D.R.S.
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The Advisor


3/13/14

 

 

Substantiation is a Requirement to Deduct a Charitable Contribution

As the April 15 filing deadline approaches in which to file a 2013 tax return, taxpayers should realize that in order to deduct charitable contributions of $250 or more, the donors must receive acknowledgment letters from the charitable organizations.

IRS Provides Safe Harbor for Exclusion from Cancellation of Indebtedness Income

Rev. Proc. 2014-20, released on February 5, provides guidance regarding whether debt secured by an interest in a disregarded entity that holds real estate — rather than by the real estate itself — qualifies for the exclusion from cancellation of indebtedness income provided by section 108(c)(3).

Avoid Identity Theft Tax Troubles

Anyone can become a victim of identity theft and it can happen anywhere. This blog post discusses tips to avoid becoming a victim, IRS resources available for those taxpayers who have become a victim, and an IRS pilot program for taxpayers residing in Florida, Georgia and the District of Columbia.

Even Though IRS Executives Do Not Know It, Employee Travel Reimbursements Can be Taxable.

On February 18, 2014, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) issued a report reviewing the long-term .travel of certain IRS executives and found that nine of the 31 executives whose records they studied made mistakes on their taxes. The mistakes pertained to the taxability of travel reimbursements they receive. While it is unclear if the IRS executives were penalized for their mistakes, taxpayers on long-term travel details should be aware that not all employee travel reimbursements are tax neutral.

Senate Hearing Takes Aim on Offshore Tax Evasion

This blog post discusses the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on February 26, 2014, which focused on offshore tax evasion, titled “Offshore Tax Evasion: The Effort to Collect Unpaid Taxes on Billions in Hidden Offshore Accounts.
New York to Drastically Change "Gift Tax" Rule – Action Required by March 31, 2014

This Private Wealth Services alert discusses Governor Cuomo's proposed change to New York's estate and gift tax law that will require all taxable gifts made by a New York resident after March 31, 2014, to be included as part of the gross estate for purposes of calculating the New York estate tax. New York individuals who have significant estates should consider making taxable gifts before April 1, 2014 – especially if the individual has not used up the federal exclusion amount.

Israel's 10-Year Tax Holiday for Immigrants Is No Tax Haven for Ex-Pats

While Israel welcomes immigrants, and even provides them with tax incentives, it is serious about ending any perceived notion that it is somehow complicit with taxes evaded by its foreign residents in their home country. As such, it plans to release information on accounts held by foreign residents to foreign tax authorities. Israeli residents who invest in the United States should also take note that the exchange of information will be reciprocal in nature.

 

FMCSA Shuts Down Salem, Mass. Passenger Van Company for Disregarding Safety Regulations, Endangering the Traveling Public
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Salem, Mass.-based passenger carrier D'Boston Transportation, LLC, USDOT No. 2456132, to immediately cease all passenger transportation services due to widespread and serious noncompliance with federal safety regulations that has endangered the lives of its drivers, passengers and the motoring public.

 

 

FMCSA

 FMCSA HAS published a final rule extending the requirement for interstate commercial drivers to have paper copies of their medical examiner’s certifications with them when operating a commercial motor vehicle. This requirement will stay in effect until January 30, 2015. This requirement applies to any drivers with either a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or the commercial learner’s permit (CLP) who must be medically certified under 49 CFR part 391. Please note that drivers are still required to certify their status (e.g., interstate or intrastate, exempt or non-exempt) with the State Driver License Agency (SDLA) agency before January 30, 2014 and to provide the SDLA a copy of any new medical certificate received after January 30, 2012.

 

FMCSA also extended the requirement for interstate motor carriers to retain copies of their drivers’ medical certificates in their driver qualification files. This extension of the requirement to carry a medical certificate card was needed to ensure that all SDLAs are prepared to accept and transmit the medical qualification of CDL and CLP holders on the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) driver record.

 

 

DOT Fines American Airlines for Violating Price Advertising Rule

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)  fined American Airlines $60,000 for violating the Department’s full-fare advertising rule after the airline’s agents told consumers that surcharges levied by the airlines were government-imposed taxes. DOT ordered the carrier to cease and desist from further violations.

corrected its website and provided additional training to its agents.

The consent order and other documents in the case are available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2013-0024.

 

Hours of service for 100 Air Mile radius drivers

§ 395.1Scope of rules in this part.
(e) Short-haul operations—(1) 100 air-mile radius driver. A driver is exempt from the requirements of § 395.8 if:
(i) The driver operates within a 100 air-mile radius of the normal work reporting location;
(ii) The driver, except a driver-salesperson, returns to the work reporting location and is released from work within 12 consecutive hours;
(iii)(A) A property-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver has at least 10 consecutive hours off duty separating each 12 hours on duty;
(B) A passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver has at least 8 consecutive hours off duty separating each 12 hours on duty;
(iv)(A) A property-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver does not exceed the maximum driving time specified in §395.3(a)(3) following 10 consecutive hours off duty; or
(B) A passenger-carrying commercial motor vehicle driver does not exceed 10 hours maximum driving time following 8 consecutive hours off duty; and
(v) The motor carrier that employs the driver maintains and retains for a period of 6 months accurate and true time records showing:
(A) The time the driver reports for duty each day;
(B) The total number of hours the driver is on duty each day;
(C) The time the driver is released from duty each day; and
(D) The total time for the preceding 7 days in accordance with §395.8(j)(2) for drivers used for the first time or intermittently.

New Jersey Law Requires Covered Employers to Provide  

New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (NJ SAFE Act) has been signed into law.  New Jersey joins 15 states, the District of Columbia,1 and a handful of local governments in providing victims of domestic violence or sexual assault with the right to take unpaid leave.  

 

Effective October 1, 2013, the NJ SAFE Act will provide eligible employees with unpaid time off to attend to a variety of matters related to an act of domestic violence or sexual assault committed against the employee or a family or household member.

 

The NJ SAFE Act grants employees the right to sue their employers for violations of the law if leave is denied or if the employee is the victim of wrongful discrimination or retaliation for requesting leave under the law.  Under the new law, New Jersey employers will likely face new legal challenges and increased administrative costs, similar to those associated with carrying out the provisions of the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA).

While the NJ SAFE Act identifies activities for which leave may be taken, the statute provides obstacles to implementation and employers will have to carefully tread new territory to avoid allegations of unfair implementation, while also preventing misuse of the leave period.

 

Covered Employers and Employees

Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the NJFLA, which generally applies to employers with 50 or more employees, the NJ SAFE Act applies to employers with 25 or more employees.  Additionally, the NJ SAFE Act applies to all public offices, agencies, boards and government bodies in the State.

 

To be eligible for protection under the NJ SAFE Act, an individual must be employed for at least 12 months (there is no requirement that they be consecutive) and for at least 1,000 base hours (approximately 20 weeks) during the immediately preceding 12-month period.  A covered employee who is a victim of domestic violence or a sexually violent offense (a “qualifying incident”), or whose family member (defined as a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner) is a victim, is entitled to unpaid leave of no more than 20 days in one 12-month period, to be used in the 12-month period following any qualifying incident.

The unpaid leave may be taken intermittently in intervals of at least one day, within the 12-month period following the qualifying incident.  Each qualifying incident is a separate offense for which an employee is entitled to unpaid leave, provided he or she has not exhausted the allotted 20 days for the 12-month period.

The new law makes it unlawful for an employer to threaten or discharge, harass or otherwise discriminate or retaliate against an employee because the employee took or requested NJ SAFE Act leave. 

Qualifying Reasons for Leave

Employees may take leave to engage in any of the following activities (as it applies to them personally, or to a family member as defined above):

  • Seeking medical attention for, or recovering from, physical or psychological injuries caused by the incident;
  • Obtaining services from a victim services organization;
  • Obtaining psychological or other counseling;
  • Participating in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocating, or taking other actions to increase the victim’s safety or to ensure his or her economic security;
  • Seeking legal assistance, including preparing for, or participating in, any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or derived from domestic or sexual violence; or
  • Attending, participating in, or preparing for a criminal or civil court proceeding relating to an incident of domestic or sexual violence.

An employer may require employees to provide documentation of the qualifying incident when requesting leave.  Acceptable supporting documents include the following:

  • A domestic violence restraining order or other documentation issued by a court;
  • Written documentation from a county or municipal prosecutor;
  • Documentation of the conviction of the person who committed the qualifying incident;
  • Medical documentation of the qualifying incident;
  • Certification from a certified Domestic Violence Specialist or the director of a designated domestic violence agency or Rape Crisis Center; or
  • Other documentation or certification provided by a social worker, member of the clergy, shelter worker, or other professional who has assisted the employee or family member in dealing with the qualifying incident.

If the need for leave is foreseeable, employees must provide employers with written notice as far in advance as is reasonable and practical under the circumstances.  

Employers may also require that employees use any accrued paid vacation leave, personal leave, or medical or sick leave during any part of the 20-day period of unpaid leave.  If an employee requests leave for a reason that is also covered by the FMLA or the NJFLA, employers may count the leave against an FMLA or NJFLA entitlement and run it concurrently with the employee’s entitlement under each respective law.

Posting Requirements

An employer must conspicuously post a notice advising employees of their rights and obligations under the NJ SAFE Act.  The New Jersey Department of Labor will approve a required form for posting.brian

 

Five Documents Sure To Appear In Your Lawsuit

Employment litigation can easily prove both complicated and time consuming. Interpretations regarding legal concepts often evolve rapidly, based on court decisions, agency interpretations, or actions by Congress or state legislatures. And even though claims are based on these changing laws, basic documents created by an employer lie at the core of an employment dispute. In litigation, these documents can make the difference between success and failure.

The Big Five

Five key documents arise most frequently, especially in cases involving an alleged adverse employment action: the job description; the handbook; performance evaluations; disciplinary documents; and responses to administrative charges.

They vary in importance depending on the claims asserted and the underlying issues, but they’re almost always included among documents produced in employment litigation.

In fact, these documents are included in the “Pilot Project Regarding Initial Discovery Protocols For Employment Cases Alleging Adverse Action,” which some Federal District Courts are already requiring.

This program introduces pre-trial procedures aimed at encouraging efficient and less costly discovery. The Pilot Project accepts that there is a core set of documentation exchanged in litigation and asks that a mandatory list of documents be exchanged even without a request by the employee’s counsel.

Included in the mandatory list are the following: 1) “Job description(s) for the position(s) that the plaintiff held”; 2) “Workplace policies relevant to the adverse action in effect at the time of the adverse action” and “The table of contents and index of any employee handbook…”; 3) “The plaintiff’s performance evaluations…”; 4) “The plaintiff’s…formal discipline” and “Documents concerning the…termination…of the employment relationship at issue in this lawsuit”; and 5) “Responses to…administrative charges and complaint by the plaintiff that rely upon any of the same factual allegations or claims as those at issue in this lawsuit.”

Absent the Pilot Project, any diligent plaintiff’s attorney will surely request these documents. So, knowing that these documents will most certainly be read by an employee’s lawyer, a judge, or a jury – why not make certain that they are going to help make a potential litigation successful. The impact that they make in litigation, however, can lead directly to success or defeat.  Let’s take a closer look at each.

Job Descriptions

Of the five documents, job descriptions are often the most overlooked. With positions often evolving or with companies changing structures, it can be difficult to keep up with an employee’s core duties and functions.But a fundamental question in litigation is going to be, “What did this person do?” Although a supervisor can provide this information through testimony at a later time, it is always best to have a contemporaneous document that clearly sets out both the employee’s job duties and expectations. This information can prove important for various reasons. With respect to claims for failing to either hire or promote an employee, the duties that the employer felt the applicant could not successfully accomplish serve as a central issue. The essential functions of a job are an important aspect in many litigations involving the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Although not determinative, the job description helps in establishing duties or responsibilities in misclassification claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act. In unlawful discrimination or retaliation claims where an employer terminated an employee because of failure to properly execute job duties, it’s helpful to have documentation establishing that the employee was indeed the one responsible for fulfilling the duties in question.

Handbooks

Handbooks serve a critical role in any place of employment since they set out basic policies for employees. Unfortunately, however, handbooks can negatively impact employment litigation as much as they can help support important arguments.

Handbooks often serve as the document establishing that the employer has policies prohibiting the conduct the employee complains about, such as policies on equal employment opportunities, medical leave, and requesting accommodations. Clear policies regarding reporting potential harassment or discrimination underpin important legal defenses – especially when employees fail to use reporting avenues.

But a handbook that fails to provide succinct and relevant policies does not serve as good guidance for employees; it even poses a danger during potential litigation. This most often occurs where handbook policies set out intentions or expectations that are not consistently applied or were not applied properly in the events resulting in the lawsuit. This could involve policies related to attendance, tardiness, or general expectations regarding behavior.

Of course, policies should be updated and revised regularly. Even if there is no discriminatory motive, a manager’s reliance on an outdated – or unlawful policy – will undoubtedly assist an employee in mounting a challenging case.

Performance Evaluations

Performance evaluations are routine documents usually included in an employee’s personnel file. This document becomes important in cases involving a termination for poor performance. In such a circumstance, the performance evaluation can either support the decision or serve to raise suspicions that an attorney can exploit.

Often times, a manager’s reluctance to provide an honest and thorough evaluation results in documents stating that most employees are “meeting expectations” or “exceeding expectations” This high rating will pose a contradiction when trying to convince a jury or judge that, in reality, the employee was actually not meeting expectations. A skeptical third party will likely take these documents at face value and believe that the employee met expectations or exceeded expectations. If the manager has to explain the inconsistency by admitting that the evaluation is inaccurate, a judge or jury may surely begin to question whether the manager is being truthful.

Disciplinary Documents

Disciplinary documents or termination sheets generally serve as a key piece of evidence detailing the employer’s reasons for taking the actions that the employee claims were done for discriminatory or retaliatory motives.

If the adverse action involved a termination, the termination sheet will unquestionably be a key document. A clear explanation of the reason for the termination that is articulated at the time the event occurred can help anchor your credibility.

But when managers create these documents they may not have potential litigation in mind. This can result in vague shorthand comments such as “policy violation” or “not following directions.” Where the sheet provides options for a manager to check off the reason for the termination, filling out this information in a hurry could result in selecting an inaccurate reason.

For example, the manager might select “policy violation” instead of “insubordination” where an employee has refused a direct order. Although a vague comment or an error in selecting a reason do not prove fatal to a litigation, they create scenarios where opposing counsel can exploit the error. These mistakes or oversights can be used to both question managers’ credibility or embarrass them by forcing them to admit that they were careless.

Response To Administrative Charges

Responses to administrative charges, such as statements of position to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, differ from the other documents discussed since they are created after the underlying facts have taken place. These responses also usually incorporate the other common documents as exhibits or sources of information. Such responses are critical since they serve as precursors for the story that the employer will flesh out in litigation.

Since they serve as the initial opportunity for an employer to address allegations of unlawful conduct, these responses have long-lasting effects. Such documents lock the employer into certain positions. In other words, if a termination or disciplinary decision is not articulated accurately or fully in a response, clarifying or elaborating upon the reasoning at a later time may appear suspicious.responses to administrative charges should be concise and simple, addressing the allegations directly and accurately.

The Bottom Line

To sum up, the legal environment is often changing and uncertain. Nevertheless, these fundamental documents will usually appear during an employment litigation, and the time and effort spent in drafting them will reduce later difficulties.

What to look for in your provider. 

1. standards are the foundation upon which established professions have built their reputation and garnered the esteem of the American public.

Quality
2. Assures clients and potential clients that the company meets nationally accepted standards for the MRO industry.

3. Continuous quality improvement through the application of standards, which are updated as the industry and its policies and procedures change.


Integrity
4.Shows the general public that the company, has a genuine interest in continuous self-evaluation and self-improvement.

5. Ability to perform to set standards.

6. The company is a leader in this field.


Responsibility
7. The company and its personnel have the skills and knowledge needed to provide  MRO services in accordance with all applicable regulations.