Thursday, January 3, 2013

Important Information from the ABA Regarding Lawyers Who Accept Credit Card Payments

New IRS requirements regarding the reporting of credit card transactions have the potential to negatively impact IOLTA accounts and lead to ethical violations by lawyers. Here are the key points about which you may wish to alert members who accept credit card payments:

  • Pursuant to the Housing Assistance Tax Act of 2008, credit card processing companies are required to verify and match each merchant’s federal tax identification number and her legal name with those found on file with the IRS. An EXACT match is required.
  • For the purposes of this requirement, lawyers who accept credit card payments are considered “merchants.”
  • If there is NOT an exact match between the information provided to the credit card processing company and the information on file with the IRS, there are serious consequences:

o Beginning January 2013, the IRS will impose a 28% withholding penalty on all credit card transactions, including those that the lawyer directs to her IOLTA account.

o If client funds that should be in the IOLTA account are withheld due to the lawyer’s failure to act and thus are not available to the client on demand, ethical issues are raised.

  • The credit card processing company should have received information from the IRS if a mismatch occurred and already notified the lawyer of the problem. However, it is not known if all processing companies have provided such notice.
  • Steps lawyers can take now to avoid an ethical violation in 2013:

o Contact the credit card processor to determine that a match occurred

o Correct mismatches if informed of one

For more information on this issue, see

This information was provided to us by the ABA Commission on IOLTA. If you have questions, please direct them to Beverly Groudine, staff counsel to the Commission,


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Unknown said...

Your figures are in error. The taxes for both Clinton and Bush were calculated using the maximum rate for that selected income. For instance the Clinton 1999 tax rate on 30K was 28%, which is what they used to get the 8400 figure. However taxes are not calculated that way. The first 25K of income would have been 2013 tax brackets at the lower 15% bracket first, thus yielding a much lower figure than what you show.I am not arguing that Bush doesn't have lower taxes. He certainly does. Of course he obtained his lower tax brackets by using deficit spending and increasing the national debt. Add back in the interest payments we'll be making and I bet Bush actually cost taxpayers far more than Clinton ever did.

Hugh Wood said...

These figures came from the outside author - which I think was the Ga State Bar. They, however, almost always get it from some other 3rd party. Hugh Wood

Charles Feder said...

There are additional reasons that IOLTA accounts should never be used to receive credit card payments. First, the beneficiary of the account is the State Bar Foundation. Second, if a client disputes a charge, the deposit may be reversed, thereby affecting funds deposited by other clients. If you want to accept credit card charges for funds to be put in trust, perhaps one could designate a "holding account" to receive the funds and delay transfer to the IOLTA account for 60 days, until the credit card company's dispute period has run. (I have not run this by the State Bar for an opinion)