ODR: Rules for Oregon’s new Corporate Activity Tax (CAT)

The Oregon Department of Revenue has posted a schedule of public meetings on its website. These meetings are intended to provide information to business taxpayers and tax professionals about the recently-adopted Temporary administrative rules for Oregon’s new Corporate Activity Tax (CAT). We encourage all business owners who anticipate having more than $1 million in gross receipts to learn about this new tax system in Oregon, which will not only apply to corporations.

They have also posted new FAQ’s on their website relating to how the CAT will apply to: (1) wholesale sales made for resale outside of Oregon and (2) the retail and wholesale sale of groceries.

The schedule of meetings is located here: https://www.oregon.gov/DOR/programs/businesses/Documents/MarchEducationTourSchedule.pdf

The Department’s page on the CAT is located here: https://www.oregon.gov/DOR/programs/businesses/Pages/corporate-activity-tax.aspx

If you have any questions about how this new tax will apply to you, please contact Valerie Sasaki at 503-226-2966.

Valerie Sasaki specializes in jurisdictional tax consulting, working closely with Fortune 50 companies involved in audits before the Oregon or Washington Departments of Revenue. She also works with business owners on tax, business, and estate planning issues in Oregon or Southwest Washington.

Oregon Legislature Corrects Procedural Hurdle in ORS 124.100(6) for Financial Elder Abuse Claims

Oregon Legislature Corrects Procedural Hurdle in ORS 124.100(6) for Financial Elder Abuse Claims

The National Adult Protective Services Association reports that 90{45ef85514356201a9665f05d22c09675e96dde607afc20c57d108fe109b047b6} of financial abusers are family members or trusted others. And financial abuse is vastly under-reported: it is estimated that only one in 44 cases are reported to state protective services. Estimates of financial elder abuse and fraud costs range from $2.9 billion to $36.5 billion annually.

The attorneys at Samuels Yoelin Kantor watch for legal changes that may affect our current and future clients. A new Oregon law, effective January 1, 2020, should help vulnerable Oregonians that have been victims of abuse by making it harder to dismiss civil actions for abuse under ORS Chapter 124. This chapter of the Oregon Revised Statutes is also known as the Elderly Persons and Persons with Disabilities Abuse Prevention Act (“Act”).

Oregon lawmakers recently addressed an issue that enabled abusers to avoid elder abuse claims based on a technical procedural requirement.  

In June 2019, the legislature passed and Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 783. The new law amends the reporting provision at ORS 124.100(6). Currently, a party filing a civil claim for abuse (financial or physical) under the Act must notify the Attorney General of Oregon within 30 days after commencing the action. Failure to notify the AG has big consequences. A 2016 Oregon Court of Appeals case mandates that an action be dismissed if the commencing party fails to notify the AG within the required time. See Bishop v. Waters, 280 Or. App. 537, 546–48 (2016).

Amended ORS 124.100(6) applies to cases commenced on or after January 1, 2020, and provides that claims will no longer be subject to dismissal due to this strictly construed AG notification requirement. Senate Bill 783 eliminates the 30-day time period, and expressly allows a commencing party to cure a failure to notify the AG by “mailing” a copy of the complaint, or other initial pleading, any time prior to entry of judgment. Further, a court may not enter judgment for the plaintiff until proof of mailing is filed with the court.

The Oregon legislature has made it harder for a defendant to dismiss otherwise valid abuse claims, due to a procedural technicality. The change helps protect the victims of elder abuse while maintaining the notification requirement. This change then helps the AG track and prosecute elder abuse in Oregon.

Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP is one of the few law firms in Oregon with equally strong estate planning attorneys and fiduciary litigation attorneys. Our attorneys have the experience to recognize the signs of potential elder financial abuse. We know how to bring claims for victims of abuse. Many of our attorneys are licensed in both Oregon and Washington, and litigate claims in both states.

Who can bring a claim under Oregon’s financial elder abuse statute?

The victim, a guardian, conservator, or attorney-in-fact for the victim, a personal representative for a decedent who was a vulnerable person at the time of the abuse, or a trustee for a trust on behalf of the trustor or spouse of the trustor who is a vulnerable person. ORS 124.100(3). In addition to persons with certain mental or physical conditions, any person age 65 or older (regardless of health), qualifies as a “vulnerable person.” ORS 124.100(1).

What are some common forms of financial abuse?

Misuse of a Power of Attorney or joint bank account, overcharging for services, or improperly transfer title to property. Outright threats to abandon unless the victim complies with the abuser’s demands can by itself be financial elder abuse.

What are some warning signs of abuse?

  • An unexplained withdrawal, transfer, credit card charge, or payments that are unusual, or don’t otherwise fit with the explanation.
  • The elder is not given an opportunity to speak for themselves without the presence of a particular care giver, family member, or anyone else suspected of abuse.
  • The elder is extremely withdrawn, defensive, not communicative, or unresponsive. Victims frequently feel shame and embarrassment.
  • Unpaid bills, overdue rent, utility shut-off notices.

Report abuse

If you suspect someone is being abused, neglected, or financially exploited in Oregon or Washington, please reach out to the Oregon Department of Human Services or Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Also, you may consider hiring a private attorney to employ legal tools to prevent harm, or recover financial losses. Contact Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP to speak with an experienced fiduciary litigator who understands financial elder abuse claims in Oregon and Washington.

Darlene Pasieczny, Attorney

Darlene Pasieczny is a fiduciary and securities litigator at SYK. She represents clients both in Oregon and Washington, with matters regarding trust and estate disputes, financial elder abuse cases, securities litigation, and represents investors nationwide in FINRA arbitration. Her article, New Tools Help Financial Professionals Prevent Elder Abuse, was featured in the January 2019, Oregon State Bar Elder Law Newsletter.

Ballot Measure 104: Oregon Gets Down & Dirty With What It Means To Raise Revenue

Vote - Oregon Ballot Measure 104

All summer we have been talking about the fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair. We analyzed the opinion when it came out; we looked at the initial state responses in August; and we looked at one of the early Federal proposals in September. It’s been an exciting ride!

One of the things we’ve come to realize is that the Wayfair decision signals a convergence of the disparate state nexus thresholds for different types of tax. Correctly or not, the Commerce Clause and Due Process nexus thresholds for sales tax and income tax regimes are converging around the idea that a taxpayer needs to have “minimum contacts” with a taxing jurisdiction and must “purposefully avail” themselves of the jurisdiction’s economic market. Thanks to Public law 86-272 (codified at 15 USC §§ 381-384), nuance still exists in the areas of sales of solicitation of sales of tangible personal property. Also, the requirements of internal and external consistency help limit the deleterious impact of having thousands of taxing jurisdictions each doing their own thing.

The challenge, of course, is that there isn’t a good definition of how to distinguish a “fee” from a “tax.”

Because there are all of these limitations and restrictions on a state’s ability to tax activity within its borders (however that may be defined), states in the last few years have been relying more and more heavily on “fees.” The challenge, of course, is that there isn’t a good definition of how to distinguish a “fee” from a “tax.”

Much like obscenity, jurists tend to think that they should be able to identify a fee when they see it (apologies to Justice Stewart). However, it’s not that simple. A fee payment may be defined as a “fixed charge” or “a sum paid or charged for a service.” From practical perspective, what this means is that specific line items in a governmental budget need to be tied to a charge or schedule of charges. Taxes, on the other hand, are typically understood to be general assessments to pay for government services. Taxes are subject to constitutional limitations. It remains to be seen if the same restrictions apply to fees.

The Oregon Constitution, Article I, §32 states: “No tax or duty shall be imposed without the consent of the people or their representatives in the Legislative Assembly; and all taxation shall be uniform on the same class of subjects within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax.”  At Article IV, §25(2), the Oregon Constitution states: “Three-fifths of all members elected to each House shall be necessary to pass bills for raising revenue.” Courts have generally limited the impact of this to legislation defined as tax increases. There are no corollaries for fees. Certain things, such as state level professional licensure and county inspection services seem directly tied to benefits provided in a way that would be difficult to capture with what we commonly think of as a tax. The bigger issue comes when a fee looks a lot like a tax assessment in disguise.

For example, when the City of Tigard decided that it wanted to enter into a massive water project with the City of Lake Oswego, it was able to enact a rate increase in the guise of a fee to pay for that project. What this meant in practical terms was a hypothetical, impoverished baby lawyer who had only paid $85 every other month for water/sewer service now had to pay that same amount every month. When that hypothetical baby lawyer contacted the City of Tigard to ask why this wasn’t funded through a separate property tax assessment, which would have been more appropriate, she was told that the City didn’t have to go that route so it didn’t. As an aside, it was a pretty facile and not very satisfying answer to provide to a beleaguered, hypothetical baby tax lawyer.

Oregon’s Nonconformity

This long-simmering issue has come to a head in the debate over Ballot Measure 104 (“Measure 104”), on the November 6, 2018 ballot. This would add a definition to the Oregon Constitution’s §25 of “raising revenue” to include changes to tax exemptions, credits, and deductions that result in increased state revenue, as well as the creation or increase of state taxes and fees. Interestingly, the impetus for this measure doesn’t seem to be primarily fee increases. Rather, it was Oregon’s nonconformity with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act’s addition of IRC 199A, which in most cases decreased the effective tax rate on pass through entities.

A recent article by Oregon Public Broadcasting highlights some of the issues associated with Measure 104, including the challenges involved in our system of conformity to the federal definition of taxable income. The authors correctly highlighted the issue that an opt-out of a federal tax exemption could be construed in Oregon as legislation to raise revenue. Therefore, the legislation specifically opting-out of the federal exemption may be seen as revenue raising and subject to a 3/5 majority approval requirement.

Proponents of Measure 104 have argued that politicians have created a climate that is not friendly to taxpayers because it is not predictable how much a taxpayer will have to pay over to state government from one year to the next. Opponents of Measure 104 have made a variety of arguments that mostly seem to come back to “if you pass this, it will tie the hands of legislators to do what needs to be done.” It may be that both sides are correct. At the end of the day, Oregon voters will have to decide how much they trust the politicians (that they elected) to protect both their wallets and the various things that the state does.

Valerie Sasaki specializes in jurisdictional tax consulting, working closely with Fortune 50 companies involved in audits before the Oregon or Washington Departments of Revenue. She also works with business owners on tax, business, and estate planning issues in Oregon or Southwest Washington.

Tax Reform Now: Five Actions to Consider Before December 31, 2017

Tax and Business

Congress officially passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on December 20th. Despite conflicting reports on when President Trump will sign the Act, he will sign it. Here are five last-minute actions you should consider for tax planning before the New Year to minimize your 2017 and 2018 tax liability.

One: Make Your Oregon Fourth Quarter Estimated Tax Payment by December 31st

Individuals who pay quarterly state income taxes should consider making their fourth quarter payment by December 31st. The Act limits the deduction for state and local taxes to $10,000 unless the taxes are paid and accrued in carrying on a trade or business.  In Oregon, the fourth quarter estimated payment is due on January 16, 2018. Paying by December 31st assures that these individuals can maximize their 2017 state and local tax deduction one last time. Strongly consider this action if you receive substantial investment income or are self-employed. The final version of the Act only allows a deduction for payments made for tax years on or before 2017, so do not make an estimated payment for 2018 taxes.

Two: Give More to Your Favorite Charities

Give and you shall receive . . . more in 2017 than 2018. For itemizing taxpayers, charitable contributions are one of the most well-known and utilized deductions. The Act’s decease to the marginal tax rates and the doubling of the standard deduction means a charitable deduction claimed on a 2017 tax return will yield more tax savings than the identical deduction on future tax returns. If you expect your marginal tax rate to decrease, or if you itemize now but might not under the new law, consider talking to your tax advisor about how some last minute giving could be the best gift you receive this holiday season. If you do not have a charity in mind, consider donating to Oregon’s Campaign for Equal Justice, whose mission is to make equal access to justice a reality for all Oregonians.

Three: Pay Your Local Property Taxes in Full for 2017-2018

Starting in 2018, individuals will not be able deduct more than $10,000 of their state and local income taxes and their local property taxes. While Oregon allows property taxes to be paid in installments, to be assured an individual can deduct the maximum amount of property taxes paid for the 2017-2018 year, consider writing a check for the installments due in 2018 to your county before the year end. Check with your tax advisor if you are subject to the AMT. The AMT limits the amount of the property tax deduction.

Four:  Pay and Claim Those Unreimbursed Employee Expenses and Other Miscellaneous Deductions Now – Including Your Tax Preparation Fees and Certain Legal Fees

As of 2018, miscellaneous itemized deductions will become a deduction of the past. This includes the deduction for tax preparation expenses, certain legal fees, and unreimbursed employment expenses. Unreimbursed employment expenses can include everything from tools & supplies, union dues, expenses for work related travel, subscriptions to business journals, attending seminars and more. If you expect to pay these expenses next year you should consider paying for them before December 31st. Of course, if you are self-employed or own a business, you will still be able to deduct some of these expenses against business income under the new law. In short: Consider paying your CPA for 2017 tax advice and your 2017 tax filing by December 31st.

Five: Delay That Taxable Gift

Taxpayers considering gifts that would result in the payment of gift taxes or GST may want to wait until 2018. The exemptions for both double in 2018 and a delay in the timing of the gift could reduce or eliminate any tax liability incurred. However, do not hesitate to make that 2017 annual exclusion gift!

Stay Tuned

This article is the first in a series planned to address the numerous changes to tax law imposed by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. We strongly recommend you consult with your tax attorneys and tax advisors on the impact of the act on your 2017 taxes and to plan for future years.

Caitlin M. Wong brings her passion for tax law and her commitment to empowering others to her practice at Samuels Yoelin Kantor LLP. Caitlin has experience with all aspects of both federal and state taxation, including tax planning for companies as well as individuals, audits, appeals, tax court litigation, estate planning and trust and estate litigation.

Heat Wave Reminder – Oregon Law Allows Public Intervention if a Child or Animal is in Danger

Pets left in vehicles

A law recently passed in Oregon allows the public to step up if there is a child or animal they believe to be in danger – without being held liable for damages.

Portland is currently in the midst of what could be a record breaking heat wave. The city is forecast to have temperatures climbing above 100 degrees this week. Health officials are urging citizens to stay hydrated and take precautions when traveling.

The state of Oregon also is doing its part to protect those who may not be able to protect themselves. A new law protects Good Samaritans from both civil and criminal liability if they break a vehicle window to help either an unattended child or animal that they believe to be in danger.

House Bill 2732 was signed into immediate effect by Gov. Kate Brown at the end of June 2017.

Previously, citizens were required to contact law enforcement before stepping in to help a child or animal that was locked inside of a hot car.

The law goes on to explain that individuals should “use no more force than is necessary to enter the [car] and remove the child or animal”. After they are removed, the individual would also need to stay with them, until both police and first responders arrive, or the vehicle’s owner returns.

KATU reports that “the law is intended to help children and pets left alone in parked cars during sweltering heat. Concerned citizens should first try to locate the vehicle’s owner and contact the local animal control agency or police department before breaking into the vehicle. Breaking a car window should be considered a last resort.”

The Oregon Humane Society has said that temperatures inside cars can become oven-like in just 20 minutes.