DRS: IP 96(11), Q & A: The Attorney's Occupational Tax

 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE SERVICES

450 Columbus Blvd
Hartford CT 06103
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

This Informational Publication has been superseded in part by IP 98(9)

IP 96(11)

Q & A: The Attorney's Occupational Tax


PURPOSE: The Connecticut attorney's occupational tax is an annual tax imposed on any person who has been admitted as an attorney by the judges of the Connecticut Superior Court, and who was engaged in the practice of law in Connecticut in the preceding calendar year. This publication is intended to answer some of the most frequently-asked questions concerning the application of this tax.


STATUTORY AUTHORITY: Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-81b.


WHO IS SUBJECT TO THE CONNECTICUT ATTORNEY'S OCCUPATIONAL TAX?

Any person who has been admitted as an attorney by the judges of the Superior Court and who was engaged in the practice of law in Connecticut in the preceding calendar year must file a return and pay the tax by January 15.


WHAT DOES BEING "ADMITTED AS AN ATTORNEY BY THE JUDGES OF THE SUPERIOR COURT" MEAN?

This extends to all attorneys who have been sworn in by a judge of the Connecticut Superior Court including attorneys who have been admitted on motion and are temporarily permitted to practice law in Connecticut, and to attorneys from other jurisdictions who have been admitted pro hac vice by the Superior Court to appear in individual Connecticut state court cases.


WHO MUST FILE AN ATTORNEY'S OCCUPATIONAL TAX RETURN?

Form 472, Attorney's Occupational Tax Return, must be filed by all attorneys admitted to practice in Connecticut, as described above, whether or not the tax is owed whether or not the tax is owed, on or before January 15. If January 15 falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, as defined in Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-4, the return must be filed on the next succeeding business day. A return is considered timely-filed if it is received by the Department on or before the due date, or if the date shown by the U.S. Post Office cancellation mark is on or before the due date.


WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES AND INTEREST FOR LATE FILING AND LATE PAYMENT?

The penalty for late payment of the tax, and for late filing of the return, even if no tax is due, is $50. The interest on late payments is 1% per month or fraction of a month from the due date.


MUST I FILE THE RETURN IF I AM EXEMPT?

Even those attorneys who claim exemption from payment of the tax must file the return by the due date. Failure to file the return by the due date will result in the imposition of a $50 penalty for late filing, even if no tax is due.


HOW DO I FILE THE RETURN?

Form 472, Attorney's Occupational Tax Return, will be mailed to all attorneys listed on the roll of attorneys maintained by the Superior Court. However, you are required to file a return by the due date, even if you do not receive one in the mail. If you are an attorney required to file and you do not receive a return before January 1, please contact the Forms Unit, Department of Revenue Services, at 860-297-5962 (Hartford area or out-of-state) or 1-800-382-9463 (in-state) 24 hours a day and choosing option three.


WHAT IS THE AMOUNT OF THE TAX?

The amount of the tax is $450 for each calendar year during any portion of which a person was admitted as an attorney by the judges of the Superior Court and was engaged in the practice of law. No proration of the tax is allowed, even if you were admitted to practice for less than the entire calendar year, or were exempt from the tax for part of the year (see "Who is Exempt From the Tax?" on page 2). For example, if you were sworn in by a judge of the Superior Court on December 31, you must pay the entire tax of $450 for that year, if you also engaged in the practice of law as an occupation in Connecticut on that day, regardless of how much money you received.


WHAT DOES BEING "ENGAGED IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW" MEAN?

For purposes of the attorney's occupational tax, being engaged in the practice of law means performing any act within Connecticut, or any act with respect to any judicial or administrative proceeding within Connecticut, in your capacity as an attorney, whether or not you receive any remuneration for such act.

By way of example and not of limitation, you are engaged in the practice of law if you enter an appearance or file any type of pleading or document in any Connecticut court, including probate court; any federal, state, municipal or other administrative agency within Connecticut; or any federal district court in Connecticut, including bankruptcy court, even if the appearance, pleading or document is mailed in from out of state and you do not personally enter the state. You are engaged in the practice of law if you perform legal services in Connecticut free of charge for friends or relatives. You are engaged in the practice of law if you perform any act as a Commissioner of the Superior Court authorized by Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-85.

If you are employed by an employer that is not a law firm, such as an accounting firm or an insurance company, you are nevertheless engaged in the practice of law, if you are employed as an attorney, or if your being an attorney is a factor in your employment.

If you engage in the practice of law as an occupation, it does not matter whether you earn $450 or more during the calendar year; you must pay the tax even if you receive no money, or even if your net income was less than zero for the year.


WHAT ABOUT PRO BONO WORK?

If you perform pro bono legal services in Connecticut for no consideration (rather than for reduced consideration) and you are otherwise exempt from the attorney's occupational tax, you will not lose your exemption solely by virtue of having performed such pro bono services.

For example, an attorney who is admitted to practice in New York and Connecticut, and who engaged in the practice of law with a firm exclusively in New York except for performing pro bono legal services in Connecticut outside the scope of the practice with the New York firm, will not be subject to the tax.

Performing pro bono legal services through an organization that provides legal services to the needy is to be distinguished from merely providing free legal services to friends or relatives. The latter are not considered pro bono services.


WHO IS EXEMPT FROM THE TAX?

There are several exemptions from the attorney's occupational tax, all of which are listed on Form 472, Attorney's Occupational Tax Return.

  • Any person whose name was removed from the roll of attorneys maintained by the Clerk of the Superior Court during the calendar year is exempt from tax.

    This means that if your name was removed from the roll anytime during the calendar year, even on December 31, you are exempt from paying the tax for that calendar year.

    Attorneys who die are considered to have had their names removed from the roll for purposes of this exemption as of the date of death, and are therefore exempt for the calendar year during which their death occurs.

    Attorneys who are suspended from the practice of law for a definite period are not considered to have had their names removed from the roll, and are therefore not exempt from tax. However, attorneys who are disbarred are considered to have had their names removed from the roll for purposes of this exemption, and are exempt for the calendar year during which the disbarment occurs. A disbarred attorney who is subsequently readmitted to practice law in Connecticut will be subject to the tax for the year in which the readmission occurs, unless the attorney qualifies for another exemption.

  • Any person who engaged in the practice of law, but not as an occupation, and who received less than $450 from engaging in the practice of law during the calendar year is exempt from tax.

    The requirements of this exemption are conjunctive: you must both have been "engaged in the practice of law, but not as an occupation" and have received less than $450 from the practice of law, in order to be exempt.

    For purposes of this exemption, to be engaged in the practice of law, but not as an occupation, means to be primarily engaged in an occupation other than law, where being an attorney is not a factor in your employment. For example, you may have been employed as a school teacher, a physician, or a law enforcement officer, while being admitted to practice law in Connecticut. If you were so employed in an occupation other than law and you received less than $450 from performing an incidental small amount of legal work, you may qualify for the exemption.

    If you engaged in the practice of law as an occupation, you do not qualify for this exemption, even if you received less than $450 during the calendar year from such employment. For example, if you went to work for a law firm, or were self-employed as an attorney, but received less than $450, you do not qualify for this exemption. Similarly, if you worked for a business other than a law office (such as an accounting firm or an insurance company) as an attorney, or if your being an attorney was a factor in your employment, you do not qualify for this exemption, even if you received less than $450 from such employment.

  • Any person who was a judge, senior judge or referee and did not otherwise engage in the practice of law during the entire calendar year is exempt from the tax.

    This exemption applies to all Connecticut state court judges, including family support magistrates authorized under Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-231 and magistrates appointed under Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-193l et seq., who worked exclusively as judges or magistrates and did not otherwise engage in the practice of law during the entire calendar year. The exemption applies to probate court judges, but not if the probate court judge otherwise engaged in the practice of law during the calendar year.

    This exemption also applies to federal judges who did not otherwise engage in the practice of law during the entire year.

  • Any person who was a Connecticut state employee employed as an attorney and did not otherwise engage in the practice of law during the calendar year is exempt from the tax.

    This exemption applies only if you were employed as a Connecticut state employee for the entire year (or for the entire portion of the year during which you were admitted to practice in Connecticut), and did not otherwise engage in the practice of law in Connecticut.

    If you were employed as a contractor or vendor to the State of Connecticut, such as a per diem advocate for the Juvenile Court or a special public defender, you were not a state employee for purposes of this exemption.

    If you were employed as an attorney by a judge of an individual probate court, you were not a state employee for purposes of this exemption (see Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-21). Employees of the Probate Court Administrator, however, are state employees for purposes of this exemption.

    If you were employed as an attorney by a Connecticut municipality or agency thereof, you were not a state employee for purposes of this exemption.

    If you were employed by the State of Connecticut, but not as an attorney, you do not qualify for this exemption; however, you may qualify for the exemption for persons who were engaged in the practice of law, but not as an occupation, and who received less than $450 in compensation from the practice of law during the year, or for the exemption for persons who did not work or were not employed as attorneys during the year.

  • Any person who was a federal government employee employed as an attorney and did not otherwise engage in the practice of law during the calendar year is exempt from the tax.

    As with the exemption for Connecticut state employees, this exemption applies only if you were employed as an attorney by the federal government for the entire calendar year (or for the entire portion of the year during which you were admitted to practice in Connecticut), and did not otherwise engage in the practice of law in Connecticut.

    If you were employed by the federal government, but not as an attorney, you do not qualify for this exemption; however, you may qualify for the exemption for persons who were engaged in the practice of law, but not as an occupation, and who received less than $450 in compensation from the practice of law during the year, or for the exemption for persons who did not work or were not employed as attorneys during the year.

  • Any person who engaged in the practice of law exclusively outside Connecticut during the calendar year is exempt from the tax.

    This exemption does not apply if you performed any act in Connecticut, or any act with respect to any judicial or administrative proceeding in Connecticut (federal, state or municipal) in your capacity as an attorney, whether or not you received any remuneration for such act, and whether or not such act was connected with your employment as an attorney outside Connecticut. Examples of such acts include, but are not limited to, entering an appearance in a case in Connecticut court or Connecticut federal district court, meeting with a client in Connecticut, witnessing a document or taking an acknowledgment as Commissioner of the Superior Court in Connecticut.

  • Any person who did not work or was not employed as an attorney during the calendar year is exempt from the tax.

    This exemption applies only if you were not employed as an attorney, and performed no act in Connecticut in your capacity as an attorney.

  • Any person who was on active duty with the United States armed forces for more than six months during the calendar year is exempt from the tax.

    You may claim this exemption even if you were otherwise engaged in the practice of law in Connecticut during the portion of the calendar year when you were not on active duty.

  • Any person who retired from the practice of law and filed written notice of retirement with the Clerk of the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford/New Britain during the calendar year is exempt from the tax.

    This exemption applies if you were placed on retirement status at any time during the calendar year. For example, if you were placed on retirement status on December 31, you may claim the exemption for the entire calendar year.

    To qualify for this exemption, you must notify the Clerk of the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford/New Britain of your retirement in writing. Complete Judicial District, Form JD-GC-10, Attorney Registration Change of Information, noting on the form that you are retired, and return the form to the Clerk's Office. Attach to the form a letter stating that you are retiring from the practice of law, and the effective date of your retirement. You must also send a copy of the Form JD-GC-10 to the Statewide Grievance Committee at the address shown on the form. The Clerk's Office must receive the form and the letter on or before the effective date of your retirement. To obtain Form JD-GC-10, contact the Clerk's Office of the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford/New Britain at 860-548-2700, extension 3723.

    You are not required to file a written notice of retirement when you retire from the practice of law; however, if you do not do so, you will continue to be considered an active attorney, and will not qualify for this exemption.


WHAT IF MY ADDRESS CHANGES?

If your address changes, you should notify both the Department of Revenue Services and the Statewide Grievance Committee.

To change your address with the Department of Revenue Services, fax a written notice of the change, including your Connecticut Tax Registration Number as it appears on Form 472, Attorney's Occupational Tax Return (not your juris number or social security number) to 860-297-4757, or mail the notice to:

Department of Revenue Services
Registration, Maintenance Unit
P.O. Box 2937
Hartford, CT 06104-2937

To change your address with the Statewide Grievance Committee, call the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford/New Britain at 860-548-2700, extension 3723, and ask for Form JD-GC-10. One will be mailed or faxed to you.

Return the form to the Statewide Grievance Committee at the address shown on the form. Form JD-GC-9, Attorney Registration, which is sent to you annually by the Statewide Grievance Committee, also contains space to indicate your change of address.


HOW DO I OBTAIN A JURIS NUMBER?

Your juris number is automatically assigned to you by the Clerk of the Superior Court after you are sworn in by a judge of the Superior Court. You will receive a post card with your juris number on it. Your juris number also appears on your Form JD-GC-9 which is sent to you annually by the Statewide Grievance Committee. If you do not know your juris number, you may contact the Clerk of the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Hartford/New Britain at 860-548-2700, extension 3723. Do not call the Department of Revenue Services to obtain your juris number. Once you have obtained your juris number, please write it down and retain it for future use.


EFFECT ON OTHER DOCUMENTS: None affected.


EFFECT OF THIS DOCUMENT: An Informational Publication is a document that addresses issues frequently raised by taxpayers, usually in a question-and-answer format. It is less technical in nature than a Policy Statement, but may be referred to by individual taxpayers for guidance.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please call the Department of Revenue Services during business hours, Monday through Friday:

1-800-382-9463 (toll-free from within Connecticut), or
860-297-5962 (anywhere); or
TDD/TT (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) users only call 860-297-4911.


FORMS AND PUBLICATIONS: Forms and publications are available all day, seven day a week:

  • Internet: preview and download forms from the DRS website: http://www.ct.gov/drs;
  • Telephone: use the phone numbers listed above and select Option 2 from a touch-tone phone.


IP 96(11)

Attorney's Occupational Tax

Issued: 11/18/96