News & Commentary

Ernst & Young (EY) recently released their 2014 outlook for global tax policy. As of the publication of this report, EY had surveyed 61 countries, including the United States. Just 10 countries out of the 61 surveyed had announced any reductions to statutory corporate income tax (CIT) rates for 2014. Based on the fragile nature of the world's recovery from the Great Recession, this isn't particularly surprising, no matter what your political leanings are. Something that got our attention, though, was the fact that there will be fewer changes to headline corporate, personal and indirect tax rates in 2014 compared with 2013 and 2012. Instead, more governments are putting legislative changes in place that will adjust and expand the tax base for 2014 and beyond, often at the net expense of taxpayers. Some other interesting notes from the report:

Read more: Brace For A Higher Tax Burden In 2014- Notes From Ernst & Young's Tax Policy Outlook →

September was an especially enjoyable month for golfing and tennis-playing SBCBA members. While SBCBA has already thanked the volunteers and participants for the great tournaments and fine dinner, Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell would like to second the motion and thank all the volunteers again. 

Hearty thanks again go out to Clark Stirling and John Richards for running the tennis tournament and Catherine Swysen for assisting with the golf tournament. Thanks also to events coordinators Emily Allen and Lauren Wideman, and to photographer Michael Lyons.  Oh, and our Rogers Sheffield & Campbell team had a good showing, too...

Read more: We All Were Winners In SBCBA's September Golf and Tennis Tournaments →

Anyone who has thought about what to do with the wealth they've accumulated when they die has also thought about the cost of transferring that wealth. We all know we can't take it with us when we go, and we all go. Death is one of those "law of nature" things. Right now, Baby Boomers are in the middle of the greatest transfer of wealth in our nation's history ($59 trillion, according to the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College), yet the savings/investing statistics for this generation are not good. Baby Boomers didn't start investing soon enough, didn't invest enough, and now it costs more per dollar to preserve what there is. OK, so I guess this generation just blew it.

Instead of wringing their hands and moaning, "woe is me", though, the Baby Boomers are already over it, and looking to the future. Now it's about the grandchildren.

Read more: The Most Expensive Way To Transfer Your Wealth Is To Die With It →

It is September already and the SBCBA has hit a number of milestones this summer. By the time you read this message, our Member Benefits program will be up and running. Visit our website and click on our Member Benefits page to get more details. We have been working for months to coordinate with vendors and service providers in the Santa Barbara area to offer discounts and incentives to SBCBA members in exchange for exposure in our magazine and on our website. We hope these programs will continue to grow and that they will provide additional value to all of our members.

The SBCBA’s Fiscal Committee (Katy Graham and Nathan Rogers) helped us to reach another goal – prudent investing of our reserves. Over the past few years, the SBCBA has been able to meet its operating expenses and save additional monies. For a small organization with as many events and responsibilities as we have, being able to create reserves is, in and of itself, a source of pride. Now we have enough in reserves to justify establishing conservative investment vehicles to generate more income while maintaining safety. As of this summer, we have done so.

Read more: President's Message- SBCBA Hits Milestones →

Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP (RS&C) recently assisted a client in the City of Ventura gain approval from the Ventura City Council for an entitlement project on a six acre site which included a change in zoning from industrial to mixed use, 125 condominiums, 7,300 SF of commercial, a publicly accessible park, and two new public streets. We are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to community development projects like this. 

Read more: RS&C Contributes To The Revitalization of Ventura →

Opening a traditional bricks-and-mortar winery can be complicated, expensive, and time consuming. As an alternative, new vintners can elect to start a “non-traditional” winery, which allows them entry into the wine business without incurring the substantive acquisition and development expenses of a traditional winery. The two basic structures of a non-traditional winery are the custom crush arrangement and the alternating proprietorship arrangement.

Read more: The “Non-Traditional” Winery →

It’s already August, yikes. Tempus fugit.

June was a great month for the SBCBA. On June 20, the SBCBA’s Legislative Liaison Committee met with Assemblyman Das Williams to start a dialogue that we hope will continue with our State Representatives. We engaged in a good conversation on subjects ranging from his efforts to pass legislation regarding obtaining temporary restrain- ing orders against certain mentally unstable gun possessors to our interests in protecting the public’s access to justice through adequately funded courts and programs. We hope to continue the dialogue in these pages with a published interview. Assemblyman Williams has a lot to say about the legislative process that we believe will be of interest to our members.

Read more: SBCBA Hosted Assemblyman Das Williams and Famed Law Scholar Laurence Tribe In June →

We are pleased to announce that Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell has been ranked by Martindale-Hubbell® as one of the top law firms in California for 2014

Martindale-Hubbell has been a source for information about U.S. lawyers since 1868To compile the 2014 list of Top Ranked Law Firms in California, Martindale-Hubbell researched their database of lawyers and firms and identified law firms headquartered in the state that have 10 or more attorneys, in which at least one out of five of their lawyers achieved the AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rating. This rating indicates the rated lawyer has been deemed by his or her peers to have demonstrated the highest level of ethical standards and legal ability.

Read more: Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell Ranked One Of California's Top Law Firms In 2014 →

You just inherited a $300,000 Roth IRA from a recently deceased relative. If you handle it correctly, you can parlay this into a very pleasant addition to your retirement income. Since the Roth IRA income is tax-free, you can cash it in right now, and you'll get all $300,000. Very nice. You could also leave it alone for 21 years, and your $300,000 would grow to $756,072. Also nice. There is, however, an even better way to make the IRA inheritance work for you.

Read more: You Just Inherited An IRA, Want More From It? →

The SBCBA’s new Legislative Liaison Committee, led by Angela Roach, with members Sue McCollum, Jim Griffith and Emily Allen, got off to a successful start. In late May we met with Supervisor Janet Wolf to encourage the Board of Supervisors to provide additional funding to the Santa Barbara Legal Aid Foundation. We learned that there might be additional funding available, if the Legal Aid Foundation moved quickly to make a specific funding request. It did so, and we then supported that request with additional letters to the Supervisors. On June 11th, Legal Aid’s request for $30,000 to help fund its Legal Resource Center and for approximately $3,000 to help fund an attorney to assist with domestic violence cases in North County was considered and approved by the Board of Supervisors. We are both deeply gratified by the Board of Supervisor's decision and proud of our contribution to the process.

Read more: President’s Message: Summer is Here! →

If you are a high-income taxpayer, 2013 was a drag. You had to pay the new Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT), essentially a 3.8% assessment on some of your investment income. The NIIT was passed into law in 2010 to help pay for ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act), but it didn’t take effect until 2013. The NIIT affects everyone whose modified adjusted gross income is above $200,000 for an individual or $250,000 for a couple. This income bar won’t be adjusted for inflation as the law is written, which is also a drag. What’s subject to the NIIT, you ask? Quite a bit...

Read more: A New 3.8% Income Tax Increase For You, Compliments of Obamacare →

The SBCBA is offering two great ways to kick off the summer -- its Annual Bar Barbeque and an evening with preeminent constitutional law scholar, Laurence Tribe.

Read more: The SBCBA Is Kicking Off Summer With Two Great Events →

Raiding a retirement account is a last resort: you’re losing tax-free compounding interest on the amount you withdraw, and you can’t replace the money withdrawn. In this day and age, though, the last resort is being tapped more than any of us would like. 

The big mistake occurs because people don't know the answer to the big question, "Do you know how much you can pull out of your Roth IRA tax-free and penalty-free before retirement?"

Read more: The Big Roth IRA Mistake →

This message will appear in the 500th edition of the Santa Barbara Lawyer (f/k/a Quibbler) magazine. Look through this magazine, read its articles, check out the ads, announcements and its overall quality, then stop to reflect: our bar association has about 600 members, yet we consistently put out a great monthly magazine with well-written original articles. The writing and most of the editing is done by volunteers, each of whom has the pressures of a day job. It’s extraordinary how good this magazine is.

Read more: The SBCBA Has A Lot To Be Proud Of →

Not too long after a recording of Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling making racially insensitive comments went public, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced that Mr. Sterling would be fined $2.5 million and banned from the NBA for life for making racist comments. Mr. Silver also said he would urge the league’s board of governors to force the team’s sale. 

Were the NBA Commissioner's actions legal? This is an interesting civil litigation question.

Read more: Is The NBA’s Decision Against Don Sterling Legal? →

Most of the time, personal injury litigation flies under the radar. On occasion, however, this kind of civil litigation does get lots of attention when a jury awards millions of dollars to a plaintiff. The publicity dies out fairly quickly even with the largest awards, and what happens afterwards usually doesn't get any press at all. What doesn't get any attention is the subsequent overturning of the award. The rejection of the award happens because attorneys ask for too much in personal injury damage awards. 

Juries can and do reach very large numbers in punishing a defendant or awarding a plaintiff with damages. Many times these massive awards are accepted by judges, and then later overturned for being excessive.

Read more: You Can Ask Too Much In Personal Injury Damages →

With the growth of the wine industry in Santa Barbara County, tasting rooms are the perfect vehicle for wineries to reach potential consumers.  The popularity of wine can be seen in the plethora of tasting rooms in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone.  What was once an industrial section of Santa Barbara is now arguably one of the city’s most popular attractions.  So what exactly goes into opening a winery and tasting room?  More than you may think.

At the state level, a winery must comply with the requirements of the California Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (“ABC”), California Department of Food and Agriculture (“CDFA”), and California State Board of Equalization (“BOE”).  At the federal level, compliance with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) is required.  And let’s not forget that a winery must also comply with local county ordinances.  This article will provide you with an overview of the various permitting and licensing hoops you will have to jump through to get a traditional bricks-and-mortar winery and tasting room off the ground.

Read more: Opening A Winery and Tasting Room in Santa Barbara County →

There was a lot going on in February.

On February 5th I attended the Legal Aid Foundation’s luncheon, celebrating its 55th anniversary and the recent retirement of its Executive Director, Ellen Goodstein. I was staggered to learn the numbers of people served by Legal Aid, and the breadth of the services provided. It is easy to forget that almost 20% of our local citizens are living at or below the poverty line and that they, just as the rest of us, face the whole spectrum of legal issues. Legal Aid is doing a great job for that population, but the work is endless and as attorneys, we should do what we can to help the Legal Aid Foundation continue its mission.

On February 21 State Bar President Luis Rodriguez stopped in Santa Barbara for a luncheon organized by Judge Herman. President Rodriguez’ remarks covered a wide range of topics of interest to all California attorneys, not the least of which was court funding.

Read more: The SBCBA Had An Active February →

The year is well under way.

In late January we had our annual Bench and Bar Conference. Surprisingly, the UCLA con law professor and the NRA appellate attorney agreed on almost everything during what was to be the lunchtime debate. Equally surprising, especially to me as moderator, Representative Capps’ keynote address brought out a lively Second Amendment debate.

We’ve launched our new Legislative Liaison committee under the capable leadership of Angela Roach. I’ve spoken with Senator Jackson and Congresswoman Capps’ aides, and both welcome the opportunity to share ideas and developments with the SBCBA.

Read more: SBCBA Accomplishments Require Teamwork →

IRSThe United States Department of the Treasury will not do much in 2014, what with it being an election year and all. The year 2015, however, is a different story.  It is not too early to make some reasonable guesses as to what estates and estate planners can look forward to.  In fact, the 2014 General Explanations of the Administration's Fiscal Year 2014 (the Green Book) proposals that pertain to estate planning offer a view of what could potentially happen in 2015. Here are some bullets on a few of the key provisions of the Green Book proposals.

Read more: US Treasury Targets More Estate Taxes in 2015 →

In October 2008, Maureen Grattan, whom I barely knew, invited me to coffee.  She had been helping to coach Dos Pueblos High School’s Mock Trial team for a year and wondered, now that one of my sons had made the team, whether I might be interested in lending a hand.  I patiently explained that I was really much too busy (read “important”) for high school mock trial (read “kids pretending to be lawyers”).  Not wanting to be too harsh, I agreed to attend the next night’s practice.  Maury smiled; she knew the hook had been sunk.

Read more: Be Inspired, Coach A High School Mock Trial Team →

April 15 is coming soon.  As an entreprenuer you have some extra work to do.  The temptation is to get the returns done as quickly as possible.  Speed can lead to mistakes, however, and in the case of filing your tax returns, mistakes can lead to penalties and audits. Here is a quick summary of three of the most common tax mistakes entreprenuers make that may eventually end up on the desk of one of our certified tax law attorneys:

Read more: 3 Common Tax Mistakes Entreprenuers Make →

I am honored to be SBCBA President for the coming year. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with fellow officers, Matt Clarke, Naomi Dewey, Katy Graham and Donna Lewis, with our returning board members Angela Roach, Shelley Vail, James Sweeney, Mike Denver, Jim Griffith, Emily Allen, Lauren Wideman, and with our new board members Paula Waldman, Alan Morton, Nathan Rogers, and Claude Dorais.

In most ways I am fortunate to be following Donna Lewis in this position. I use the term “most ways” advisedly. On the one hand, due in no small part to Donna’s keen attention to detail throughout her decade of service as board member and officer, the SBCBA is thriving, even as other small bar associations are static or in decline.

Read more: SBCBA Serves All The Attorneys In Santa Barbara County →

No landlord wants them, but if you are a landlord for any period of time, you will probably have them: bad tenants.  You want them out. Sometimes you can get them to change their behavior by cajoling or threatening. Sometimes you can accept their bad behavior and wait until the end of their term. When it just isn't going to work, you need to report your bad tenants. Here's how...

Read more: The 4 Step Process To Report Bad Tenants →

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Rogers, Sheffield & Campbell, LLP primarily serves individuals, families and businesses up and down California's Central Coast and North Los Angeles County, including many Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura County communities.

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