The Supreme Court has dealt a major blow to public sector unions in the name of protecting Americans’ First Amendment rights. In its ruling in Janus v. AFSCME on June 27, 2018, the Court held that public sector workers cannot be forced to pay dues to unions if they do not join one. The Court argues that forcing individuals to subsidize unions that may endorse positions with which the workers themselves disagree constitutes a violation of the workers’ First Amendment rights, essentially placing the burden of keeping unions afloat onto nonmember workers. The immediate effect of this decision is that nonmember workers can now choose whether to voluntarily contribute to a union.
Divorce can be a messy and hard-to-negotiate process, and the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act may make that process even more difficult for couples with its abolishment of tax deductions on alimony payments. Before the TCJA, alimony payers could deduct payments that met the tax-law definition of alimony for federal income tax purpose, and alimony payment recipients always had to pay income tax on those payments. Now, for alimony payments required under divorce or separation instruments that are executed after December 31st, 2018, the deduction will be eliminated, and recipients of the affected payments will no longer have to include them as taxable income. With December 31st looming on the not-so-distant horizon, the pressure will be on some divorcing couples to finalize their divorces before the new rules on alimony deductions take effect in 2019, but for others, delaying a divorce until the new law takes effect may prove more beneficial.
Everyone knows that buying a home can be expensive, but many don’t even think about the cost of selling. Home sellers often have a plan for the proceeds from their house long before the house goes on the market—a new home, a new car, maybe a vacation—and knowledge of the major costs of selling a house can help sellers properly budget the proceeds in preparation for paying more fees than they probably would have imagined.
The Internet has transformed the national economy in recent years as America has gradually become a nation of online shoppers. E-commerce offers a number of appealing perks: low prices, stay-at-home convenience, a myriad of choices, and—until now—sales tax-free purchasing.
In a time when the number of U.S. cell phones is bigger than the number of U.S. citizens, the Supreme Court took a major step towards defending the privacy of the millions of cell phone users in the United States. In Carpenter v. United States, a 5-to-4 decision on June 22, 2018, the Court ruled that a warrant is generally required to gain access to cell phone location data. The ruling goes a long way towards ensuring Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights, which protect individuals from unreasonable search and seizure.