Author Archives: Coleman Jackson

Immigration Matters You Ought to Know About: USCIS Reverting back to 2008 US Citizenship Test | LEGAL THOUGHTS

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Transcript of Legal Thoughts Podcast
Published March 5, 2021.

USCIS Reverting back to 2008 US Citizenship Test

Legal Thoughts is a podcast presentation by Coleman Jackson, P.C., a law firm based in Dallas, Texas serving individuals, businesses, and agencies from around the world in taxation, litigation and immigration legal matters.

This particular episode of Legal Thoughts is a podcast where the Attorney, Coleman Jackson is being interviewed by Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant of Coleman Jackson, P.C.   The topic of discussion is “Immigration Matters You Ought to Know About: USCIS Reverting back to 2008 US Citizenship Test”.  You can listen to this podcast by clicking here:

You can also listen to this episode and subscribe to Coleman Jackson, P.C.’s Legal Thoughts podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Cashbox or wherever you may listen to your podcast.

TRANSCRIPT:

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson
Legal Thoughts
COLEMAN JACKSON, ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson

Welcome to Immigration Thoughts

  • My name is Coleman Jackson, and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation, and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Our topic for today is: Immigration Matters You Ought to Know About: USCIS Reverting back to 2008 US Citizenship Test. Other members of Coleman Jackson, P.C. are Yulissa Molina, Tax Legal Assistant; Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant; and Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate.
  • On this “Legal Thoughts” podcast our immigration legal assistant, Reyna Munoz, will be asking the questions and I will be providing the answers to the questions on this very important immigration topic: Immigration Matters You Ought to Know About: USCIS Reverting back to 2008 US Citizenship Test.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 1:

Good morning Attorney, as you know we will be discussing a very important topic this week to keep our listeners informed on Immigration Matters that they ought to know about. Our topic of interest is the new United States Citizenship Test that has been announced by USCIS. Can you tell me what this is about?

Attorney Answers Question 1:

  • Good morning Reyna.
  • On February 22, 2021, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will go back to the 2008 version of the naturalization test. This will begin on March 1, 2021.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 2:

Attorney, why did USCIS decide to revert to the 2008 U.S. Citizenship test?

Attorney Answers Question 2:

  • Well Reyna, this is due to an executive order that the Biden Administration released on February 02, 2021 titled “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems.” USCIS determined that the revised naturalization civics test that was implemented on December 1, 2020 may inadvertently create potential barriers to the naturalization process. Reverting back to the 2008 civics test will eliminate barriers and make the process more accessible to all eligible individuals.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

  • Wow attorney, it’s good to see that these barriers will be eliminated by reverting back to the 2008 naturalization civics test!

Question 3:

Who can take this test, attorney?

Attorney Answers Question 3:

  • Reyna, the civics test is given to applicants that are applying for United States Citizenship, it is also a requirement for naturalizing.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

  • This test is incredibly important then, for those who wish to become naturalized US Citizens!

Question 4:

What sort of topics does the test contain?

Attorney Answers Question 4:

  • That’s a good question, Reyna!
  • The people taking the test must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history, principles, and form of government of the United States.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 5:

Attorney, does USCIS provide any study guides or any assistance in helping applicants study for the test??

Attorney Answers Question 5:

  • Yes, test items and study guides can be found on the Citizenship Resource Center on WWW.USCIS.GOV/CITIZENSHIP

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

  • Thank you for sharing this helpful website!

Question 6:

Attorney, you’ve answered a lot of important questions! My final question is, what about the people that have been studying for the 2020 test? How will they be affected by this new order?

Attorney Answers Question 6:

  • Good question, Reyna
  • Those that filed their application for naturalization on or after December 1, 2020 and before March 1, 2021 will be given the option by USCIS to take either the 2020 civics test or the 2008 civics test. There will also be a transition period where both tests are being offered. On April 19, 2021, the 2020 test will be phased out for those taking the test for the first time and those applicants that are filing on or after March 1, 2021 will take the 2008 civics test.
  • Reyna, I hope this answered your question. Do you have any more questions?

Reyna Munoz’s Concluding Remarks:

  • That answered my question perfectly! Those are all my questions for now, Attorney, thank you! This information is incredibly helpful for those that are going to take the United States Citizenship test!
  • Our listeners who want to hear more podcast like this one should subscribe to our Legal Thoughts Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever they listen to their podcast. Everybody take care!  Follow us for more taxation, litigation and immigration Legal Thoughts from Coleman Jackson, P.C., which is located right here in Dallas, Texas at 6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 620 Dallas, Texas 75206.
  • English callers: 214-599-0431 | Spanish callers:  214-599-0432. Portuguese callers:  214-272-3100.

 Attorney’s Concluding Remarks:

THIS IS THE END OF “LEGAL THOUGHTS” FOR NOW

  • Thanks for giving us the opportunity to inform you about “Immigration Matters You Ought to Know About: USCIS Reverting back to 2008 US Citizenship Test.” If you want to see or hear more taxation, litigation and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C. Stay tuned! We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation and immigration.  Until next time, take care.

Here’s Why People Filing Taxes Should Be Careful When Selecting A Professional Tax Return Preparer | LEGAL THOUGHTS

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Transcript of Legal Thoughts Podcast
Published March 10, 2021.

Here’s Why People Filing Taxes Should Be Careful When Selecting A Professional Tax Return Preparer

Legal Thoughts is a podcast presentation by Coleman Jackson, P.C., a law firm based in Dallas, Texas serving individuals, businesses, and agencies from around the world in taxation, litigation and immigration legal matters.

This particular episode of Legal Thoughts is a podcast where the Attorney, Coleman Jackson is being interviewed by Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant of Coleman Jackson, P.C.   The topic of discussion is ““Here’s why people filing taxes should be careful when selecting a professional tax return preparer.” You can listen to this podcast by clicking here:

You can also listen to this episode and subscribe to Coleman Jackson, P.C.’s Legal Thoughts podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Cashbox or wherever you may listen to your podcast.

TRANSCRIPT:

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson
Legal Thoughts
COLEMAN JACKSON, ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson

Welcome to Tax Thoughts

  • My name is Coleman Jackson and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Our topic for today is: “Here’s why people filing taxes should be careful when selecting a professional tax return preparer.”
  • Other members of Coleman Jackson, P.C. are Yulissa Molina, Tax Legal Assistant, Leiliane Godeiro, Litigation Legal Assistant, Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant and Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate.
  • On this “Legal Thoughts” podcast our public relations associate, Mayra Torres will be asking the questions and I will be responding to her questions on this important tax topic: Here’s why people filing taxes should be careful when selecting a professional tax return preparer.”

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

  • Good morning everyone. My name is Mayra Torres and I am the public relations associate at Coleman Jackson, P.C.  Coleman Jackson, P.C. is a law firm based right here in Dallas Texas representing clients from around the world in taxation, litigation and immigration law.
  • Attorney today we are discussing a very important tax topic because filing taxes is on folks minds these days. Many people may be filing taxes for the first time this year because of the recovery rebate credit issues involving their economic impact payments and other Covid-19 relief received during 2020.
  • In this Podcast, we will be discussing the safest, easiest and perhaps cheapest way folks can file their tax returns.

Question 1:

Attorney let’s start with the cheapest way folks can file their taxes for 2020!  What options exist for people who do not want to pay a professional tax return preparer?  I mean, can people file their tax returns for free?

Attorney Answers Question 1:

  • Good morning Mayra.
  • First people can always prepare and file their tax return themselves without hiring and paying anyone.
  • Second people can go to IRS.gov and select a number of brand-name tax software providers who will permit certain eligible taxpayers to use their software to prepare and electronically file their individual tax return for absolutely free. This particular free tax preparation option might be an excellent option for some taxpayers.  Typically, the software providers require people to meet certain income, age and state residency requirements.  The software vendors’ individual qualifying requirements can be found at IRS.gov. Most of the free vendors software is in English, but a few are in Spanish.  This free file option is certainly an option that taxpayers should explore.
  • Third people can use possibly find free tax preparer clients hosted by various accounting and legal societies throughout the community. Some churches and business and law schools also provide minimum fee tax advice and counsel.  People should contact the professional schools in their communities to inquire whether students in tax law training provide such services to the community.  When I attended SMU School of Law, I participated in their tax clinic that provided free or minimum fee tax controversy services by enrolled students under the supervision of the tax clinic professor.  People should make inquiries at professional societies, schools, and places of worship to see what’s available.
  • So to summarize; Mayra, as you can see there are a number of options available for people to get their tax returns prepared at little to no costs.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

That is an excellent summary of the free or low-cost tax return preparation and filing options that might be available to people this year:

  1. people can prepare and file their returns without using anyone to help them;
  2. People can go to IRS.gov and select a brand-named software provider to prepare and file their return if they meet the provider’s qualification requirements, and
  3. People can search for a free or low-cost professional tax return preparer at local places of worship, or professional accounting or law societies or local law school tax clinics and accounting schools.

Question 2:

Attorney, some people can’t qualify for one of these free or low-cost tax preparation services. Some people just think taxes are very complex; they can’t prepare these complicated tax returns themselves, and they just want to hire someone to prepare the return and file it for them.  What characteristics and qualifications should people look for when hiring a tax return preparer?

Attorney Answers Question 2:

  • Mayra, that is a very good question since people are responsible for the accuracy of their tax return regardless of whether they prepare and file it themselves or hire someone else to prepare and file their return.
  • These are some of the things that people might should consider when selecting a tax return preparer:
    1. Indicial of educational training in tax law and tax accounting. This might be evidenced by a degree from college in taxes, accounting, law, finance, or some related business degree.  Return preparer might be qualified with only certificates but with increasing complexity of the tax issues involved, should cause taxpayers to exercise more exacting screening of a tax return preparer before they hire them to work on their return.
    2. Professional Tax Identification Number (or PTIN). The PTIN is an annual credentialing issued by the Department of Treasury to professionals authorized to practice before the Internal Revenue Service as paid tax return preparers. To obtain a PTIN, a tax professional must be an attorney in good standing with a State Bar Association, a licensed Certified Public Accountant in good standing with a state CPA licensing authority, an enrolled agent in good standing with the Internal Revenue Service, or a registered tax return preparer under the defunct IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer Program. Taxpayers should look for these types of credentialing when selecting a tax return preparer. In recent years, the annual PTIN fee has been suspended due to Court challenges regarding the IRS’ attempt to regulate tax practice.  The IRS’ stated goal when instituting the PTIN program was to improve the integrity and quality of the tax preparation industry.   Some tax professionals challenged this attempt in Court.  Nevertheless, PTIN credential could be a good metric for the public to use when selecting a tax return preparer.  The bottom line is this— when the professional does not have a current PTIN Card; It is possibly a bright red alert to the taxpayer that they could be taking unnecessary risk by hiring an unqualified tax return preparer.  Taxpayers are responsible and liable for the accuracy of their tax returns regardless of who prepares or files the return for them.
    3. Experience in tax return preparation is critical factor when selecting a tax return preparer. Tax law is constantly changing from year to year, and it is very important that the tax return professional maintains competencies in tax law on an annual basis.  The more experience that the tax return preparer has with the type of return involved the better.  For example, if you have foreign accounts, you should think long and hard before hiring any return preparer who has never worked with taxpayers with foreign accounts or offshore assets.  Over the years, our law firm has seen many taxpayers who have been greatly harmed by tax return preparers who failed to properly counsel and advise them with regards to proper tax accounting for offshore assets and accounts.
    4. So to summarize: taxpayers should look for relevant tax law and accounting education, IRS Tax Professional PTIN certificate and tax experience relevant to tax issues related to their particular situation when selecting a tax return preparer.
  • It is very important to make a wise selection choosing which tax return preparer to hire because taxpayers can be subject to civil penalties and even criminal exposure for inaccuracies and materially false statements and tax positions taken on their tax returns and in their claims for refunds.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

  • Bright Red Alert! Before hiring anyone to do your tax return, look at the tax return professional’s educational background… like where did they go to school and where did they learn tax and accounting; look at whether they have a current IRS Tax Professional PTIN certification, and look at whether they have the right type of tax experience to prepare your tax return!
  • If any of these three things are missing; it’s a bright red alert folks! Attorney, thanks for answering my question so clearly concerning what characteristics people should look for when selecting a tax return preparer.
  • Did I get the bright red alerts right, Attorney?

Question 3:

Attorney, it sounds like taxpayers can get in very serious trouble on their taxes if they hire an unqualified, incompetent, or dishonest tax return preparer.

Is there any where a taxpayer can turn for help when they suspect that they have been harmed by their tax return preparer?

Attorney Answers Question 3:

  • The Internal Revenue Service has been given the authority by Congress to maintain the public’s confidence in the federal tax system. Under that authority the IRS maintains advisory committees who establish practices, procedures and policies of the oversight offices designed to enforce regulations governing those authorized to practice before the IRS.  The IRS is required under these regulations to maintain a list of individuals and companies who have been disbarred from practice before the IRS; list practitioners with monetary sanctions, and a list of practitioners who have otherwise been sanctioned by the IRS.
  • In addition to the IRS oversight that I have mentioned; professionals such as attorneys and certified public accountants are accountable to their respective professional licensing authorities in their states. These various professional licensing boards have specific complaint procedures where injured taxpayers can file an official complaint.
  • Finally, taxpayers harmed by tax return preparers can also turn to the courts for redress by filing a lawsuit for professional liability or other claim.
  • I should caution here that every tax position taking on a particular tax return may not rise to the level incompetence or malfeasance on the part of the tax return preparer. Judgment is an inherent part of being a tax professional.  That intangible characteristic of confidence and trust in your tax professional cannot be overstated.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

Question 4:

What about the people that have an approved family-sponsorship petition outside of the United States?

Attorney Answers Question 4:

  • The Internal Revenue Code imposes an entire laundry list of civil penalties and criminal penalties on Tax Return Preparers who are incompetent or engage in disreputable conduct. The names and descriptions of these various penalties can be very informative as what goals the IRS is attempting to achieve in terms of protecting the public, protecting the public’s confidence in the tax system, and maintaining the overall integrity of the U.S. federal tax system.  So that I don’t overly complicate this for our none-tax professional listeners, I am going to leave out any references to the specific Internal Revenue Code Section or Treasury Regulation where these penalties are codified.  Most of our listeners probably don’t really care to know the actual tax code section and treasury regulation reference numbers for these penalties.
  • This is a list of some of the types of penalties that the IRS can impose on Tax Return Preparers. Taxpayers should just thing about the item on the list and look beyond what is right in front of them to what the IRS is trying to accomplish by imposing these penalties on incompetent preparers or those engaged in disreputable conduct:
    1. Civil Penalties imposed on tax return preparers for failure to meet due diligence requirements for determining eligibility for certain tax benefits, such as, child tax credit, head of household, and earned income credit. Often times, taxpayers take these tax positions in error or with bad advice from tax preparers.
    2. Penalties imposed on tax return preparers for failure to sign the return and penalties for failing to supply identifying numbers such as, PTIN etc. Again, often, returns prepared by paid tax preparers appear to be self-prepared.
    3. Various penalties imposed against tax preparers for giving false or misleading information to the Department of the Treasury or any of its officers, employees, or agents.
    4. Various penalties imposed against tax preparers for aiding, advising or abetting others in violating federal tax law by suggesting or aiding in an illegal plan to evade the proper application and administration of U.S. tax laws or payment of U.S. taxes.
  • Items three and four can result in civil negligence and civil accuracy related penalties; and willful or reckless violation of U.S. Tax laws could lead to criminal referrals and prosecution of the tax return preparer and the taxpayer.
  1. Penalties imposed on tax return preparer for failure to give the taxpayer a copy of their tax return.
  2. Penalties imposed on the tax return preparer for failure to maintain a copy of the prepared tax return.
  3. Penalties imposed on the tax return preparer for failure to maintain a record of who prepared the return.
  • Items five through seven is designed to create a contemporary record and to provide a chain of responsibility. Tax return preparer operations are subject to IRS examination and investigation.
  • These are only a few of the penalties that the IRS could impose on incompetent tax return preparers and those engaged in disreputable conduct.
  • Taxpayers must be careful when tax return preparers over promise, make claims of abilities to obtain certain refund amounts or tax results, or seek to negotiate taxpayer refund checks. Sometimes dishonest preparers claim that the taxpayer has companies, farms, and factories that the taxpayer themselves never knew they had.  Remember you are responsible for the numbers and data on your tax return and the IRS will look for you first to timely pay the correct amount of taxes.  Your tax return preparer may or may not ever be held accountable.  So, a word to the wise:  be careful when you select your tax return preparer.
  • All these penalty areas that I have mentioned in this podcast should help taxpayers to exercise wisdom and discretion when selecting a tax return preparer. Look for professionals with character and experience even though it might cost you more to have your taxes done.  It may cost more in the long run if you choose an incompetent tax preparer, or one engaged in disreputable acts.

Interviewer:  Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

  • Attorney, thanks for such a thorough response to my questions about characteristics, qualifications, and other things that people should consider when selecting a tax return preparer. Character and experience always matter!
  • That’s all the questions I have for now with respect to being wise and prudent when selecting a tax return preparer. It sounds like it’s very dangerous to select the wrong person or firm to prepare your tax return.

Attorney Comment:

  • Well, those were all excellent questions, Mayra. And I am glad we were able to discuss the importance of exercising wisdom and being prudent when selecting a tax return preparer.

Mayra Torres’s Concluding Remarks:

  • Attorneys thank you for this comprehensive and informative presentation on selecting a tax return preparer.
  • Our listeners who want to hear more podcast like this one should subscribe to our Legal Thoughts Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever they listen to their podcast. You can follow our blogs by going to our law firm’s website at cjacksonlaw.com.  Everybody take care for now!  Come back in about two weeks, for more taxation, litigation and immigration Legal Thoughts from Coleman Jackson, P.C., which is located right here in Dallas, Texas at 6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 620, Dallas, Texas 75206.
  • English callers: 214-599-0431; Spanish callers:  214-599-0432 and Portuguese callers:  214-272-3100.

 Attorney’s Concluding Remarks:

THIS IS THE END OF “LEGAL THOUGHTS” FOR NOW

  • Thanks for giving us the opportunity to inform you about the why people filing taxes should be careful when selecting a professional tax return preparer.
  • If you want to see or hear more taxation, litigation and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C. Stay tune!  Watch for a new Legal Thoughts podcast in about two weeks and check our law firm’s website at www. cjacksonlaw.com to follow our blogs.  We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate, and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation and immigration.  Until next time, take care.

Best Practices for Managing Government Contracts Disputes – Claims Avoidance Techniques

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney & Counselor at Law
April 27, 2021

Government Contracts Disputes

For many businesses, landing a government contract can become a much-welcomed source of steady income. Often snagging a public contract is a big deal; big break and big win!  But proper and timely performance of the public contract will be of utmost importance since government agencies and entities will not tolerate any lapses, delays and crummy work. Obviously, all contracts should be handled in a professional manner, but the consequences of breaching a government contract can be even more dire than is the case with private party-to private party contracts.  The issue is managing risk, such that a party receives the benefit of its bargain; which is, the essence of contracting. How is a public contractor to manage government contract risk?  The ideal strategy is by claims avoidance but that is not always possible.  In this blog we review five best practices for managing government contracts. 

 

Public Contracts

1. Know the Government: Public Contracts are Complex in terms of scope, requirements, specifications and regulatory rules and policies:

Before entering into a contract with any local, state, or federal governmental agency, a company must first ensure that it truly has the capability to meet the outlined requirements. Oftentimes, a government procurement contract is large, complex and multifaceted.  Depending on the scope and complexity of the governmental agency’s demands, some companies simply may not have the physical resources, technological resources, or personnel to perform with precision, core competencies and with the punctuality required. Many companies, although they have years of experience in the private sector, simply do not have the accounting systems and internal controls in place to meet the exacting regulatory accounting standards and audit standards required by the highly regulatory environment of public contract law.  In light of the importance of maintaining good relationships with government personnel and the agencies they oversee; it would be unwise to take on more than the company can really handle.  Count the costs before bidding on the public contract because a government contract breach can lead to shame, allegations of false claims and other serious financial and even criminal consequences.

One of the trickiest aspects of engaging in government contracting is that there are often quite a few stringent rules and regulations governing the arrangement. These rules usually entail fairly strict compliance mandates, which cannot be taken lightly. Thus, in addition to examining your company’s own strengths and potential shortcomings, it is critical to ensure a full understanding of the legal constraints that will be at play. In many cases, it is a good idea to run some of the more nuanced aspects by legal counsel to ensure there is sufficient understanding and preparation.

As mentioned at the top, governmental agencies will not tolerate delays or disruptions to the contracting process. There could clearly be financial ramifications in the event of a breach, such as fines or penalties. But there is also a good chance that the contract will be rescinded at the time of the mishap or perhaps not renewed for another cycle. And, if either scenario happens, it is quite likely that a company will have a hard time winning another government contract down the line.

Thousands of businesses contract with local, state and federal governmental agencies every single day to help the government to serve its citizenry and carry out very important public functions; such as, building and maintaining roads, bridges, water systems, schools, colleges, broadband internet, libraries and shopping and leisure districts, correctional facilities and camps, parks and entertainment venues and everything in between..

 

 It is critical that your company know its capabilities before entering into the public contract environment.

2. Know yourself! Is your company up to the task?  That indeed is the first question that any aspiring public contractor should ask of themselves! It is critical that your company know its capabilities before entering into the public contract environment.  Sometimes it is easier to see the shortcomings of others than to see our own weaknesses.  Your company might want to compensate for these blind tendencies by: 

  • Considering teaming agreements with more experienced players in the government contract market place;
  • Considering counseling with government contract attorneys;
  • Considering counseling with accountants and others experienced in government accounting and auditing standards;
  • Considering business structures with other small, middle size and larger companies that could bring in additional expertise, skills, talents and intelligence.
  • Once you have examined your organization and structure from top to bottom, you must now turn and take an exacting look at the specific government contract’s scope, specifications and requirements. As I said before, government contracts are not quite like private contracts.  First of all, the government is a sovereign.  That means, the government writes the laws, enforce the laws and interpret the laws of public contracts.  So, the question is this one:  How can a public contractor protect itself when contracting with the government?  Contract claims avoidance; that’s how!  Contract disputes avoidance begins in the contract’s negotiations process and continues throughout contract performance and ends with successful public project completion and file closing.  Therefore, make sure you have skilled public contract counsel and advisors on your company’s team from the first salvo of reviewing a request for proposals throughout the performance process through successful completion of the public project.  You want to know and appreciate the contract terms, conditions and risk before you sign the contract, while you perform the contract and when you close the contract file.  You want to sign the contract before you begin the work.  Know what you are getting into before you get into the contract.  Watch for blowing sand and government changes throughout the performance stage and be ready to respond within the four corners of the contract with cogent public contract legal principals.  These practices alone could minimize the potential of protracted and expensive government procurement disputes.  But not all government contract disputes are avoidable.

Know when an actionable contract dispute arises

3. Know when an actionable contract dispute arises. Obvious, not all disputes can be avoided in life; and that is true in the public contract law environment as well.  Government contracts, unlike private contracts, can be terminated for the convenience of the government.  That simply means that the government can terminate the contract for its convenience, even though, your performance has been perfect.  Furthermore, sometimes local, state and federal governmental agencies breach public contracts and doesn’t pay for goods and services provided by individuals and businesses. Federal, State and local public contract laws permit private parties to sue local, state and federal governmental agencies when they breach their contracts or fail to perform.  Public contact disputes and claims are an exception to the rule of sovereign immunity.  But in order to preserve your rights and pursue your rights against the government, you must be able to recognize that a breach of contract has occurred since every disagreement that might develop during the course of performance of a contract does not satisfy the legal definition of a breach of contract.  The breach must diminish your bargain; it must somehow dampen or poor shade on the bargained for benefit.  Knowing the various types of breach of contract cognizable or actionable in public contract law could be helpful to you:

The four main categories of public contract breach are as follows:

a. Material Breach of Contract

A material breach occurs when one party receives significantly less benefit or a significantly different result than what was specified in the contract. Material breaches can include a failure to perform the obligations and conditions within the four corners of the contract or a failure to perform contracted obligations timely. When a material breach occurs, the other party may pursue damages related to the breach and both its direct and indirect consequences.

b. Minor Breach of Contract

The minor breach of contract is also sometimes called a Partial Breach of Contract or an Immaterial Breach of Contract, a Minor Breach of Contract refers to situations where the deliverable of the contract was ultimately received by the other party, but the party in breach failed to fulfill some part of their obligation. In such cases, the party that suffered the breach may only be able to pursue a legal remedy if they can prove that the breach resulted in financial losses. A late delivery, for example, may not have a remedy if the breached party cannot show that the delay resulted in financial consequences.

c. Anticipatory Breach of Contract

A breach need not actually occur for the responsible party to be liable. In the case of an Anticipatory Breach, an actual breach has not yet occurred, but one of the parties has indicated that they will not fulfill their obligations under the contract. This can occur if the breaching party explicitly notifies the other party that they will not fulfill their obligations, but such a claim could also be based on actions that indicate the parties does not intend to or will not be able to deliver.  I remind you again that in public contract law, the government can terminate a contract for the convenience of the government.  Its extremely important that government contractors study this public contract clause, the changes order clause and scope clause of public contracts very carefully.

d. Actual Breach of Contract

An Actual Breach of Contract refers to a breach that has already occurred, meaning the breaching party has either refused to fulfill their obligations by the due date or they have performed their duties incompletely or improperly.

 

What can a public contractor do when a breach occurs

4. What can a public contractor do when a breach occurs? When a breach of public contract does occur, there are several types of remedies available to either party. These include compensatory damages to address direct economic losses stemming from the breach, and consequential losses, which are indirect losses that go beyond the value of the contract itself but are the result of the breach.  Although below I am mentioning only process and remedy for breach of federal contracts, similar processes and rules apply to State and local public contracts:

a. Contractor Must Pursue Administrative Remedies

The CDA requires that a private contractor follow specific steps. The first is to seek a decision on the contract dispute from an official — called the contracting officer – -in charge of administering the contract. The claims of both the private contractor and the government agency that is the party to the contract are subject to the contracting officer’s decision. If the private contractor is not satisfied with the decision, she moves to the next step and has two choices.

b. Appeal to the Board of Appeals

The contractor can continue to seek administrative relief or can file a lawsuit against the government. The first of these options is accomplished by appealing the contracting officer’s decision to the agency board of appeals, where it is reviewed de novo; that means the board will decide the issue without reference to the conclusions or assumptions made by the hearing officer. If the private contractor is unsatisfied with the decision of the appeals board, he can appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

c. United States Court of Federal Claims

The second avenue for a private contractor unsatisfied with the contracting officer’s decision is to seek competent counsel and file lawsuit directly in the United States Court of Federal Claims. This will begin the civil litigation process, which requires attorney representation. An adverse decision by the court can be appealed by the contractor to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The appellate court will review the trial court’s rulings de novo.

 

Business Decisions

5. Business Decisions: Don’t forget pursuing government contracts is a business decision.  The decision as to whether to pursue a government contracts claims when claims avoidance fail is also an important business decision.  Cost considerations and other business impacts must be considered before deciding whether to pursuelegal remedies in breach of public contract claims. The contractor must weigh the probability of success, the probable amount of the damages awarded and the expenses involved in pursuing the claim when deciding to sue the government for breach of contract. Generally, pursuing relief through administrative remedies is significantly cheaper than litigation in court. On the other hand, a case before a court involves an impartial judicial process separate and independent from the agency, which may be worth the extra expense to some contractors.

As I have said before the government is not quite like a private party.  Whenever a contractor is dealing with the government, this fact should be front of mind.  For example, in Texas, direct and indirect limitations insuing and obtaining remedies and judgments against the State of Texas and local governmental agencies in Texas must always be considered in government contracts litigation matters against Texas and its agencies and local governmental entities in Texas.

The ability to bring a claim against a governmental entity in Texas, the scope of the public contract claim and extent of recovery could be drastically impacted by various well-established legal principles in Texas law. Examples of these legal principles and legal limitations are as follows:

  • a right of action for a county, incorporated city or town is not limited by most statutes of limitation under Texas law (TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE §16.061)
  • damages recoverable from a governmental entity may be limited to exclude damages other than direct actual damages ( Gov’t Code Ann. §2260-001)
  • any action against a county must be brought in that county, and
  • Court of jurisdiction may be limited to the Courts situs in Austin, Texas.

However, the most important, and most litigated, restriction on enforcing claims against the State of Texas, its agencies and local governmental entities is that of sovereign immunity.

A sovereign is exempt from suit, not because of any formal conception or obsolete theory, but on the logical and practical ground that there can be no legal right against the authority that makes the law on which the right depends.

The Texas Constitution contains waivers of immunity that are effective irrespective of any statutory waivers. These constitutional waivers are self-executing if they provide “a sufficient rule by means of which the right given may be enjoyed and protected, or the duty imposed may be enforced; and it is not self-executing when it merely indicates principles, without laying down rules by means of which these principles may be given the force of law.” Examples of these self-executing waivers are the waivers that relate to the Texas Constitution’s Takings Clause and that relating to the Bill of Rights for claims alleging a taking, these claims will not be permitted if they are breach of contract claims disguised as takings claims in order to avoid immunity. For claims alleging a violation of the Bill of Rights, this waiver exists only for the purpose of holding acts contrary to the Bill of Rights to be void, thereby permitting equitable relief but providing no private right of action for damages.

Contractors must perform the due diligence to make sure the government officials with whom they are dealing with have the authority to bind the government.  This fact is true whether the public contract is a federal, state or local contract.  Again, claims avoidance begins with the request for proposal, continues all through the performance stage and ends with successful contract completion and successful project file closing.

 

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432 | Portuguese (214) 272-3100

Podcast – The United States Citizenship Act of 2021 | LEGAL THOUGHTS

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Transcript of Legal Thoughts Podcast
Published February 25, 2021.

The United States Citizenship Act of 2021

Legal Thoughts is a podcast presentation by Coleman Jackson, P.C., a law firm based in Dallas, Texas serving individuals, businesses, and agencies from around the world in taxation, litigation and immigration legal matters.

This particular episode of Legal Thoughts is a podcast where the Attorney, Coleman Jackson is being interviewed by Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant of Coleman Jackson, P.C.   The topic of discussion is “The United States Citizenship Act of 2021”.  You can listen to this podcast by clicking here:

You can also listen to this episode and subscribe to Coleman Jackson, P.C.’s Legal Thoughts podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Cashbox or wherever you may listen to your podcast.

TRANSCRIPT:
ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson
Legal Thoughts
COLEMAN JACKSON, ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson

Welcome to Immigration Thoughts

  • My name is Coleman Jackson, and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation, and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Our topic for today is: The United States Citizenship Act of 2021
  • Other members of Coleman Jackson, P.C. are Yulissa Molina, Tax Legal Assistant; Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant; and Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate.
  • On this “Legal Thoughts” podcast our immigration legal assistant, Reyna Munoz, will be asking the questions and I will be providing the answers to the questions on this very important immigration topic: “The United States Citizenship Act of 2021.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 1:

Attorney, I have been hearing a lot about President Biden’s Immigration Bill proposal. Can you tell me what this is all about?

Attorney Answers Question 1:

  • Yes, Reyna. On January 20, 2021, the Biden Administration released a statement that states his immigration bill named the United States Citizenship Act of 2021 has been sent to Congress. This immigration bill creates a road map to citizenship for undocumented people, it keeps families together, embraces diversity, promotes immigrant and refugee integration and citizenship. Not only that, but it also includes growing the economy, it protects workers from exploitation and improves the employment verifications process.
  • This immigration bill also discusses border protection by supplementing existing border resources with technology and infrastructure, manages the border and protects border communities, cracks down on criminal organizations, addresses the root cause of migration, improves immigration courts, and supports asylum seekers and other vulnerable populations.
  • We are not sure if this bill will get through Congress, but we believe it is important to educate the public on the contents of this immigration bill proposal.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 2:

Attorney, if this bill passes, who benefits from it?

Attorney Answers Question 2:

  • If this bill passes undocumented people will be able to apply for temporary legal status. After five years, if they pass a criminal and National security background check and pay their taxes, they will be able to apply for a green card.
  • Furthermore, dreamers, TPS holders, and immigrant farmworkers who meet specific requirements are eligible for green cards immediately under this legislation.
  • Keep in mind that this is an administration proposal. It must be negotiated and approved by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and signed by the President in order to become law.  There could be many modifications and compromises along the way.  And this comprehensive immigration proposal may never become law.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 3:

Attorney, what about US citizenship? Will undocumented people be able to apply for citizenship at any point?

Attorney Answers Question 3:

  • Yes, Reyna. As a matter of fact, all green card holders who pass additional background checks and demonstrate knowledge of English and U.S. civics can apply to become United States citizens.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

That is amazing news!

Question 4:

What about the people that have an approved family-sponsorship petition outside of the United States?

Attorney Answers Question 4:

  • This comprehensive immigration bill proposal provides a section on keeping families together. Those that have an approved family-sponsorship petition will be allowed to join their family in the United States on a temporary basis while they wait for green card to become available.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 5:

Attorney, does the bill state anything on integration for immigrants and refugees?

Attorney Answers Question 5:

  • Yes, the bill provides funding for state and local governments, private organizations, educational institutions,community-based organizations, and not for profit organizations. This funding is to expand programs and promote integrations and inclusion. It will also increase English-language instructions and provide assistance to individuals seeking to become citizens.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

That is great to hear, attorney!

Question 6:

How will this immigration bill help grow the United States economy?

Attorney Answers Question 6:

  • This bill will give the Department of Homeland Security the authority to adjust green cards based on macroeconomic conditions and it will incentivize higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers. It will also provide dependents of H-1B visa holders work authorizations and children will be prevented from aging out of the system.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 7:

How will this immigration bill protect undocumented people in the workplace?

Attorney Answers Question 7:

  • This bill will protect migrant and seasonal workers by increasing the penalties for employers who violate labor laws. It also grants greater access for U-Visa for workers who suffer serious labor violations and cooperate with worker protection agencies.
  • Also, DHS and the Department of Labor will be required to establish a commission involving labor, employer, and civil rights organization to make recommendations for improving the employment verification process.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 8:

Attorney, if this bill passes it will be very helpful for the undocumented community that meet certain requirements. However, what does this bill have to say in regards to border security and crime?

Attorney Answers Question 8:

  • Reyna, you are right. If this bill passes it will be a great help for a lot of undocumented people. However, it will also provide more robust border security. This bill will provide funding for training and continuing education to promote agent and officer safety and professionalism. It will also provide budget to deploy technology to expedite screening and enhance the ability to identify narcotics and other contraband at every land, air, and seaport of entry. This bill also gives the ability to prosecute individuals that are involved in smuggling and trafficking networks.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 9:

It’s good to hear that this bill also addresses border security and targets criminal activity. Does the bill say anything about finding the root source of migration?

Attorney Answers Question 9:

  • Yes Reyna. This immigration bill will also dedicate funds to find the underlying cause of migration. It will also increase assistance to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. It will also re-establish the Central American Minors program which will reunite children with U.S. relatives.

Interviewer:  Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

Question 10:

Thank you, Attorney, for that information. What else does the bill say about protecting vulnerable individuals that are undocumented?

Attorney Answers Question 10:

  • Well Reyna, this bill will reduce immigration court backlogs and will expand training for immigration judges. It will also restore fairness and balance to the immigration system. The bill will also eliminate one year deadline for filing asylum claims and will raise the cap on visas from 10,000 to 30,000.
  • The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 sent to Congress by the President is in the first steps of the legislative process. Again, in order for this bill to become law, it must be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  There might be many changes along the way as this bill goes through the legislative process. Its fate in the legislative process is unknown.  People should stay tune for further updates.
  • Reyna, do you have any additional questions regarding the United States Citizenship Act of 2021 proposed by President Biden?

Reyna Munoz’s Concluding Remarks:

  • No, I think those are all my questions for now Attorney. Thank you for explaining this important bill that if passed will change the lives of so many people that are undocumented.
  • Our listeners who want to hear more podcast like this one should subscribe to our Legal Thoughts Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever they listen to their podcast. Everybody take care!  Follow us for more taxation, litigation and immigration Legal Thoughts from Coleman Jackson, P.C., which is located right here in Dallas, Texas at 6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 620 Dallas, Texas 75206.
  • English callers: 214-599-0431 | Spanish callers:  214-599-0432. Portuguese callers:  214-272-3100.

 Attorney’s Concluding Remarks:

THIS IS THE END OF “LEGAL THOUGHTS” FOR NOW

  • Thanks for giving us the opportunity to inform you about “The United States Citizenship Act of 2021.”If you want to see or hear more taxation, litigation and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C. Stay tuned! We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate, and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation, and immigration.  Until next time, take care.

Podcast – Update on Covid-19 Relief for Shuttered Venue Operators, Museum Operators, Motion Picture Theater Operators, and Talent Representatives | LEGAL THOUGHTS

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Transcript of Legal Thoughts Podcast
Published February 3, 2021.

Update on Covid-19 Relief for Shuttered Venue Operators, Museum Operators, Motion Picture Theater Operators, and Talent Representatives

Legal Thoughts is a podcast presentation by Coleman Jackson, P.C., a law firm based in Dallas, Texas serving individuals, businesses, and agencies from around the world in taxation, litigation, and immigration legal matters.

This particular episode of Legal Thoughts is a podcast where the Attorney, Coleman Jackson is being interviewed by Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant of Coleman Jackson, P.C.   The topic of discussion is “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Shuttered Venue Operators, Museum Operators, Motion Picture Theater Operators, and Talent Representatives” You can listen to this podcast by clicking here:

You can also listen to this episode and subscribe to Coleman Jackson, P.C.’s Legal Thoughts podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Cashbox or wherever you may listen to your podcast.

TRANSCRIPT:
ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson
Legal Thoughts
COLEMAN JACKSON, ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson

Welcome to Tax Thoughts

  • My name is Coleman Jackson, and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Our topic for today is: “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Shuttered Venue Operators, Museum Operators, Motion Picture Theater Operators, and Talent Representatives.
  • Other members of Coleman Jackson, P.C. are Yulissa Molina, Tax Legal Assistant, Leiliane Godeiro, Litigation Legal Assistant, Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant and Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate.
  • On this “Legal Thoughts” podcast our immigration legal assistant, Reyna Munoz will be asking the questions and I will be responding to her questions on this important tax topic: “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Shuttered Venue Operators, Museum Operators, Motion Picture Theater Operators, and Talent Representatives.”

Mayra Torres Introduces Herself to the Audience:

  • Good morning everyone. My name is Mayra Torres, and I am the public relations associate at Coleman Jackson, P.C.  Coleman Jackson, P.C. is a law firm based right here in Dallas Texas representing clients from around the world in taxation, litigation, and immigration law.
  • Attorney we have published three prior podcasts where we discussed various aspects of economic Covid-19 relief offered to individuals and businesses in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. In Part One of Legal Thoughts Podcast several weeks ago, we spent most of our time talking about stimulus checks.  Then in Part Two, we spent the bulk of our time discussing tax relief in the Act for businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program.  And in Part Three that was published a couple of weeks ago, we discussed Discharge of Indebtedness and the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • In this Podcast, we will be discussing various aspects of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program which became law on December 27, 2020.

Question 1:

  • Attorney let’s start right on the basics here! What is the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 1:

  • Good morning Mayra.
  • The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program is Section 324 of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act signed into law on December 27, 2020 which is designed to give economic relief to hard-hit businesses in the entertaining industry.  It is the U.S. Congress response to the economic turmoil caused by Covid-19 on businesses, entities and organizations in the arts, cultures and entertaining sectors of our communities who have been hard-hit by the devastation of doing all the things scientist have told us to do as a community to contain or bend the curve of the spread of corona virus.  These entertaining venues were hard-hit by venue shutdowns and attendance restrictions throughout this global pandemic and National Health Emergency.
  • The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program is Title III, Section 324 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.  We have produced and published several Podcast over the last few weeks where discuss various aspects of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

Interviewer: Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

  • Yes, Attorney, we have published at least three podcasts in recent weeks discussing stimulus payments to individuals, paycheck protection program loans to small businesses, and PPP Loan Forgiveness procedures under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Anyone wanting to listen to these prior Podcast can subscribe to our Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever they listen to their podcast.
  • That is wonderful news about economic grant relief to performing arts venues, museums, and other cultural venues! That is indeed great news, Attorney!  We all have a major interest in seeing our favorite entertainers venues survive this dreadful pandemic and thrive.  What a joy it will be when we can all go out and safely have fun again.  It’s good that the U.S. Congress is sending economic Covid-19 relief to hard-hit businesses in the entertainment, arts and culture sector of the economy.  These businesses survival is critical for everyone’s wellbeing and happiness.  I mean, the arts and culture are very important to us all because arts and culture adds spice, quality, and enjoyment to life.

Question 2:

  • Attorney, what kinds of businesses and organizations are eligible to apply for a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 2:

  • Mayra, you are right about the need of society for survival of arts and culture venues during this pandemic.
  • The following types of individuals, entities, businesses, and organizations may be eligible to apply for a grant under the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venues Operators Program:
    1. Venue Operators;
    2. Event Promotors;
    3. Theatrical Producers;
    4. Live Performing Arts Operators;
    5. Museum Operators;
    6. Motion Picture Theaters Operators; and
    7. Talent Representatives
  • Let me note that the Economic Aid Act for Hard-Hit businesses adopts the term Small Business as defined in the Small Business Act. Hard-Hit business can apply to individuals, business entities and even governmental agencies, under certain circumstances under Section 324 of the Economic Aid Act to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act of December 27, 2020.

Interviewer: Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate

  • So, movie theaters, promotors, venue operators, and live performing arts venues are among the types of businesses who may apply for a Shuttered Venue Grant under this grant program.
  • Did I get all that right, Attorney?

Question 3:

  • Attorney, can someone listening to our podcast today go out and start a business in the performing arts, movie theaters and entertaining promoter industry and apply for one of these Small Business Administration’s Hard-Hit Shuttered Venue Grants?

 Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 3:

  • Mayra, your brief summary of eligible businesses or entities who may be eligible to apply for a grant under the program is right. Your list is not as comprehensive as the laundry list of potentially eligible entities that I listed; however.
  • As for your question about someone listening to this podcast and then going out and starting a business or organization to apply for a Economic Hard-Hit Venues Grant under this SBA Program; not so fast! The business must have been in operations as of February 29, 2020.  If a business started operations in 2020 for the first time, the business must have been fully operational on February 29, 2020.
  • Keep in mind the business will have to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Small Business Administration that the business has suffered a revenue loss of 25% in 2020 from revenue in 2019 due to the corona virus pandemic. The SBA permits business not in existence in 2019 to use an alternative method to show the 25% decline in business.  In those instances, the SBA looks at the decline in gross revenue for the second, third and fourth quarters of 2020 and compares it with the businesses first quarter gross revenue for 2020.
  • So bottom line: Mayra the answer to your question is NO.  An individual cannot listen to this podcast today and go out and start a new business in the entertaining, promoter, arts venue arena in hopes of applying for a grant under the Economic Hard-Hit venues grant program.  Now whether such individual or business can purchase an existing business that potentially qualifies for the grant?  That could be something that could be considered.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

QUESTION 4:

  • Attorney, we talked about the Paycheck Protection Program Loan a few weeks ago. Can a business apply for a PPP loan and a grant under the SBA shuttered grants program for small businesses, nonprofits, and shuttered venues?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 4:

  • Well, that kind of sound like double dipping. But it depends upon when the business or entity received their Paycheck Protection Program Loan.  If the entity applied for and received their PPP loan before December 27, 2020, they can also apply for a Shuttered Venues Grant under the SBA Grant Program for shuttered nonprofits, small businesses, and venues.
  • However, in the event the business applied for and received their PPP loan after December 27, 2020, they are not eligible to apply for a SBA Shuttered Venues Grant. Double dipping is not allowed; however, that business who received a first draw PPP loan can apply and receive a second draw PPP loan under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.  We talk about the potential and procedures for a second draw loan in our previous podcast on this topic.

Interviewer: Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate 

  • Attorney, thanks for such a thorough response to my questions about whether a business could apply for and receive both a paycheck protection program loan and an SBA grant under the Shuttered Venues Program. It sounds like your answer is no; unless the business applied for and received their PPP loan prior to December 27, 2020.

Question 5:

  • I was just wondering Attorney. Are grants under the Small Business Administration’s Shuttered Venue Operators Program, loans that must be paid back?  Are they tax free?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 5:

  • Those are excellent questions, Mayra.
  • No grants under the Small Business Administration Program for shuttered non-profits, small businesses and venues are not loans. A grant does not have to be paid back by the recipient of the grant.
  • And yes, grants received by the business or organization under Title III, Section 324 of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-profits and Venues Act are tax free. The grant is not included in the business’s gross income.
  • Section 278 (d) states, in part that “any grant made under section 324 of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act shall not be included in the gross income of the person that receives such grant”.
  • These and other specific tax rules established in the Act applies to all tax periods after the effective date of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 was December 27, 2020.

Interviewer: Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate 

  • Attorney it is definitely good news to know that shuttered business operators do not have to pay federal taxes on grants received under this SBA shuttered venue operators grant program. That is relief when relief is needed from the devastation of this dreadful corona virus pandemic.

Question 6:

  • Attorney, how likely an auditor comes knock years from now seeking to examine the books and records of shuttered venue operator who receives one of these SBA shuttered venues grants.?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

  • Another excellent and thoughtful question, Mayra.

ANSWER 6:

  • Businesses should consult with their trusted advisors in terms of applying with laws and regulations governing Shuttered Venues Act grants. Several federal agencies could be involved in administrating and conducting audit examinations of nonprofits, small businesses and shuttered venues operators who receives these Small Business Administration Shuttered Venues Grants.
  • Subsequent rules and regulations could come from the Small Business Administration, United States Treasury or other governmental agency establishing accountability and proper business accounting for grants received during this pandemic. Businesses should keep good books and records that properly reflect the expenditure of such shuttered venues grant funds for at least seven years.

Interviewer: Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate 

  • Attorney thanks for such a detailed explanation of discharge of indebtedness and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Mayra Torres’s Concluding Remarks

  • Attorneys thank you this comprehensive and informative presentation on the SBA Shuttered Venue Operators Program.
  • I know we have not talked about everything concerning the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. But these are my questions for now as it relates to the SBA Covid-19 Relief for the Shuttered Venues Operators.  Perhaps we can do another podcast covering other aspects of this topic as time permits and interest by our listeners is communicated to us through calls, emails or otherwise.
  • Our listeners who want to hear more podcast like this one should subscribe to our Legal Thoughts Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever they listen to their podcast. You can follow our blogs by going to our law firm’s website at cjacksonlaw.com.  Everybody take care for now!  Come back in about two weeks, for more taxation, litigation and immigration Legal Thoughts from Coleman Jackson, P.C., which is located right here in Dallas, Texas at 6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 620, Dallas, Texas 75206.
  • English callers: 214-599-0431; Spanish callers:  214-599-0432 and Portuguese callers:  214-272-3100.

Attorney’s Concluding Remarks:

THIS IS END OF “LEGAL THOUGHTS” FOR NOW

  • Thanks for giving us the opportunity to inform you about the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 as it relates to the Small Business Administration’s Grant Program for Shuttered non-profits, small businesses and venues”. We might do future blogs or podcast dealing with various other aspects of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 in the near future.
  • If you want to see or hear more taxation, litigation and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C. Stay tune!  Watch for a new Legal Thoughts podcast in about two weeks and check our law firm’s website at www.cjacksonlaw.com to follow our blogs.  We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation and immigration.  Until next time, take care.

A GOVERNMENT CONTRACTS LAWYER’S OVERVIEW OF BID PROTEST

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney & CPA
March 12, 2021

What is a bid protest in Government Contract

What is a bid protest?

A bid protest is a challenge to the award or proposed award of a contract for the procurement of goods and services or a challenge to the terms of a solicitation for such a contract.

What kinds of bid protests can be filed at GAO?

Protests may be filed against procurement actions by federal government agencies.

What kinds of protests cannot be filed at GAO?

Protests may not be filed against procurement actions by non federal government agencies, such as state, local, or foreign governments, or actions by certain exempted federal agencies, such as the Postal Service. For more information, see Bid Protest Regulations (4 C.F.R. § 21.5) and Bid Protests at GAO: A Descriptive Guide.

Who can file a bid protest at GAO?

Only “interested parties” may file protests. In the case of a solicitation challenge, an interested party is generally a potential bidder for the contract. In the case of a contract award challenge, an interested party is generally an actual bidder that did not win the contract. In addition, other factors, such as the bidder’s standing in the competition and the nature of the issues raised may affect whether it qualifies as an interested party. For more information, see Bid Protest Regulations (4 C.F.R. § 21.0(a)) and Bid Protests at GAO: A Descriptive Guide.

When must a protest be filed?

In general, a protest challenging the terms of a solicitation must be filed before the time for receipt of initial proposals. A protest challenging the award of a contract must be filed within 10 days of when a protester knows or should have known of the basis of the protest (a special case applies where, under certain circumstances, the protester receives a required debriefing). Please be aware that the regulations regarding the timely filing of protests depend on all facts and circumstances of each case and are strictly enforced. For more information, see Protest Regulations (4 C.F.R. § 21.2) and Bid Protests at GAO: A Descriptive Guide.

How is time calculated for filing deadlines?

“Days,” under GAO’s regulations, means “calendar days.” In the event a deadline falls on a weekend, federal holiday, or other day when GAO is closed, the deadline is extended to the next business day. For more information, see Bid Protest Regulations (4 C.F.R. § 21.0(e)) and Bid Protests at GAO: A Descriptive Guide.

I was awarded a contract and was told that the award has been protested – what must I do, and what am I allowed to do?

Parties that have been awarded a contract are permitted to participate in a protest as an intervenor. They are not required to do so, however, as it is the agency’s responsibility to respond to the protest and defend the award of the contract.

Are employee unions or representatives allowed to file protests or participate as intervenors?

Government employees and their representatives may participate as protesters and intervenors in protests involving competitions conducted under Office of Management and Budget Circular A-76. For more information, see Bid Protest Regulations (4 C.F.R. § 21.0(a)(2), (button) (2)) and Bid Protests at GAO: A Descriptive Guide.

Do I need an attorney to file a protest or participate as an intervenor?

No. Parties may file a protest or participate as an intervenor without being represented by an attorney. However, only attorneys are permitted to have access to material subject to a protective order.  Bid protest rules, procedures and practices are governed by the rule of law(The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) for federal contracts); therefore, an understanding of relevant statutes, regulations and case law would be extremely helpful for framing and presenting a credible bid protest.

 

Federal Bid Protest Jurisdiction and Filing Deadlines

 Federal Bid Protest Jurisdiction and Filing Deadlines:

This reference lays out the filing deadlines, jurisdictional requirements, stay rules, and appeal processes for each place a bid protest can be filed: the Government Accountability Office,the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the procuring agency.

The rules differ by type of procurement. Chart 1 lists the rules for protesting contracts awarded under FAR Parts 13, 14, and 15. Chart 2 lists the rules for protesting task and delivery orders issued under most IDIQ contracts. Chart 3 lists the special rules that apply to protests of task orders issued under the General Service Administration’s Federal Supply Schedule contracts.

GAO Procedures:

Over the years, GAO’s decisions on federal contract awards have created a uniform body of law applicable to the federal procurement process upon which the Congress, the courts, agencies, and the public all rely.

Automatic Stay?

For pre-award protests, the agency must suspend award of the contract once it receives notice from GAO that a protest has been filed. FAR 33.104(b).For post-award protests, the agency must suspend performance if it receives notice of the protest from GAO within 10 days after contract award or within 5 days after the debriefing date offered to the protester for requested and required debriefings under FAR 15.505 or 15.506, whichever is later.  FAR 33.104(c).  (Note: Debriefings are not “required” for procurements under FAR Part 13 (FAR 13.106-3(d)), or Part 14 (except 14.5 (two-step sealed bidding) FAR 14.503-1(g))).In DoD procurements, for debriefings requested and required under FAR 15.506(d), contracting officers must provide an opportunity for unsuccessful offer or to submit additional questions within 2 business days of receiving a debriefing. The agency then has 5 business days to respond in writing. See10 U.S.C. § 2305(b)(5). The 5-day filing period to trigger an automatic stay does not start until after the agency delivers the written responses. See31 U.S.C. § 3553(d)(4). 

 Jurisdictional Timelines

Jurisdictional Timelines:

  • A pre-award protest based on alleged improprieties in the RFP that are apparent prior to receipt of proposals must be filed prior to the time set for receipt of proposals. Improprieties subsequently incorporated into the solicitation must be protested by the next closing time for receipt of proposals following incorporation. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(1). Where a basis for challenging the terms of a solicitation does not arise until after proposal submission, a protest is due 10 days after the basis of protest is known or should have been known. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a).
  • An offer or excluded from the competitive range before award must request a debriefing in writing within 3 days after receipt of notice of exclusion to obtain a “required” debriefing. See FAR 15.505(a)(1). The offer or then must file its protest not later than 10 days after the date on which the debriefing is held. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(2).
  • For competitions where a debriefing is requested and required, post-award protests must be filed not later than 10 days after the debriefing is held, but not before the offered debriefing date. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(2), for DoD, 10 days run from when DoD answers timely “additional questions.”
  • For all other protests not covered above, the protester must file its protest within 10 days after the basis of protest is known or should have been known, whichever is earlier. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(2).

Subject Matter Jurisdiction Limits:

  • Only an “interested party” may protest improprieties in an RFP or award or termination of a federal contract. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.1(a). An “interested party” is an actual or prospective offer or whose direct economic interest would be affected by the award of a contract or the failure to award a contract. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.0(a)(1).

Note: An alleged Procurement Integrity Act violation must be brought to the Agency’s attention within 14 days of discovery, or it cannot be raised in a GAO protest. See FAR 33.102(f); 41 U.S.C. § 2106. 

 Process for Appealing Unsuccessful Decision

Process for Appealing Unsuccessful Decision:

A Request for Reconsideration may be filed at GAO not later than 10 days after the basis for reconsideration is known or should have been known, whichever is earlier. See 4 C.F.R. § 21.14.

A protester may “appeal” a GAO decision to the Court of Federal Claims by filing suit alleging that the agency’s procurement was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). 28 U.S.C. § 1491. There is no strict timeline for filing such an “appeal.”

A contractor may also file suit in the Court of Federal Claims alleging that an Agency’s proposed or actual corrective action, even if recommended or approved by GAO, is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.

 

Readers interested in following our blogs on government contract law, such as, relevant federal, state and local public contract decisions should visit our website at www.cjacksonlaw.com where we post our most recent blogs.  Our blogs in government contracting covers relevant decisions issued by the GOA, case decisions issued by the Court of Federal Claims and various state court decisions on public contract law.  Readers can also subscribe to our taxation, government contract litigation and immigration law Legal Thoughts Podcast where ever they listen to their podcast.

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432 | Portuguese (214) 272-3100

A LAWYER’S OVERVIEW OF GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT CONTRACTS

By:  Coleman Jackson, Attorney & Certified Public Accountant
March 06, 2021

NOTE:  This is merely and overview of government procurement contracts and just scratch the surface of this complex and intricate area of contract law.  This area of law is also known as Public Contract Law.OVERVIEW OF  GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT CONTRACTS

General Concepts: Each year, the U.S. federal government and its various agencies procure more than $300 billion of everything in more than 4,000 categories, ranging from airplanes to zippers. For many products and services, the U.S. government is the biggest buyer on the planet.

In 2020, the federal government spent more than $6.5 trillion, that is, spending exceeded collections by about $3.3 trillion resulting in a deficit. If broken out in terms of minutes, it would mean that the government spent more than $9 million every minute. However, a more accurate realization is that Covid-19 impacted the 2020 budget; also, budgets and government spending is spread out throughout the year, and high spending periods will fluctuate between agencies and will be impacted by health factors and other unknowns. Typically speaking, one of the biggest spending periods is in the months of August and September, as government agencies that have extra funds available (through the allocation from Congress) need to spend the money or risk losing it. Any money not spent goes back to the U.S. Treasury. Note: The 2020 fiscal year ended on September 30, 2020, and the new fiscal year started on October 1, 2020.

Another important thing to consider is that the federal government is not just one buyer. It is a collection of tens of thousands of buyers that purchase everything from nuts and bolts, and paperclips, to aircraft carriers.

With so many needs – from the simple, to the complex, to the classified – government buyers will order things in bulk or small, one-offs. Other times buyers will say they know they need certain products or services, but they do not know how much, how often, or when their next order will come. This creates a unique feature within government contracting that is not present in the private sector resulting in the use of different contract types or contract vehicles to accomplish the governments requirement needs.

Contract vehicles are ways in which a government agency or department can buy what it needs. They all have different rules. Government agencies are often looking for contract vehicles that will get them what they need, as quickly as possible and at the best cost point as possible. One of the most commonly known to businesses is the General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule. The GSA Schedule is a listing of products and services with pricing. Government buyers use the GSA to buy a wide variety of things, and businesses work hard to get on the GSA Schedule to make sure their products and services are readily available at the fingertips of government buyers.

 

U.S. government contracts

U.S. government is also an attractive customer for a few other reasons:

  • The government makes its needs publicly known through such media as the Commerce Business Daily, a publication listing numerous public contracting opportunities. (You can find this publication at many large public libraries.) This is quite different from most markets, wheresuppliers have to thoroughly research to identify the purchasers needs.
  • Government sales are conducted in an open environment where there are many rules to ensure that the process is fair.
  • The government frequently buys in very large volumes and overlong periods of time. That kind of customer can provide a solid foundation for growing your company.
  • Laws set aside all or part of many contracts for women-owned businesses, small businesses, minority-owned businesses, and other firms the government identifies as disadvantaged historically and that the government desires to equalize, support and include in the economic growth of the country.

Having the U.S. government as a customer can give a business a stamp of approval. If you can meet the government’s standards for quality, price and service, odds are good you can meet other customers’ requirements as well.

But there are downsides to selling to the government. It can be hard to find the proper purchasing agent among the thousands employed by various branches and agencies of the federal government. In addition, the rules and paperwork are daunting. The good news is that there are many sources of help. The SBA’s website is one good place to start looking for help selling to the government. Agencies like the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Interior and the Army, as well as many others, send out solicitations to businesses that are on their mailing lists. To find out how to get on the lists, contact the agency you’re interested in.

And don’t restrict yourself to selling to the federal government. State and local governmental entities, including cities, counties, school districts and others, actually purchase more goods and services than the federal government. There are more of them and they are smaller, but these government customers can provide alternative tracks to growth that are just as viable as the opportunities in Washington, DC.

You can sidestep many of the hassles of winning a government contract if you subcontract with the main or prime contractor. Prime contractors, ranging from large defense contractors to companies that may be smaller than yours, do most of the work to land the government job. Then they may hire you to fulfill all or part of it. Find prime contractors by perusing many of the same resources you would to sell directly to the government.  Many government contracts require small disadvantaged businesses based on race, gender, disabilities, veteran set-asides.

Definition: Agreements that outline business transactions between companies and government entities. Government contracting is the process where businesses provide products or services to federal, state, and local governmental agencies and entities.

 

An Overview of Government Contract Law

 An Overview of Government Contract Law:

The government of the United States buys more products and services than any other entity worldwide. The United States Department of Defense (DOD) makes up a large portion of the country’s purchases.

There are three main differences between government purchases and those of the private consumer:

  • Government contracts are highly regulated to ensure the most competition, guarantee proper use of government funds, and promote a healthy economy.
  • Government contracts include clauses, like the “changes” or “default” clauses, that allow the government to enact special rights within the contract like being able to change the terms of the contract or even end it.
  • Government contracts follow the procedures laid out in the Contract Disputes Act should there be any claims or legal action, because the government is a sovereign entity.

The Competition in Contracting Act and Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act are both important laws that regulate government contracts.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) controls acquisitions made by the United States Executive Branch, and it is outlined in title 48 of chapter one in the Code of Federal Regulations parts 1 through 53.

Agencies like the DOD, NASA, and the General Services Administration (GSA) can create supplements to the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Those three specific agencies actually amended the FAR in pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.

The United States Government can only be contract-bound by an authorized contracting officer (or CO) who has been issued a warrant by the executive agency. These contract warrants (or certificates of appointment) can be held to a specific amount or allowed an unlimited amount of money.

A contract officer is authorized to grant, manage, or terminate a government contract.  CO’s play a pivoted and major role in government procurement law.

The Contract Disputes Act (CAS)govern legal issues regarding government procurement contract issues and disputes which must first be submitted to a contract officer for resolution.

Once the contract officer makes a decision regarding the legal claim, the complaining entity represented in the contract can appeal the decision with the United States Court of Federal Claims (CFC) or a board of contract appeals.  Note there must be privity of contract in government contract disputes.  Typically, subcontractors cannot file a complaint under CAS.

The claim can then move on to be appealed before the Court of Appeals of the United States for the Federal Circuit, and even eventually to the Supreme Court.

Any company that sells its products or services to other business entities or nonprofits could probably also sell to the government.

The United States Government can make a great customer or client because of the following:

  • Government needs are easy to see through publications like Commerce Business Daily.
  • Rules and regulations ensure fair trading practices.
  • Government purchases are usually large and long term, providing a reliable income for the business.
  • As I mentioned before, contracts are set aside for businesses owned by minorities and women, as well as small businesses.
  • Government business will give your company a good reputation as it means that your products or services meet high standards.

 An Overview of Some Difficulties of Government Contracting

 An Overview of Some Difficulties of Government Contracting:

Conducting business with the government can also be very difficult as it can be tough to find the right channels for marketing your company with so many employees throughout different branches. They also require certain standards in terms of bookkeeping, record keeping, cost accounting and overall compliance cost accounting standards and government accounting principles.

Moreover, government contracts are typically subject to review and exacting audit compliance procedures and examination.

Bottom line is government contracts are subject to detailed paperwork where government contractors must comply withdetailed regulations from the bid process through completion of the contract.  Invoices for payment must often be certified under the penalty of perjury. These requirements can also be a bit overwhelming as a business owner new to the government procurement procedures. Thankfully, there are lots of options for assistance.

If you’re interested in working with a particular federal government agency, like the Postal Service or the DOD, you can contact that particular agency and get your business on their mailing list.

The federal government isn’t the only option, state agencies and local entities, like school districts, also make great customers.

Smaller, non-federal agencies have more opportunities for trading and, even though they are smaller, they can offer just as much potential for growing your company as working with the federal government would.

  Overview of Some Benefits of Government Contracting

Overview of Some Benefits of Government Contracting

Government contracts are a tremendous financial opportunity for small businesses.

The U.S. government is the largest customer in the world. It buys all types of products and services — in both large and small quantities — and it’s required by law to consider buying from small businesses.

The government wants to buy from small businesses for several reasons, including:

  • To ensure that large businesses don’t “muscle out” small businesses
  • To gain access to the new ideas that small businesses provide
  • To support small businesses as engines of economic development and job creation
  • To offer opportunities to disadvantaged socio-economic groups

 How it all works:

The process of requesting proposals, evaluating bids, and awarding contracts should take place on a level playing field. The government should consider a bid from any qualified business.

Set-aside and sole-source contracts:

Federal agencies must publicly list their contract opportunities. Some of these contracts are set aside exclusively for small businesses and historically disadvantaged businesses based on race, gender, disabilities or other factors.

In some cases, these so-called set-aside contracts might consist of certain types of tasks on larger contracts. In others, entire contracts may be reserved for small businesses or historically disadvantaged businesses. When a contract is set-aside for one specific small business, it’s called a sole-source contract.

 

The Small Business Administration (SBA’s) role in Government Contracting 

 The Small Business Administration (SBA’s) role in Government Contracting:

The SBA works with federal agencies in order to award approximately 23 percent of prime government contract dollars to eligible small businesses. It also offers counseling and help to small business contractors.

The United States Government is the single largest procurer of goods and services in the world, and the Department of Defense (DOD) accounts for the lion’s share of federal acquisitions.  Three major characteristics distinguish Government acquisitions from private sector contracts.  First, Government contracts are subject to a myriad of statutes, regulations, and policies which encourage competition to the maximum extent practicable, ensure proper spending of taxpayer money, and advance socioeconomic goals.  Second, Government contracts contain mandatory clauses which afford the Government special contractual rights, including the right to unilaterally change contract terms and conditions or terminate the contract.  The most important clauses are the “Scope Clause, “Changes” clause, the “Termination for Convenience” clause, and the “Default” clause.  Third, due to the Government’s special status as a sovereign entity, claims and litigation follow the unique procedures of the Contract Disputes Act.   It is critical that Contractors; especially small businesses who are new in government procurement, to be fully knowledgeable of how the “Payment” clause works because long delays in payment could cause budgetary difficulties and performance issues to the naïve.

Government contracts are subject to several statutes, including the Competition in Contracting Act and the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act.  In addition to statutes, there are a multitude of regulations which govern acquisitions by executive branch agencies.  Foremost among these is the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which is codified in Parts 1 through 53 of Title 48, Chapter 1 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  Executive branch agencies may issue their own regulatory supplements to the FAR, such as the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS).  The FAR is amended pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, with proposed changes issued jointly by the DOD, the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), in coordination with the FAR Council.

Only Contracting Officers have the authority to contractually bind the United States Government.  This authority is vested in the executive agency, which then delegates this authority by issuing a certificate of appointment or “warrant.”  The warrant provides signature authority up to a specified amount of money, or it can be an unlimited warrant.  Contracting Officers have the authority to award, administer, and terminate Government contracts.

Overview of Government Contract Dispute Resolution”

Government contract claims are subject to the Contract Disputes Act, which requires the claim to be presented first to the Contracting Officer (“CO”).  After the Contracting Officer’s Final Decision or deemed denial, the claim may be appealed to either the United States Court of Federal Claims (CFC) or to the appropriate Board of Contract Appeals.  The forum to file the law suit challenging the CO’s decision is chosen by the contractor. Note that the contractor does not have file suit within the administrative process; but the Board Judges are government procurement experts who deal exclusively with government procurement contract disputes; whereas, the Judges on the Court of Federal Claims may not have government procurement experience and may handle all kinds of complaints filed against the federal government.   Resolution of federal procurement disputes by the Board process could likely be quicker as well. Numerous issues are involved in the contractor’s decision of which forum to choose to litigate their CAS claim.  Whether CAS litigation occur in the Court of Federal Claims or in one of the Boards of Appeal, after trial on the merits in either venue, the tribunal decision may be appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and finally to the Supreme Court.  It is very important to note that the Court of Federal Claims has the exclusive authority to hear bid protests, which are challenges to an award, proposed award, or terms of a solicitation of a federal contract.  The Boards do not have any authority to hear bid protest or any other none-CAS matters.


What are Some of the Different Types of Government Procurement Contracts

What are Some of the Different Types of Government Procurement Contracts?

Government contracts generally fall under a few different categories, each of which involves different requirements and varying risk to the contractor.  Understanding the type of government contract, you’re competing for can help give you a better sense of what to expect, the risk involved and how to put together and negotiate a more compelling and competitive proposal. To give a brief overview, we’ve laid out the top four most common types of government procurement contracts and what they entail below:

1. Fixed-Price Contracts

Fixed-price contracts are just that — they ask contractors to submit a bid to complete a project under a predetermined price (and often within the bounds of a target price). They are not subject to any type of adjustment unless certain provisions (such as changes in the contract, pricing, or defective pricing) are included in the original agreement. Contract price can sometimes be renegotiated through different contract clauses (depending on the variety of fixed-price contract in question), but these bids will be low-risk if the government and contractor carefully communicate on a reasonable price. The risk inherent to fixed-price contracts will increase if deliverables, standards and other measures are unclear or if the contractor must execute custom development with a yet-to-be completed solution. All federal agencies use fixed-price contracts and they’re the most common type of contract requested at a state and local level.

In Fixed-Price contracts, the contractor is paid a set fee for their goods or services, regardless of incurred costs. Accurately planning and forecasting your expenditure (in terms of time, available personnel, expertise and capital) is absolutely vital to ensuring that you see a positive return on your investment once you’ve won a bid. While some degree of risk may be present, these contracts provide great profit opportunities for successful contracts that are well executed.  These contracts can also be dangerous for the naïve or businesses who are new or unfamiliar with government procurement contract procedures, policies, regulations and so forth.  Silent clauses and provisions could be applicable to the contract.

2. Cost-Reimbursement and Cost-Plus Contracts

These types of contracts allow a contractor to seek reimbursement for incurred costs up to a prescribed allowance. Usually, costs will be estimated upfront to establish a ceiling that a contractor cannot exceed without first gaining approval. As long as incurred costs do not exceed the stipulated maximum, then a contractor can seek reimbursement for any justified expenses as they fulfill the contract.

This kind of contracts are typically used when there are uncertainties or contingencies involved in a proposal that cannot be estimated upfront with complete accuracy. Examples of agencies that use these types of government contracts include the Federal Transit Administration, National Weather Services and US Department of Defense.

Cost-plus contracts are often more concerned with the final quality of a project rather than cost (an example of this type of project would be ones executed in support of United States space and satellite programs). Because there is less built-in incentive to be efficient, these types of contracts usually require closer oversight to ensure maximum efficiency and thrift. The contract itself can be supplemented with additional award or incentive fees to help encourage efficiency, but designing and implementing these programs also requires additional contract administration. While these contracts are often lower risk than Fixed-Price contracts, the profit margins may also be lower and bidding requires that you offer competitive pricing (i.e. low rates) in order to win.  Contractors must be very careful when bidding on cost-reimbursement and cost-plus contracts because the potential to bid too low can be damaging.  This is particularly a danger that the naïve or unsophisticated small business could face.

3. Time-and-Materials Contracts (T&M)

Time-and-materials contracts are a cross between fixed-price and cost-reimbursement contracts and often require the government to shoulder more risk than the contractor (making them a less popular option for government agencies). Like cost-reimbursement and cost-plus contracts, T&M contracts are only used when it’s not possible to nail down an accurate cost or timeline estimate for a project at the time when a proposal is submitted. The government is basically paying for your services by the hour, including your fees and profit, so competitive pricing is key to winning and net profits are often (but not always) lower.

4. Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contracts

IDIQ contracts are often used to supplement or amend fixed-price or cost-reimbursement contracts in order to provide flexibility with regard to specific supplies, services or aspects of a project required by the government. In contrast to other contract types, IDIQs allow the government contracting agency to “down select” multiple entities that will compete for future break-out contracts (often called “task orders”) under the umbrella of the main contract. This results in the contracting agency receiving bids from the pool of awardees for each follow-up task order, which theoretically provides them with the best possible value, flexibility and service. It also streamlines the process for issuing, awarding and executing task orders in the event of a national emergency.

The umbrella, or main contract, usually runs for a period of five to ten years, during which time the individual task orders are announced on an as-needed basis. Typical response times required for down selected entities range from a few days to a month or more, depending on the urgency of the requirement. In extreme cases, the government can ask for a response on the very same day a task order is issued. These responses are purely pricing requests for vendor equipment to aid first responders in a natural or man-made disaster, such as supplying temporary lighting and generators.

IDIQs often specify that a contractor supply a minimum quantity of suppliers and services and agree to a fixed timeline and maximum price ceiling for the contract tasks. They also ask contractors to identify a few different consultants and suppliers that they might leverage for a task and submit these names as part of the initial bid. This can help the government streamline the contracting process by limiting their decision process to a few pre-approved options for each task.

Awards are given out in base year period intervals for each task order (usually 1 to 5 years) and are eligible for renewal after the base period concludes. At the time of renewal, each task order can be “re-competed” for by the incumbent contractor and those previously down selected under the umbrella contract. For contract renewals, responding to specific task orders is not required.

This has been a general overview of government procurement procedures, practices and legal principles.  This is a complicated area of law and this brief presentation does not attempt to cover the breath of this legal area in any respect. Public Contract Law

This law blog is written by the Taxation | Litigation | Immigration Law Firm of Coleman Jackson, P.C. for educational purposes; it does not create an attorney-client relationship between this law firm and its reader.  You should consult with legal counsel in your geographical area with respect to any legal issues impacting you, your family or business.

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Taxation, Litigation, Immigration Law Firm | English (214) 599-0431 | Spanish (214) 599-0432 | Portuguese (214) 272-3100

Podcast – Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses pt. 3 | LEGAL THOUGHTS

Coleman Jackson, P.C. | Transcript of Legal Thoughts Podcast
Published January 27, 2021.

Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses

Legal Thoughts is a podcast presentation by Coleman Jackson, P.C., a law firm based in Dallas, Texas serving individuals, businesses, and agencies from around the world in taxation, litigation, and immigration legal matters.

This particular episode of Legal Thoughts is a podcast where the Attorney, Coleman Jackson is being interviewed by Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant of Coleman Jackson, P.C.   The topic of discussion is “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses pt. 3” You can listen to this podcast by clicking here:

You can also listen to this episode and subscribe to Coleman Jackson, P.C.’s Legal Thoughts podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, Cashbox or wherever you may listen to your podcast.

TRANSCRIPT:
ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson
Legal Thoughts
COLEMAN JACKSON, ATTORNEY & COUNSELOR AT LAW

ATTORNEY:  Coleman Jackson

Welcome to Tax Thoughts

  • My name is Coleman Jackson and I am an attorney at Coleman Jackson, P.C., a taxation, litigation and immigration law firm based in Dallas, Texas.
  • Our topic for today is: “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses- Part 3.”
  • Other members of Coleman Jackson, P.C. are Yulissa Molina, Tax Legal Assistant, Leiliane Godeiro, Litigation Legal Assistant, Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant and Mayra Torres, Public Relations Associate.
  • On this “Legal Thoughts” podcast our immigration legal assistant, Reyna Munoz will be asking the questions and I will be responding to her questions on this important tax topic: “Update on Covid-19 Relief for Individuals and Businesses- Part 3.”

Reyna Munoz Introduces Herself to the Audience:

  • Good morning everyone. My name is Reyna Munoz and I am the immigration legal assistant at Coleman Jackson, P.C.  Coleman Jackson, P.C. is a taxation, litigation and immigration law firm based right here in Dallas, Texas.
  • Attorney we have published two prior podcast where we discussed various aspects of the tax relief offered to individuals and businesses in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. In Part One of Legal Thoughts Podcast  several weeks ago, we spent most of our time talking about stimulus checks.  Then in Part Two, we spent the bulk of our time discussing tax relief in the Act for businesses, such as the Paycheck Protection Program.  In this Part Three, we will be discussing Discharge of Indebtedness and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Question 1:

  • So, Attorney, let’s get started this morning with this question: Generally speaking, Attorney, what are the tax implications for discharge of indebtedness?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 1:

  • Good morning Reyna.
  • That is an excellent place to start before we get into the Paycheck Protection Program and the special rules of forgiveness of Paycheck Protection Program loans to businesses under the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • Generally speaking, under Internal Revenue Code Section 61(a)(11) and Treasury Regulations Section 1.61-12(a), a taxpayer that is discharged from paying a debt by a creditor must include the gross amount discharged in gross income for federal income tax purposes.  It is gross income because the taxpayer has received an increment in wealth; it’s the same as wages, or earnings or dividends or other forms of increase in wealth realized by a taxpayer.
  • There are several exceptions to this rule however, and the one we care about in this Podcast relates to the exceptions codified into law under the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

  • That sounds interesting.

Question 2:

  • Could you explain in a nutshell when a Payroll Protection Program loan is qualified for tax-free loan forgiveness under the Covid-19 relief programs you have been discussing in these last three podcasts?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 2:

  • Reyna, in a nutshell; whether a Paycheck Protection Program Loan is eligible for tax-free cancellation of debt treatment depend upon how much of the paycheck protection program loan amount was used for payment of payroll costs during a covered period.
  • Under the Original CAREs Act, paycheck protection program loan proceeds could be used to pay certain eligible business expenses, such as, payroll costs, utility payments, rent and interest on some mortgage obligations. All of this cost had to be incurred by the recipient of the loan.  Depending upon whether 75 percent or more of the loan proceeds were used on payroll cost during the covered period, some or all of the payroll protection loan was subject to forgiveness under the CARES Act.  Under the original CARES Act there were some questions as to whether the cancelation of the debt was taxable income under Internal Revenue Code Section 61.  Also, under the original CARES Act, the IRS issued rules that stated that the  business costs paid from the Paycheck Protection Act Loan Proceeds were not deductible by the business on their federal tax return.  However, Congress overruled the Internal Revenue Service in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 making all Payroll Protection Program Loans tax-free and Congress also ruled that the business expenses paid with the loan proceeds were fully deductible business expenses pursuant to normal Internal Revenue Code provisions.  These particular relief provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 relates back to and applies to Payroll Protection Program loans under the CARES Act as well as those originating under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Immigration Legal Assistant

  • Let me make sure I understand what you just said attorney! I think you said that when a Payroll Protection Program Loan is used to pay business operating expenses, such as, payroll costs, utility payments, rent, and certain kinds of mortgage interest, the Payroll Protection Program loan can be canceled tax-free to the business?  And the business can still deduct the business expenses paid using the loan proceeds on their annual federal tax return!
  • Did I get all that right, Attorney?

Question 3:

  • Attorney is the discharge of Payroll Protection Loan under the CARES Act automatic or do an application for forgiveness have to be filed somewhere?

 Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 3:

  • Reyna your summary of what I said is perfect. And no, the forgiveness of a Paycheck Protection Program Loan is not automatic.
  • The recipient must submit the appropriate application to the Small Business Administration through their financial institution.
  • Under the CARES Act, loan forgiveness request were filed on Form 3508 or 3508EZ depending upon the maximum amount of the loan forgiveness and certain other factors. Further all loan forgiveness applications have to be accompanied by credible business records and documents during the covered period supporting the business owners’ assertions in the debt cancellation applications.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

QUESTION 4:

  • Attorney in a nutshell, what are the eligibility requirements for cancelation of the Payroll Protection Program Loan under the Consolidated Appropriation Act, 2021? I mean, Attorney are the rules, forms and steps to take for tax-free discharge of the debt the same as under the CARES Act?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 4:

  • Very well! Let me describe some of the differences or changes to the Payroll Protection Program Loan forgiveness rules, forms and procedures made by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • Remember in our previous Podcast in Part 2, we explained how the eligible expenses paid from a Paycheck Protection Program Loan was expanded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 to include expenses like, payment for business software and cloud computing services incurred due to covid-19, certain covered capital expenditures and certain covered worker safety measure expenditures; The key metric to keep in mind is this one: The Paycheck Protection Program is still essentially focused on maintenance of a business’ employees and staff.  Keep people employed– that in a nutshell is what PPP is about.  You can just go by the name of the program— that is, Paycheck Protection Program.  So, expenditure of at least 75% of the loan proceeds to maintain payroll during the covered period is still key to tax-free cancellation of the debt under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.
  • The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 made it simpler and easier for covered Paycheck Protection Program Loan requests from certain eligible recipients to be forgiven. Only a certification as follows need to be made by the loan recipient; and no substantiating documentation need to be filed with the certification:
  • An eligible recipient must submit to their lender a certification that attest that–
    1. a description of the number of employees they were able to retain because of the paycheck protection loan;
    2. Estimates of amount of the loan spent on payroll costs;
    3. Attest that they have accurately supplied items 1 and 2 and complied with Section 307, Simplified Forgiveness Application requirements of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 which requires retention of the employment records 4 years after submission of the forgiveness application and retention of all other pertinent records for a period of 3 years.
    4. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 states that the simplified loan application forgiveness form is not be any more than one page in length. These simplified PPP loan forgiveness procedures apply to Paycheck Protection Program loans in the amount of $150,000 or less.  The Section 307 Simplified Forgiveness Application provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 applies to Paycheck Protection Program loans originating under the CARES Act or the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

  • That sounds like a solid way many businesses can keep their employees working during this dreadful pandemic. Attorney, Paycheck Protection Program Loan forgiveness is not subject to taxation, right.  I mean we started this podcast talking about discharge of indebtedness.

Question 5:

  • Is the cancelation or forgiveness by the Small Business Administration a discharge of indebtedness where the business will owe income taxes on the amount discharged? I need this to be clear; like in a nutshell; is it taxable income to the business or to the owner of the business?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 5:

  • In a nutshell, Reyna!
  • Paycheck Protection Loans forgiven by the Small Business Administration is a statutory exception to the Internal Revenue Code Section 61.
  • In a nutshell, Paycheck Protection Program Loans that are forgiving or canceled by the Small Business Administration are tax-free to the business, to its owners, shareholders or partners.
  • Let me throw in this caution however, all business who apply for and successful obtain SBA cancelation of a Paycheck Protection Program Loan should maintain the required books and records because they might have to submit such records for audit inspection and examination up to four years after the loan has been written off by the government.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

  • That last point is an important one. Paycheck Protection Program Loans are Small Business Administration Loans.  SBA loans are subject to audit examination.

Question 6:

  • Attorney, what is the extent or scope of the likely audit examination?

Attorney: Coleman Jackson

ANSWER 6:

  • Businesses should consult with their trusted advisors when seeking forgiveness of these loans. The matters that we have been discussing are laws.  That is, we are explaining recent Acts of Congress in the government’s attempt to deal with the economic fall out and devastation caused by this dreadful global pandemic.
  • In answer to your question with respect to the scope of the audit; I really don’t know exactly, but for sure the business is going to have to most likely present evidence of eligibility for the loan and eligibility for forgiveness of the loan pursuant to any subsequent rules and regulations that the Small Business Administration, United States Treasury or other governmental agency might issue in the future. Businesses should keep good books and records that properly reflect the expenditure of Paycheck Protection Program loan proceeds for at least seven years.

Interviewer: Reyna Munoz, Tax Legal Assistant

  • Attorney thanks for such a detailed explanation of discharge of indebtedness and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Reyna Munoz’s Concluding Remarks

  • Attorneythank you for this cogent presentation.
  • I know we have not talked about everything concerning the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. But these are my questions for now.  Perhaps we can do another podcast on this topic as time permits and interest by our listeners is communicated to us through calls, emails or otherwise.
  • Our listeners who want to hear more podcast like this one should subscribe to our Legal Thoughts Podcast on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify or wherever they listen to their podcast. You can follow our blogs by going to our law firm’s website at cjacksonlaw.com.  Everybody take care for now!  Come back in about two weeks, for more taxation, litigation and immigration Legal Thoughts from Coleman Jackson, P.C., which is located right here in Dallas, Texas at 6060 North Central Expressway, Suite 620, Dallas, Texas 75206.
  • English callers: 214-599-0431; Spanish callers:  214-599-0432 and Portuguese callers:  214-272-3100.

Attorney’s Concluding Remarks:

THIS IS END OF “LEGAL THOUGHTS” FOR NOW

  • Thanks for giving us the opportunity to inform you about the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 as it relates to Discharge of Indebtedness and the Paycheck Protection Program”. We might do future blogs or podcast dealing with the Exclusion of Entities Receiving Shuttered Venue Operator Grants under Section 7(a)(36) of the Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. 636(a)(36).
  • If you want to see or hear more taxation, litigation and immigration LEGAL THOUGHTS from Coleman Jackson, P.C. Stay tune!  Watch for a new Legal Thoughts podcast in about two weeks and check our law firm’s website at www. cjacksonlaw.com to follow our blogs.  We are here in Dallas, Texas and want to inform, educate and encourage our communities on topics dealing with taxation, litigation and immigration.  Until next time, take care..