‘Tis the Season for Tax Returns and Tax Scams

By Elizabeth A. Whitman My violin was made in 1962 by a luthier[1] named Umberto Lanaro[2], but it bears the label of Eligio Puccini[3] and says it was made in 1947. Lanaro chose in effect to use Puccini’s identity when making my violin, as Lanaro received no obvious benefit from doing so. Lanaro came from a well-known family of luthiers, and Puccini did not, so the Lanaro name, if anything, would have been more impressive…
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Top 5 Effects of the New Tax Law on Family Law Cases, Part 1 – Alimony Eliminated

By David J. Marquardt Alimony, sometimes called spousal support, is often one of the more unpredictable outcomes in any divorce case. As a result, disagreements over the amount and duration of alimony awards can lead divorcing parties to incur substantial expenses in an effort to either come to an agreement or argue an alimony case in court. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, signed into law in December 2017, will have a significant impact on…
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Tax Reform Changes for Sexual Harassment Settlements May Bring Harassers Out of the Shadows, But May Not Help Victims

By Elizabeth A. Whitman Suppose you are a professional cellist in your 40’s. Over nearly two decades, you have worked your way to first chair of a well-known orchestra, but like most professional orchestras, it’s still a part-time job, and money is tight. Then, disaster hits – you learn that you have developed tendonitis in your hand, a problem which has ended many a string player’s careers. You quietly seek out medical treatment and medication,…
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A String Quartet, a Nothing Special Diner, and a Famous Chef Diner Take a Random Walk Through the New Section 199A Pass-Through Deduction

By Elizabeth A. Whitman Recently, some friends and I formed a string quartet. We all have full-time day jobs, and we don’t expect for the quartet to be a source of income. However, let’s imagine for a moment that our string quartet (which we can refer to as the TCJA Quartet[1]) is asked to provide chamber music for a community event.  We set an open instrument case in front of the group.  As we perform,…
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New Tax Law Changes Incentives for Fund Managers

By Elizabeth A. Whitman Imagine you are a professional musician who is building a performance career. You hire an artist manager to promote you, obtain performance gigs, and to negotiate contracts for your gigs for a period of five years. Your manager’s primary compensation is a percentage (let’s say 20%) of the compensation you receive from your gigs, plus reimbursement of certain of the manager’s costs.  This arrangement is designed to incentivize your artist manager to…
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Orange Groves, Pay Phones, Visas, and Violins: Why Your Real Estate or Small Business Investment May be Subject to Securities Regulation

By Elizabeth A. Whitman A recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) headline announced “SEC Looks Into Kushner Cos. Over Use of EB-5 Program for Immigrant Investors.”[1] It is not unusual to hear that a company is being investigated by the government over immigration issues. But, what is unusual about this particular investigation, however, is that it is being conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates securities, rather than the United States Citizenship and…
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Minimum Wage Increases are Coming to Montgomery County

By Scott A. Mirsky Montgomery County businesses need to start preparing for the gradual increase of the minimum wage as it heads towards $15 per hour. After some compromising between lawmakers and the County Executive, the deadline for businesses to comply with the $15 per hour requirement will vary depending upon the number of employees who are employed by the business, as follows: July 1, 2021, for employers with 51 or more employees July 1, 2023,…
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Fraud and Forgery: From Vintage Violins to Today’s Real Estate Transaction

By Elizabeth Whitman Fraud has a long history. In a recent blog You Now Can Trade Up Your Violin, but Not the Bow or Case – New Things to Consider in Section 1031 Exchanges After the 2017 Tax Law, I discussed how famous violin maker Jean-Phillipe Vuillaume started his career in a violin forger’s shop, only to become a violin maker whose work was so valued that it, ironically was forged by others. Although Vuillaume…
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You Now Can Trade Up Your Violin, but Not the Bow or Case – New Things to Consider in Section 1031 Exchanges After the 2017 Tax Law

By Elizabeth A. Whitman In my February 2017 blog post “Sizing Up in Violins and Investment Real Estate,” I discussed how buying increasingly larger (and more expensive) violins compares to real estate investments. I discussed how starting with a 1/32 size, I had purchased a series of violins and then “traded up” to the next size through a 7/8 size violin. Each time, the primary purchase was a violin, but we also had to purchase…
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If You Play A Wrong Note, The Entire Orchestra Now May Pay The Price — Be Aware Of New Partnership Tax Audit Rules That Take Effect On January 1

In 1985, the “participatory journalist” George Plimpton worked as a temporary percussionist, playing sleigh bells, triangle, bass drum, and most notably, gong, with the New York Philharmonic. During a performance, he once struck the gong so hard and created such an overwhelming sound that Leonard Bernstein, who was conducting at the time, burst into applause.  Although one of the world’s most famous orchestras was playing, it was Plimpton, not the orchestra that received the credit…
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