Crowdfunding Limits – Raising the Cap

Almost everyone has heard of Kickstarter by now: it’s the premier place for a team with an idea and a plan to raise capital to fund almost any sort of product. However, your return on your investment is the product itself if you pay enough money, or merely a thank you if the donation isn’t large enough, and extra additional services or items if you pay more. You do not, however, receive an additional return on your investment – you either get the fair market value of your contribution or less. What if you could invest in a company personally, not just a product, without being a private accredited investor?

There exists a style of investing similar both to Kickstarter and traditional investment in business called equity crowdfunding. Enabled by the JOBS act of 2012, equity crowdfunding allows companies to raise money from the general public – not just private … Read the rest

The Contraceptive Mandate: Birth Control or Business Control?

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on March 25th, 2014, on the Tenth Circuit Case Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius and the Third Circuit Case Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius; a ruling is expected in late June.[i] Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are two prominent examples from over 71 cases involving for-profit businesses challenging the contraceptive mandate in the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the grounds that this provision violates their religious beliefs under the First Amendment Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).[ii] Specifically, the contraceptive mandate requires that “all health insurers and non-grandfathered group health plans that offer group or individual coverage for certain preventative cost services for women without cost-sharing.”[iii] A verdict for the government has large implications for for-profit businesses such as Hobby Lobby opposing the mandate.  To explain, “The companies could face steep $100-a-day Read the rest

Owning the Internet: The Demise of Net Neutrality

The Internet is the modern day printing press; a revolutionary game changer. The Internet owes much of its success to the theory of net neutrality. While net neutrality is not a new topic of discussion, it has been thrust in the limelight with the recent case of Verizon v. FCC, which many are proclaiming signifies a dangerous change in the policies of net neutrality. This article gives an overview of what net neutrality is, and what this means for people and businesses.

What is net neutrality?

A basic, not often thought about question is, how does the internet even work?

You connect to the Internet through pipes owned by telephone and cable companies such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable; these are also known as Internet service providers (ISPs). [i]ISPs are controlled by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and by statutes such as the Telecommunications Act Read the rest

National Security Space Launch: No Contest

             Competition and innovation are key ideals in American society, and they were the main focus on March 5, 2014 when the CEOs of SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (“ULA”) testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.[1] The ULA, a joint venture between aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin, currently provides launch services for the U.S. National Security Space Launch programs.[2] SpaceX, a relative newcomer to the space launch business,[3] is seeking to break ULA’s current monopoly on national security launches and open the procurement process to other launch providers.[4]     

The EELV Program

            In 1994, the U.S. Air Force initiated the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (“EELV”) program to ensure that the U.S. military and civilian national security organizations would have reliable access to Earth’s orbit for spy satellites, military communications, and other important payloads.[5] As … Read the rest

Lessons from Hartney: How to Reduce Tax Forum Shopping by Illinois Retailers

            The Illinois’ Local Retailers’ Occupation Tax Acts (ROT Acts) allows “municipal governments and the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) to impose a retail occupation tax ‘upon all persons engaged in the business of selling tangible personal property at retail within the county, municipality, or metropolitan region.”[i] Leading up to the recent Illinois Supreme Court decision in Hartney Fuel Oil Co. v. Hamer, a number of Illinois retailers with selling activities in multiple jurisdictions sought to pay Illinois Local Retailer Occupation Taxes only in the lowest tax rate jurisdictions where they accepted purchase orders, even when their predominant selling activities occurred in other places.[ii]  This narrow interpretation of the “business of selling” in the ROT Acts complies with the Department of Revenue (DOR) regulations regarding the Acts, which establish a bright-line rule for purchase order acceptances.[iii]

            Although the ability to tax Read the rest

In-App Purchases: the classic game of bait-and-switch, now available on Google Play

In February, a New York mother of a five-year-old boy did what many busy parents do to keep their kids occupied: she gave him a game.1

This particular game, Marvel’s “Run Jump Smash”, was on her tablet.2 She purchased the game for 99 cents at the Google Play Store, but in the 30 minutes following that purchase, her son accrued $65.95 in charges to her debit card for “game currency.” 3 The game did not ask for the mother’s password in order to make the charges; Google required a password in order to make the initial purchase of the game, but for 30 minutes after that, a user can make as many subsequent purchases as he or she likes, unfettered by a password or other controls.4

The mother has now filed a class action suit against Google on behalf of other parents unknowingly charged by in this Read the rest

Likely Effects of US immigration Reform on the National Deficit and Social Security System

There has been growing bipartisan efforts in Congress to reform the laws that govern U.S. immigration policy.[i] On June 27, 2013, the U.S. Senate passed “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act” (S. 744).[ii] If this proposed reform becomes law, it will likely help reduce the growing budget deficit and add to economic growth. It is important to not mistake immigration reform with pure amnesty, because a comprehensive or piecemeal reform will address the problem of millions of “illegal” and undocumented immigrants as well as: “specialized programs for agriculture and hi-tech industries, border security and visatracking capabilities, temporary work programs, the future of undocumented adults and children already present in the U.S., systems for employer verification of work eligibility, and other dimensions.”[iii]

 

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) found that immigration reform will help reduce the federal budget deficit by over Read the rest

Extortion and Professional Irresponsibility

 

Most people often have the misconception that being a member of the legal profession automatically affords one a “get-out-of-jail-free” card. Needless to say, such a privilege has not and will not, ever be available to any member of society, including those who make, shape and enforce the law. A lesson which two Tennessee lawyers chose to learn the hard way, instead of in a Professional Responsibility course.  “Two Tennessee lawyers have been indicted by a grand jury [on March 12, 2014] in an extortion case . . . They are accused of pressuring a client [Michelle Langolis] several years ago to pay $50,000 in probate case legal fees she had not agreed to pay by threatening her with arrest.” [1]   Additionally, attorneys Carrie Gasaway,  and Fletcher Long, who once worked together as law partners, did go on to have Langolis arrested on a theft-of-services charge, alleging Read the rest

Family Leave in the United States: Time for a Change?

On February 5, 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (“FMLA”) was signed into law by Bill Clinton, mandating 12 weeks of unpaid family leave for companies with over 50 employees, if the employee has worked at least 1,250 hours during the last 12 months with the company.[1] In its findings, Congress specifically recognized the importance of parent participation in early childhood and the lack of job security available to working parents, and sought to give new parents more flexibility with work-life balance.[2] Since the FMLA was passed, the United States has fallen far behind other developed countries in providing leave for new parents. After more than 21 years, U.S. lawmakers should reexamine the national family leave policy and increase the benefits guaranteed for family leave. A more generous family leave policy is not only good for individuals and families, but also good for business.… Read the rest

Legal and Tax Considerations for Retirees Choosing a Retirement Destination

There are quite a few factors to consider for seniors facing retirement in the United States.1 While retirees will still owe federal taxes regardless of where they choose to retire, various states’ tax laws will often play at least some role in weighing a retirement destination. For example, some states are especially tough on retirees since, in addition to levying tax on most pensions and other retirement income, they also have high top tax brackets. “Economic security of seniors is being challenged by dramatically increasing expenses, such as for healthcare and housing. These fundamental changes in the lives of older Americans make it not only more difficult for seniors to enter retirement with economic security but also to remain economically secure throughout retirement.” 2

            Since at the time of retirement retirees’ income will most likely be fixed, it is important to take into account various factors which Read the rest

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