Monday, December 17, 2012

Arizona Updates Law Regarding Wages for Discharged Employees


By Janet B. Hutchison

The Arizona law setting the time within which payment of wages must be made to an employee who is discharged from employment has been changed. The law now provides that when an employee is discharged from the service of an employer, the employee must be paid wages due him or her within seven (7) working days (rather than three days previously required) or the end of the regular pay period, whichever is sooner. A.R.S. 23-353(A).

No revision was made to the statute regarding payment to an employee who quits employment. Payment of wages to an employee who quits must be paid in the usual manner no later than the regular payday for the pay period during which the termination occurred.

Wage issues continue to be the focus of much attention from both employees and enforcement agencies. If you need assistance with wage and hour issues, the labor and employment attorneys at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon can help. Visit us at

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 Year End Income Tax Planning Strategies

Each year we acknowledge that year-end income tax planning is a challenge, which challenge has been, in recent years, compounded by the uncertainty over what the tax laws will be in the future. That is certainly the case this year.

It is quite likely that tax rates will be higher in 2013 as compared to 2012, at least for some taxpayers. Unless Congress acts, the ordinary income tax rates will increase for all individuals and tax-paying trusts with the top income tax rates for those taxpayers moving from 35% to 39.6%, more individuals will be snared by alternative minimum taxes, various deductions and credits will expire, the 15% tax rate currently applicable to dividend income and to long-term capital gains will increase to 39.6% and 20%, respectively, and unearned income of those single or married taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $200,000 or $250,000, respectively, will be subject to a 3.8% Medicare contribution tax under the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (fondly known as Obamacare).

Traditional year-end tax planning was based upon the primary objective of deferring tax liabilities. The tactics employed included the acceleration of tax deductions and credits and the deferral of taxable income. Our year-end tax planning Client Alerts consisted primarily of checklists of opportunities used to achieve the tax liability postponement objective.

For 2012, however, a complete reversal of such tactics may be appropriate for those clients that may be facing the higher rates and new taxes in 2013 and beyond. Such taxpayers may want to accelerate taxable income into this year and to defer deductions and credits into future years.

The acceleration of income can be achieved through a variety of initiatives, depending upon particular circumstances, including:
  • Arrange for prepayment of unearned income to taxpayer, including interest, dividends (including special or extraordinary distributions), royalties and rents or gain from sale of assets.
  • Election out of installment sale treatment for gain derived from 2012 sale of assets, or effectuating taxable dispositions (including gift transfers) of installment sale instruments that were received from asset sales that were reported prior to 2012.
  • An advancement of future compensatory bonuses into 2012.
  • Harvest gains from portfolio investments, especially if a disposition of such assets in the next several years was already anticipated.
  • Conversion of traditional IRA's to Roth IRA's.
  • Acceleration of distributions from qualified plans.
  • Exercise non-qualified stock options.
  • Taxable liquidations of closely held entities.
The deferral of deductions and credits could be effectuated by delaying the related payments (or, as to accrual basis taxpayers, the incurrence) of the deductible or creditable items into next year. As to depreciable assets that were acquired in 2012, taxpayers should consider not claiming any available IRC §179 deductions, and, instead, depreciating the cost of those assets in future years.

Some of the proposals that are circulating in Washington include the limiting of itemized deductions effective for tax years beginning after 2012. Taxpayers that are contemplating sizeable charitable contributions should consider making those contributions in 2012, notwithstanding the tax rate differential described above.

These strategies must, of course, be considered carefully in light of the precise circumstances of each taxpayer. Taxpayers that do not expect to be subject to the higher tax rates or the new taxes may wish to employ the traditional year-end planning techniques that have been identified in prior Client Alerts. As suggested above, year-end tax planning for 2012 may be somewhat more complex for some taxpayers than is typical.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Two Jennings Strouss Attorneys Named in Washington, D.C. & Baltimore’s Best Lawyers® 2013

PHOENIX, Ariz. (December 10, 2012) – Jennings, Strouss & Salmon, PLC announced that two of its attorneys, Joel L. Greene and Alan I. Robbins, have been included in Washington, D.C. & Baltimore’s Best Lawyers® 2013 magazine, published by Woodward/White, Inc. of Aiken, South Carolina.
The inclusion is based solely on peer review, and gives an indication of the collective opinions of leading lawyers within a geographic area about the professional abilities of their colleagues. Greene and Robbins were selected by their peers for inclusion in the field of Energy Law. Both attorneys have practiced in the D.C. area for over thirty years.
Mr. Greene’s practice includes assisting clients in energy regulatory matters (predominantly natural gas), legal strategic planning, contract negotiations and advocacy before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, US Department of Transportation (PHMSA), state commissions and the courts. He is also active in the district energy industry.
Mr. Robbins’ energy practice is focused primarily on electric power matters, including generation resource development and acquisition (including hydroelectric development), transmission and interconnection arrangements, interface with centralized energy markets, rate and other regulatory matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 
About Best Lawyers
Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. For over thirty years, the company has helped lawyers and clients find legal counsel in distant jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. The 2013 edition of The Best Lawyers in America includes 41,284 lawyers covering all 50 states and the District of Columbia and is based on more than 4.3 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers. Best Lawyers also publishes peer-reviewed listings of lawyers in nearly 70 other countries, covering many of the world’s major legal markets. Best Lawyers lists are excerpted in a wide range of general interest, business and legal publications worldwide, reaching an audience of more than 17 million readers.
About Jennings, Strouss & Salmon
Jennings Strouss & Salmon is one of the Southwest's leading law firms, providing legal counsel for nearly 70 years through its offices in Phoenix and Peoria, Arizona; and Washington, D.C. The firm's primary areas of practice include bankruptcy, reorganization and creditors’ rights; construction; corporate and securities; energy; family law and domestic relations; health care; intellectual property; labor and employment; litigation; real estate; sports and entertainment; surety and fidelity; tax; and trust and estates. For additional information please visit and follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Contact:  Dawn O. Anderson  | |  602.495.2806

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis Releases New Report on Projected Fuel Mix for Electric Generation


By Alan Rukin

The Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (“JISEA”) recently issued a report projecting an increase in the use of natural gas as a fuel for electric generation across five different scenarios. JISAE is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the University of Colorado-Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines, the Colorado State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.

In most of the studied scenarios, the report projects that the use of natural gas as a generation fuel will increase between 50% and 100% by 2030 and between 100% and 200% by 2050 when compared to 2010 levels. In the baseline scenario, the report projects that, by 2050, natural gas could represent between 28% to 38% of the nation’s generation as compared to 2010, where natural gas represented about 20%. Across all but one of the studied scenarios, the report projects that the electric industry will continue and expand its dependence on natural gas as a fuel source. The report also notes that coal’s share as a generation fuel has declined from 48% to 36% of total generation between 2008 and August 2012 based on information the Energy Information Administration collected.

This August, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held a series of regional technical conferences on efforts to increase coordination between the electric and natural gas industries. This November, FERC scheduled additional technical conferences to expand on those it held in August.    Previous posts by the Energy Law Times concerning electric-gas coordination issues can be found by clicking here and here. 

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