Section Review

Section Review runs practice area-specific articles as part of the MBA's bi-monthly Lawyers Journal.

Issue April 2011

April 2011

The Hutchinson decision clarifies approach to fee awards in the First Circuit

In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a long-standing rule that allowed attorneys' fees in civil rights cases where the lawsuit was a "catalyst" for remedial actions, even if there was no court order or decision on liability. See Buckhannon Bd. and Care Home v. West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources.1

Portability and the estate tax: Why portability should not replace lifetime transfer tax planning

On Dec. 17, 2010, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (TRA) was enacted into law.1 The TRA includes a number of provisions that will have a significant impact on estate tax planning, including an increase of the estate tax exclusion amount to $5 million and a decrease of the maximum tax rate to 35 percent.2 One of the more surprising aspects of the TRA, however, was the inclusion of a provision allowing "portability" of a deceased spouse's unused exclusion amount.

IRS authorizes paying whistleblowers

The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (the act) enacted significant changes in the Internal Revenue Service award program for whistleblowers. The IRS shall pay awards for information that substantially contributes to the collection of taxes, penalties and interest.

Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010

On Dec. 16, 2010, Congress passed -- and on Dec. 17, 2010, the president signed into law -- the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the act). The act extends the so-called "Bush-era tax cuts" until the end of December 2012. The act affects various areas of federal taxes, including but not limited to income, transfer and payroll taxes. Unfortunately, all of the provisions of this new tax law are only effective for two years.