Montana Funeral Directors Association

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  • 22 Dec 2016 2:53 PM | Terri James (Administrator)

    Washington, D.C., Update: December 22, 2016

    December 22, 2016

    Tax Reform is a major agenda priority for 2017. NFDA expects non-stop action during the coming year and, perhaps, beyond.  

    Although no details are available yet, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and other top Republicans will launch a new drive to repeal the estate tax in 2017; NFDA will closely monitor this issue in the coming months. Thune, a senior Finance Committee member, has voiced confidence that there will be consensus support for his proposal to repeal the estate tax as part of a broad tax overhaul in the 115th Congress.

    In addition, House Speaker Paul Ryan has signaled his agenda by stating the American public needs "Relief from Obamacare—this law is hurting families and it’s only going to get worse. Relief from this broken tax code that is costing us jobs, competitiveness, and growth. Relief from overreach and needless regulations that are crushing livelihoods and industries across this country.”

    A major part of Ryan’s agenda was unveiled in his “A Better Way” plan. The focus of this plan is to create make the tax code simpler, fairer, and flatter. Two vital components of this new tax plan include:

    • The elimination of the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which requires families and individuals to compute both their regular income tax and their AMT and then pay the greater of the two; in effect, the AMT is a second tax system.
    • The elimination of the estate tax and the generation-skipping transfer tax, so that the death of a family member or loved one no longer will be a taxable event. Ryan’s plan will also consolidate the system down to three tax brackets and lower the top individual income tax rate to 33 percent.

    Senate Republicans have been cautious in their reactions to Ryan’s plan. Finance Committee Chairman Hatch (R-UT) has not released his long awaited Corporate Integration proposal. Democrats in the House and Senate have not released a tax reform proposal of their own since then-Chairman Charlie Rangel’s (D-NY) bill from 2007 and then-Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) tax reform papers from 2014. Early indications from Senate Republican tax writers indicate emphatically their intent to develop their own bipartisan proposal on tax reform.

    The newest key player on tax reform in Congress is Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), the new ranking member on the Ways & Means Committee. Neal is well-liked and respected on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the Capitol. He represents a markedly different leader for Democrats in the House; however, his impact will be significantly affected by two things: (1) how much appetite for bipartisanship there is from House Republicans; and (2) how much leeway he has with House Democrats. Another new Democratic player to watch is Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) who will be the ranking member of the Tax Policy Subcommittee in the 115th Congress.

    Recently, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) touched on tax reform, healthcare reform and debt limit. On timing for tax reform, Brady expects a lot of the work to be done in the next month and that Ways & Means would be ready to move forward with President Trump. While there appears to be optimism about addressing tax reform and passing legislation to help small business owners, like funeral homes, it is unlikely that it will be accomplished quickly.

    NFDA’s Advocacy team will continue to work with members of Congress to support meaningful tax reform that will benefit funeral service and small business owners. We will keep you appraised as things develop in both the House and Senate. We welcome you to attend the NFDA Advocacy Summit, April 26-28 in Washington, D.C., because with a new president and a new Congress, it will be a very important year to have your voice heard on the Hill.


  • 29 Nov 2016 11:09 AM | Terri James (Administrator)

    NFDA News

    Breaking News: Judge Delays Implementation of Overtime Rule

    November 23, 2016

    In a surprising development, a federal judge in Texas granted an emergency injunction late Tuesday afternoon blocking the implementation of a new overtime rule that would have given more white collar workers overtime.

    Judge Amos L. Mazzant from the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas had a hearing Nov. 16 to decide whether to issue a preliminary injunction delaying the December 1, 2016, effective date for the new DOL regulations. Many observers believed that Mazzant, a recent appointee by President Obama, would not issue the injunction in the Nevada v. U.S. Department of Labor case. However, it has been widely noted that the U.S. District Court in East Texas has been very plaintiff-friendly.

    “Due to the approaching effective date of the Final Rule, the Court’s ability to render a meaningful decision on the merits is in jeopardy. A preliminary injunction preserves the status quo while the Court determines the department’s authority to make the Final Rule as well as the Final Rule’s validity,” Mazzant wrote in his 20-page order.

    While this does not kill the DOL regulation, it is definitely on life support,” said T. Scott Gilligan, general counsel for the National Funeral Directors Association. “Given the strength of the judge’s ruling, it is very unlikely that he will later change his mind and uphold the regulation. Moreover, when his decision is appealed, it goes to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals which is very conservative and is unlikely to overturn Judge Mazzant’s decision.” The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans blocked President Obama’s executive actions on immigration in 2015.

    Gilligan said that another factor that will come into play is the change of administrations that takes place at the end of January. “It is likely that the Justice Department under Trump may simply drop the appeal and allow the judge’s ruling to stand, which would kill the regulation.”

    The rule, issued by the Labor Department, was to take effect Dec. 1 and would have doubled to $47,500 the maximum salary a worker can earn and still be eligible for mandatory overtime pay.

    Some 21 states and more than 50 business groups filed sued to block implementation of the rule, alleging that it would cause significant financial harm.

    “With the Final Rule, the Department exceeds its delegated authority and ignores Congress’s intent by raising the minimum salary level such that it supplants the duties test. The Department’s role is to carry out Congress’s intent. If Congress intended the salary requirement to supplant the duties test, then Congress and not the department, should make that change,” Mazzant said in his ruling.

    Put in plain language, the judge ruled that the Department of Labor does not have the authority to set a minimum salary for an employee qualifying for the white collar exemption. Therefore, not only is the December 1, 2016 proposed increase in the minimum salary level test invalid, but the entire requirement of a minimum salary level has been thrown out by the judge.

    In 2014, President Obama directed the Secretary of Labor to update the overtime regulations to reflect the original intent of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and to simplify and modernize the rules so they’re easier for workers and businesses to understand and apply. The department has issued a final rule that would have put more money in the pockets of middle class workers – or give them more free time.

    The final rule would have:

    Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers.

    Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability.

    Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime.

    Provide greater clarity for workers and employers.

    This article appears in the November 24, 2016, edition of the Memorial Business Journal

    Link to the original on NFDA website: http://www.nfda.org/news/in-the-news/nfda-news/id/1674/_cldee/dgh1bmrlcmrvbwvsyxdaz21hawwuy29t/recipientid/contact-b21f0fcf7fb5e51194342c44fd7bbf5b-81533d86d9194b45a2c9975fc5310d93/esid/529bde0e-b3b5-e611-943b-2c44fd7bbf5b


  • 15 Sep 2016 9:13 AM | Terri James (Administrator)

    Membership dues forms will be sent out in early December. 2016.

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