Important Update on the Garage Door Tax Credit

© 2007 Door & Access Systems
Publish Date: Spring 2007
Author: Naomi Angel
Page 78

Hot Legal Topics
By Naomi Angel, DASMA Legal Counsel

Important Update on the Garage Door Tax Credit
In our winter 2006 column, we reported that purchases of insulated residential garage doors in 2006 and 2007 may qualify for a tax credit of up to $200. The 2005 Energy Policy Act opens up this possibility.

Seeking official clarification regarding the tax credit, DASMA staff and legal counsel, along with a representative from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), met with representatives from the Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel, in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 20, 2007. With support from the DOE, DASMA presented the position that insulated residential garage doors meeting certain criteria should qualify for the energy tax credit.

IRS representatives are now assisting us by taking our request to the Office of Tax Policy, Department of Treasury, which is the necessary protocol. As soon as we receive government guidance, we will pass the information to you. Thank you for your patience as we continue to seek a resolution.

Should You Use Credit Checks as a Hiring Tool?
Employers are increasingly inclined to use credit checks for job applicants as part of the hiring process. But that practice has been challenged by at least one job applicant who was turned down because of a poor credit history.

Civil rights laws prohibit a hiring practice that creates disadvantages for minorities unless an employer can show that a poor credit score somehow affects the job to be performed. If the prospective new hire is not going to handle money or have access to the employer’s accounts or credit, then the link between a poor credit history and the job is not clear.

Tip: If you do credit checks on applicants, be prepared to show that an applicant’s credit score has some relationship to the requirements of the job. If it doesn’t, you may face an employment discrimination claim.

One-Time Chance: Get a Refund of Telephone Taxes
The Internal Revenue Service has offered a one-time refund of excise taxes previously paid by individuals and businesses on long distance calls during the period of Feb. 28, 2003, through Aug. 1, 2006.

Taxpayers have two options to calculate and claim the refund. They can use an IRS formula estimating what the taxes would have been over that period, or they can check their telephone records for the 41-month period and make a claim based on their actual tax payments. See IRS Form 8913 (credit for federal telephone excise tax paid) or go to the IRS Web site and look for the excise tax refund instructions and form.

Tip: This is a one-time tax refund opportunity against your 2006 federal taxes. While the refund may not be large, take advantage of this opportunity. Decide whether to use the simple IRS calculation or add up your telephone taxes paid over the 41-month period. It’s found money!

Recommended Practices for Legitimate Software Use
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) attacks unauthorized uses of copyrighted software. BSA sponsors radio ads offering large cash awards to employees who blow the whistle on unauthorized software in their workplaces.

The rewards are substantial – up to $200,000, which is offset by the very large settlements that BSA extracts from guilty companies. Companies can also get into trouble by simply failing to have adequate records showing proof of ownership and proper licensing of installed software.

BSA recommends the following: 1) Inventory your hardware assets and list all software on company computers. 2) If you find unlicensed software, get rid of it. 3) Document your ownership of your software and create policies and procedures that require such documentation. New software programs can help you do this.

Tip: The rewards offered for whistle-blowing are enticing to disgruntled employees. Given the very large settlements extracted by BSA, companies are well advised to follow these recommendations.

This article is provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions or concerns about a legal issue, consult your company’s legal counsel for guidance.