Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dec. 31 Deadline for PA Tax Rebate Applications

This is a year-end message: December 31, 2010 is the deadline to file Property Tax/Rent Rebate claim forms (PA-1000) for those who are eligible to receive a rebate from the PA Department of Revenue based upon income and status. 

The Program is described at  An application form can be downloaded from the PA Department of Revenue website.  Again, completed applications must be postmarked by Friday, December 31st to be considered.

For some Pennsylvania seniors, this is an important tax relief benefit, but one that must be sought through an application.  The Pennsylvania Property Tax / Rent Relief Program provides rebates up to $975 for PA homeowners, and up to $650 for PA renters, who meet its criteria.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older.
The program expansion increased the income limit from $15,000 to $35,000 (which excludes half of Social Security income) for homeowners and raises the maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters from $500 to $650. The income limit for renters is $15,000.
The Program's recent expansion provides additional benefits to certain residents:
The program expansion also provides for supplemental property tax rebates of up to $325 – on top of the standard rebates – to homeowners in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Scranton; and to those in other parts of the state who pay more than 15 percent of income on property taxes. The Revenue Department automatically calculates supplemental rebates for qualifying homeowners.
The Program is described in a brochure available online.

On December 8, 2010, Governor Ed Rendell issued a Press Release entitled Governor Rendell Reminds Residents Of Dec. 31 Property Tax/rent Rebate Deadline, Free Application Assistance Available, urging those qualified for the rebates to apply by the deadline.  

The Press Release subtitle noted "Nearly 88,000 Eligible Older Adults, People with Disabilities Have Not Yet Applied."
“Nearly 619,000 seniors already applied for rebates this year, but we know there are about 88,000 more people who qualify but have not yet applied,” Governor Rendell said. “I encourage all Pennsylvanians to review the program’s criteria to consider if anyone they know may qualify for a rebate, and help those loved ones apply before the Dec. 31 deadline.”
In response to recent inquiries and complaints regarding fee-based Property Tax/Rent Rebate program application filing services offered privately, Governor Rendell reminded residents that free assistance is available at hundreds of locations across the state.
“It’s unfortunate that some companies charge fees to provide a service that the government and other agencies provide for free. Application forms and assistance are available at no cost from Department of Revenue district offices, local Area Agencies on Aging, senior centers and state legislators’ offices.”
Pennsylvania is providing a total of $772.5 million in property tax relief this year, including expanded rebates from the state’s Property Tax/Rent Rebate program for seniors and residents with disabilities and general property tax relief for all homeowners that was distributed through school districts this past summer.
“So far, these rebates helped to eliminate school property taxes for about 120,000 residents this year,” said Governor Rendell. “I don’t want any eligible person to miss out on this help to pay property taxes or rent.” * * *
The provided forms relate to the tax year 2009.  If past operations of the Department of Revenue predict the future, forms for the tax year 2010 will be mailed during the first quarter of 2011.  See: When will the 2009 Property Tax/Rent Rebate form be available? (Updated 09/15/2010), posted by the PA Department of Revenue.

An answer posted by the Department to another question -- Can I file a Property Tax/Rent Rebate for previous years? (Updated 09/15/2010) -- emphasizes the firmness of the coming deadline: "No. Once the deadline for filing has passed, you cannot file for a Property Tax/Rent Rebate for that year."

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 PA Legal Holidays Listed by AOPC

For many, this is a holiday week, if only in a personal mindset.  But "legal holidays" are declared in advance, and are quite fixed.  A county's courthouse is closed on a recognized national or statewide "legal holiday" or a local "legal holiday."

On December 28, 2010, the Pennsylvania Unified Judicial System published online the legal holidays to be observed in 2011 by all employees of the appellate courts and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.  The schedule also listed local legal holidays of the sixty-seven counties in Pennsylvania, which vary surprisingly (mostly around the end of next year).

The statewide court holidays are not a recently released secret -- the holidays were identified in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on January 6, 2010, 40 Pa.B. 525, under an Order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The recently-issued compendium of Pennsylvania 2011 County Holidays (PDF, 2 pages) integrates those holidays with additional local ones.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lawyer's Christmas Greetings

Yesterday, I updated my posting from three years ago, Scrooge: Broker, Lawyer, Accountant, or Banker? (12/21/07), and then included the link in email sent to some folks as a Holiday greeting. There are few analyses like it available online.

Ultimately, I doubt that Scrooge was a lawyer, since he did not talk like a lawyer, even for that time.

For your amusement, you may wish to consider well-circulated, alternative greetings written in "legalese" that also attempt to convey, more or less, a spirit of the season.
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tax Relief Enacted

As announced in a host of media publications today, December 17, 2010, we have a new federal tax act, representing a political compromise and a temporary Congressional consensus -- but not a long-term solution -- on crucial pending income, estate/gift/generation-skipping, and social security tax issues (among other subjects).

For example, on "Estate of Confusion" (a Forbes Blog) in its posting today entitled "House Passes The Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, H.R. 4853", Hani Sarjii highlighted the compromise, and concluded that "the reform of the estate tax is only temporary."
On December 16, 2010, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010. The vote was 277 in favor and 148 against.  The bill will now go to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

H.R. 4853 is a compromise between President Obama and Republicans. It will extend the Bush Tax cuts and provide temporary estate tax reform: an estate tax rate of 35% and a $5 million exemption for individuals, for two years.

H.R. 4853 is going to change estate planning.  * * * Also, H.R. 4853 will not end estate tax uncertainty. * * *
C-SPAN reports that "The President is set to sign in to law the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010 (H.R. 4853) later this afternoon [3:50 p.m]."  See also: Bloomberg News, House Passes Tax-Cut Extension, Sends Bill to Obama  (12/17/2010, with video).

My intention now is not to summarize the law, but to list a few resources online for a reader to explore and research initially.

Professor Paul L. Caron lists excellent links -- including a shorter summary (PDF, 3 pages) and a longer summary (PDF, 12 pages) -- regarding the new federal tax law in his posting President Obama Signs Tax Package Into Law (12/17/10) on the Tax Prof Blog.  [Update:  See also: More on the Obama-GOP Tax Bill (12/19/2010).]

For a running reference on the political developments leading to the new law, see: Thompson Reuters Tax Watch and its Archive covering the period November and December, 2010.  See also: Blog posting entitled Are We Having Fun Yet? (12/13/2010), by William (Bill) D. Pargaman, Esq., of Austin, TX, who prepared a tentative summary of the pending legislation as of December 9, 2010.

Descriptions about the underlying bill and its amendments are set forth by The Library of Congress (Thomas)See also: Open Congress, which lists news articles and blog postings related to it, and which also sets forth the text of the House-approved bill.

The U.S. Senate's Committee on Finance posted links on a webpage entitled S.A.4753: The Reid-McConnell Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010, as follows:
BNA also provides a link to that last item above -- the final text of H.R. 4853, as amended numerous times -- being the "Senate Amendment to the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment."

Update: 2010-12-20:

Congress has approved and the President quickly signed a mulibillion dollar tax cut package, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (2010 Tax Relief Act) (H.R. 4853). The new law follows through on the framework agreed to December 6 by President Obama and GOP leaders in Congress. The 2010 Tax Relief Act extends the Bush-era individual and capital gains/dividend tax cuts for all taxpayers for two years. The bill also provides for an AMT “patch,” a one-year payroll tax cut, 100 percent bonus depreciation through 2011 and 50 percent bonus depreciation for 2012, a top federal estate tax rate of 35 percent with a $5 million exclusion, and more. * * *
This is an excellent resource, which was posted publicly (and quickly!) for professionals and the public.  I commend CCH for doing so.  It should be a timely and trustworthy summary.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Blogger as "Best Lawyer" and "Super Lawyer"

Neil E. Hendershot Again Listed as a “Best Lawyer in America”® and as a “SuperLawyer”®

Neil E. Hendershot, Esq. was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2011 edition of The Best Lawyers in America in the specialty of Trusts and Estates.  The letter sent to him by Steven Naifeh, Editor-in-Chief of Best Lawyers (styled as “The World’s Premier Guide”) stated: “Indeed, special congratulations are in order as you are one of a distinguished group of attorneys who have now been listed in Best Lawyers® for ten years or longer.” 

The letter notes the nature of the selection:  “Because selection to Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey (comprising more than 3.1 million confidential evaluations by your fellow top attorneys) and because no fee or purchase is required to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is rightly considered a singular honor.”

For the year 2010, as for each year since 2004, Neil is also listed as a Philadelphia Magazine Super Lawyer® one of three listed in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area under the designation of Estate Planning & Probate.  Interestingly, a few Harrisburg area attorneys formerly named in that area were not renewed on the list for 2010, which testifies as to the currency of the designation.  The 2011 nomination process for Super Lawyers®, a Thomson Reuters business, is underway.  Selections will be announced to next year’s designees in late December, 2010.

According to its website, “Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.”  Publication of state-specific listings is accomplished through various Super Lawyers magazines published in all fifty states, such as that published by Philadelphia Magazine.  Locally, the listing is acknowledged annually by publication of the Central Pennsylvania Business Journal.