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The Pivotal Law Blog

Medical Malpractice Insurer Attempting to Reduce Claims by Improving Patient-Doctor Communication

Posted Wednesday, July 6, 2011 by Christopher L. Thayer

alt text A new program offered by a company called Capson Physician Insurance Company, which is emphasizing patient-doctor communication through technology (using an iPad) and satisfaction surveys. Clients with potential medical malpractice claims often complain of poor communication with their doctors, frequently feelign in the dark as to what is going on and why certain actions are being taken (or not taken). It will be interesting to see if this effort by Capson catches on and has the intended effect of improving patient care.

Insurer Seeks to Improve Patient-Doctor Communications

For more information, please contact Christopher Thayer at 206-805-1494.

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Study Finds Massage Therapy Helpful in Treating Chronic Back Pain

Posted Tuesday, July 5, 2011 by Christopher L. Thayer

alt text A story reported recently in the Seattle Times. In a study of 400 members of Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative with persistent back pain recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the authors concluded that massage therapy provided greater relief for back pain when compared to conventional approaches alone. Those who received massage therapy spent fewer days in bed, were more active and took fewer medications. The researchers concluded that massage therapy stimulates injured tissues and may calm the central nervous system to help reduce pain and aid healing.

Massage Therapy Helpfuly in Treating Chronic Pain

For more information, please contact Christopher Thayer at 206-805-1494.

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State Tax Nexus and Trusts

Posted Tuesday, June 28, 2011 by Michael A. Larson

alt text Jeremiah Doyle, an estate planning strategist at BNY Mellon, delivered an interesting presentation to our partner group today on state taxation of trusts. This is a very complicated area that is often overlooked in trust and estate tax planning. The session was enlightening and Mr. Doyle covered a number of the more technical issues in his presentation. However, there were a couple of points that stood out during the presentation of which all estate and trust planners should be aware.

The first point was that rules regarding which state can exert their power to tax income from the intangible assets of trusts can vary significantly from state to state. With proper planning, state income taxation of trusts can be avoided entirely. With improper planning, trust income can be subjected to state income tax in more than one state. When you consider that a state such as California can tax income at rates as high as 10.3%, improper planning can be very costly.

The second point was that an action as simple as a trustee changing their residence from Washington to California can cause the income of the trust to be taxed by California. In other states, such as New York, the creation of an irrevocable trust by a grantor while resident in New York can cause that trust to be taxed in New York regardless of the location of the trust administration, the beneficiaries or a change in residence by the grantor. Too often trustees and administrators are appointed with little thought as to the implications of these actions on the income taxation of the trust.

We are lucky that in Washington there is no state income tax and the appointment of trustees and administrators located in Washington is beneficial. However, it is important to recognize that factors such as the location of trustees and administrators can be a crucial factor in avoiding the payment of unnecessary state income taxes. Should you have any questions regarding how these rules might affect you and your estate plans, contact Mike Larson or Ron Bueing.

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Department of Revenue Targets League and Entry Fees

Posted Friday, June 17, 2011 by Michael A. Larson

alt text Recently, the Washington Department of Revenue issued a proposed Excise Tax Advisory (ETA) 3167.2011 that would make “entry fees” and “league fees” for participation in sports subject to Washington retail sales tax. The ETA indicates that this notice is merely a clarification of existing law. However, it actually appears to be a substantial change in interpretation by the Department of Revenue.

Interestingly, WAC 458-20-183, the regulation discussing taxation of amusement, recreation and physical fitness services, clearly provides that entry fees and league fees are not subject to retail sales tax. In essence, the Department of Revenue’s position is that entry fees and league fees are only exempt if they do not provide the right to participate in the activity itself. As it would seem that entry fees and league fees always provide the participants with the right to participate in the activity, the Department of Revenue’s interpretation does not make much sense.

It should be noted that there are limited exceptions that would continue to exempt certain youth organizations that are engaged in “character building of youth.” Should you be interested in learning more of these developments and how they might affect you or your organization, contact me at (206) 805-1490.

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Dubious Study Touts Washington Tax System

Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2011 by Michael A. Larson

alt text Recently, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBEC) issued a study that touts Washington as having one of the best state tax systems. Our governor will again be insufferable in quoting this severly flawed study - but do not be fooled. The reason once again for this extraordinary rating - the lack of a state income tax. Washington is touted as having the fifth “best state tax system.” But what are the true facts.

Washington has an above average per capita tax burden - higher than all but 12 other states. As a percentage of income Washington is more middle of the road, but is still higher than 24 other states. Washington also has one of the highest overall ratios of state taxes paid by business, surpassing 35 other states. If Washington has one of the higher state and local tax burdens and businesses pay a greater share of that tax burden, it is hard to understand how Washington could have the fifth best state taxing system for businesses.

It’s simple. We don’t.

For more information, please contact Ron Bueing at (206) 340-2008.

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