Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus

Robert G. Gabrielski and Melissa A. Peña to Participate in Meritas US/Canada Regional Meeting

Robert G. Gabrielski and Melissa A. Peña, Members of the Bridgewater-based law firm, Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., will participate in the Meritas 2014 US/Canada Regional Meeting at the Westin Grand Central Hotel in New York City. Other members of the firm will also attend.

Gabrielski, a Member of the firm’s Management Committee and Chair of the Business Law Group and its International Business and Tax Planning Group, will participate in a panel discussion titled “Leveraging Your Meritas Connections,” on November 7 at 2:15 pm. Other participants include Ken Kallish of Minden Gross LLP in Toronto and Jeffrey Boxer of Carter Ledyard Milburn in New York.  Fred Seller of BrazeauSeller LLP in Ottawa will serve as moderator.

Peña, who concentrates her practice in bankruptcy, commercial litigation and mortgage foreclosures, will lead the member introductions and a networking activity, designed as a fun way for attendees to get to know one another, following the welcoming remarks.

Norris McLaughlin has been a member of Meritas since 1999.  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 Fed Ends Its QE-3 Program While The Japan Central Bank Expands Its Program

This past Wednesday, the Fed announced the cessation of its bond buying program under QE-3.  Today, the Japan Central Bank, in a divided 5 – 4 vote, went the other way, announcing the expansion of its similar bond buying program to purchase long term debt.  While the Fed feels confident that the US economy is in a healthy and continued growth place, the Japanese Central Bank feels the need to expand its stimulus program to stave off a lagging economy.  Combined with increased government spending and structural economic reform, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to provide a boost to Japan’s economy.  All of that is in contrast to the Fed and other central banks, which have been tapering their monetary policy intervention as their economies are recovering.  Will Abe’s tactics halt the long-term deflation in Japan, one of the world’s largest economies?  Perhaps one indication of confidence in the Central Bank’s action in conjunction of Abe’s plan is the pop of about 5% in the Nikkei following the announcement and a total of 7% over the last three days. Stay tuned.

The Fed Ends QE-3 – The End of Stimulus?

Coming out of its Central Bank Committee meeting Wednesday, the Fed announced that it will end its QE-3 bond buying program. The QE program, in iterations of QE, QE-2 and the current QE-3 program, has been in effect since the early days of the recession in November 2008. At that time, who could have predicted that the Fed’s primary tool to get the economy back on track would continue for six years? Even though the Fed announced the cessation of its bond buying program, it also stated that it would keep interest rates low for a “considerable time.” The “considerable time” language has been the Fed’s key signal to the markets regarding its forward-looking strategy, and that guidance appeared as expected. So, notwithstanding that the Fed announced the end of QE-3, the stock markets remained relatively flat (Dow down 31 and NASDAQ down 15) given that they had priced the end of QE-3 into their analysis along with their bet on continued low interest rates, at least through Q-1, 2015.

With the announcement today of Q-3 GDP moving along at a 3.5% rate (analysts had predicted only 3% growth), oil prices falling and the labor market improving, albeit only in certain sectors, the back room concern about inflation may be coming out to the party. Inflation is a serious concern for the Fed, not wanting the economy to snap back too quickly with low interest rates. So, look for interest rate increases no later than Q-2, 2015.

Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures

On October 9 and October 10, the Internal Revenue Service issued new guidance and questions and answers for taxpayers regarding the Streamlined Filing Compliance Procedures announced this summer. For a detailed explanation and link to this guidance please click here.

Taxpayers previously considering the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program should also consider whether they may be eligible for this Streamlined Program. The main question to ask is whether a taxpayer has acted willfully with repect to their non-filing of tax returns and fbars. “Willful” is defined as an intentional violation of a known legal duty. A taxpayer who has not acted willfully can potentially pay a penalty of 5% of the year end balance for the last six years of their offshore accounts as opposed to 27.5% in the offshore voluntary disclosure program. As such, careful analysis in conjunction with an educated professional is necessary in all situations.



GERMANY CUTS ECONOMIC FORECASTS – The Ukraine Effect? German Recession Coming?

Germany has been the primary growth engine in the EU over the last few years, while the economies of Spain, France, Portugal, Greece, and so on have continued to languish.  Now, the just released economic forecast by the German government downgraded its earlier projections of 1.8% growth for 2014 to 1.2% – projections for 2015 hover around 1.3%.

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Melinda Fellner Bramwit to Present at “Tax Trends for 2014 & Beyond” Seminar

Please join Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., Wiss & Company, LLP,and The Insurance & Investment Advisory Group, LLC (“IIAG“) on October 21, 2014 for a complimentary panel-style seminar on evolving tax trends. Designed for business owners, financial planners, accountants, human resource professionals, and others responsible for managing business operations, this program will offer practical information on the following topics: Use of IC-DISCS, Captive Insurance Companies, Cost Segregation Studies and other credits and deductions to maximize the value of your business.

Legal Issues With Formation & Tax Treatment -  Melinda Fellner Bramwit, Esq.,  Partner, Norris McLaughlin & Marcus

Compliance and Accounting  Issues – Christopher Colyer, CPA, MST, MBA, Tax Partner, Wiss & Company

Funding & Insurance Issues – Anthony M. Sardis, JD, LLM, IIAG

For more information and to register, click here

New Jersey Offers Tax Amnesty Program to Certain Taxpayers

For New Jersey taxpayers with outstanding state liabilities for tax periods 2005 through 2013, the New Jersey Division of Taxation is offering a new program allowing these taxpayers to enter into a closing agreement with the state and resolve their outstanding taxes.

Eligible taxpayers include businesses and individuals.  The state has not officially published on its website which taxes are eligible for amnesty, so it would be prudent for an affected taxpayer to contact the state to request a schedule of liabilities or engage a professional to do so.

Certain taxpayers will be receiving letters from the state automatically.  The amnesty offered includes a waiver of penalties for most taxpayers as well as a waiver of recovery fees and some collection costs.  For the Division’s release on this procedure, please click here, and contact a tax professional for assistance.

Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Update: Opt-out Appeals Are Possible

As stated in our previous post on June 19, 2014, there are several options available to the taxpayer in the United States and abroad to come forward and report US income and file the appropriate informational returns such as FBARs, Forms 3520 and others.  For a taxpayer who decides to enter the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (“OVDP”), there is currently an asset-based penalty of 27.5% of the highest aggregate balance of the assets in the applicable eight-year period, as well as an income-based penalty imposed on the unreported income.  The 27.5% rate becomes 50% in some circumstances where the taxpayer has holdings in certain enumerated foreign financial institutions, which are listed on the IRS page here.  For some of these OVDP participants, their facts may dictate that they will want to “opt-out” of the OVDP program to undergo a regular IRS audit examining their returns and judging their overall level of willfulness (defined as an intentional violation of a known legal duty).  In some circumstances, such an audit can produce a penalty lower than the OVDP rate.  Taxpayers in this opt-out audit situation should know that they are not bound by the audit results; they maintain the same appeal rights in the OVDP audit as they would in a regular IRS audit.  Of course, an affected taxpayer should discuss this option with a reliable professional first.

Foreign Investors in US Health Care Provider and Equipment Companies – Beware of the False Claims Act

“Since 2009, the United States Department of Justice has collected more than $2.3 Billion from healthcare professionals for violations of the False Claims Act.”  The Medical Profession Beware: False Claims Act – A Danger You Can’t Ignore, Theodore Margolis, Esq. and Sandra Jarva Weiss, Esq., MD News Eastern Pennsylvania/NW New Jersey, 2014.  The Act prohibits making any false Medicare reimbursement claims.  Hospitals, doctors, medical associations, labs and equipment suppliers have often violated one of the Medicare reimbursement requirements inadvertently, thereby increasing the prospect of a False Claims Act violation.  Potential damages in a successful claim by the Department of Justice can be between $5,000 and $10,000 per violation, plus three times the damages suffered by the government as a result of the false claim.  If you are a foreign entity considering an investment in, or the acquisition of, a US healthcare provider or equipment supplier, make sure that you undertake a vigorous and comprehensive due diligence of your target.  To read the full article, click here.

A World of Opportunity at the International Exporting Conference

The MIDJersey Center for Economic Development hosted an International Business Opportunities conference on Wednesday, giving businesses and officials the opportunity to network with foreign delegations and share best practices and resources for U.S. businesses to export goods and services internationally.

The conference, at the Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, included consul generals from South Africa, Indonesia, Colombia, Israel and Canada, as well as some of the state’s top business leaders and government officials.

flat globe

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