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Business Law Articles

IRS makes it easier to deduct employee bonuses

Many companies pay their employees annual bonuses between January 1 and March 15. If it’s done right, the company can take a tax deduction for the amount of the bonuses in the previous year (if it’s a calendar-year tax filer), but the employee doesn’t recognize the income until the year of receipt. But here’s a problem: Many companies also require that employees remain with the company to get a bonus. So if an annual bonus would

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Ideas for negotiating a commercial lease guaranty

Defaults by commercial tenants are on the rise, so more landlords are asking for a guaranty as a condition of a lease. This can be a real burden for a tenant, and can sometimes endanger a deal. However, a guaranty doesn’t have to be an “all-or-nothing” proposition. Often, a tenant can negotiate a partial guaranty that is more easily doable and still satisfies the landlord. Some common tenant counter-offers include: A guaranty that expires after a

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An e-mail exchange can accidentally create a binding contract

A series of back-and-forth e-mails in which two people agree on the terms of a deal could amount to a binding legal contract, even though no formal, “official” contract was ever drawn up or signed. That’s the word from a federal appeals court in Atlanta. Author Rafael Vergara sued the Coca-Cola company, claiming that he had a copyright in the Spanish lyrics that were used in Coke’s advertising during the World Cup soccer tournament. At some

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Can you punish workers for griping about their jobs on Facebook?

You might think that it’s okay to fire or discipline employees who complain about their jobs on Facebook or other social media sites – especially if they start calling their supervisors names, or bad-mouthing the company in a public way. But you need to be careful. In many cases, disciplining an employee for a Facebook rant could violate federal labor law, and result in a civil complaint being filed against you by the National Labor Relations

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Consider owning your investment property in a Limited Liability Company (LLC)

If you are thinking about purchasing or already own rental or other investment property, you should consider transferring it to a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This can be a great way to protect your assets, while at the same time you may be able to reap some tax advantages. Suppose someone slips and falls on your rental property and sues you. If you own the property as an individual, all your assets would be at risk

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Tougher HIPAA rules for medical businesses

Medical offices and other businesses that are subject to the federal HIPAA medical-privacy law will have to comply with some new rules from Congress. The changes include: ► If a breach of privacy occurs, you must now notify the affected individuals within 60 days. (Before, you only had to try to limit the negative effects of a breach.) If the breach affects more than 500 people, you must report the incident to the U.S. Department of

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Careful: text-message advertising may violate federal law

If you’re thinking of using a text-message advertising campaign for your company, be aware of the possible legal hurdles. Recently, a company called Nextones began giving away free ringtones. In order to get one, customers had to agree to receive text messages from Nextones affiliates. Nextones then licensed its list of customers to publisher Simon & Schuster, which used it to blast text ads for a Stephen King novel. The problem? According to a federal court

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Employers who use ‘promotional exams’ are facing a dilemma

Employers who use tests to hire or promote employees now face a tough dilemma if those tests end up significantly disfavoring minority workers.  If the employer uses the test results, it could be sued by the minority workers on the grounds that the test had an unfair impact on them. On the other hand, if the employer throws out the test results, it could be sued by the non-minority workers on the grounds that they did

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Does an insolvent customer have a legal duty to pay you?

If a customer owes you money but is going under, who does it have to pay first: you…or its owners? This is a significant issue in a recession. A key test case in Wisconsin was supposed to provide a clearer answer, but the Wisconsin Supreme Court split 3-3 and couldn’t make a decision. The case involved a company that made stereo speaker parts. The company (the largest employer in the county) defaulted on its loans and

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How to prevent slip-and-fall claims

More than a million people suffer a slip-and-fall injury each year, and some 16,000 die as a result. Slip-and-fall injuries often result in significant legal awards against a business, so it’s wise to take precautions. A recent study by the insurance company CNA makes the following recommendations for commercial property owners:

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