NEWS
MS&K Alerts
  • Trusts & Estates Alert December 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Trusts & Estates Alert
    by Susan A. Beveridge
    This Alert focuses on tax changes relevant to the Trusts and Estates area because we wanted to make sure our Trusts and Estates clients and friends learned about the changes. Only one item (No. 6 below regarding gifts to grandchildren) presents extremely time-sensitive planning opportunities that need to be completed before the end of 2010. If you are interested in making significant gifts to grandchildren at a reduced tax cost (either from your assets or from the estate of someone who died during 2010), please call us as soon as possible to discuss whether this type of planning is right for you.
  • Significant Tax Law Changes Under the New Tax Act December 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Tax Alert
    by Ofer Lion, David Wheeler Newman, Susan A. Beveridge, Mark R. Sieke and Harry W. Drozdowski
    The deftly titled "Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010" (herein, respectfully, just the "2010 Act") was signed into law by President Obama on December 17, 2010. This Alert provides a brief summary of its' provisions.
  • Penalty Time: California Supreme Court Clarifies The Statute Of Limitations For Employees Seeking "Waiting Time" Penalties For Late Paid Wages November 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Taylor S. Ball
    When an employee is terminated, California law generally requires the employer to pay all final wages immediately upon termination. When an employee voluntarily resigns, the law requires that the final wages are paid upon termination or within 72 hours of the employee's giving notice, whichever is later. However, in Pineda v. Bank of America, N.A. (Nov. 18, 2010), the California Supreme Court considered a claim seeking only waiting time penalties.
  • Act Now On Pending Legislation/Regulations November 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross
    In the October 29, 2010, Federal Register, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reopened the comment period to gather further input on how to define the terms "common cultivar" and "common food crop." The comment deadline, originally set to expire on October 4, 2010, has been extended until November 29, 2010.
  • FCPA Updates From Paris November 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross 
    The International Law Section of the American Bar Association held its fall meeting in Paris the first week in November. One of the more interesting programs was entitled "Briber Beware: International Enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Related Anti-Corruption Efforts." A featured speaker from the U.S. Department of Justice (Justice) was John Roth, Special Counsel regarding Money Laundering, who is stationed in Paris.
  • Cause for Concern: Trivedi Ratchets Up Scrutiny of Pre-Dispute Employment Arbitration Agreements November 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Suzanne M. Steinke and Ivan B. Perkins
    The enforceability of many employers' pre-dispute employment arbitration agreements with their employees may be in doubt with the California Court of Appeal's recent decision in Trivedi v. Curexo Technology Corporation, 189 Cal. App. 4th 387 (2010). The plaintiff in Trivedi had filed suit against his former employer asserting various claims related to his termination, including age and race discrimination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA"). On appeal was the trial court's ruling striking down the arbitration clause in the plaintiff's written employment contract.
  • More Significant Fines to Follow November 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross 
    During an October webinar hosted by the Journal of Commerce and moderated by Susan Ross of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, Chuck Duross, Department of Justice (Justice) Deputy Chief, Fraud Section, Criminal Division, observed this will be a record year in terms of both the fines collected and the number of cases brought by Justice under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
  • Co-author, Trademarks, Video Games, and the First Amendment: An Evolving Story October 2010
  • Oct/Nov 2010, World Trademark Review 63
    MS&K Intellectual Property Litigator Russ Frackman co-authored the article "Trademarks, Video Games and the First Amendment: An Evolving Story" in the October/November issue of World Trademark Review.
  • Potential Gift Tax Liability for Election Year Contributions to 501(c)(4) Social Welfare (Political?) Organizations October 14, 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Tax Alert
    by Ofer Lion
    Contributors to 501(c)(4) "social welfare organizations" may maintain their anonymity with respect to the public, but disclosure is still owed to the IRS, and contributions by individuals may be subject to gift taxes.
  • The Importance of the "Extenders" Legislation to Charitable Gift Planning October 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Charitable Sector Alert
    by David Wheeler Newman and Harry W. Drozdowski
    A number of important tax provisions expired at the end of 2009. Many of these provisions are routinely extended by Congress, so that they essentially continue uninterrupted. However, advisors have been (im)patiently waiting all year for Congress to pass an "extenders bill" that would extend these provisions through 2010, and hopefully 2011. Summarized below are tax provisions that are important to charitable gift planning and that would be covered by the hoped-for legislation.
  • 2010: The Year Of The Taxable Gift September 29, 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Trusts & Estates Alert
    by Jacey L. Hayes
    Congress's inaction has made 2010 the year of the taxable gift. While the payment of gift taxes has always provided an advantage over the payment of estate taxes, the current federal gift tax rate of 35% (its lowest since 1934), coupled with the current repeal of the generation-skipping transfer tax (GSTT) and a depressed economic environment, makes the gift tax advantage greater than ever.
  • Reeling In The CBP September 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross 
    The September 16, 2010, decision in U.S. v Pressman-Gutman, et al. (CIT 9-16-10) Slip Op. 10-105, has triggered rounds of applause among traders. This case once again confirmed the regulations mean what they say.
  • Significant Tax Law Changes Under the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 September 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Tax Alert
    by Ofer Lion
    The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 was signed into law by President Obama on September 27, 2010. It includes certain notable changes to the Internal Revenue Code.
  • "Obama Board" Tips The Scale Towards Labor In Long-Awaited Secondary Boycott Decision September 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Anthony J. Amendola and Jennifer A. Zimbroff
    In a decision announced on September 2, 2010, the newly constituted National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board), with three new members appointed by President Obama, ruled that a union may display large stationary banners in front of a neutral employer’s business in order to alert the public that the neutral employer is doing business with a non union employer with whom the union has a dispute. This long-awaited decision, the first of significance made by the Obama Board, signals a clear shift in American labor policy. 
    A slightly modified version of this Alert appears in the September 13, 2010 issue of the Daily Journal. 
  • IRS Addresses Tax-Exempt Organizations and Gaming September 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Charitable Sector Alert
    by Ofer Lion
    On August 11, 2010, the IRS released "Tax-Exempt Organizations and Gaming," a new publication addressing the impact of gaming (a.k.a. gambling) on tax-exempt status and other issues, including unrelated business taxable income (UBTI), recordkeeping, reporting requirements and withholding and excise taxes. The Publication covers raffles, "Saturday night bingo in the church hall, one-armed bandits in the social club, video lottery at the veterans’ club, poker night at the fraternal lodge," and other types of gaming activities sponsored by tax-exempt organizations.
  • IRS Offers Limited Relief for Small Nonprofits August 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Charitable Sector Alert
    by David Wheeler Newman
    The Pension Protection Act of 2006 made two important changes affecting tax-exempt organizations, effective January 1, 2007. Prior to that legislation, charitable organizations that had gross receipts of less than $25,000 were not required to file an annual information return (Form 990 or 990-EZ) with the IRS. The Act now requires all tax-exempt organizations, other than churches and church-related organizations, to file an annual return with the IRS.
  • What Direction Customs? July 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross 
    In testimony before the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee earlier this month, Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") Commissioner Bersin laid out the priorities of the agency. He began with a familiar recitation: stem the illegal flow of drugs, contraband, and people; protect agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases; protect American businesses from theft of their intellectual property; enforce textile agreements; determine and track import safety violations; regulate and facilitate international trade; collect import duties; facilitate legitimate travel; and enforce U.S. trade laws.
  • Supreme Court Upholds Reasonable Searches of Employee Text Messages July 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Steven M. Schneider
    The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld a city police department’s search of an officer’s text messages sent and received on his department-issued pager because there was a legitimate reason for it, and the scope of the search was reasonable. In this unanimous decision, the Supreme Court overruled the Ninth Circuit, which had held that the search violated the officer’s privacy because a supervisor has made an exception to the department’s written policy.
  • Compliance by Charities With the California Professional Fiduciaries Act July 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Charitable Sector Alert
    by Jeffrey D. Davine
    Charitable organizations operating in California should be aware of a law that was recently enacted in California. The law's scope is broad and could have a significant impact on charities that provide trustee services for various types of trusts, including charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, and pooled income funds.
  • CPSC Issuing Its Own Detention Notices June 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross 
    Effective June 14, 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Comission (CPSC) has started using detention notices for possible violations of its laws and regulations rather than leaving that function in U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) hands, as in the past. If there are both CPSC and CBP violations asserted, an importer will receive a separate notice from each agency. At this time, CPSC has yet to explain on what authority it will be issuing the detention notices instead of CBP, but this could be a blessing in disguise. First, CPSC staff have made clear their intention to be specific about the reasons(s) for the detention, rather than CBP’s more vague explanations, e.g., "admissibility" or "CPSC." Second, given the complexity of consumer product safety issues, it is really only the CPSC staff which is knowledgeable, so why not deal with them directly? Here is how the Commission hopes this process will work.
  • "Plan, Prevent, Protect": Department of Labor Announces New Enforcement Strategy June 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Anthony J. Amendola and Ivan B. Perkins
    Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis recently critiqued what she calls the current "catch-me-if-you-can" model for enforcement of federal labor and employment laws by the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL"). Citing the recent tragedy at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, the Secretary noted that, ultimately, American workers pay the price when some employers take "shortcuts" and make "calculated decisions" not to comply with worker protection legislation. Solis announced a new DOL enforcement strategy called "Plan, Prevent, Protect." that requires employers proactively to prevent violations from occurring and to enlist employees in the enforcement effort.
  • CBP Special Enforcement Initiative June 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross 
    It has long been understood that achieving 100% trade compliance with textile and wearing apparel imports has been challenging for both Customs and the trade community. In a recent presentation, Janet Labuda, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Director of Textile Enforcement, reminded the audience just how daunting that challenge remains. Textiles (including wearing apparel) still account for approximately 40% of all duties collected and about 22% of all import entries filed. Customs’ focus is on preference claims where a 45% rate of noncompliance has been found, but CBP is also examining short-supply fabric claims, which recently resulted in $2 million in denied claims.
  • Summer is Here: Trainees and Interns June 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Immigration Alert
    by Frida P. Glucoft and Alexondra Shore-Fixmer
    Employers must consider the various steps involved in summer programs and internships for foreign applicants - the J-1 visa. The Department of State ("DOS") administers the extensive regulations which govern J-1 visas for trainees and interns.
  • Arbitration of Employee Claims - It Isn't Over 'Til It's Really Over May 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Steven M. Schneider and Ivan B. Perkins
    The old adage is that bad facts make bad law. The bad facts of Pearson Dental Supplies, Inc. v. Superior Court (California Supreme Court, April 26, 2010), resulted in bad law for employers concerning finality of employee claims in arbitration.
  • Interviewed on NPR/KCRW regarding Hollywood's work environment and what does, and doesn't, constitute harassment, abuse and discrimination May 2010
  • Interviewed on NPR/KCRW regarding Hollywood's work environment and what does, and doesn't, constitute harassment, abuse and discrimination, May 3, 2010
  • News Importers, Exporters and Others Can Use April 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross 
    Importers and brokers are reminded that comments are due to Customs no later than May 15 in response to the agency's March 16, 2010, Federal Register proposal to do away with providing courtesy notices of entry liquidation directly to importers. Customs claims it wants to save the cost of processing and mailing the notices and instead wants importers to rely on the data available in the new Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) computer system.
  • Unpaid Internships: A New Test in California April 29, 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Ivan B. Perkins
    In a slow economy, unpaid internships are booming. As students and recent graduates struggle to market themselves to employers, many are increasingly willing to work for free, in order to get a foot in the door. But employers should beware: just because a person is willing to take an unpaid internship does not mean that the employer is off the hook for paying wages. Indeed, federal regulators are ratcheting up their scrutiny of unpaid internships.
  • Tax Aspects of the Health Care Reform Act April 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Tax Alert
    by Mark R. Sieke
    Basic health care insurance coverage is now the law of the land, thanks to the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (collectively the "Act"). A cornerstone is the creation of state insurance exchanges to allow small businesses and individuals to pool together and hopefully obtain less costly health insurance coverage.
  • Heads Up to Employers - New IRS Audit Program Will Focus on Employment Taxes March 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Tax Alert
    by Jeffrey D. Davine
    Employers should be aware that the Internal Revenue Service has recently begun a program that will target 6,000 US companies at random over the next three years for comprehensive employment tax examinations.

    The program is called the "Employment Tax National Research Project." Although the title sounds innocuous enough, the effect on those businesses that are selected to "participate" is likely to be significant.
  • Uncapped Sick Leave Exempt From Kin Care Statute March 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor and Employment Alert
    by Ivan B. Perkins
    The California Supreme Court has decided that employers with uncapped sick-leave policies need not allow employees to use half their sick days for purposes of "kin care" under Labor Code Section 233. In other words, if an employer does not put a ceiling on the number of paid sick days, it is exempt from Section 233.
  • Tax Provisions of The HIRE Act: Business Incentives and Offshore Compliance March 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Tax Alert
    by Mark R. Sieke
    On March 18, 2010, President Obama signed The Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act of 2010. The HIRE Act primarily provides businesses with federal tax breaks to hire the unemployed and pays for these incentives with stricter offshore reporting requirements and penalties. The following is a summary of some of the key tax provisions of the HIRE Act.
  • Charities and Politics: Navigating the Minefield March 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Charitable Sector Alert
    by Harry W. Drozdowski
    It can be difficult for a 501(c)(3) public charity to navigate the minefield that is political involvement. A public charity is often encouraged to advocate its mission to the general public while simultaneously forbidden to engage in partisan political activity. It is therefore critical that any public charity venturing into this minefield pay very close attention to where it treads.
  • Supreme Court Holds Section 411(a) Requiring Pre-Suit Registration is Not Jurisdictional March 5, 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp IP & Technology Alert
    by Andrew C. Spitser
    Courts can adjudicate claims pertaining to unregistered works (in class actions and other matters).
  • Moderator, "Are Your Clients Caught in a Bankruptcy Case?" March 2010
  • Beverly Hills Bar Association
  • Estate Tax "Repeal" February 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Trusts & Estates Alert
    Ben Franklin only got it partly right. As it turns out, nothing is as certain as death. Not even taxes.
  • Year-End Update: Taking Stock of 2009 January 2010 - Special Edition
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Steven M. Schneider and Ivan B. Perkins 
    The following alert is a look back at key labor and employment developments of 2009 and a look ahead at important matters currently pending.
  • New COBRA Requirements January 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp Labor & Employment Alert
    by Robert J. Lowe
    President Obama recently signed legislation: (1) extending the maximum COBRA subsidy period; and (2) extending the last day of the period during which individuals may become eligible for the subsidy because of involuntary termination of employment.
  • In With The New: Earliest Changes In International Trade Law for 2010 January 2010
  • Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp International Trade Alert
    by Susan Kohn Ross
    • GSP And ATPA Bill Approved
    • ISF January 26, 2010, Deadline Looms
    • Customs To Be Led By Another Cop
    • CPSC Further Extends Testing And Certification Deadlines
    • Import Safety Commercial Targeting And Analysis Center
    • FDA Expands To Mexico
    • Creating New Law?

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