Ruder Ware News & Insights

Updates on key legal issues and business concerns.

Ruder Ware announced today that, consistent with the firm’s succession planning efforts over the past several years, Stewart L. Etten will be stepping down as president of the firm effective April 1, 2021.  Mr. Etten will continue as a full-time attorney and shareholder of the firm, with his practice focused on business transactional matters, including secured loan documentation, mergers and acquisitions, and bank regulatory issues. The firm announced that Matthew D. Rowe would succeed Mr. Etten as president.  Mr. Etten indicated that, “Matt’s leadership capabilities and experience, as well as his lengthy tenure as a member of the firm’s board…
Farmers know there’s going to come a day when they’re no longer around to run their farms – and they know they should have plans in place for when that day comes. But farmers often delay planning because it forces them to think about difficult topics and make difficult decisions. The first step to beginning a succession plan is to pull together a team to help build and implement a plan. The team should consist of trusted professional advisers, successors who will continue the farming legacy and other family members to help make those difficult decisions. Having a strong team…
Earlier this month, I provided a very brief overview of the estate tax in a vlog.  You can view the vlog here.  In this blog post, I’ll expand on estate tax basics. What is the estate tax?  At its foundation, the estate tax is a tax imposed on the transfer of property upon death.  It is distinct from other taxes imposed on the transfer of property, including the gift tax, the generation-skipping transfer tax, and in some states, the inheritance tax.  For purposes of this blog post, I’ll focus on the estate tax, but make sure that you subscribe…
With Congress still negotiating a third round of stimulus payments, you should carefully consider when to file your taxes this tax season.  Tax season begins February 12th and ends April 15th.  Filing your taxes earlier or later within that time period may determine whether or not you receive the third stimulus payment and how much that you receive. The third stimulus payment is again expected to be capped at certain income levels.  The current proposal is $1,400 payments to individuals earning up to $75,000 per year and married couples earning up to $150,000 per year.  Individuals earning more than $100,000…
On Thursday, February 4, 2021, the Wisconsin State Assembly (“Assembly”) voted on a resolution to repeal the mask mandate. This vote came a week after the Wisconsin State Senate (“Senate”) voted on the same resolution to repeal the mask mandate. The same statute that gives the Governor power to create executive orders, also allows the Senate and the Assembly to repeal the orders by simple majority vote in each chamber. Republican lawmakers argued that Governor Evers exceeded his authority by issuing multiple emergency declarations during the pandemic which has allowed him to extend the mask mandate beyond the 60 days…
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a new, “stronger” Guidance on identifying and preventing coronavirus exposure risks in the workplace. Although this is labeled a “Guidance” and OSHA says that it is advisory, employers are cautioned that they can be at risk for standard OSHA penalties under the General Duty Clause if reasonable efforts are not made to minimize… Source
On January 21, 2021, President Biden issued an Executive Order (“Order”) which directs the Secretary of Labor, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to: Issue revised guidance to employers on workplace safety during the COVID-19 pandemic within two weeks of the Order; Consider whether an emergency temporary standard on COVID-19, including whether masks in the workplace, is necessary, and if such standard is necessary to issue it by March 15, 2021; Review current enforcement efforts by OSHA related to COVID-19 and identify changes that could be made to protect workers; Launch a national program focused on OSHA enforcement…
Today the CDC issued its “ COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers: Getting Started”, which includes posters, FAQs, and templates to use when communicating with your workforce about the vaccine. In addition, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ webpage on the vaccine has a great deal of information specific to our state. As always, as you consider the vaccine and its… Source
UPDATE: Our July 28, 2020, post informed you that the Wisconsin Medicaid divisor would remain unchanged in 2020. As we enter 2021, the Medicaid divisor will now be changed as follows. These changes are effective as of January 1, 2021. New daily average divisor = $303.38 New monthly average divisor = $9,227.81 If you have any questions or would like assistance with Wisconsin Medicaid, we are here for you. Please contact one of Ruder Ware’s elder law attorneys to help. Disclaimer The content in the following blog posts is based upon the state of the law at the time of…
Happy New Year!  As we move into 2021, we know that many of you are considering whether to require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccination.  The current COVID-19 vaccines have received Emergency Use Authorization (“EUA”) from the Food and Drug Administration.  The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”) governs the conditions of emergency use authorization including the condition that: “individuals to whom the product is administered are informed … of the option to accept or refuse administration of the product…” Section 546(e)(1)(A). Both the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 EUA Fact Sheet and the Moderna COVID-19 EUA Fact Sheet clearly specify that…
The Internal Revenue Service has announced the optional standard mileage rates for computing the deductible cost of operating an automobile for business, medical, and moving expenses for 2021, and the decrease in rates reflect the decrease in the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle.  Effective January 1, 2021, the optional standard mileage rates will decrease to 56 cents per mile for business transportation, and decrease to 16 cents per mile for travel relating to medical transportation expenses. These mileage rates apply only to those expenses incurred or paid by a taxpayer on or after January 1, 2021 (and…
On the evening of December 21, 2020 the House and Senate passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the “Act”), a 5,593 page bill that funds the federal government for the next fiscal year and provides long anticipated COVID-19 pandemic relief to individuals and businesses.  President Trump is expected to sign the legislation shortly. It is hard to believe that the first COVID-19 relief legislation (the CARES Act) was enacted on March 27, 2020, because it seems like it has been around forever.  A significant piece of that legislation was the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan program under Section 7(a)…
On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which President Trump is expected to sign.  The Act does not extend the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”).  The FFCRA mandated leave is still set to expire on December 31, 2020. In 2021, covered employers (less than 500 employees) can choose to continue to provide the same paid sick leave and paid family leave, but they are not required to do so. If an employer chooses to extend the leave for their employees, they can still take the tax credit under the FFCRA. Under the Act, employers can…
Today the EEOC updated its guidance surrounding COVID-19 and vaccinations in the publication titled “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws.” In its most recent update, the EEOC has added questions and answers to help employers navigate the new COVID-19 vaccine. The questions are added as a new Section K. Vaccinations, and include numbers K.1 – K.9.  The EEOC clarifies that while employers may be able to require a vaccine (depending upon the workplace and whether the employer can establish a safety threat) they must remember to engage in the interactive…
Late last week, the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (HHS) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) to make significant revisions to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as HIPAA.  HIPAA was first enacted in the late 1990s and the health care system has seen significant changes since that time.  Many of these changes, such as the emergence of the opioid problem and the increase in availability of digital health information, have resulted with many in the health care system advocating for revisions  to the regulations that balance…
The holiday season is a time of giving! With Christmas arriving next week, you might be rushing to find last minute gifts for the special people in your life. Have you considered potential tax consequences of those gifts? The annual gift exclusion for 2020 is $15,000. This means that an individual donor may gift $15,000 to any one recipient during the year without incurring federal gift tax or using the donor’s gift and estate tax exemption. A married couple may gift $30,000 to any one recipient without incurring gift tax or using their exemptions. For example, if a donor has…