Tax attorney Richard Lehman comments on South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.


Noted tax attorney Richard Lehman comments on South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., a significant decision by the United States Supreme Court that overturns long established precedent on the issue of out of state seller’s liability to collect and remit sales tax.

Long established Supreme Court precedent has held that “that an out-of-state seller’s liability to collect and remit the tax to the consumer’s State depended on whether the seller had a physical presence in that State, but that mere shipment of goods into the consumer’s State, following an order from a catalog, did not satisfy the physical presence requirement.”  If state may not require the seller to collect the sales tax, they have to rely on self-reporting by individual purchasers, which results in significant lost tax revenue for the states.  This obviously has increasing significance in today’s ecommerce, with state tax losses estimated at between $8 to $33 billion every year.  

The estimated impact on South Dakota is even higher than normal because South Dakota has no income tax, relying significantly on sales tax revenue.  South Dakota estimated that it loses $48 to $58 million in lost sales tax.  In order to remedy the problem of lost tax revenue, South Dakota passed a law that “requires out-of-state sellers to collect and remit sales tax “as if the seller had a physical presence in the state.” §1. The Act applies only to sellers that, on an annual basis, deliver more than $100,000 of goods or services into the State or engage in 200 or more separate transactions for the delivery of goods or services into the State.”  The enforcement of the act was stayed “until the constitutionality of the law has been clearly established.”  After the law was struck down in state courts due to US Supreme Court precedent, the Supreme Court granted cert.

The majority opinion noted that modern commerce clause cases “rest upon two primary principles that mark the boundaries of a State’s authority to regulate interstate commerce. First, state regulations may not discriminate against interstate commerce; and second, States may not impose undue burdens on interstate commerce.”  Built upon these principles, “[t]he Court will sustain a tax so long as it (1) applies to an activity with a substantial nexus with the taxing State, (2) is fairly apportioned, (3) does not discriminate against interstate commerce, and (4) is fairly related to the services the State provides.”  Acknowledging the criticism that the physical presence test has received, the majority opinion acknowledged that the test is no longer appropriate measure of substantial nexus.  “The ‘dramatic technological and social changes’ of our ‘increasingly interconnected economy’ mean that buyers are ‘closer to most major retailers’ than ever before— ‘regardless of how close or far the nearest storefront.’”  “[T]he real world implementation of Commerce Clause doctrines now makes it manifest that the physical presence rule as defined by Quill must give way to the ‘far-reaching systemic and structural changes in the economy’ and ‘many other societal dimensions’ caused by the Cyber Age.”  Thus, the majority opinion overturned long established precedent of physical presence test and upheld the constitutionality of the South Dakota law.  The case is South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc., No. 17-494.

The review will be published in full on the Blog of Richard Lehman at https://richardlehmanblog.blogspot.com/



**** Richard S. Lehman has established a sophisticated private practice in Florida, focusing on tax law. His background, education, and experience has distinguished him in this complex field. A published author and noted speaker, Mr. Lehman has carved a reputation as a powerful client advocate. Mr. Lehman has authored a number of articles on taxation and was the Editor and Contributing Author of “A Guide to Florida International Business and Investment Opportunities,” an informative guide to foreign business persons published by the Florida Department of Commerce. - Attorney Profile at: https://solomonlawguild.com/richard-s-lehman%2C-esq - Attorney News at: https://attorneygazette.com/richard-lehman%2C-esq#6ddd675a-0816-4996-8cd2-7b5822d9eea5

Final article in a series about technology & tax law practice published by Richard Sam Lehman, Esq.


Final article in a series about technology & tax law practice published by Richard Sam Lehman, Esq.

As technology is advancing, the tax law practice must keep up with these technological and societal changes, explains Richard Lehman in an article series.

Long gone are the days of paper routing slips, desktop inboxes and consecutive reviews by paralegals and attorneys during which papers and files are shuffled back and forth.

In this final article in a series, noted tax attorney Richard Sam Lehman discusses the advancements and impact of technology upon the tax practice, and how it is being utilized to enhance the client experience in terms of satisfaction and customer service. As technology reshapes all of modern personal and professional life, the legal profession is no exception. 

The complete articles will be published on the blog of Richard Lehman at https://richardlehmanblog.blogspot.com/

Incorporating technology into a law practice can make the practice more efficient and increase client satisfaction. In fact, technology may enable the practitioner to exceed client expectations. Here are a few, simple-to-implement options.

Payment Services-Electronic Invoices

Payment by check is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Credit Card Payments are now commonplace, and even other forms of payment such as ACH, wire transfers, and Paypal are becoming more commonplace. While there are costs associated with taking credit card payments or Paypal, the ease of use and the increased speed of getting paid are often worth the fees. Many merchant account vendors now provide a Web portal to facilitate online payments. Google and Square (www.square.com) as well as Legal Software Systems (www.legalsoftwaresystems.com) provide technology to accept payments via smartphone. 

There are ethics opinions regarding Attorneys accepting credit cards for payments, thus one should consult the local ethics rules.

Confidentiality Protections

Maintaining the confidentiality of client information is an ethical foundation of the profession. Encryption tools may add extra security to electronic communications. Document efforts to keep their clients’ information safe and secure.

Signing Documents Electronically

Services like DocuSign (www.docusign.com), RightSignature (www.rightsignature.com) and e-Sign Live (www.esignlive.com) can save time and effort in cases where no wet signature is required and an electronic signature is sufficient.

On-line Calendaring and Scheduling

Scheduling meetings can be an enormous drag upon staff time and efficiency. This may cause delays and confusion, especially when the client or lawyer must re-schedule a previously scheduled meeting.

There are several options for simplifying scheduling. One of them is TimeTap (www.timetap.com). For example, potential clients can instantly schedule an appointment online. It also removes impediments from new clients to make contact with one’s Firm.

Online scheduling and appointment booking products such as TimeTap synchronize with your Outlook or Google calendar and display your free and busy times to your clients and prospects. 

Then, by simply clicking on a button from your Web site or using a secure portal, they can select one of your free times and can directly set up an appointment. Time Tap offers the ability to send out automated appointment reminders, and lets one reschedule and automatically send the rescheduling information. This added efficiency and flexibility means fewer demands on their overcrowded schedules. These services will contribute to improved quality, convenience and affordability.

Example of Technology Suite for a Small Law Firm

In case you wonder what technologies other law firms have, here is an actual real life example. This small law firm uses the following technologies:

• CosmoLex (online and App) – Law Practice Management Software
• LawPay (online and App) – Payment software for billing/invoicing.
• Google Suite (online and App) – Document creation/management.
• Dropbox (online and App) – Transfer/management of large files.
• Westlaw – Legal Research.
• Skype – Phones & video conferencing.
• Facetime – Client communications.

And since many law firms are gradually going “paperless,” a system for scanning documents and managing electronic files becomes indispensable.

Conclusion

Harnessing technology can greatly increase client satisfaction, save time and effort, and reduce the stress of practicing law in this fast-moving world. Undoubtedly, technology will continue to change the ways that legal teams serve their clients. The professional advice is to take it step-by-step: evaluate where is the greatest need in your office. Cooperating on documents? Scheduling appointments with clients? Making payments easier for clients? Then develop a strategy for best addressing those needs by implementing one of the numerous technological options and integrating it into the workflow of the office.

*NOTE: The inclusion of a technology or app in this article does not mean an endorsement or approval. The listed technologies are just for illustrative purposes. None of these particular technologies are endorsed or recommended by this author.

The complete articles will be published on the blog of Richard Lehman at https://richardlehmanblog.blogspot.com/
About Richard Sam Lehman

Richard S. Lehman has established a sophisticated private practice focusing on tax law. His background, education, and experience has distinguished him in this complex field. A published author and noted speaker, Mr. Lehman has carved a reputation as a powerful client advocate.

The Lehman Tax Law Library: https://thelehmantaxlawlibrary.com



**** Richard S. Lehman has established a sophisticated private practice in Florida, focusing on tax law. His background, education, and experience has distinguished him in this complex field. A published author and noted speaker, Mr. Lehman has carved a reputation as a powerful client advocate. Mr. Lehman has authored a number of articles on taxation and was the Editor and Contributing Author of “A Guide to Florida International Business and Investment Opportunities,” an informative guide to foreign business persons published by the Florida Department of Commerce. - Attorney Profile at: https://solomonlawguild.com/richard-s-lehman%2C-esq - Attorney News at: https://attorneygazette.com/richard-lehman%2C-esq#6ddd675a-0816-4996-8cd2-7b5822d9eea5

Tax Lawyer Richard Sam Lehman publishes third article in a series about technology & the tax law practice


Tax Lawyer Richard Sam Lehman publishes third article in a series about technology & the tax law practice

As technology reshapes all of modern personal and professional life, the tax law practice is no exception.

In fact, proactive communications with clients may be an effective marketing tool, such as an alert to a client about regulatory actions that are about to affect their business or tax liability.

In this third article in a series, noted tax attorney Richard Lehman discusses the advancements and impact of technology upon the tax law practice, and how it is being utilized to enhance the client experience in terms of satisfaction and customer service. As technology reshapes all of modern personal and professional life, the legal profession is no exception. 

The complete articles will be published on the blog of Richard Lehman at https://richardlehmanblog.blogspot.com/

Technology is advancing, and the legal profession must keep up with these technological and societal changes. Many of us still remember when they first saw a personal computer, when cell phones became widely available, and when cell phones turned into smart phones that have become indispensable for many.

Incorporating technology into a tax law practice can make the practice more efficient and increase client satisfaction. In fact, technology may enable the practitioner to exceed client expectations. Here are a few, simple-to-implement options.

Phone Systems

Phone systems have advanced greatly. A wealth of call forwarding technologies enable clients to call a central number to reach an attorney anywhere. Skype enables you to conduct video conference calls during which you can share a screen and exchange documents.

But with phone forwarding, you may even have a remote answering such as Ruby Receptionists (www.callruby.com), which then takes a message or forwards the call to a specified phone number. Other services with great flexibility include Ring Central (www.ringentral.com), Ooma (www.ooma.com) and Jive (www.jive.com).

Suddenly a physical office or geographical distance are less important. It has become almost normal for clients to work with law firms at a greater distance from their home or business location. Having an office close to your clients (or close to the courthouse) is suddenly not as critical.

Mr. Lehman notes that this also benefits clients, as they may decide to hire an attorney whose office is not nearby. It affords clients access to much greater legal talent and improved access to quality representation than was once available to them in smaller towns/markets. 

What used to be an in-person consultation can now be done by email or a video conference. Since the number of in-person meetings is reduced, the cost to clients is reduced as well.

Virtual Meetings

Getting together for face-to-face meetings with clients can sometimes be difficult, especially when it includes travel. Skype (www.skype.com) and EZ Talks (www.eztalks.com), www.GoToMeeting.com and other video systems allow you to offer the experience of a live meeting, which can be much more productive and stimulating than a simple phone call, since human beings communicate to large extent non-verbally, through gestures, facial expressions, etc. Numerous Web-conferencing tools provide such visual and human elements of a live meeting. They allow attendees to communicate, collaborate on documents and even give presentations in real time.

In fact, there are free (or almost free) services with a lot of functionality that are useful for sharing and discussing on-screen documents, giving a presentation, recording and chat capabilities.

Client Portals

Online Client Portals are an option especially for a high-volume practice such as bankruptcy or immigration law. Instead of answering innumerable phone calls with questions such as “What is the status of my case?”, the firm offers access to a Portal where clients can see their exact case status in real time. In fact, password-protected portions of a law firm’s website may be a more secure alternative to email. Clients can access their case information day or night, comment on drafts and get updates on court dates. Examples include Practice Panther (www.practicepanther.com) and One Hub (www.onehub.com).

Still somewhat expensive due to the cost and complexity of implementation, client portals will undoubtedly proliferate further as the technology matures.

Social Media 

Whether you like it or not, Social Media has become inescapable. Review websites like Yelp! or Avvo list Attorneys regardless and allow anybody to post reviews and comments about one’s practice. Further, Facebook creates “inofficial” Facebook pages for professionals, which in effect may force them to set up actual Facebook pages and join their platform. In many cases, the best option for the legal practitioner may be to embrace Social Media and claim the profile to use and control it to their advantage.

Google Maps - Locations

In past, even small problems like “I cannot find your office” could interrupt a client relationship. No more. Today you can put “Directions” on your website to ensure that all clients can find your office easily when they have to. Google Maps can be customized for clients, and also shows the way to related locations to one’s Practice (i.e. Courthouse, Government Offices, etc.). Google Streetview also can show clients what your office building looks like from the outside.

Case Reminders

Everybody is busy. We all receive too many emails. Thus, many messages get lost in the shuffle. Providing communications or updates via email, text message, or voicemail can remind clients of upcoming appointments, deadlines, court dates, etc.

Sharing Information with Clients

Here at our law firm, at the commencement of services, we fully discuss communication preferences with clients. This includes discussing methods for exchanging confidential information and their preferences for receiving other, general communications.

In fact, proactive communications with clients may be an effective marketing tool, such as an alert to a client about regulatory actions that are about to affect their business.

To be continued.

The complete articles will be published on the blog of Richard Lehman at https://richardlehmanblog.blogspot.com/

*NOTE: The inclusion of a technology or app in this article does not mean an endorsement or approval. The listed technologies are just for illustrative purposes. None of these particular technologies are endorsed or recommended by this author.

About Richard Sam Lehman

Richard S. Lehman has established a sophisticated private practice focusing on tax law. His background, education, and experience has distinguished him in this complex field. A published author and noted speaker, Mr. Lehman has carved a reputation as a powerful client advocate.

The Lehman Tax Law Library: https://thelehmantaxlawlibrary.com


**** Richard S. Lehman has established a sophisticated private practice in Florida, focusing on tax law. His background, education, and experience has distinguished him in this complex field. A published author and noted speaker, Mr. Lehman has carved a reputation as a powerful client advocate. Mr. Lehman has authored a number of articles on taxation and was the Editor and Contributing Author of “A Guide to Florida International Business and Investment Opportunities,” an informative guide to foreign business persons published by the Florida Department of Commerce. - Attorney Profile at: https://solomonlawguild.com/richard-s-lehman%2C-esq - Attorney News at: https://attorneygazette.com/richard-lehman%2C-esq#6ddd675a-0816-4996-8cd2-7b5822d9eea5

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Tax attorney Richard Lehman comments on South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.

Noted tax attorney Richard Lehman comments on South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. , a significant decision by the United States Supreme Cour...