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The Minnesota Supreme Court Determines Retailer Cannot Claim a Sales Tax Offset Based on Uncollectible Debts

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled that a large home improvement retailer cannot claim a sales tax offset based on uncollectible debts from purchases made on its private label credit card, in the case Menard, Inc. v. Commissioner of Revenue, case number A20-0241. The home improvement retailer, attempted to offset its sales tax liability pursuant to Minnesota Statues § 297A.81, subd. 1 that allows a taxpayer to offset against its current sales tax liability taxes “previously paid as a result of any transaction the consideration for which became a debt owed to the taxpayer that became uncollectible during the reporting period.”

COBRA Changes Under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA” or “the Act”) into law.  Among the Act’s many provisions is a temporary subsidy for COBRA coverage that will undoubtedly be a significant benefit for individuals who lost health coverage during the pandemic, but which is just as certain to be a tremendous administrative burden for employers and group health plans.

The Impacts of the Upcoming Beneficial Owner Disclosure Requirement on Real Estate Owners

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021, Congress inserted a section titled the Corporation Transparency Act (the “CTA”) in order to combat money laundering and terrorism by creating a federal registry of the beneficial owners of limited liability companies, corporations, and other similar entities. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FINCEN”) of the Department of Treasury will keep the registry confidential, but is authorized to share the information with governmental, law enforcement, and foreign authorities.

After CFPB Refuses to Change FDCPA’s Strict Liability, Ninth Circuit Permits Bona Fide Error Defense for Statute of Limitations Mistake

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently considered eliminating strict liability for one category of claims under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA): claims asserting that a debt collector brought or threatened to bring legal action to collect a time-barred debt. The proposed revision to Regulation F would have required consumers to show that a debt collector knew or should have known the debt was outside the statute of limitations. Advocates for the change argued that strict liability was inappropriate because a debt collector can reach the wrong conclusion about a state’s application of the statute of limitations even after a thorough investigation and a consumer can raise the issue as an affirmative defense if he/she disagrees with the collector’s conclusion.  Debt Collection Practices (Regulation F), 86 FR 5766-01 (Jan. 19, 2021).

Harris County Steps up Inspections and Enforcement of Industrial Permitting and Fire Code Compliance

Businesses that own and operate industrial facilities in Harris County, Texas, should be aware of recent efforts by the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office (HCFMO) to ensure that these facilities have obtained proper permits and certificates of compliance for construction and development projects for energy infrastructure and related operations. Failure to obtain the necessary permits and certificates of compliance presents the attendant risk of an enforcement case with the issuance of a notice of violation and potential shutdown of all operations.

Confusion and Anxiety Fail to Satisfy a Plaintiff’s Burden Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) was enacted in 1977 to eliminate abusive debt collection practices.  15 U.S.C. § 1692(e).  To further that goal, section 1692e of the FDCPA prohibits a debt collector from using false, deceptive, and misleading representations; section 1692f prohibits a debt collector from using unfair or unconscionable means; and, section 1692g requires a debt collector to provide certain information (the amount of the debt, name of creditor, and explanation of right to dispute a debt) to a consumer.

Trademark Owners Should Proactively Audit Goods and Services Coverage

A trademark registration issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a valuable asset to a trademark owner in view of the substantial statutory benefits, advantages, and remedies it provides.  A federal registration provides statutory notice to the public of the trademark it represents and the USPTO maintains a register of all trademark registrations.  In its role as gatekeeper, the USPTO strives to ensure the integrity of the register and to clear away any “dead wood” registrations for trademarks that have been abandoned.  The USPTO views its gatekeeper role as a benefit to the public in that the removal from the trademark register of registrations for abandoned trademarks (1) reduces the unnecessary blockage of future trademark applications and (2) maintains the integrity of the register to provide notice of existing trademark rights to the public.

Waters of the U.S. – Tenth Circuit Overturns Preliminary Injunction in Colorado WOTUS Case

Although other states and parties tried, Colorado was the only state that succeeded in persuading a U.S. District Court Judge to enter a preliminary injunction against enforcement (in Colorado only) of the new waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule which was published nearly a year ago, i.e., April 21, 2021. After being on appeal for several months, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals expressed its displeasure with that ruling.  In State of Colorado v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency et al., case number 20-1238, Judge Baldock, in his March 2, 2021 opinion, was direct and to the point:

EPA Takes New Steps to Regulate PFAS

EPA on February 22, 2021, announced new steps to address PFAS  (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water.  These actions will collect new data on the presence of PFAS in drinking water and could lead EPA to establish maximum contaminant levels, commonly known as MCLs, for these substances under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  

In Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Condemning Property When in the Process Of Obtaining Development Approvals

Typically, special districts in Colorado are required by local municipalities to construct various improvements in order to move forward to develop property.  These requirements can be imposed before, during, and after certain development approvals are obtained.  Special districts can find themselves in between a proverbial rock and a hard place when seeking to move forward with condemnation to construct improvements before having formal approval to move forward with the larger development.

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