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Fundraising for a Nonprofit Organization Can’t Turn into Fundraising for Your Own Benefit: News from the Tax Court
Monday, December 2, 2013
A recent decision by the U.S. Tax Court could make it more difficult for some nonprofit organizations to maintain exemption from income tax. For context, the Internal Revenue Code exempts from tax the income of various types of entities, with perhaps the most prominent such type being “501(c)(3) organizations,” so named for the paragraph of the Code which
Illinois to Issue Futures Contracts on Social Outcomes
Friday, November 1, 2013
The world's first social impact bond, or SIB, was introduced in 2010 to fund innovative social programs that realistically might reduce recidivism by ex-offenders in Peterborough, England, and, with it, the public costs of housing and feeding repeat offenders. Prudently building on the strengths of that initiative, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is rolling out
Social Enterprise Alliance's Chicago Chapter and the Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise: A Strategic Partnership
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
When Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed the State’s L3C bill into law late in 2009, the leadership of Social Enterprise Alliance’s new Chicago chapter - - SEA’s first chapter - - seized the opportunity to unite and energize the Chicago area’s leading nonprofits, entrepreneurs, socially conscious individuals, foundations, thought leaders and impact
Illinois' Opportunity to Draw Its Way Out of Gerrymandering Mess
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
In Illinois, victorious politicians secretly pick the voters, not the other way around. Political leaders, the ultimate arbiters of redistricting, game the system by designing districts to produce the results they favor. Gerrymandering is easy to pull off. All the pols need to do is jam voters who are likely to support the opposition into throwaway
Estate Planning 101 – Duck, Duck, Goose
Thursday, August 1, 2013
When was the last time you played “Duck, Duck, Goose”? If you’re like most people, you probably said when you were a kid, probably about 10 years old. Next question: When was the last time that you reviewed your will and/or trust? If you’re like most people, perhaps never, if you haven’t done any estate planning yet. Or perhaps it was many years ago when
How to Resolve Disputes Relating to Website Domain Names
Monday, July 1, 2013
Most businesses, and many individuals, operate a website. However, you may not have realized when you registered your domain name that you agreed to abide by the terms of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). The UDRP is incorporated into the Registration Statement that you are required to accept when you register for most domain names.
The ETF - Managed Portfolio Solution
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Marc J. Lane Investment Management, Inc. has been providing portfolio management solutions for high net-worth individuals since 2002. Historically, those services have only been made available to our clients with over $500,000 to invest. But now we are offering a competitive solution for clients with investable assets of $100,000 or more. These portfolios
Time to Thwart the Sales Tax Gambit
Monday, April 1, 2013
Over the past three years, Illinois courts have heard one claim after another that cities and towns outside the Regional Transit Authority's six-county territory have illegally lured businesses whose headquarters are within the RTA's taxing authority to set up satellite offices merely to reduce the sales taxes they owe. Adding to the controversy, the
The Federal Reserve, Interest Rates, and Your Income Requirements
Friday, March 1, 2013
Today we find ourselves in what arguably is the most difficult environment for income investors in our nation’s history. Yields on both stocks and bonds have been on the decline for the past three decades. Add to this the fact that as the baby boom generation now approaching retirement is swelling the ranks of income seeking investors. In competing with one
Collaborative Startup Communities Bolster Entrepreneurship—But for How Long?
Friday, February 1, 2013
Collaboration is the name of the game for the entrepreneurial community in 2013. Startup incubators and accelerators are cultivating the seeds of new business that might not otherwise sprout in the wake of decreased venture capital funding for early stage companies, a decline that PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association predict
Why Fair Pay is Key to a Sustainable Recovery
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Illinois' 97th General Assembly goes out of business on Jan. 8. Between now and then, it may tackle more divisive issues of moral consequence than any of its recent predecessors. The reform of the state's debt-ridden public employee pension system, the expansion of casino gambling, the legalization of same-sex marriage and the approval of medicinal
Consider Taking Advantage of Opportunities in 2012 – Your Taxes May Rise in 2013
Saturday, December 1, 2012
As of this writing, it’s difficult to speculate as to what U.S. income tax rates will be in the year 2013. This has become especially apparent due to the effect of the so-called “fiscal cliff” and the results of the November elections. The “fiscal cliff” is actually the result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, a law passed to stave off the crisis
Barack Obama's Presidential Library Belongs at U of C
Thursday, November 1, 2012
In this political season, it comes as no surprise that objections are being raised over nascent efforts to snag an eventual Barack Obama library and museum for the University of Chicago, where for 12 years the U.S. president was a lecturer in constitutional law. Skeptics predict that the institution would be celebratory, not scholarly, and that its
Chicago's Cultural Plan: A Plea for Restraint
Monday, October 1, 2012
Kudos to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Michelle Boone, Chicago's cultural commissioner, for inviting public debate around their ambitious campaign to revamp and strengthen the city's arts and culture scene. Cultural Plan 2012, the first such program in 25 years, lays out no fewer than 200 proposed initiatives to amp up cultural participation and convert creativity
Weather and Politics
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July 2012 was the hottest month on record for the continental United States. Surely, approaching autumn days will provide some very welcome cooler weather for much country. But with Republicans just having convened in Tampa, and Democrats set to gather in Charlotte this week, there is no
2012 Mid-Year Tax Update
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
At the Law Offices of Marc J. Lane, P.C., we strive to keep you informed about helpful planning topics each month. This month we are discussing a topic near and dear to everyone’s heart: taxes. The following is a summary of the most important tax developments that have occurred in the past three months that may affect you, your family, your
EPA Rule Would Spell End of the Dirty Coal Age
Monday, July 2, 2012
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is mulling a common-sense rule that, for the first time, would set caps on the carbon pollutants that future fossil fuel-fired power plants may lawfully emit. Carbon dioxide emissions from new plants would be limited to 1,000 pounds per megawatt-hour. This would essentially provide the unceremonious end to the age of
Time for State Lawmakers to Pass Budgeting 101
Friday, June 1, 2012
Illinois is billions of dollars in the red, yet the state's legislators inexplicably continue to deny themselves the right to know how much the measures they consider would cost or save taxpayers. In other states, “fiscal notes,” which estimate the costs or savings and the revenue gain or loss of proposed laws, are indispensable tools for legislators,
IRS Promotes Use of Program-Related Investments
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
The seeds of change are taking root in the nation’s Capital. This past month, the IRS released proposed regulations that would add nine new examples of investments which qualify as “program-related investments” (PRIs) for private foundations. Having the ability to make PRIs is advantageous for private foundations, which are required to make “qualifying
Illinois' Tax Credit Windfall at Risk
Monday, April 2, 2012
Last Friday Illinois, joining Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania, inked a deal with the Obama administration to speed up regulatory review of plans for offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes, which had been dogged by cost concerns. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn applauded the agreement, noting that developing offshore wind energy would “promote
An Intellectual Property Audit: The First Step in Protecting Your Valuable Assets
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Last month, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Census Bureau released survey results on the importance that businesses place on various forms of intellectual property (IP). John Jankowski, lead author of the report in NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, stated: In today’s global economy, much of a business’s
Eradicating food desert key to Chicago's competitiveness
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Chicagoans have reason to applaud an impressive 39% drop over the past five years in the number of city residents living in its “food desert,” those low-income neighborhoods where affordable and nutritious food is hard to come by. Yet 1 in 7 residents, 124,000 of them children, still live in communities without readily available fresh food. The evidence is
Social Enterprises: A New Business Form Driving Social Change
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Many mission-driven organizations, both nonprofits and for-profits, are becoming “social enterprises” that embrace market-based strategies in the pursuit of their social purposes. New business models and even entity forms are emerging to help the social entrepreneur drive positive social change. Lawyers have new opportunities to aid their clients in
Outlook for 2012 After the Death of the Super Committee
Thursday, December 1, 2011
On Monday, November 21, the Deficit Reduction Joint Committee of Congress officially threw in the towel and announced that it was unable to reach an agreement on the $1.2 trillion in cuts in the federal budget mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. What does this failure mean to you and the typical American family as we move forward into 2012? If the
Can You Prove Your Tax Return Was Filed on Time?
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
With the rise in electronic filing of tax returns –- nowadays, almost 80% of individual tax returns are filed electronically – it can be easy to forget that millions of tax returns, ranging from individual to corporate, are still prepared on paper and need to be mailed to the Internal Revenue Service for filing. And having to mail returns to the IRS can
Overhaul of World Business Chicago is First Step on City's Road to Recovery
Monday, October 3, 2011
Mayor Rahm Emanuel seems undeterred by naysayers as he invests his vast political capital in an agenda of fiscal responsibility, school reform and safe streets. No question the urgent issues Mr. Emanuel has targeted must be on the front burner if Chicago is to remain livable, let alone become the world-class city it could be. But without real economic
The L3C: A Boon to Illinois' Social-Purpose Businesses
Thursday, September 1, 2011
The Low-profit Limited Liability Company, or "L3C," is a new, for-profit business form available to social entrepreneurs who seek the legal and tax flexibility of a traditional LLC, the social benefits of a non-profit organization, and the branding and market positioning advantages of a social enterprise. Moreover, the L3C presents a unique opportunity to
2011 Mid-Year Tax Update
Monday, August 1, 2011
The Law Office of Marc J. Lane is now on Facebook! To follow the firm, please click here. At the Law Offices of Marc J. Lane, P.C., we strive to keep you informed of helpful planning topics each month. Tax reform and budget reform are currently hot topics in Washington D.C., but as of the time of this writing, no clear consensus appears to be in
Going Private: How Privatization and Social Enterprise Can Help the City's Double Bottom Line
Friday, July 1, 2011
In the waning days of the Daley administration, the former mayor incurred the wrath of union leaders when he floated the possibility of outsourcing the city's curbside recycling initiative without first consulting labor. It was Richard M. Daley, everyone remembers, who struck the deal to sell Midway Airport that ultimately collapsed for lack of financing
Tracking the Social Enterprise's Social Performance
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
The final chapter of my new book, Social Enterprise: Empowering Mission-Driven Entrepreneurs, (American Bar Association, 2011) raises the provocative question: "To What End?" The demand for metrics to evaluate social impact has never been stronger, and that demand comes from all quarters. Donors and investors want to ensure that their gifts, grants and
AT&T, Déjà Vu?
Monday, May 2, 2011
AT&T’s recently proposed acquisition of T-Mobile has awakened not so distant memories of when, prior to its breakup 1984, AT&T enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the telecommunications industry. The combination of these companies presents a host of issues that range from antitrust implications to the questionable benefits and relative costs to consumers
Time to Overcome Funding Disparity for K-12 Education
Friday, April 1, 2011
Three years ago, the Chicago Urban League, a civil rights organization that encourages economic empowerment for African-Americans, sued the state of Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education, alleging that the state's funding formula for education punishes minorities because it is based on property values. The Urban League, which hopes its case
Do You Know What's In Your Marketing Materials?
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
The Law Office of Marc J. Lane is now on Facebook! To follow the firm, please click here. Yummy Dough, a fairly new product out of Germany, creates a compound that kids can mold into various shapes, bake, and eat. The company behind Yummy Dough, 123 Nahrmittel GmbH, received numerous awards for the product and has been expanding distribution to other
Zero-based Budgeting Holds Much Promise for Illinois’ Fiscal Future
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
An unheralded provision of last spring's budget legislation adds Illinois to the growing roster of states committed to performance-driven budgeting. “Budgeting for outcomes” was introduced by former Washington Gov. Gary Locke in 2002, when he faced a $2.5-billion budget shortfall. Mr. Locke reformed the way state officials prioritized and spent taxpayer
The Estate Tax Is Back
Monday, January 3, 2011
This past December, as the weather outside became increasingly colder, the debate in Washington over taxes and spending was heating up to a fever pitch. Politicians, pundits, and concerned citizens from the right to the left and everywhere in between expressed opinions about our nation’s economic policy and tax structure. One thing remained clear during
Health Care Law Reform Brings Attention to Form 1099-MISC
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Every January, many Americans find a series of statements in their mailbox from banks and brokerages labeled "Form 1099." These statements are known to the Internal Revenue Service as "information returns." Besides the Form 1099-DIV (for dividends) and Form 1099-INT (for interest) which are widely familiar, the IRS also publishes a variety of other forms in
A Window of Opportunity with the September 2010 "Small Business" Law: Why You Need to Take Action by December 31st
Monday, November 1, 2010
Overview: The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (“SBJA”) was signed into law on September 27, 2010. With the economy still struggling to recover, SBJA was enacted to provide significant tax benefits for a wide variety of tax-favored activities. This report will highlight some of the key provisions as well as focus on a few significant and intriguing tax
McCormick Place Gets Reprieve from Losing Conventions, but Much Work Remains
Friday, October 1, 2010
New work rules and pricing plans at McCormick Place will make Chicago a more competitive convention destination. The General Assembly's sweeping reform measure, which took effect on Aug. 1, will cut labor costs by reducing crew sizes and overtime pay, give exhibitors the right to set up their own booths and allow shows to select less expensive, outside
Let Joe Ferguson Fix City’s Minority Business Program
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The late Harold Washington, the "people's mayor," was voted into office in 1983 after cobbling together a coalition of African-Americans and Hispanics yearning for the civil rights they had been denied, white liberals fed up with racially polarizing politics and labor unions incensed over mounting job losses. Mr. Washington's policies of inclusion gave
Dividend Growth Still Rules
Monday, August 2, 2010
As of this writing the Dow Jones Industrials average is 27% below its October 8, 2007 close of 14,093 and about 8% below its April 19, 2010 close of 11,204. The yield on the Dow stands at 2.7%. It used to be that a dividend yield below 3% signaled an oncoming bear market. The yield has not been that high since the fourth quarter of 1990, almost twenty
Illinois Politicians' Refusal to Take on Pension Reform Jeopardizes Recovery
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Pension crises in Chicago, in Illinois and in cities and states throughout the nation threaten the retirement security of public employees, investors' confidence in public securities and, ultimately, the economic recovery on which businesses, consumers, homeowners and workers are counting. Illinois' General Assembly deserves all the heat it's feeling.
Privacy, the Cost of Innovation?
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
With the backlash against Facebook for privacy breaches, consumers, lawmakers and the media have made it clear that personal information is the hot new commodity that cannot be sold for free membership to social networking sites. The numerous news articles on Facebook's breach of its users' privacy have left Facebook backpedaling to address the seemingly
Inspector General Has Potential to Crack City's Code of Silence
Saturday, May 1, 2010
The city of Chicago's employees, shielded from retaliation by the city's whistle-blower ordinance, are under orders to report suspected misconduct by their fellow workers. Yet, too often, they don't. A recent survey commissioned by the Office of Compliance, created to oversee the city's court-ordered efforts to keep politics out of hiring, revealed that
Conversion of a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA: A Simple Tradeoff of the Time Value of Money Versus an Option?
Thursday, April 1, 2010
In 2010, tax laws governing the conversion of Traditional IRAs into Roth IRAs changed, making conversion a viable option for many high net worth individuals. As a result, many upper-income investors are currently debating whether or not they would benefit from converting some or all of their Traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs. As an overview, funds deposited
Illinois' Fiscal Crisis Demands Reform of Income Tax System
Monday, March 1, 2010
No issue in Illinois' photo-finish primary election separated the Democratic candidates for governor from the Republicans more than the possibility of a state income tax hike. While Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Comptroller Dan Hynes argued for higher income taxes, every Republican contender vowed to plug the state's massive budget deficit, somewhere north
Tax Incentives for Donations Assisting Haiti Earthquake Victims
Monday, February 1, 2010
By now, most of us have seen the horrific images broadcasted over the television and internet portraying the absolute devastation which has been brought upon the tiny island nation of Haiti as a result of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit the southern portion country on January 12, 2010. The earthquake has been reported as the most powerful to hit
Is an Ultra-conservative Asset Mix Really the Answer to a "Fat-Tailed" World?
Friday, January 1, 2010
In response to recent market volatility culminating with 2008's stock market debacle, many of Wall Street's top financial services firms are re-thinking the foundational mathematics upon which their risk models are based. This shift comes from the recognition that some of our most basic assumptions regarding market behavior and risk may somehow be flawed.
Even Blagojevich Deserves Fair Trial on Fair Charges
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
In three separate appeals, former Enron chief Jeffrey Skilling, deposed Sun-Times boss Conrad Black and former Alaska legislator Bruce Weyhrauch, all white-collar convicts, persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of a federal statute that calls it fraud to "deprive another of the intangible right to honest services." A ruling in
NFL's Hail Mary in Antitrust Case Stands to Bruise Fans
Sunday, November 1, 2009
After the National Football League teams' marketing affiliate awarded Reebok International Inc. the exclusive right to distribute headwear displaying the teams' names and logos, Buffalo Grove-based American Needle Inc. cried foul. The company, which had designed and manufactured NFL-sanctioned apparel for a generation, soon will make its antitrust case
Selling Your Home: New Tax Developments for 2009
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Most of us don't sell our homes more than once every few years. And, as it turns out, by the time you do sell your home, you may find that the tax laws relating to such sales have changed substantially from when you bought the home. While Congress hasn't done a major revision of the tax laws relating to home sales recently, there has been a recent change
Higher Standards: Illinois Lowers Bar on Harassment Suits
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Dramatically expanding the reach of the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Illinois Supreme Court has held that an employer is legally responsible for a supervisory employee's sexual harassment of a worker over whom the supervisor has no authority. Some employers may think the court overreached in holding them accountable for harassment by supervisors who can't
Lessons to Be Learned from Canada's Banks
Monday, August 3, 2009
Last fall it appeared as if the entire financial sector was imploding. Many of the icons of American finance either failed or had to be thrown a government lifeline just to keep from failing. The names all are familiar to us: Citigroup, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, National City Corp., American International Group, Merrill Lynch,
Stinginess Could Cost Non-profit Hospitals Millions in Tax Relief
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Non-profit hospitals across Illinois shuddered when the state's Department of Revenue rescinded the property tax exemption of Provena Covenant Medical Center in Downstate Champaign for failing to provide enough free care to the poor. The revenue department noted that Provena Covenant gave free care to only 196 of the 110,000 patients it admitted in 2002 and
Estate Planning For Intellectual Property
Monday, June 1, 2009
When planning your estate, you will probably give serious thought and consideration as to how you want your home, cars, jewelry, money and other valuable personal property transferred after your death. You may work closely with an attorney to draft sophisticated estate planning documents to ensure that your exact wishes will be carried out. However,
Blago Indictment Should Spur Reform in City Government
Friday, May 1, 2009
The reform commission recently launched by Gov. Pat Quinn has recommended sweeping legislative action to prevent future state officials from indulging in the corrupt practices with which former Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been charged. If Alderman Joe Moore (49th) gets his way, the Chicago City Council also will take a serious stand against political
City Council Must Protect Chicago's Architectural Legacy
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Developer Albert Hanna and real estate agent Carol Mrowka, two of Chicago's most vocal property rights advocates, have won their fight on constitutional grounds to invalidate the city's 41-year-old landmark ordinance. But their victory should ultimately serve the cause of preservation. The two argued that the ordinance's criteria for safeguarding a
What's Next for Socially Responsible Investing?
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Starting with the Quakers and other religious groups such as Wesley's Methodists in the 1700s, Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) initially provided a way for investors to express their religious views. Today, SRI provides investors the opportunity to select investments for their portfolios that advance a wide range of environmental, social justice,
Pension Reform a Step Toward Helping State Regain Public's Trust
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Revelations about public corruption, government waste, official malfeasance and ballooning budget deficits have plunged Illinois into a crippling crisis of confidence. To slash bureaucratic costs while warding off wrongdoing, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias is championing the merger of the investment duties of boards that manage retirement, survivor and
Tax Planning Under the New President
Thursday, January 1, 2009
With President-Elect Barrack Obama strolling into the New Year along the beaches of Hawaii, one has to wonder: will our own personal "tax picture" look as heavenly in 2009 and beyond? Mr. Obama campaigned on "change" and specific tax reforms. Additionally, several new tax laws have been enacted this year, the most recent one signed by President Bush on
Mayor Daley's War on Climate Change Worth the Fight
Monday, December 1, 2008
Mayor Richard M. Daley, the greenest of America's mayors, bested his peers once again when he recently unveiled a "Climate Action Plan," the first of its kind in the nation, to cut Chicago's greenhouse gases to 75% of 1990 levels between now and 2020. The challenge is daunting: If fossil-fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions aren't significantly curbed,
A Closer Look at Socially Responsible Investing?
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Over the last year the Dow has declined about 40% with 25% of its drop occurring in October. Daily headlines have outlined concerns about how various companies were doing business and those concerns have created uncertainty in the marketplace. Investors are increasingly asking if they can trust the information they are receiving about companies and as a
System of Electing Judges in Illinois Too Broke to Fix
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Illinois' embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his nemesis, House Speaker Michael Madigan, continue to earn voters' wrath for stymieing the legislative process. Now that newly seated American Bar Assn. President H. Thomas Wells Jr. has turned his attention to "big money and fiery rhetoric" in state judicial elections, some Illinois judges are soon likely to
L3Cs Hold Key to Solving State's Social Woes
Monday, September 1, 2008
While the State of Illinois' government is paralyzed by conflict and the City of Chicago faces a staggering $420-million budget shortfall, Illinois' infrastructure, education, pensions and health care are sadly neglected. But the social problems that challenge the state's ability to compete and sabotage its people's dreams can often find solutions outside
Get Ready for the New Form 990
Friday, August 1, 2008
If you are an officer or director of a tax-exempt organization, or are involved in running one, get ready. The new Form 990 is coming, and it will be here sooner than you may realize. Form 990 is the annual return which tax-exempt, not-for-profit organizations file annually to report their revenue, expenses, assets, and liabilities and describe their
U of C Misguided in its Refusal to Divest from Sudan
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Clinging to a simplistic, Vietnam-era policy, the University of Chicago’s board of trustees is refusing to divest from companies doing business with the criminal government of Sudan. The board, stubbornly contending that divestment would stifle debate and freedom of inquiry, is dead wrong. By some estimates, more than 400,000 people have died from violence
Can You Keep a Secret? Discover the Value of Trade Secrets
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Coca-Cola brought a federal lawsuit in 2006 against a former employee for trying to sell trade secrets to PepsiCo. The convictions of the two individuals that received an 8 year and 5 year sentence for trade secret theft were affirmed on appeal this month. According to surveys conducted for the ASIS International and Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, U.S. businesses
Back Constitutional Convention to Reclaim State Government
Thursday, May 1, 2008
The Democratic presidential candidates are one-upping each other in their promises to bring "change" to Washington. But the debate shouldn't stop there. Illinois' government is badly broken, and the power to mend it is within reach of the state's discontented voters. The Illinois House, reflecting widespread disdain for Gov. Rod Blagojevich's
Balancing the Rights of Users, Owners of Intellectual Property
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Federal judges in New York and Washington, D.C., will soon decide just how far intellectual property owners' rights stretch. A judicial misstep could threaten innovation both in Chicago's emerging tech sector and at its flagging media businesses. This month, New York Federal District Judge Robert Patterson has schedulewd for tiral a shaky case filed by
Tax Refunds Anyone? An Executive Summary of the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
With real estate prices falling and the economy pulling back, Congress wisely decided to pass legislation estimated to return $152 billion to individual and business taxpayers in the form of rebates and other tax incentives. With over 130 million Americans expected to benefit, please read on to see if you might qualify. TAX REBATES Sound familiar? They
Court Should Side with Victim of 401(k) Mishandling
Friday, February 1, 2008
James LaRue's nest egg is at risk not only because his retirement plan's administrator was apparently careless, but also because two courts strained the plain meaning of the federal law protecting plan participants to bar him from asserting a claim for restitution. Along with tens of millions of private-sector employees, Mr. LaRue made regular
High Court Securities Case a Threat to Shaky Capital Markets
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Stoneridge v. Scientific-Atlanta is the most explosive securities case to hit the U.S. Supreme Court in the last 10 years. The appeal will test the reach of federal securities laws and force the sharply divided court to decide whether corporate shareholders can sue lawyers, accountants, banks and vendors that dealt with companies alleged to have committed
Putting Sub-prime Lending in Perspective
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Without a doubt, the major financial story since this past summer has been the meltdown in the sub-prime lending market and the subsequent drop-off in housing sales and the impact on home builders and related industries. Standard & Poor's and Moody's fed the fears of a broader market sell-off by dropping the ratings of approximately $17 billion of
U.S. Firms Ignore the Environment at Their Own Risk
Thursday, November 1, 2007
The evidence is mounting that environmentally responsible companies are more profitable and deliver better investment returns. Yet most U.S. companies have been slow to adopt responsible environmental practices, yielding ground to Europe and Japan, where investor demand, competitive pressure and regulatory mandates have spurred companies to improve
Policy Change Would Gut the Rights of Shareholders
Monday, October 1, 2007
For no good reason, the Securities and Exchange Commission is mulling over a misguided change in regulatory policy that would hobble shareholders' right to file non-binding proposals on corporate governance, social and environmental issues with the companies they own. Commissioner Paul Atkins is leading the charge against shareholders' advisory resolutions
Chief Justice's Case Exposes Hidden Gap in Illinois Law
Saturday, September 1, 2007
For the first time in the nation's history, a federal lawsuit has been filed to challenge the fairness of a personal legal action brought by a judge who controls his state's court system. The judge happens to be Illinois' highest judicial officer, and his dogged quest for vindication and recompense raises bigger questions than whether his grievance has
New Legislation Includes Variety of Tax Changes
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Congress has sometimes been known to include in the laws it writes provisions which are not necessarily related to the main subject of the bill. This is particularly true when the bill is mainly for appropriations - the need to pay for essential government functions can help other, unrelated matters pass into law. That's what happened in the case of the
Isolationism Won't Create U.S. Jobs, Global Market Will
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is under fire for attacking tariffs and quotas. He believes that curbing international trade will blunt our competitive edge in a global market, and he's right on the money. Yet Congress and President George W. Bush, a free-trader, face enormous political pressure to protect American manufacturers and workers from
Pay Referendum Can Drive Value for Shareholders
Friday, June 1, 2007
Corporate shareholders should soon have the legal right to weigh in on the compensation packages public companies award their top executives. "Say on pay" would tamp down executive greed and force directors to link pay to performance. Although Mercer Human Resource Consulting's annual study of CEO compensation reported the encouraging news that more than
Make Your Website an Asset and Not a Liability
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Web site templates and inexpensive domain names have allowed individuals and companies of all sizes to own web sites. The sites serve as creative outlets and advertising tools, and they provide access to an audience of virtually unlimited size. However, along with these benefits come significant legal risks. All web site owners should be aware of these
Partisan Pandering Stifles Innovation, Entrepreneurship
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Illinois should lead the nation in entrepreneurship and innovation. But it doesn't, and partisan bickering in Springfield and Washington helps explain why. The state is a great trading center, a master builder of financial markets, the site of federal research labs and a powerhouse of professional talent. Yet Illinois lags 20 states in the Small Business
Smart Businesses See Value, and Profit, in Promoting Women
Thursday, March 1, 2007
The pace at which women are invited into the city's boardrooms and executive suites remains sluggish at best. Until that changes, corporate Chicago is denying itself the talent pool it needs to compete effectively, role models who can lure and retain the best employees and the informed judgment that comes only from the airing of diverse perspectives. My
Dialing into Savings: Don't Miss a One-Time Refund On Your 2006 Tax Return
Thursday, February 1, 2007
For over a century, the federal government has been collecting a tax designed to pay the cost of a war that lasted 113 days. However, this year individual and corporate taxpayers will have a one-time opportunity to receive a refund for payment of the federal telephone excise tax. Taxpayers will be able to claim a telephone tax credit on their 2006 federal
Tax Exemptions for Religion Break Against Business
Monday, January 1, 2007
In the Bill of Rights, James Madison and his brethren wisely proclaimed religious freedom and tolerance. Congress followed through by exempting religious organizations from federal income tax and delimiting the IRS' authority to audit religious congregations. But today, religious organizations escape tax charges other non-profits face, exploiting the
Life Cycle Funds: A New Alternative for Retirement Planning
Friday, December 1, 2006
One of the hottest new trends in asset allocation for retirement planning involves so-called "life cycle" funds. Basically, a life cycle fund is a mutual fund through which an investor plans for retirement by choosing a target retirement date and the asset allocation automatically changes annually based on that date. For example, an investor might choose
Shareholder Democracy Finally in Sight, if SEC Does the Right Thing
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Corporate shareholders are poised to reclaim their authority over the boardroom. Within months, they may be able to elect directors who are answerable to them, without bankrolling an expensive proxy contest against management's hand-picked candidates. And the spurious practice of permitting shareholders only to withhold support from incompetent or
U.S. House Mulling State-Funded Corporate Tax Boondoggle
Sunday, October 1, 2006
The U.S. House of Representatives will soon consider looting state government treasuries to enrich national businesses adept at dodging taxes. If the Business Activity Tax Simplification Act is enacted, state and local governments would no longer collect corporate income taxes and other levies tied to sales from out-of-state businesses, or taxes on
Pension Protection Act Creates New Opportunities
Friday, September 1, 2006
A new Federal law, signed into law with little fanfare last month, has created new opportunities for retirement plan participants, individual retirement account owners, and their beneficiaries, while also having an impact on charitable organizations. The law, known as the Pension Protection Act of 2006, includes a variety of provisions, with some of the
Give Shareholders Vote to Improve Returns, Board Performance
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
As proxy season winds down, the shareholders of some of Chicago's biggest companies remain disenfranchised. Most directors are still retained or elected under an arcane "plurality" vote standard, grudgingly allowing shareholders to withhold their support from incompetent or even crooked directors — but never to oust them. And most directors, often
Realize and Maximize Your Trademarks and Copyrights
Saturday, July 1, 2006
Trademarks and copyrights are making headlines. Dan Brown defended the copyright in his popular book The Da Vinci Code in United States and London courts. Owners of the small town ice cream shop "Krispy Kream" defended their trademark rights in their company name against donut giant Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. Owners of the Kentucky store "Victor's Little
Corporate Boards Feel Shareholder Heat
Thursday, June 1, 2006
The business textbooks say that shareholders control the company they own. Each share gets a vote and together the shareholders select directors who run the company for their benefit. But "one share, one vote" is a myth. In most companies, shareholders can either vote for management's hand-picked slate of directors or withhold their votes. Either way,
April 15, 2006 is the Time to Start Planning for Next Year's Tax Deadline.
Monday, May 1, 2006
You have just finished filing your 2005 tax return. And, if you are like most people, you vow to be more prepared next year. The following is a summary of the most important tax developments that have occurred in the past three months of 2006 that may affect you, your family, your investments, and your livelihood. Energy-efficient home improvements tax
Why Choose a Professional to Manage Your Assets? The Answer - DISCIPLINE
Saturday, April 1, 2006
In recent years, professional asset managers have enjoyed a renewed sense of credibility. Gone are the days when individual investors could simply buy any company’s stock with a dot-com suffix and the mere promise of “future” earnings, and expect double - or triple - digit gains. Add to that individual investors’ tendency to let emotions drive their
Investors Advocating for a Change?
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
Socially responsible individuals and institutions seeking to realize competitive profits on their investments need not sacrifice their core values to do so. And investment advisors who shrug off their fiduciary duty to give voice to their clients' values sell their clients short. Both in the boardroom and in society at large, socially responsible investing
Develop Your Invesment Game Plan
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
The savvy investor doesn’t panic when markets inevitably correct. He’s not euphoric when a hot stock he owns delivers triple-digit returns. And, he’s never frozen with indecision. The successful investor conquers emotions. As the stock market gains momentum, he checks his optimism before it turns to greed. And once the market peaks, he has no reason to
Online Businesses vs. Storefront Retailers - Who Has to Collect Sales Tax From its Customers?
Sunday, January 1, 2006
Thinking about selling your product online? Don’t forget to collect sales tax from your buyers. Online businesses are just as liable as storefront retailers for collection of local and state sales taxes as long as they have “nexus” in that state. Both storefront and Internet retailers generally have a nexus in states other than their home states if they
Tax Relief Opportunities Have Been Created in Reaction to Hurricane
Thursday, December 1, 2005
Individuals with a mind toward making charitable contributions to reduce their tax liability should be aware that Congress has made increased tax deductions available for the rest of the year 2005 only - and, depending on your income and the charitable contributions you are making, your potential tax deductions could be much higher than usual this year.
The Latest Twist in Retirement Planning
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
How much money will I have in my retirement portfolio when I retire? Will I have enough money to maintain my desired lifestyle? When can I afford to retire? How much money will I get from Social Security? Will I need to work part-time? Can I retire and still send my children to college? How do I budget for unanticipated outlays, such as a major illness? As
Profiting from Principled Investing
Saturday, October 1, 2005
Socially responsible investors may salve their consciences by declining to buy tobacco stocks or to fund the war machine, or by steering clear of other businesses they find objectionable. Fearing that screening out whole industries might sabotage their investment returns, however, they may hold their noses and honor the guiding principle of Modern Portfolio
Determining the True Value in Your Brokerage Account
Thursday, September 1, 2005
There's an old quip that goes like this: "There's no product or service in this world that someone else can't make a little bit cheaper and at a lot lower quality and those who consider price as the only factor when they buy are this person's legitimate prey." This quote may be one hundred years old yet it is as valid today as it was years ago. We would
Managing Risk in Bond Portfolios Through Laddering
Monday, August 1, 2005
Bond investors have a lot to think about whether they are simply rolling over CDs at a local bank or trying to actively manage a bond portfolio. Inflation rates, the direction of interest rates, credit quality, maturity and its cousin, duration, as well as trading costs are the most obvious concerns. The impact of rising interest rates and inflation on
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