August 24, 2019

J. Ryann Peyton Named Colorado Bar Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year

RyannPeytonIn recognition of her exceptional contributions to the legal profession and the community, J. Ryann Peyton has been named the Colorado Bar Association Young Lawyers Division’s Gary L. McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year.

Peyton, 32, is currently Special Counsel to The Harris Law Firm. She received her J.D. degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law, and an LLM in Taxation from the University of Denver. Peyton is the current chair of the board of The GLBT Community Center of Colorado, and a founding member and current President of the Colorado GLBT Bar Association Foundation. She is also a Colorado Bar Association Board of Governors member.

“It is an honor to be recognized by my colleagues and peers to receive this award. As a diverse attorney, I approach my practice and community engagement with a passion for recognizing and meeting the needs of underserved populations,” Peyton says. “It is a privilege to work with and lead extraordinary organizations and individuals who are working each day to advance opportunities for these often under represented communities.”

The Gary L. McPherson Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year award is given annually to a young lawyer with an outstanding record of professional success, community service achievements, and a strong commitment to civic participation and inspiring others. McPherson was honored with the award in 1993; he went on to serve three terms in the state legislature. The award was renamed in his honor following his death in 2000.

“It is my privilege and honor to work alongside Ryann Peyton each day in our family law practice. She exemplifies the best of the noble profession of lawyering,” Rich Harris, President of The Harris Law Firm, says. “Ryann is that rare individual who balances her law practice with her important charitable work. She is truly making a difference each day for her clients and for the community.”

Peyton will be honored at the Colorado Bar Foundation’s Annual Bar Fellows Dinner on Friday, Jan. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Denver.

Strikes for Tykes with the DBA Community Action Network this Saturday

Strikes4TykesThis Saturday, December 6, the Denver Bar Association’s Community Action Network will host Strikes for Tykes at Elitch Lanes from 11 am to 2 pm. Strikes for Tykes is a bowling event to benefit the Children’s Outreach Project, a nonprofit high quality early childhood education program for typical, accelerated, and developmentally delayed children in the Denver metro area. Adults can participate in Strikes for Tykes for $35 ($15 for children 12 and under) or can rent an entire lane for $150. To register, click here, and for more information, email Alexa Drago at adrago@cobar.org.

Tenth Circuit: If Debtor Transfers More Than 15% of GAI to Qualified Organization, Trustee May Recover Entire Amount, Not Just Amount in Excess of 15%

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in Wadsworth v. The Word of Life Christian Center on Monday, December 16, 2013.

Debtors Lisa and Scott McGough filed for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 in 2009. During 2008, the McGoughs made contributions to the Word of Life Christian Center (the Center), totaling $3,478. During 2009, they made contributions to the Center totaling $1,280. Their taxable income for 2008 and 2009 was $6,800 and $7,487, respectively. They also received social security benefits in 2008 and 2009 totaling $22,036 and $23,164, respectively.

The Trustee filed an adversary proceeding against the Center seeking to recover the contributions made to it by the McGoughs under 11 U.S.C. §§ 548(a)(1)(B) and 550. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment. According to the Center, because the individual amounts of each contribution made by the McGoughs did not exceed 15% of their gross annual income (“GAI”), none were avoidable under the safe harbor provision of § 548(a)(2). The Trustee took the opposite view: the contributions must be considered in the aggregate and because the total contributions made by the McGoughs exceeded 15% of their GAI in those years, he could recover them in their entirety.

The bankruptcy court agreed with the Trustee in part: for purposes of the safe harbor provision of § 548(a)(2), a debtor’s contributions must be considered in their annual aggregate. However, it sided with the Center on the avoidance issue—if the contributions exceeded 15% of a debtor’s GAI, only the amount exceeding 15% is subject to avoidance. Thus, the Trustee’s recovery was limited to the amount of the contributions exceeding 15% of the McGoughs’ GAI. The Trustee appealed to the Bankruptcy Court of Appeals (BAP). Therefore, the only issue before the BAP was whether § 548(a)(2) allows a trustee to recover the entire amount of a charitable contribution if it exceeds 15% of GIA or only the amount in excess of 15%. The BAP agreed with the bankruptcy court—only the amount exceeding 15% was avoidable.

The sole question on appeal was a narrow one: If a restricted debtor transfers more than 15% of his GAI to a qualified religious or charitable organization, may the trustee avoid the entire annual transfer or only the portion exceeding 15%? The bankruptcy court and Bankruptcy Court of Appeals (BAP) said circumstances here only permitted the trustee to avoid the portion of the transfer exceeding 15%. The issue presented was a matter of first impression in the Tenth Circuit.

The Tenth Circuit agreed with the Trustee’s argument: § 548(a)(2) is unambiguous and clearly provides a safe harbor from the trustee’s avoidance power only if the “transfer” does not exceed 15% of GAI. Thus the converse must also be true—if the “transfer” exceeds 15% of GAI, then the “transfer”—meaning the entire transfer—is subject to avoidance. Had Congress intended for only the portion of the transfer exceeding 15% of GAI to be subject to avoidance, it would have added limiting language to that effect.  It did not.

REVERSED.

HB 13-1246: Allowing Property Tax Exemptions for Property Used for Charitable Purposes

On March 4, 2013, Rep. Lois Court and Sen. Pat Steadman introduced HB 13-1246 – Concerning Modifications in Connection with Current Property Tax Exemptions for Nonprofit Organizations. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

Tax exempt property acquired by nonprofit housing provider for low-income housing: Current law allows a property tax exemption for real property acquired by a nonprofit housing provider upon which the provider intends to construct or rehabilitate housing to be sold to a low-income applicant. The bill modifies the property tax exemption by also allowing it to apply to real property acquired by a nonprofit housing provider that the provider intends to sell to a low-income applicant for the purpose of constructing or rehabilitating housing for the low-income applicant’s residential use.

In addition, the bill changes the criteria to qualify as a low-income applicant from an individual or family whose total median income is no greater than 60 percent of the area median income to an individual or family whose total median income is no greater than 80 percent of the area median income.

Waiver of filing deadline for annual report from owners of tax-exempt property: An owner of property that is exempt from property tax as determined by the property tax administrator is required to file an annual report to the state board of equalization (state board) regarding the tax-exempt property. Currently, the state board may waive the filing deadline for the annual report under certain circumstances. The bill allows the state board to determine a deadline for the property owner to file the report when granting the waiver and specifies that the waiver is invalid after the date established by the state board.

Effective date of property tax exemptions when a public official has made an error: The property tax administrator is currently authorized to grant a property tax exemption for certain types of property. The property tax administrator may grant the exemption back to Jan. 1 of the year preceding the year in which the application was filed, but no earlier. The bill allows the state board to authorize the property tax administrator to make an exemption effective earlier than is currently allowed when the property has been added back to the tax roll as omitted property and would otherwise have met all criteria for exemption during the time that it was omitted.

On March 27, the House gave final approval to the bill on 3rd Reading; the bill has not been assigned to a committee in the Senate.

Since this summary, the bill has been assigned to the Finance Committee in the Senate.