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Antitrust Lawsuit
National Association of Realtors

Decades-old norms regarding Realtor commissions and other policies surrounding home buying and selling have been swept away by the March 15 court settlement between the National Association of Realtors and groups of homeowners who filed suit against the realtors’ group arguing that home buyers should pay their agents’ commissions directly and  – most significantly – be able to negotiate that fee.

As a result of the settlement – which is still subject to the approval of the judge overseeing the case – the standard 6% commission on a home sale, heretofore split between the buyers’ and sellers’ agent, will be replaced with a system whereby prospective buyers can shop around for a lower rate and brokers can advertise those rates, even charging flat fees if they wish.

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Corporate Transparency Act

While Congress might have had worthwhile purposes in passing the Corporate Transparency Act, a section of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, it’s nonetheless unconstitutional, according to a federal judge’s summary judgment ruling in an Alabama case brought by the National Small Business Association (NSBA).

The Act requires most entities incorporated under state law to provide the U.S. Treasury Department’s criminal enforcement arm with significant personal information about their stakeholders, in an attempt to prevent money laundering, tax evasion and other financial crimes that often make use of shell corporations.

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Employee or Freelancer?

Is a person who works for your business financially dependent on you, or can they potentially independently profit based on their skill set? Will they be part of your company indefinitely? Do they perform a central, daily, integral role? Do you dictate when, where and how they work? Do you limit their ability to work for others? Can the person apply what they do to other endeavors, widening their market reach and leading to other revenue streams?

Small businesses and other employers will need ask themselves this set of questions and consider the “totality of the circumstances” in determining whether to classify people who work for them as employees or independent contractors, in a rule change published by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division on January 10, set to take effect March 11.

Guest Blogger: Attorney Tracy Ries

For parents going through a divorce, the right-now priority is to retain matrimonial attorneys to negotiate or litigate a plan to divide up assets, determine alimony and child support payments, and haggle over children’s residency and visitation schedules.

And it’s understandable that’s the top focus from a legal standpoint. But assuming you and your soon-to-be former spouse have, at some point, put into place estate planning documents—wills, trusts, powers-of-attorney, life insurance policies or anything else—you will want to revisit those ASAP.

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Did you know that according to recent statistics, a significant percentage of adults still don’t have a will in place?  Here’s a glimpse into the current state of estate planning:

1. Widespread Gap: Surprisingly, approximately 60% of adults worldwide do not have a valid will. This means the majority of individuals are yet to formalize their wishes regarding asset distribution, guardianship, and more.

2. Age and Preparedness: Studies indicate that the younger demographic tends to procrastinate on estate planning. About 78% of millennials and 64% of Generation X don’t have a will, assuming that this is a concern for later stages of life.

Starting on January 1, 2024, most employers in the 5-300x251will be required to provide five days of paid leave for any reason. Thanks to an City Council ordinance passed earlier this month by a 36-12 vote, Chicago employers will have to double that amount, including five sick days and five vacation days, under one of the most sweeping employee leave laws in the U.S.

The ordinance, which new Mayor Brandon Johnson described as “a step towards equity in the workplace,” also mandates that when workers depart their positions, companies with more than 100 employees will have to pay out as many as seven days of unused time, while firms with 51 to 100 employees will need to do so over a two-year phase-in period. Small businesses with less than 50 employees do not need to worry about this provision.

Johnson and progressive allied on the City Council wanted a 15-day allotment originally, but business, retail and trade groups, who are still vehemently against the ordinance, pushed back vociferously. And they’re worried that violations could lead to lawsuits, an issue that the council plans to address through a possible amendment—tabled for now—that would provide businesses with a 30-day time frame to address an alleged violation first.

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Tax Implications When Leaving a Partnership

When a partner leaves a business, the resulting transaction can take the form of a payment to the retiring partner to redeem his or her share of the business, or a sale of that share of the business to the remaining partners. Either way, the person who leaves obtains cash or property while the partners who remain increase their share of the assets on a proportional basis. While the end result appears to be the same, however, the tax implications can be quite disparate.

When the retiring partner receives a redemption payment, Section 736 of the Internal Revenue Code comes into play, determining firstly whether the income will be treated as a capital gain/loss or ordinary income, and secondly whether the remaining partners can deduct a percentage of their redemption payments.

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Transit Benefits Required for Illinois Employers

Another wrinkle for employers in the Chicago area.

Businesses located in the six-county Chicago area near public transit routes operated by the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) that have at least 50 employees will be required as of Jan. 1, 2024, to provide their full-time employees with pre-tax public transit benefits.

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Long-Term Temps to be Paid Like Employees

Both Illinois employers that contract with temporary labor service agencies, and those agencies themselves that do business in the state, should review staffing contracts and ensure compliance with relevant policies and procedures under amendments to the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker, which took effect immediately.

The amendments to HB 2862 hold that temporary workers assigned to a third-party client for more than 90 days are entitled to wages and benefits—or the cash equivalent of benefits—equivalent to the lowest-paid employee at that client who performs the “same or substantially similar” work. If no such person exists, temp workers must be paid the same as the lowest-paid employee with the closest seniority level to the temp.