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  • May
    06
    2020

    Annual Court Assessments and Dues: Option to Pay in Four Installments

    This year, in response to COVID-19, members struggling to pay their annual court assessments and membership dues by July 1 may choose to pay in four installments.
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    May 6, 2020 – With an understanding that members may experience economic hardships due to the impact of COVID-19, the State Bar has taken a number of steps to make paying your 2021 Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments and State Bar of Wisconsin dues a bit easier. These steps include an option to spread payments over four months.

    Annual assessments and membership dues for fiscal year (FY) 2021 cover July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.

    This Year: What You Need to Know

    Each year, Supreme Court assessments and State Bar membership dues statements are sent in early May and are due by July 1, with membership cards expiring on July 31. This year, however, the State Bar makes the following changes for members unable to pay their annual assessments and dues by July 1:

    • Members can opt to pay fees in four installments. Members wishing to pay in installments, must sign up online by June 9. Those opting for this payment plan agree to make four total payments in June, July, August, and September. There are no processing fees to participate.

    • Current membership cards are valid until Sept. 30 instead of July 31. This year, State Bar membership cards, which are evidence of a lawyer’s authorization to practice law, will expire on Sept. 30 instead of July 31. This 60-day extension gives you flexibility to sign up for the installment plan if you so choose. The extension was granted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court at the State Bar's request.

    • No fees will be assessed for late payments until Oct. 1. The State Bar is granting a 30-day grace period (from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1) before applying late fees for unpaid court assessments and dues. These must be paid in full by Sept. 30 to avoid late fees.

    • New membership cards will be issued after the full payment of dues and court assessments. Again, these must be paid in full by Sept. 30.

    No Increase in State Bar Dues

    The Board of Governors recently eliminated a proposed $4 increase in State Bar membership dues for the coming year. During this unprecedented time, the State Bar will turn to reserves to balance next years’ budget.

    The amount of your State Bar dues varies based on your membership classification:

    • Membership dues are $260 for full dues-paying active members as well as voting judicial members and justices.

    • Active new members (lawyers admitted to their first bar after April 30, 2018) and inactive members pay half dues of $130.

    • Nonvoting judicial members pay $174.

    • Emeritus members continue to pay no State Bar dues.

    Each member may deduct the portion of their dues that pays for the State Bar’s activities deemed not germane to regulating the legal profession or improving the quality of legal services, as well as all direct lobbying on policy matters before the Wisconsin Legislature or the U.S. Congress, also known as the Keller dues reduction. That amount totals $11.10 for FY 2021 for full dues-paying members, otherwise pro-rated.

    dues graph 2020  

    Understanding Court Assessments

    The State Bar collects Wisconsin Supreme Court assessments on behalf of the Board of Bar Examiners, the Office of Lawyer Regulation, the Public Interest Legal Services Fund (WisTAF), and the Wisconsin Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection.

    The four court-imposed assessments total $231, $5 less than last year. These assessments support the following:

    * The court assesses active-licensed attorneys and judicial members $50, paid to the Wisconsin Trust Account Foundation, to fund civil legal services for people who cannot afford an attorney.

    Not all member types pay the full court assessment amount. To learn more, see Maintaining Your Membership.

    How to Pay Online

    If you do not sign up by June 9 to pay assessments and dues in installments, payment is due by July 1, 2020.

    Fully enrolled State Bar members in good standing may pay their court assessments and dues online with a credit card from a computer or mobile device. Find out more about online dues payment.

    Members will receive their statements via the USPS, unless they opted out of the first mailing, preferring to receive notification by email. Members who opt not to receive a paper statement will receive an email informing them that the Online Dues Portal is open, with links for access and instruction on using the portal.

    Methods of payment include:

    • via a print statement received in the mail or by download at wisbar.org/mydues;

    • online with a credit or debit card by visiting wisbar.org/mydues; or

    • by phone in May, June, and July by calling Customer Service at (800) 728-7788.

    Questions? See Membership FAQs, Paying Your Assessments and Dues FAQs, the COVID-19 Response Payment Plan FAQs, or contact Customer Service at (800) 728-7788 or service@wisbar.org.

    Keep These in Mind

    Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when completing your assessments and dues statement:

    • Please self-identify in the Demographic Data Section. The Diversity Inclusion and Oversight Committee seeks to better understand and serve an increasingly diverse membership. Please take the time to read the insert accompanying the printed dues statement, and provide or verify demographic data collected in support of the State Bar’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

    • Be sure to sign the trust account statement to retain your license – and your permanent notary commission. Supreme Court rules require that every lawyer and judge sign this statement, regardless of whether you maintain a trust account.

    • Suspensions may impact your permanent status as a notary public. Failure to accurately and timely submit the trust account statement may result in loss of permanent notary public status. The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) may suspend permanent notary commissions of attorneys who are suspended from the practice of law. This means when you are reinstated, you must reapply for a four-year notary public commission and will continue to be reappointed in four-year increments. This matter is solely within DFI’s discretion.

    • Assessments and dues may be deductible as business expenses. Supreme Court assessments and State Bar dues are not deductible as charitable contributions but may be deductible as business expenses. See the Dues FAQs or the instructions with your dues statement for more information.

    • Wisconsin Law Foundation donations are charitable contributions. If you made a donation to the Wisconsin Law Foundation or paid your Fellows pledge, these payments are 501(c)3 charitable contributions; the Law Foundation will issue receipts.

    Take Advantage of Your Member Benefits

    Through your dues, the State Bar offers you exclusive access to a wide variety of helpful resources and opportunities, to help you and your practice succeed.

    Visit Discover the Benefits of Membership on WisBar.org to find out more about these exclusive programs and services, representing hundreds of tools and resources designed to help you boost your practice.

    Don’t miss out on benefits that could help you save time, money, and frustration. Take 15 minutes to scan a complete listing of member benefits.




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