William Byrnes' Tax, Wealth, and Risk Intelligence

William Byrnes (Texas A&M) tax & compliance articles

TaxFacts Intelligence December 16, 2020

Posted by William Byrnes on December 16, 2020

There have been a number of challenges to the requirement for physical damages in business interruption insurance policies, and this week we see a court ruling in North Carolina that CVOID-related restrictions were enough to meet the test for physical damages because they prevented the policyholder from using their property. More on this in Tax Facts, and also at our sister site FC&S.  Also, if you missed the late November webinar on “The Biggest Tax Implications for 2021” you can still register and view the recording at the link below. William Byrnes and Robert Bloink walked us through an hour of what the CARES Act and FFCRA changes may look like in 2021. Tune in!

Prof. William H. Byrnes         Robert Bloink, J.D., LL.M.

ACA Likely To Withstand Latest Challenge The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments that will be instrumental in determining the fate of the Affordable Care Act.  Since the 2017 tax reform legislation reduced the individual mandate to $0, many challenged whether the ACA was constitutional–in other words, whether it could be considered a valid exercise of Congress’ power to tax.  Confirmation of new Supreme Court justice Amy Barrett created the real possibility that the ACA could be overturned.  However, after hearing oral arguments, two conservative justices–Roberts and Kavanaugh–indicated their support for severance.  If that happens, the individual mandate portion of the ACA would be severed from the remainder of the law.  For more information on the ACA, visit Tax Facts Online.  Read More. Read More

State Court Rules in Favor of Restaurants in Business Interruption Insurance Case A North Carolina court has ruled in favor of a group of restaurants and required the insurance company to provide business interruption coverage.  The court agreed with the plaintiffs that government stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions caused the restaurants to suffer a physical loss because they lost physical use and physical access to their businesses.  The policy at issue defined “loss” as “accidental physical loss or accidental physical damage,” but did not define “direct”, “physical loss”, or “physical damage.”  The court agreed that the businesses lost the full use and advantage of their business premises.  The court rejected the insurance company’s argument that tangible physical loss was required because, even if true, that rendered the policy language ambiguous.  Despite the fact that this was a state-level case, other courts may find the reliance on standard contract interpretation principles persuasive.  For more information on business insurance issues, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

DOL Releases Final Rule on Considering Non-Financial Factors in Selecting Retirement Plan Investments The DOL has released a final rule on whether environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors can be considered when retirement plan fiduciaries are selecting plan investments without violating their fiduciary duties.  Plan fiduciaries are obligated to act solely in the interest of plan participants and beneficiaries when making investment decisions.  The final rule confirms the DOL position that plan fiduciaries must select investments based on pecuniary, financial factors.  Fiduciaries are required to compare reasonably available investment alternatives–but are not required to scour the markets.  The rule also includes an “all things being equal test”–meaning that fiduciaries are not prohibited from considering or selecting investments that promote or support non-pecuniary goals, provided that they satisfy their duties of prudence and loyalty in making the selection.  For more information, visit Tax Facts Online. Read More

Texas A&M, an annual budget of $6.3 billion (FY2020) and $1 billion of research grants/budget, is the largest U.S. public university, one of only 60 accredited U.S. universities of the American Association of Universities (R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity) and one of only 17 U.S. universities that hold the triple U.S. federal grant of Land, Sea, and Space!

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