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Searching for Articles published in October 2016.
Found 9 Results.

Our People

Posted on October 27, 2016, Authored by ,

2017 Qualified Plan Cost of Living Increases, 2017 Social Security Taxable Wage Base 2

Posted on October 27, 2016, Authored by Mary Ellen Schill,

2017 Qualified Plan Cost of Living Increases, 2017 Social Security Taxable Wage Base The Internal Revenue Service has announced the cost-of-living adjustments for the various qualified retirement plan limits. Some of the limits shown below remain unchanged from last year, but others have increased. Qualified Plan Limit Qualified Plan Limit Cost-of-Living Adjustments 401(k) and 403(b) elective deferral limit 2016-$18,000 2017-$18,000 $200,000 compensation limit 2016-$265,000 2017-$270,000 $160,000 defined benefit limit 2016-$210,000 2017-$215,000 $40,000 defined contribution limit 2016-$53,000 2017-$54,000 $80,000 definition of highly compensated employee 2016-$120,000 2017-$120,000 SIMPLE IRA deferral limit 2016-$12,500 2017-$12,500 Code Section 457 deferred compensation plan deferral limit 2016-$18,000 2017-$18,000 Code Section 414(v) catch-up contribution limit for employee deferrals 2016-$6,000 2017-$6,000   All of the above are plan year limits (i.e., for the plan year which begins in 2017), with the exception of the Code Section 401(k) and Code Section 403(b) elective deferral limit, which is a calendar year limitation. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services has set the maximum taxable wages for the OASDI portion of the social security tax at $127,200 for 2017, which is an increase from the 2016 limit of $118,500.  If you have questions regarding the above, please contact Attorney Mary Ellen Schill, who prepared this article, or any of the attorneys within the Employment, Benefits & Labor Relations Group of Ruder Ware.

Lien Avoidance

Posted on October 30, 2016, Authored by Christopher M. Seelen, Filed under Banking and Financial Matters

Have you made a business or agricultural loan to an individual in Wisconsin?  Have you secured that loan with a non-purchase money, non-possessory lien on personal property that the debtor uses in his business?  If you answered “yes” to both questions, then you should be aware (or at least reminded) that your debtor can avoid your lien in bankruptcy to the extent that your lien impairs the debtor’s exemptions in implements or tools of the trade. (11 U.S.C. sec. 522(f)(1)(B)(ii)). Wisconsin now has a $15,000 exemption for business equipment, inventory, farm products and professional books used in the business of the debtor or in the business of a dependent of the debtor. (Wis. Stats. sec. 815.18(3)(b)1.)  A married couple, who are both engaged in the business, can stack this exemption and thereby double the exemption to $30,000. This means that your non-purchase money, non-possessory lien in implements or tools of the trade can be reduced by $30,000 in a bankruptcy filed by a husband and wife, who use Wisconsin exemptions. Although the Bankruptcy Code  (11 U.S.C. sec. 522(f)(3)(B)) contains a cap in the amount of $6,425 on lien avoidance for some types of state statutes, which amount is revised every 3 years, a federal district court has held that this cap does not apply to the Wisconsin business exemption.  See In re Ehlen, 207 B.R. 179, 184 (W.D. Wis. 1997). Keep in mind that only individuals are entitled to exemptions in bankruptcy court.  LLCs and corporations are not entitled to exemptions.  This means that an LLC or corporation cannot avoid your lien under 11 U.S.C. sec. 522(f)(1)(B) because there is no exemption being impaired.  However, of course, an LLC or corporation could try to cram down the value of your collateral, but that’s an article for another day. The take away here is that when you are valuing your collateral, you need to be aware that a future bankruptcy filing may reduce the value of your non-purchase money, non-possessory lien. You should be vigilant for debtors who attempt to dissolve their LLC (or transfer their LLC assets to the debtors individually) just prior to filing for bankruptcy.  We have seen debtors take such action to place the assets in their individual names just prior to filing for bankruptcy so that they can take advantage of lien avoidance.  Such action may be a fraudulent transfer and may provide you with a basis to defeat the attempted lien avoidance.

NLRB Gives It the Old College Try – Again Hints that Athletes May Indeed Be Employees

Posted on October 24, 2016, Authored by Ruder Ware Attorneys, Filed under Employment

Labor and employment practitioners will undoubtedly recall the NLRB’s well-publicized foray last year into the ongoing public debate surrounding whether certain college athletes should be considered compensated employees—Northwestern University, 362 NLRB No. 167 (Aug. 17, 2015). Through Northwestern University, the Board punted—but left open—the substantive issue of whether private university, grant-in-aid scholarship football players meet the statutory definition of “employee” for purposes of the NLRA.  Through Northwestern University, the Board elected to not assert its jurisdiction over the College Athletes Players Association’s representation petition because, according to the Board, asserting such jurisdiction “would not serve to promote stability in labor relations.”  However, the Board also offered a foreshadowing glimpse into its playbook when it stated, “whether we might assert jurisdiction in another case involving grant-in-aid scholarship football players (or other types of scholarship athletes) is a question we need not and do not address at this time.”  Although the Board called timeout last summer, the appropriate “time” for the Board’s ultimate decision concerning “employee” status for certain college athletes may be fast approaching, as explained below. On September 22, 2016, the Board’s Office of the General Counsel, Division of Advice, issued an Advice Memorandum addressing whether certain prohibitions on player activities [e.g., use of social media to depict “inappropriate” or “embarrassing” behavior; discussion of “confidential” aspects of the team such as “the physical condition of any players”] contained within Northwestern University’s Football Handbook violated the NLRA.  Significantly, through the Advice Memorandum, the Division of Advice “assumed, for purposes of [the] memorandum, that Northwestern’s scholarship football players are statutory employees.”  Moreover, the Division of Advice concluded, “…the relevant Football Handbook rules were unlawful until they were modified in response to the instant charge.”  While the Advice Memorandum does not constitute a legally binding position, it definitely supports the conclusion that the Office of the General Counsel views grant-in-aid athletes at private colleges and universities as employees for purposes of the NLRA.   Ultimately, the Office of the General Counsel did not bring a complaint because: [W]e further conclude that it would not effectuate the policies and purposes of the NLRA to issue [sic] complaint in this case because the Employer, although still maintaining that athletic scholarship football players are not employees under the NLRA, modified the rules to bring them into compliance with the NLRA and sent the scholarship football players a notice of the corrections, which sets forth the rights of employees under the NLRA. In light of recent failings to advance the ball through antitrust litigation [e.g., SCOTUS’s refusal to take up the O’Bannon case], traditional labor law appears to be the clearest path for college athletes who seek to push the “compensated employee” agenda.  For this reason, those invested in collegiate athletics should keep a watchful eye on the legal developments at the NLRB.

IRS Announces 2017 Qualified Plan Limits; Pumpkin Spice Inexplicably Lacking

Posted on October 27, 2016, Authored by Mary Ellen Schill, Filed under Employment

Late each October, the IRS gets around to announcing the cost of living adjustments for qualified plans for the upcoming year.  This year was no exception, and here they are [Plan Limits].   Unlike last year, 2017 brings some increases to the limits, like the increase in the compensation limit (the maximum amount of compensation a plan can take into account) from $265,000 to $270,000.  For those looking to defer more, unfortunately the limit on elective deferrals (and the catch-up contribution limit) remains the same at $18,000 and $6,000, respectively. The Social Security Administration earlier announced the new taxable wage base for 2017, and it has increased also, to $127,200. So, enjoy these increases even without the usual pumpkin spice that everything seems to include this time of year!  

Wisconsin is Well Banked

Posted on October 21, 2016, Authored by Ruder Ware Attorneys, Filed under Banking and Financial Matters

On October 20, 2016, the FDIC released a report on the use of the traditional banking system in the United States.  According to the report, in 2015, less than 4 percent of Wisconsin households were “unbanked” while nationally the average fell to 7 percent, the lowest percentage on record. An “unbanked” household is one that includes no members with a checking or savings account.   The FDIC cited several reasons why some households remain unbanked, the most common of which was the cost of maintaining an account, with an estimated 37.8% of individuals citing cost as the main reason underlying their decision not to maintain an account.  As one might expect and consistent with past FDIC survey results, the report notes that unbanked and underbanked rates are higher among lower-income households, less-educated households, younger households, minority households, and working-age disabled households. However, the report also notes that increases in technology have made a marketable difference and will continue to lower the barrier and expand the opportunity for “economic inclusion” and financial literacy to those currently going unbanked. Read the full FDIC report here.

Ruder Ware Earns Recertification in Meritas, a Global Alliance of Business Law Firms

Posted on October 4, 2016, Authored by ,

Ruder Ware recently was awarded recertification in Meritas, a global alliance of business law firms. Ruder Ware is required to successfully complete recertification every three years. Meritas is the only law firm alliance with an established and comprehensive means of monitoring and enhancing the quality of its member firms—a process that saves clients time in validating law firm credentials and experience. Meritas membership is selective and by invitation only. Firms are regularly assessed and recertified for the breadth of their practice expertise and client satisfaction. The organization’s extensive due diligence process ensures that only firms meeting the tenets of Meritas’ Quality Assurance Program are allowed to maintain membership. Firm performance and quality feedback are reflected in a Satisfaction Index score, which is made available online. The recertification process includes exacting self-assessment, peer review by other law firms and client feedback. It examines such factors as timeliness and quality of a firm’s client service, professional conduct and adherence to Meritas policies including acknowledgement of Meritas firm or client correspondence within 24 hours. “Businesses trust the Meritas alliance of law firms for top-tier quality, convenience, consistency and value,” said Tanna Moore, CEO of Meritas. “Ruder Ware has demonstrated its commitment to world-class client service, and as such, has successfully earned its recertification in Meritas.” About Meritas Founded in 1990, Meritas is an international alliance of commercial law firms working across jurisdictions to provide clients the best of both worlds: a local legal partner with full service capabilities and the cost efficiency and personal attention unmatched by mega law firms. Each member law firm is required to adhere to rigorous and specific service standards on a regular basis. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Meritas has member firms

BREAKING: Supreme Court to Weigh in on Transgender Restroom Access in Schools

Posted on October 28, 2016, Authored by Kevin J.T. Terry, Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday accepted a closely watched case over restroom access for transgender students. Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., will examine whether the Title IX education code’s prohibition on “sex” discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity. The U.S. Department of Education says that it does, and the Fourth Circuit did not agree. A ruling on transgender rights is likely to be closely divided at the Supreme Court, and the continued lack of a ninth justice means that a tie is possible. Should the Court fail to come to a decision, the Fourth Circuit’s interpretation would stand and the transgender student’s claim would fail. For Wisconsin School Districts, this means that a definitive answer may be on the horizon regarding whether or not students must be allowed to utilize restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity, rather than the gender assigned at birth. Until this decision is announced, school districts should continue to work with legal counsel on specific transgender student related matters. If you have any questions about the education of transgender students in your district, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin Terry or Dean Dietrich.  

BREAKING: Supreme Court to Weigh in on Transgender Restroom Access in Schools

Posted on October 28, 2016, Authored by Kevin J.T. Terry,

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday accepted a closely watched case over restroom access for transgender students. Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., will examine whether the Title IX education code’s prohibition on “sex” discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity. The U.S. Department of Education says that it does, and the Fourth Circuit did not agree. A ruling on transgender rights is likely to be closely divided at the Supreme Court, and the continued lack of a ninth justice means that a tie is possible. Should the Court fail to come to a decision, the Fourth Circuit’s interpretation would stand the transgender student’s claim would fail. For Wisconsin School Districts, this means that a definitive answer may be on the horizon regarding whether or not students must be allowed to utilize restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity, rather than the gender assigned at birth. Until this decision is announced, school districts should continue to work with legal counsel on specific transgender student related matters. If you have any questions about the education of transgender students in your district, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin Terry or Dean Dietrich.