Clarifying the Adoption Tax Credit and Special Needs Children

Since publishing my recent post regarding The Adoption Tax Credit and Special Needs Children we have received numerous comments and emails asking for clarification. More specifically, most inquiries are related to what evidence is required to prove that a determination of special needs has been made by the state when taxpayers are claiming the adoption tax credit on their 2010 tax return. This issue has arisen because, in many cases where a child would otherwise fit the definition of a special needs child, the adoptive parent has nothing from the state indicating that a determination has been made. 

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National Labor Relations Board Says Employee Facebook Posts About Employer Protected

I recently read an article on MSNBC.com, Feds settle case of woman fired over Facebook comments, which discussed a settlement in Connecticut which will have a significant long-lasting impact on employers' policies regarding their employees' conduct on the internet. The National Labor Relations Board ("NLRB") reached a private settlement with American Medical Response of Connecticut, Inc. for the termination of an emergency medical technician who posted what the article called an expletive-filled posting which referred to the employee's supervisor as the company's code for a psychiatric patient. The ambulance company had an employment policy which prohibited employees from disparaging the company over the internet or depicting the company in anyway.

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Third Circuit Sends Innocent Spouse Relief Case Back to Tax Court: Mannella v. IRS

A few months ago I wrote about a case I argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The case concerned whether an IRS regulation requiring taxpayers requesting equitable innocent spouse relief to request the relief within two years was valid. The effect of the regulation is that any request made after two years would be rejected, regardless of how inequitable it would be to deny the request, which I argued was contrary to Congress' intent when the law was passed in 1998.

On January 17, 2011, the Third Circuit released its Opinion which leaves the issue ultimately still undecided. In the appeal, I argued that the IRS's regulation was invalid because Congress intended the section to not have a statute of limitations, but if the regulation was valid, it was subject to "equitable tolling," which means that the statute of limitations would not bar a taxpayer from requesting relief if the taxpayer was prevented from discovering the liability or requesting relief within two years. The court held that the regulation was valid, with Judge Ambro dissenting, and the court sent the case back to the Tax Court to determine if equitable tolling applied to the regulation, and if so, whether the taxpayer was entitled to tolling in the case. I believe the court saw equitable tolling as the preferable result for two reasons. First, it has a similar effect to finding the regulation invalid. It allows taxpayers that file for relief beyond two years to still receive innocent spouse relief if they can show a good reason for doing so. Second, it allowed the Third Circuit to reach this result without disagreeing with the Seventh Circuit, which found the regulation to be valid about six months before our appeal.

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Matthew Grosh elected to the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels of Lancaster

 Matthew Grosh has joined the Board of Directors for Meals on Wheels of Lancaster, whose mission is to, “improve the nutrition by providing meal service to the ill, disabled and senior residents within the greater Lancaster area.” Matthew is looking forward to use his experience as legal counsel for nonprofit organizations to help Meals on Wheels of Lancaster achieve their mission.  If you would like to volunteer for or donate to Meals on Wheels of Lancaster, please visit the website.

Changes to Pennsylvania Custody Law

Some significant changes and additions to the custody statute in Pennsylvania went into effect recently. The majority of the changes or additions to the custody statute are an attempt to take the factors, standards and practices which have been carved out over the years through Court cases and appellate decisions and consolidate them within the statute. While these may not make a significant substantive change to the custody law, they still have the potential to affect many custody cases filed after the law goes into effect this week. 

One of the most significant additions to the statute is the inclusion of sixteen specific factors which, if applicable, the Court must consider. The overall goal is still to determine what is in the best interest of the child but these specific factors that are now set out in the statute provide some guidance and uniformity for judges, attorneys and parents to specifically consider in evaluating cases and concerns in custody matters. A few examples of these factors are:

  • Which party will encourage and permit continuing contact with the other party
  • Parental duties performed by the parties on behalf of the child
  • Sibling relationships
  • The well-reasoned preference of the child based on the child's age and maturity
  • Proximity of residences of the parties
  • Attempt of one party to turn the child against the other party
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