July 2015

July 2015


Workers Compensation and the Exemption for Agricultural Labor

Agricultural law is often “law by the exception.”  For a variety of reasons, the law views many aspects of agricultural production as significantly different from other industrial enterprises.  As a consequence, in such situations general legal rules have been deemed inappropriate as applied to agriculture.  One area of the law, for example, involves farm employment situations.    Farm employers are not subject to many federal labor laws and, in many states, are not included within the scope of the state workers' compensation provisions.  A recent opinion of the New Mexico Court of Appeals, however, held that the exemption for certain types of agricultural employment from state workers’ compensation statutes was unconstitutional.  The court’s opinion, which is likely to be reviewed by the New Mexico Supreme Court, is contrary to the outcome of similar cases in other states.  But, the New Mexico court’s opinion does illustrate another tough legal issue associated with the increasing commercialization of the traditional family farm.

In any event, farm employers should carefully review state workers’ compensation law as it might apply to their operation and determine whether it is more advisable to opt in to coverage under the system or rely on any exemption for agricultural employment that state law might provide. Continue Reading.


From Annapolis to Des Moines, Water Quality Remains the Focus This Summer

It’s been a wet summer in many places around the country. But much of the attention on water has not stemmed from the heavy rains. Rather, the focus this summer continues to be on water quality. 

In previous months, we’ve detailed the Des Moines Water Works lawsuit and the substance of the new Clean Water Rule (Rule) finalized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) on May 27, 2015. This month, we’ll review the flurry of litigation arising upon the Rule’s publication June 29.  We’ll also review a related water quality decision issued by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on July 9. Although these cases remain distinct, they raise common questions regarding states’ rights, agency authority, and land use regulation. Water quality remains at the forefront, and we’ve likely seen only the beginning of many court battles to come. Continue Reading.


Not Filing Your 2014 Federal Income Tax Return Could Impact your 2016 Premium Assistance Tax Credit

The IRS has issued Letter 5591 to all taxpayers who received the Premium Assistance Tax Credit (PATC) but have not yet filed the 2014 tax return.  By not filing the 2014 return, eligibility for the PATC in 2016 will not be available. 

The ACA regulations discuss the “requirement to file” in order to receive an advanced PATC.  The letter advises taxpayer to file as soon as possible.  If advance payments of the PATC were paid on behalf of a taxpayer  or an individual in the family in 2014, and the taxpayer does not file, they will not be eligible for advance payments of the PATC or cost-sharing reductions to help pay for the Marketplace health insurance coverage in 2016.  This means they will be responsible for the full cost of the monthly premiums and all covered services and won’t be able to have other taxpayers share in that cost.   In addition, IRS may contact the taxpayer to pay back some or all of the 2014 advance payments of the PATC. The IRS Commissioner has the authority, based on the regulations; to allow additional time to file but no date has been announced.  Nearly 770,000 taxpayers are expected to receive the letter. Continue Reading on TaxPlace (Subscribers Only).

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