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Showing posts from October, 2006

NJ Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Gay Marriage

The New Jersey Supreme Court held on October 25 in a 4-3 decision that the state’s constitution requires that same-sex couples be granted the same legal rights as married heterosexual couples. However, the dissenters argued the majority didn’t go far enough in vindicating the rights of same-sex couples. Lewis v. Harris, No. A-68-05 (Oct. 25).

"Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose," said the majority in Lewis, brought by seven same-sex couples. "The court holds that under the equal protection guarantee ... of the New Jersey constitution, committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes."

The court declined to label those rights as marriage, instead ordering the state legislature to amend its marriage…

Credit Counseling Agencies have new tax Requirements

The new tax law requires an organization to meet the following new rules in addition to other non-profit legal requirements:

Services – Must provide credit counseling services tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the consumer;
Loans – Cannot make loans to debtors;
Credit Repair – Can only provide incidental services to improve consumer credit records and credit history, and cannot charge a separate fee for such services;
Ability to Pay – Cannot refuse services based on ability to pay or ineligibility/unwillingness of consumer to enroll in a debt management plan (“DMP”);
Fee Policy – Must charge reasonable fees and provide waivers if consumer is unable to pay;
Board Composition – Majority of members must represent broad interests of the public; maximum of 49 percent can be employed by organization or benefit from it;
Ownership – Cannot own more than 35 percent of an entity that is involved in the credit counseling or similar business; and
Referrals – Cannot pay for referrals or …

NJ Expands Tax Nexus

New Jersey may apply its corporation business tax notwithstanding a taxpayer's lack of a physical presence in the state, according to the New Jersey Supreme Court. In a per curiam decision with national significance, the state high court held that the U.S. Supreme Court's holding in Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298 (1992) should be limited to the area of sales and use tax nexus.

The Lanco decision expands NJ claims that every business must pay NJ Tax!

Bill Collections Cannot Threaten Suit

A bill collector who cries wolf, making idle threats about how it could file lawsuits or refer a case to an attorney without intending to pursue either avenue, has more to worry about than not being taken seriously by debtors.

According to the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, empty assertions could leave the debt collector on the hook for damages and attorney fees under the Fair Debt Collections and Practices Act. That’s because the act prohibits "false and misleading statements" from debt collectors, a standard that must be judged from the perspective of the least sophisticated debtor.

The full Brown v. Card Service Center opinion details the limits on bill collectors.