The 2017 Tax Act was the most sweeping federal tax legislation in over a generation. While many of its reforms, from dramatically lowering the corporate tax rate to altering the international tax rules, have already received significant attention, comparatively little attention has been paid to the 2017 Tax Act’s effects on personal injury plaintiffs. This Article explores those impacts.
The 2017 Tax Act added a new provision that indirectly affects plaintiffs who allege sexual harassment or abuse. The new provision disallows the defendants’ deductions if the parties enter into a nondisclosure agreement. While targeted at defendants, the provision likely unwittingly harms plaintiffs by reducing settlement offers. The provision also suffers from a host of ambiguities that the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service will need to resolve.
The 2017 Tax Act also eliminated so-called miscellaneous itemized deductions. In certain types of personal injury claims, such as defamation or emotional distress, this development causes the plaintiff to be taxed on the full settlement amount even if, as is often the case, one-third or more of the settlement is paid as a contingent fee to the plaintiff’s attorney. Legislative or administrative action is required to remedy this patent unfairness.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Gregg Polsky