Joel D. Rosen Appointed to the Hepatitis B Foundation Board of Directors

High Swartz partner, Joel D. Rosen has been re-appointed Board of the Directors for the Hepatitis B Foundation for a 3 year term. Joel is also Chairman of the Board.

The Hepatitis B Foundation is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure and improving the quality of life for those affected by hepatitis B worldwide. Their commitment includes funding focused research, promoting disease awareness, supporting immunization and treatment initiatives, and serving as the primary source of information for patients and their families, the medical and scientific community, and the general public. To learn more about the Hepatitis B Foundation, visit their website at http://www.hepb.org/.

Joel D. Rosen is  Managing Partner of High Swartz LLP. With more than 30 years of legal experience, his areas of practice include franchise law, business and commercial law, employment law, trademark/copyright law and commercial leasing. Mr. Rosen has counseled numerous businesses with regard to general corporate and commercial transactions, including, formation, mergers & acquisitions, licensing, sales, and financing projects. Mr. Rosen’s corporate client base spans a broad spectrum of industries, including: biotechnology, franchise, weight loss, food and restaurant, consumer products, media and entertainment, software and technology and nonprofit organizations.

About the Hepatitis B Foundation: The Hepatitis B Foundation is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization solely dedicated to finding a cure for hepatitis B and improving the quality of life for those affected worldwide through research, education and patient advocacy. To learn more, go to www.hepb.org, read our blog at http://hepb.org/blog, follow us on Twitter @HepBFoundation, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hepbfoundation or call 215-489-4900.

About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

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High Swartz Attorneys Lead Committees within the Montgomery Bar Association

High Swartz attorneys affirm their commitment to take on leadership positions in the community. High Swartz attorneys are taking positions within the Montgomery Bar Association in 2018.

Richard C. Sokorai – Chair – Fee Dispute Committee

Melissa M. Boyd – Co-Chair – Community Network Committee

Mark R. Fischer, Jr. – Vice-Chair – Law Reporter Committee

David J. Brooman – Vice-Chair – Environmental and Energy Law Committee

Elizabeth C. Early –Chair – Family Law Section Motions Court

High Swartz attorneys have been recognized for their contributions to the legal profession, including taking leadership roles in bar association groups, in client representation, in teaching and in service to the legal community and civic organizations. Throughout our history, members of the firm also have been active in our nation’s military and in public service at the local, state and national levels.

About High Swartz LLP: High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

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Highlights on the New Tax Law

While we are still waiting for the U.S. Department of Treasury to issue guidance on the new tax laws, here is what we know:

  • Estate and Gift Tax Changes

The federal estate, gift and GST tax exemptions have doubled to $11,180,000 per person ($22,360,000 for a married couple). This will sunset on 1/1/2026, reverting to 2017 exemption amounts ($5,490,000/person and $10,980,000/married couples) as indexed for inflation.

This enormous increase provides high net worth individuals with the ability to transfer potentially $22,360,000 estate and gift tax free during their lives or at death. Depending on the individual’s goals, some planning opportunities include Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts, Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, and Dynasty Trusts. Whatever technique is used, it is important to take advantage of this opportunity before the sunset date.

  • Fiduciary Income Tax Changes

2018 Fiduciary tax changes

The calculation of income tax on capital gains remains the same. Estates and trusts will use $2,600 as the upper limit on the 0% tax rate and $12,700 as the upper limit on the 15% tax rate.

Unfortunately, income tax deductions will not be allowed in the years 2018 through 2025 for miscellaneous itemized deductions which are subject to the 2% floor. We believe that estates and trusts will still be able to deduct expenses that are not subject to the 2% floor under I.R.C. §67(e). Such expenses are those paid or incurred in connection with the administration of the estate/trust that would not have been incurred if the property were not held in the estate/trust. Examples of these permissible above the line deductions include tax preparation fees for estate, GST, inheritance and fiduciary income tax returns; probate fees; legal publications; fiduciary commissions and attorneys fees. However, investment management fees may not be deductible if those fees are of the same type that would be paid by an individual instead of an estate/trust.

  • Individual Tax Rates

Tax brackets for 2018 act

The Standard Deduction has increased to:

  • $24,000 (joint return or a surviving spouse)
  • $18,000 (unmarried with at least one qualifying child)
  • $12,000 (single)

All Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions (subject to 2% floor) have been suspended including unreimbursed employee expenses, tax preparation fees, expenses to maintain income producing property, and most tax advice expenses. In addition, expenses attributable to the trade or business of being an employee, such as home office expenses, are also suspended.

The Act has also increased the limitation for charitable cash contributions by individual taxpayers to 60% (prior to the Act it was limited to 50%) of the individual’s adjusted gross income for taxable years beginning December 31, 2017, and before December 31, 2026.

In summary, the Tax Act has provided individuals with the opportunity to transfer millions of dollars out of their estates, generally tax free. Individuals who don’t fit into this category should still have their estate plans completed and reviewed at least every five years, as there is more to planning than just the avoidance of federal estate tax. Of course, there is always Pennsylvania inheritance taxes to worry about.

If you have questions about the next tax law and how it may affect you, please contact Stephanie A. Henrick at (610) 275-0700 or shenrick@highswartz.com. Or contact anyone of our attorneys in Bucks or Montgomery Counties. Our Wills, Trusts & Estates attorneys provide comprehensive legal services to assist in all of these matters.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.

Thomas E. Panzer Elected to the Bucks County Bar Association Board of Directors

High Swartz partner, Thomas E. Panzer has been elected to the Bucks County Bar Association Board of Directors. The Bucks County Board of Director Position is a three (3) year term following an election of the general membership of the Bucks County Bar Association. The Board meets monthly to transact the general business of the Bar Association.

In addition, Douglas M. Wayne, long standing member of the BCBA, has been elected to Co-Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section.

Thomas E. Panzer represents both claimants and defendants in workers’ compensation matters, which has made him a sought-after and frequent lecturer on Pennsylvania workers’ compensation topics. Mr. Panzer’s practice also focuses on the areas of administrative litigation, including zoning. He has represented multiple zoning hearing boards over the past 20 years.

Douglas M. Wayne practices workers’ compensation defense, personal injury, contract, real estate, employment law and general civil litigation. Prior to his time at High Swartz, Doug was a workers’ compensation claimants’ counsel, Social Security advocate, and civil litigator in Pennsylvania since 1993 and in Bucks County since 1995.

High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the full-service law firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

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Thomas D. Rees and James B. Shrimp presented at MBA Employment Law CLE Seminar

Two High Swartz partners presented at the Montgomery Bar Association Employment Law CLE.

Thomas D. Rees presented on employment contracts and employee non-compete agreements. He spoke about recent case developments arising from both employer enforcement of non-competes and employee challenges to non-compete agreements. The talk provided both management and key employee perspectives on drafting and negotiating employment contracts and non-compete agreements.

James B. Shrimp presented on the Trump Effect, focusing on policy changes in the new administration, including the reconsideration of Obama-era NLRB decisions on concerted activities, micro-unions, joint-employer liability, and union election rules and the rollback of regulations on overtime pay, prevailing wage, and OSHA enforcement.

Thomas D. Rees focuses his employment practice on advice, negotiations, and litigation over employment terminations; restrictive covenants, trade secrets, and confidential information; employment discrimination and sexual harassment issues; and employment contracts.

James B. Shrimp counsels and represents businesses in employment and commercial disputes, including employment discrimination, wage and hour, and restrictive covenants.  Mr. Shrimp also counsels and represents business in Franchise Law and Trademark issues.

High Swartz LLP is a full-service law firm serving clients in the Delaware Valley and throughout Pennsylvania from offices in Norristown and Doylestown. Established in 1914, High Swartz serves the needs of businesses, municipalities, government entities, nonprofits and individuals. With offices in Bucks County and Montgomery County, the firm provides comprehensive counsel and legal support to individuals and business entities of all sizes across a broad spectrum of industries throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For more information, go to www.highswartz.com.

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Franchisees – Things to Watch Out for in 2018

Increased ICE Enforcement

As many of you have probably read about already, on January 10, 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) performed raids at over 100 7-Eleven convenience stores checking on the immigration status of those stores’ employees.  After the raids, Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan cautioned employers that “today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal work force – ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable.” He continued – “businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”

If you are a franchisee that relies on minimum wage labor, make sure you obtain proof of legal immigration status and have a copy of the I-9 in all employees’ files.  Importantly, a violation of Federal regulation/statute is a default pursuant to most franchise agreements.  Therefore, not only are you as the franchisee going to be dealing with fines and legal action with respect to your employment of undocumented workers, you may also be dealing with the loss of your business.

In short, any savings you might be realizing by hiring undocumented workers is not worth the risk, especially in this environment.

Browning-Ferris Overruled by NLRB – Franchisors Will Reassert Control Over Branding

In late December 2017, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) overruled the Browning-Ferris decision of two years ago regarding joint employer.  You may remember that the Browning-Ferris decision caused franchisors concern, because over-asserting control over the brand, in relation to employment standards, policy standards, etc… might lead to liability on the franchisor for the acts of the franchisee. Thus, franchisors seemingly had to choose between tight brand control, with potential liability for the acts of the franchisee, or loose brand control, but no risk of liability for the acts of the franchisee.

In December’s Hy-Brand ruling, the NLRB restored the traditional joint employer standard, requiring proof that the alleged joint employer actually “exercised joint control over essential employment terms (rather than merely having ‘reserved’ the right to exercise control) and that “the control must be ‘direct and immediate’ (rather than indirect), and joint-employer status will not result from control that is ‘limited and routine.’”

As a result, franchisees will likely see franchisors reasserting control over the brand – meaning more inspections, more policies and more training.  In addition, for new franchisees you will also likely see more control of the brand/business set forth in the franchise agreement.

If you have questions about franchise law, please contact James B. Shrimp at (610) 275-0700 or jshrimp@highswartz.com

Our attorneys in Bucks County and Montgomery County are here to assist you.

The information above is general: we recommend that you consult an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.  The content of this information is not meant to be considered as legal advice or a substitute for legal representation.