John will be participating on Lawline 9 today from 4 - 5:30 pm on Channel 9 KUSA.

Call 303-698-0999 to have your legal questions answered.


Independent Contractor/Employee

 Businesses are often confronted with determining whether an individual they hire is an independent contractor or their employee. While businesses generally prefer to hire individuals as independent contractors, misclassifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in the employer being liable for significant back taxes.

Pursuant to C.R.S. 8-70-115(1)(b), services performed by a worker for another is considered "employment" for unemployment tax liability purposes, unless the employer proves both that the individual "is free from control and direction in the performance of the service" and the individual "is customarily engaged in an independent trade, occupation, profession, or business related to the service performed" In order to protect themselves, businesses often have contractors sign Independent Contractor Agreements.

Recent Supreme Court decisions determined that a contractor's outside employment should no longer be dispositive of whether a contractor is an employee/independent contractor. Instead, a court must look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding one's employment when making this determination. This distinction, in addition to the appropriate language to include in an independent contractor agreement, is important to be aware of if you hire outside contractors.


Homeowners Associations

As of January 1, 2014, HOA's (Home Owner's Associations) are required to comply with numerous new requirements relating to the collection and enforcement of debts and the utilization of liens. These requirements apply to CCIOA (Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act) communities, as well as preexisting communities which have not elected coverage under CCIOA. With these new statutory requirements, collection of unpaid assessments may not be pursued unless an HOA has policies outlining the due date, late fees and interest, returned check charges, notice of default, and payment plans, among other things. Additionally, the are specific requirements which must be satisfied in order to foreclose upon a lien. We can help HOA's amend their Declarations and related governing documents to conform with these new standards.


Business Briefs - new in 2014


            In May, Governor Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 14-1014. HB 14-1014 expands the number of companies that are eligible for job-growth tax incentive credits, which the Denver Business Journal remarks is “widely considered the top tool the state has to attract relocating or expanding businesses.”

            HB 14-1014 led to amendments of C.R.S. § 39-22-531, the statute relating to job growth incentive tax credits. The amendments lower from 110 percent to 100 percent the amount of the average county salary that companies must pay to be eligible for the tax credits, extend from five to eight years the length of time businesses can claim the breaks, and require only that the income tax credit be a major reason that the company chose to grow in Colorado, not the sole reason.

             House Bill 14-1001 went into effect in May of 2014. House Bill 14-1001 was created in response to the recent natural disasters that have occurred throughout the state. Beginning in the 2013 income tax year, HB 1001 establishes an income tax credit for a taxpayer that owns real or business personal property that was destroyed by a natural cause as determined by the county assessor of the county in which the property is located. The credit amount is an amount equal to the taxpayer’s property tax liability for the destroyed property in the property tax year in which the natural cause occurred, however the credit may only be taken in the income tax year the property was destroyed. Among other things, HB 1001 requires a taxpayer to request that the county assessor in the county in which the destroyed property is located complete and sign a certification form for the destroyed property, prior to claiming any income tax credit. Additional requirements can be found by reviewing C.R.S. § 39-1-123.

             Similarly, House Bill 14-1279 involves income tax credits for business personal property.

HB 14-1279 creates a state income tax credit for businesses for the amount of business personal property tax paid in Colorado. The credit is equal to the amount of business personal property tax paid, less the value of the tax benefit received by the taxpayer from deducting these taxes from his/her federal taxable income. If you believe this Bill may be beneficial to you or your business, please review C.R.S. § 39-22-537 for additional information.


News on Healthcare Changes

            The implementation of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) continues to be a dynamic issue nationwide and here in Colorado. Beginning in 2015, all taxpayers will have to report to the IRS whether they had health insurance the previous year. Failure to maintain health insurance will result in fines for the taxpayer, unless he/she qualifies for various exemptions. Businesses and individuals can shop for policies through Connect for Health Colorado which can be accessed at

             Health care in Colorado may also be impacted by the passage of Senate Bill 14-187. SB 187 creates the Colorado Commission on Affordable Health Care, which will study health care cost drivers in Colorado and recommend solutions for lowering costs. The goal of the Commission is to find solutions to the increasing costs of health care so that it is more affordable to families, businesses and government in Colorado. The Commission discussions and results are worth monitoring in the coming year.

            As discussed last year, the Employer Mandate of the ACA requires certain businesses to make affordable health insurance available to its employees. Companies with 50 or more full-time employees could face large fines per employee if they do not offer minimum essential health care coverage for all full time employees, or are offering insufficient benefits (including lack of affordable of coverage). Fortunately, as this process continues to be ironed out, the Obama Administration has announced “transition relief” under which penalties for employers with 50 or more workers will not go into effect until 2016. Because changes have been occurring under the ACA so frequently, employers should stay abreast of the situation throughout the coming year.