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On Tap at the IndyBar: April 23 - April 27
Posted on: Apr 23, 2018

Everybody loves a local bar, so check out what yours is serving up this week with upcoming IndyBar events and happenings below!

On the Docket

Five Essential Tax Reform Considerations and Strategies for Estate Planners
Tues., April 24, 4 to 5 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

Business Law Skills Series: 2017 Case Law Update
Weds., April 25, noon to 1 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

Advanced Consumer Bankruptcy Roundtable
Thurs., April 26, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

The Legal Aspects of the Rise of Women in the Legal Profession
Thurs., April 26, 4 to 5 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

IBF Trivia Night
Thurs., April 26, 5 to 8 p.m.
Information and registration can be found here.

Check out the full slate of IndyBar events here, and don’t forget to check out the IndyBar on Facebook for the latest event photos.


News You Can Use


  • Remembering Judge Patricia Gifford - The Indianapolis Bar Association was saddened to learn of the passing of retired Marion Superior Court Judge Patricia Gifford on April 8. Judge Gifford was a true leader of the entire legal community and a pioneer for women attorneys. She was recognized several times by the IndyBar, receiving the Silver Gavel Award in 2008 for her exemplary service on the bench and the Antoinette Dakin Leach Award, which honors trailblazing women in the profession, in 2006. Read more.
  • Women's Rights, At-Risk Youth Among Project Focus for 2018 Bar Leader Series - In order to provide an opportunity for the participants of the Bar Leader Series to actively utilize the skills and knowledge that they are learning through the series, the class has been asked to identify an unmet need and develop and execute community service projects aimed to assist those needs to benefit the Indianapolis community. Read more.
  • Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission to Offer Ethical Guidance to Lawyers - For the first time, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission will undertake an advisory role to lawyers. The Commission will provide ethical guidance through formal written advisory opinions and informal individual guidance. Read more.
miniBar Talk: This Week's Top Post
Posted on: Apr 20, 2018

New Tax Considerations for Real Estate Businesses

By David A. Adams, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP

Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) was signed into law on December 22, 2017, professionals of all industries have been trying to understand how the new law impacts their business. The real estate industry has been particularly impacted by the changes of the TCJA. While we expect guidance from the IRS to come in the near future, this blog series seeks to provide a manageable understanding of how the TCJA impacts real estate businesses.  

Business Interest Expense Limitation – EXCEPTION!

A new expense limitation introduced by the TCJA limits business interest deductions to 30% of a taxpayer’s (business or individual) adjusted taxable income. This limit applies to any interest paid or accrued on debt that is attributable to a trade or business. Business interest does not include investment interest that may be paid to the business. However, those in the real estate business have the option to elect out of the limitation. If a real estate business has, on average over the past three years, $25 million or less in annual gross receipts, the business may choose to elect out. This election will impact depreciation and expensing changes as discussed below and is irrevocable. The limitation is in effect for taxable years after December 31, 2017.

Real Property Depreciation    

The recovery period for a variety of property types has been modified. For properties using the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS), depreciation has been extended to 39 years where it was previously 15 years. Depreciation for residential rental property and nonresidential real property remains the same, at 27.5 years and 39 years respectively. Under the Alternative Depreciation System (ADS), the useful life of qualified improvement property and residential rental property has been reduced to 20 years and 30 years respectively. The useful life of nonresidential real property under ADS remains 40 years.

The TCJA also expands the scope of the definition of qualified improvement property. Now, in addition to previously permitted qualified leasehold improvements, qualified restaurant improvements and qualified retail improvements, such property includes nearly all improvements to the interior of nonresidential real property. This does not include expenses for enlarging a building, installing elevators or escalators, or improving or repairing a building’s structural framework.

While a business may typically choose which depreciation system to use, those businesses that chose to elect out of the business interest expense limitation described above are required to use the alternative depreciation system.  Assuming the rates remain as drafted, this could create a sizeable discrepancy in depreciation of qualified improvement property in particular.

Business Asset Expensing

A 100% bonus depreciation deduction is now available for particular assets placed in service after September 27, 2018. This depreciation, while subject to conditions, is now available for used property or non-first owner property as well. Assets eligible for the bonus depreciation are those with a useful life of 20 years or less under MACRS, water utility property and computer software. Thus, those real estate businesses that chose to elect out of the business expense interest limitation will not be eligible for the bonus depreciation. The bonus depreciation will be reduced by 10% each year, beginning in 2023.

The TCJA also increased the permissible expensing limit of qualifying tangible personal property to $1,000,000. It further expands this expensing to allow for improvements to roofs, heating, air-conditioning, ventilation, fire protection and alarm systems and security systems after the property is placed in service. The phase-out limit for these expenses is also increased to $2,500,000. These increases are in effect beginning after December 31, 2017.

Like-Kind Exchanges

Like-kind exchanges occurring after December 31, 2017 are now limited to real property. If a like-kind exchange was in process on December 31, 2017, it may still be eligible for nonrecognition.

Rehabilitation Tax Credit

The general rehabilitation tax credit is appealed under the TCJA. The historic tax credit has been retained but must now be claimed over a 5-year period. The credit remains at 20%.  

Net Operating Loss Limitations

Net operating losses (NOLs) are now limited to 80% of a taxpayer’s taxable income. The TCJA also eliminates the ability to carryback NOLs. However, NOLs may now be carried forward indefinitely. These limitations are in effect as of December 31, 2017.

Additional guidance from the IRS, including technical corrections, are expected regarding these and other provisions of the TCJA. Please stay tuned for updates and the next part of the series.

If you have any questions about the TCJA and its implications on your real estate business, or tax or real estate law questions in general, please reach out to David Adams directly.

To subscribe to more Real Estate & Land Use news like the article above, click here to update your news subscriptions.

It Takes Little Effort to Say, “Yes”
Posted on: Apr 19, 2018

By Joel Tragesser, Quarles & Brady LLP

A few months before being honored by the Indianapolis Bar Association with the 2018 Professionalism Award, I received a call from committee chair Kevin Morrissey advising me of my nomination and upcoming recognition of my efforts for our profession and community. I was honored and appreciative of the opportunity to share why I strive to help others, not only as an attorney, but as an active member of our community.

In the weeks leading up to the award breakfast, I recalled that my career would not have been predicted by my elementary school teachers who were lucky to hear me say a dozen words a month. They would struggle to believe that I could stand up before a judge in court, share comments to a room full of peers, or even more astonishing, perform before hundreds in a charity dance contest as I did the year before for the Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County.

Early during my major study in economics at Wabash College, I learned about scarcity, supply, demand, and opportunity costs. Time management professionals will often explain the benefits of saying, “no.” As a new attorney and then new father, I was advised to be selective with my time for community causes and organizations, with the best suggestion being to support events that align with my interests and my family.

But so much can happen when you have constant support from family and colleagues that breeds confidence. And you can have fun while supporting great causes, impacting your community, and fostering your career and family.

My late grandpa Bob Lewis and my dad Gene were constantly helping family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. My Grandma “GG” Lewis had a sign in her kitchen stating that next to every good man is a great woman. And she was one of many great women in my life. Not many 90+ year olds would let their grandson talk them into climbing 11 floors for the American Lung Association Fight for Air stair climb. But that is how she modeled to her grandchildren, through her actions rather than instructions.

My mom Susan also always challenged and supported me to help others and solve challenges. I have great memories solving Perry Mason shows during her lunch hour as well as puzzles in the monthly Games magazine, many of which required creativity that I use now when helping others with their difficulties.

Early on in my career, my assistant Stephanie Addington trained me to be diligent, organized, and client focused. I’m not certain how I survived a couple of brief absences from her watchful eye. And I met our office administrator Lisa Matheson when we opened the Indianapolis office of Quarles & Brady in 2014. My energy, enthusiasm and not-so-good humor at times almost chased her quickly back to Chicago, especially when I scheduled an event for the same day our new office opened. I also wore a Detroit Red Wings jersey to an Indy Fuel event for their parent team, the Chicago Blackhawks. The eagerness of these ladies to implement my crazy ideas have only enabled me to continue.

And, the most selfless woman I know is my wife, Kirsten Tragesser, who has helped me tremendously since we met a few years ago. After losing her own daughter, she obtained her child life specialist certification and has made a career helping sick and dying children as well as their families cope with issues and experiences similar to her own. She is a constant source of ideas, has unlimited desire to assist others, and is an inspiration to many.

One trait common to most in the legal profession is the desire to help others. A little time, encouragement, or support goes along way. If you don’t have the time to lead a team or a committee, support somebody who does or sign up for your company’s caring events. Simply share a word of encouragement and praise. Be a table captain for Little Red Door Cancer Agency and bring friends and clients who would enjoy your company. Donate an item for a Colby & Cate’s Charities silent auction. Better yet, buy a silent auction item to donate for another silent auction. Collect teddy bears for the IndyBar’s Paralegal Committee who donates them to first responders to have for children. Collect food for Shepherd Community Center to help make certain that children have quality meals over summer break. Spend a Saturday morning washing vans at Second Helpings who provides nutritious meals each day.

As you can imagine, I deeply appreciate the recognition by the Indianapolis Bar Association and to all of the great organizations and people in my network for giving me many opportunities to say, “yes.” Thank you.

A Cornerstone of Courage — The Remarkable Impact of Judge Patricia Gifford
Posted on: Apr 19, 2018

By The Hon. Sarah Evans Barker, United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana

The unexpected, unwelcome, unhappy news of the death of Patricia Gifford has left all who knew her bereft. This is such a huge loss of a colleague and friend. History records that she occupied a special place in our legal profession as well as in our hearts for more than 30 years prior to her retirement in 2008. In 1979, she had become the sixth Indiana woman elected to a trial court bench, taking her place within the elite ranks of the five other, extraordinary, pioneering women jurists—Judges Shields (1964), Barteau (1975), Chezem (1976), Dwyer (1976), and Mears (1978).

It is important to remember the kind of courage and spunk it took for a woman lawyer to seek and then to serve in such a position during those early years. It required a special measure of self-confidence and dedication, a strong intelligence and work ethic, a willingness to take on the challenges of managing a busy trial docket and enough independence and thick skin to overcome the resistance of others who resented or objected to her being there. Such opposition often surfaced in blunt and unkind and unfair ways.

story continues below
Judge Gifford’s secret to success at the beginning remained her secret to success throughout her long and distinguished judicial tenure: she worked hard, she knew her stuff, she understood other people and was sympathetic to their circumstances, she never lost her sense of humor or perspective, she found ways to push aside the things that didn’t matter in order to focus on the one thing that always mattered—finding the path that led to the most just result. She really was a remarkable person and judge.

In describing the qualities of character in persons who live lives that leave their mark on others’ in good and lasting ways, David Brooks, in his book “The Road to Character,” writes that such people possess an impressive inner cohesion, a kind of inner integration. “They are calm, settled, and rooted. They are not blown off course by storms. They don’t crumble in adversity. Their minds are consistent and their hearts are dependable. Their virtues are not the blooming virtues you see in smart college students; they are the ripening virtues you see in people who have lived a little and learned from joy and pain. ... they radiate a sort of moral joy ... they get things done...They just recognize what needs doing and they do it.”

Pat Gifford was such a person. All of us whose lives were graced by hers were made better by that connection. We will miss her dearly. Having died just a few days before reaching her 80th birthday, she left behind a long and rich history full of reminders of how special a judge and human being she was. As lawyers and judges, we all owe her a deep debt of gratitude for so effectively and courageously confronting and overcoming the gender barriers that at another time would have prevented her from making the extraordinary contributions she was able to make to our community and state and, most importantly, to the cause of justice. Hers was a thoroughly productive and inspiring and joy-filled life. Weren’t we lucky to have known her and to have had a front-row seat from which to watch it all unfold?

Remembering Judge Patricia Gifford
Posted on: Apr 19, 2018

By James J. Bell, Paganelli Law Group, 2018 IndyBar President

The Indianapolis Bar Association was saddened to learn of the passing of retired Marion Superior Court Judge Patricia Gifford on April 8. Judge Gifford was a true leader of the entire legal community and a pioneer for women attorneys. She was recognized several times by the IndyBar, receiving the Silver Gavel Award in 2008 for her exemplary service on the bench and the Antoinette Dakin Leach Award, which honors trailblazing women in the profession, in 2006.

When I became an attorney in 1999, Judge Gifford was likely the most well-known judge on the Marion Superior Court bench, not only because she had presided successfully over one of the most famous trials in Indiana history, but because she simply had a reputation as an outstanding judge who maintained decorum in her courtroom and who issued fair, well-reasoned decisions. While I appeared before her on a small handful of occasions prior to her retirement and had the pleasure of meeting her outside of the courtroom, I wanted this message to be filled with words of those who knew her best.

Below are comments from judges who served with her on the Marion Superior Court bench and from attorney Jim Voyles, who met Judge Gifford in law school in 1964 and, along with a few of his classmates, is likely the IndyBar member who knew her the longest. I invite you to read the comments below (as well as Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s message in this issue) and reflect on the impact Judge Gifford had on our profession.

Patricia Gifford was a generous mentor to me and many other judges and a true trailblazer. When I first became a lawyer in the late 1980s, Judge Gifford provided the incentive that being a female judge was an attractive and attainable goal. She presided over some of Marion County’s most high profile criminal cases and made it seem easy. She was the epitome of professionalism; always prepared and highly respected and she accepted no nonsense, yet she was always courteous, kind-hearted and helpful to lawyers. Her passing is a great loss to the Indianapolis legal community.

–The Hon. Tanya Walton Pratt, United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana

Judge Gifford and I worked closely together for two years when she served as Presiding Judge of the court. I learned so much from her. She managed her duties with integrity, dignity and grace, with never a show of anger or discourtesy to anyone. She was extremely adept at building coalitions among members of the bench and bar that continue today. We all became better judges as a result of her steadfast leadership, collegiality, and enduring friendship.

–The Hon. Cynthia Ayers, Marion Superior Court, and Past IndyBar President

Pat Gifford was a pioneer for female lawyers and a great mentor for all of the women judges on the Marion Superior Court bench. Pat’s door was always open when you had a legal question or needed guidance on the art of judging, or the “softer” side of judging. Pat kept control in a courtroom like no one else could. The lawyers knew she meant business when she gave them “that look.” She brought needed order to the administration of the courts when she was the presiding judge and was the most respected judge on the bench during the 16 years I was there.

She had a wonderful marriage to her husband, Bob Butsch, and they had a lot of fun together. Of course, the loves of her life were her daughter, Jennifer, and her grandsons. In court, Pat was no-nonsense, but outside of the courtroom, she always kept me laughing. I frequently thought how surprised some lawyers would be if they could have seen this side of Pat Gifford. Those of us who were blessed to know the real Pat will remember her laughing, with that twinkle in her blue eyes, and her very warm heart.

–The Hon. Robyn Moberly, United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Indiana, and Past IndyBar President
iba-judge-giffordJudge Patricia Gifford was the 2006 recipient of the Women and the Law Division’s Antoinette Dakin Leach Award aimed at recognizing trailblazing females in the legal profession.

I met Judge Gifford in my first year of law school in 1964 and we were friends from then on. I believe she was one of only three women who were sworn in with 75 of us in the Indiana Supreme Court in 1968.

I recall Judge Gifford rising through the ranks of our profession and successfully taking on her male counterparts, including none other than F. Lee Bailey, in the courtroom as Deputy Attorney General and later as one the nation’s first sex crimes prosecutors. As a judge, she was hard-working and tough, but fair. She kept things close to the vest and she ran an excellent courtroom. Off the bench, she was a different person who had a great sense of humor. She will be missed by her friends and the legal profession.

–Jim Voyles, Voyles Vaiana Lukemeyer Baldwin & Webb, and Past IndyBar President

When I first became a state court judge, I was invited by the Indiana Judicial Center to choose a mentor judge. I chose Pat Gifford because I wanted to learn from the best. She readily accepted, and we became good friends. Pat was wicked smart, funny and very kind to me. She left me with three great lessons to guide me as a judge:

Do the right thing, and in the right way.

Party loyalty is fine, but loyalty to the court is far more important.

None of it matters more than your husband and your children.

May she rest in peace.

–The Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, United States District Court, Southern District of Indiana

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