game worth playing. If interest and penalties were the only tools the IRS could use to get voluntary compliance, I am sure voluntary compliance would go the way of the Sony Walkman.

But there is more to this game! It is the IRS criminal division! Around the holidays, the IRS announces the results of criminal activity and the punishment of tax evaders. It is no accident. It is the IRS’s contribution to the tax game. This year is no exception. Just recently, the IRS declared that in the fiscal year 2022, IRS criminal investigation initiated more than 2,550 criminal investigations, identified more than $31 billion in tax and financial crimes, and obtained a 90.6% conviction rate on cases accepted for prosecution. You can go to the IRS website under the fiscal year annual report and get the details if you have the stomach for it. So do play the tax game but be aware that though the odds are small, there can be some nasty consequences. Enjoy the Tax Season.

2). Now, continuing the theme of honesty and trying to connect it to this Holiday Season, I submit this poem for your jaded enjoyment:

The Holidays

Holidays and conflict go together,

Like ribboned gifts and winter weather;

Christmas cheer with those who rate,

Who sit beside those you hate.

 

There’s snow and tension in the air;

Season’s Greetings yet tempers flare;

Who but Santa survives this blast?

And even he leaves rooftops fast.

 

Bells that jingle that all is well

Try to hide this Christmas hell;

New Year’s soon, toasts on high;

Resolutions to do or die.

 

All is forgiven for those so near

Let’s give them one more year!

The Holidays, thank God, last for but a week,

Then quiet times we are left to seek.

Make the Most of the Holiday……

Questions or Comments   should be sent to:

e-mail: Tdavidlawyer@gmail.com

Written by Theodore M. David, Chair

Tax Law Committee

 

Current Items:                                                             

  • Wordle?
  • Go Appeals
  • Uncle Sam Wants You                                                                    

1). I’m sure you remember the Donna Reed Show or Father Knows Best or, how can I leave out, Leave It to Beaver. Whenever there was an episode that opened up at breakfast, there was Dad buried in his daily newspaper, oblivious to his surroundings, while mom, in her apron, flitted around the kitchen getting a cholesterol-filled breakfast ready for the kiddies. These days of course, newspapers are only used to line birdcages. In reality, most everyone is now buried in their screens from the moment their eyes open until they close later in the evening. Most of what is being watched, in my humble estimation, doesn’t amount to much. Don’t get me wrong — I think it is important that you know exactly where your friends had dinner and what they thought of that restaurant newly opened down the block. And let’s not forget all those pictures of happy couples on vacation, making it look like they are having the time of their lives. But now there is a new game in town, and it is called Wordle. Read More

The Office of Attorney Ethics welcomes applicants to apply for appointments by the New Jersey Supreme Court to the District Ethics and Fee Arbitration Committees. Please submit application materials directly to the Office of Attorney Ethics for appointment for the four-year term to begin on September 1 of the upcoming year.  Click below for more information.

Ethics and Fee Arbitration Committees

The Supreme Court in the attached October 24, 2022 Order has concluded the temporary suspension of the requirement to submit paper “courtesy copies” to the judge in Civil and Family matters. Accordingly, effective January 1, 2023, attorneys must send paper copies to the judge as required by Rule 1:6-4 (“Superior Court; Place for Filing Motions, Orders to Show Cause and Orders”).

Questions on the Court’s Order may be directed to the Civil Practice Division at (609) 815-2900 X54900 or the Family Practice Division at (609) 815-2900 x55350.

/s/ Glenn A. Grant

Administrative Director of the Courts

Dated: October 25, 2022

Notice – Civil and Family – Resumption of Courtesy Copy Requirement as of January 1, 2023 – Notice Dated 10-25-22

Order – Rescinding Temporary Suspension of Courtesy Copy Requirement – Dated 10-24-22 – Effective 01-01-23