On Friday, March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which contains many provisions designed to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. Liskow & Lewis attorneys John T. Bradford and Jeffrey P. Birdsong wrote about four of those provisions which affected the implementation of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) here. The following blog post walks through another round of changes to the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) contained in the CARES Act.

Continue Reading Liskow & Lewis CARES Act Tax Analysis – Part II

Day-to-day life has been dramatically impacted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and many businesses have been forced to close or limit their service to slow the spread of COVID-19. In response, Congress has passed several pieces of legislation to assist individuals and businesses affected by the virus.

Continue Reading COVID-19 Federal Legislative Response

On Friday, March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the CARES Act, which contains many provisions designed to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on businesses. Those provisions include the following four significant changes to the business tax provisions contained in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Continue Reading CARES Act Makes Significant Changes to Four Key Business Tax Provisions Enacted in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

Through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), in 2017 Congress enacted Code Sections 1400Z-1 and 1400Z-2 of the Internal Revenue Code (the “Code”). These Code Sections were designed to encourage investment and economic growth in certain-low income communities by creating a procedure for identifying Qualified Opportunity Zones (“QOZs”) and offering certain federal income tax incentives to taxpayers who invest in businesses located in them.  Code Section 1400Z-1 provides the procedure for designating QOZs and Section 1400Z-2 outlines the tax benefits associated with investments into these zones.

Continue Reading Opportunity Zones: Where Are We Now?

Previous regulations on hardship distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) plans generally provided that a participant could receive an in-service distribution prior to reaching age 59½ if the participant had an immediate and heavy financial need.  The determination of whether a participant had an immediate and heavy financial need was determined based on all relevant facts and circumstances.  However, to simplify administration, the regulations provided for safe-harbor hardship withdrawals that were deemed to be an immediate and heavy financial need.

Late last month, the IRS published final regulations that significantly relaxed some of the requirements under the  safe-harbor provisions.  Some of the changes are mandatory and some are permissive.  The changes are discussed in detail below.

Continue Reading New Final Regulations on Hardship Distributions from 401(k) and 403(b) Plans

Liskow & Lewis’ Shannon Holtzman, James Brown, and A’Dair Flynt recently secured several key rulings in a putative class action, successfully opposing a complex remand motion under the Tax Injunction Act and the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) and obtaining a dismissal with prejudice of the claims against Liskow’s clients in Robert J. Caluda, APLC, et al v. The City of New Orleans, Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson, L.L.P, and United Governmental Services of Louisiana, Inc., No. 19-2497, 2019 WL 3283138, 2019 WL 3291014 (E.D. La. July 22, 2019).

Continue Reading Liskow & Lewis Secures Key Rulings in Class Action Litigation

On June 13, 2019, the Department of Labor, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Treasury (the “Departments”), published final regulations which significantly broaden the types of health plans that may be integrated with a health reimbursement arrangement (“HRA”). More specifically, beginning January 2020, the finalized rules allow HRAs to be integrated with certain qualifying individual health plan coverage and/or Medicare.  The final rules reverse current guidance which requires HRAs to be integrated with only qualifying group health plan coverage. Practically speaking, this means that employers, beginning in 2020, will be allowed to subsidize employee premiums in the individual health insurance market and/or Medicare using pre-tax dollars, provided certain conditions are met. The final rules also allow certain HRAs to reimburse participants for certain premiums paid for excepted benefits. To achieve these results, the final rules create two new types of HRAs.

Continue Reading New Final Regulations Expand the Availability of HRAs

In a victory for the oil and gas industry, the Third Circuit rendered a decision rejecting attempts by the Louisiana Department of Revenue to impose severance taxes on crude oil production based on index pricing.  The Third Circuit reaffirmed that severance taxes should be based on the “gross proceeds” obtained in an arm’s length sale at the lease.  The Department had sought additional severance taxes from numerous Louisiana producers that sold crude oil in arm’s length sales at the lease. The contracts provided that the sales price of the crude oil was based on index pricing, less an amount sometimes designated as a “transportation differential” or simply as a deduction. The Department argued that this “differential” or deduction must be “disallowed” when computing severance taxes, effectively imposing severance taxes on the index pricing.  The Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals, faced with numerous cases raising this same issue, heard a “test case” involving Avanti Exploration, LLC. The BTA held that the Department’s theories were invalid, and severance tax properly was based on the actual “gross receipts” received by the producer in an arm’s length sale.  In a decision issued on April 17, 2019, the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed, holding that, pursuant to the Louisiana Constitution, the severance tax statutes, and the Department regulations, in the absence of any “posted field price,” severance taxes must be based on the actual “gross receipts” received by the producer in an arm’s length sale at the lease.

Continue Reading Liskow Obtains Victory for the Oil and Gas Industry in the Louisiana Third Circuit

Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) passed by Congress in December 2017, starting in 2018 many 501(c)(3) Exempt Organizations (“EOs”) are required to treat the cost of employer-paid qualified transportation and parking benefits as unrelated business taxable income (“UBTI”) to the EO.  Though EOs have until May 15, 2019 to file their 2018 returns and remit any taxes owed to the federal government, there is a time-limited opportunity for some EOs to change their parking policy prior to March 31, 2019 and minimize the amount of parking tax owed.

New Tax on Employee Parking

EOs pay federal income taxes on their UBTI at a 21% rate.  Generally, UBTI is the income generated by an EO’s activity which is unrelated to the organization’s exempt purpose.  The TCJA changed this definition so that certain amounts spent by an EO on qualified transportation fringe benefits (e.g. employee parking) are treated as UBTI.  The IRS detailed their reasoning as to the types of taxable parking in IRS Notice 2018-99, which may be relied upon by EOs until the IRS issues regulations.

Continue Reading Opportunity to Minimize the New Tax on 501(c)(3) Exempt Organization Employee Parking

In a decision by the Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals, Liskow & Lewis attorneys Robert Angelico, Jim Exnicios, Cheryl Kornick, RJ Marse, and Jeff Birdsong obtained a ruling rejecting attempts by the Louisiana Department of Revenue to increase the amount of severance taxes due on crude oil produced in Louisiana.  The Department of Revenue targeted dozens of producers, including many smaller producers, with audits and assessments attempting to impose severance taxes on market center or index prices rather than the value of the crude oil in the field. 
Continue Reading Liskow Lawyers Obtain Win for Oil and Gas Industry in Severance Tax Litigation