Tax Resolution Boot Camp – A Trial Lawyer’s Perspective

I recently had the opportunity to attend the two-day tax resolution “boot camp” offered by the American Society of Tax Problem Solvers (ASTPS). In spite of the name, ASTPS is a fantastic organization, and this “boot camp” was by far the best seminar of any sort I have attended. ASTPS is an organization for tax attorneys, enrolled agents (EA), and certified public accountants (CPA). No one else would join this organization, because the IRS no longer allows anybody else to solve the “tax problems” that ASTPS deals with. Simply put, appeals and complex collection matters are outside the domain of what un-enrolled tax preparers, or even those who have completed the annual tax preparer’s program, generally do. Besides, who would want to hire such a person for a complex tax matter, such as an audit, appeal, or an offer in compromise? The tax resolution “boot camp” was taught by a person, who is both a CPA and an Enrolled Agent. In fact, all the presenters met...

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I HAVE BEEN INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT, WHO WILL PAY MY MEDICAL BILLS?

At first glance, the answer to the question “I have been injured in a car accident. Who will pay my medical bills?” is a simple one. Massachusetts is a “no-fault” state, so at least initially the car insurance is required to pay your medical bills and wage losses that resulted from the car accident. There are numerous exceptions to the rule, many of which I will discuss in the body of this article. Some of the exceptions are intentional, such as the absence of the coverage for injuries resulting from the injured person’s drunk driving or drag racing and the lack of coverage for motorcyclists. Others derive from the fact that Massachusetts is not a pure no-fault system, but instead a hybrid system. Medical expenses need to be coordinated with private health insurance. Wage loss claims are subordinate to disability insurance and other payments, including payments by the employer. The most gnawing exceptions derive from complications involved in administering a hybrid system...

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USCIS IS INCREASING ITS FEES

I have been warning my clients for the past several months that there is a rumor circulating that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is going to be raising its fees soon. It is no longer a rumor. USCIS has announced its new fee schedule effective December 23, 2016 The immigration service is increasing many of its fees, some of them are quite substantially. For example, where it is used to cost $1,490 for a spouse or immediate family member to adjust status and receive a green card while in the U.S., that fee will increase to $1,760. That is just for the government. The attorney fees will be on top of that. Similarly, to apply for citizenship is increasing from $595 to $640. The fiancé petition fee is increasing from $340 to $535, while fees to replace a lost or stolen green card are increasing from $365 to $455. Petition for non-immigrant workers (H-Visas) are increasing from $345 to...

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When Bankruptcy is the Best Option

I had the pleasure the other day of reading an article on a website called nerdwallet.com called "When Bankruptcy is the Best Option". It raised a number of issues that I would like to take the opportunity to expound upon. It also cited two of my favorite Federal Reserve articles, one published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the other by researchers at the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank. One concern that people commonly have when filing bankruptcy is what impact it will have upon their credit score. This article cites some findings from the researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia. The article quotes the following...

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A Special Thank You to the Stoneham Office of the Internal Revenue Service

I need to say something nice about someone at the Internal Revenue Service. I should preface this by saying that for the most part the individuals that I have dealt with at the Internal Revenue Service have been professional and helpful. Many have even been friendly. However, I thought that this recent experience was special and so I wanted to give a special shout out to the Stoneham Collections Office for going out of its way to help me and my client. I have a client whose divorce I did some years ago. At the time, neither he nor his wife were working and the agreement simply said that they would alternate claiming the tax credit for their child. Now my client is working, and I am doing his taxes. He did not claim the child in 2012, but we did claim the child in 2013. Unfortunately, the wife's address is impounded, and her former attorney is no longer practicing law. We did not know how to get a hold of her. After considerable networking we found her. She was not very cooperative....

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Early Retirement Distributions from IRAs, 401(k)s and other Retirement Savings Plans

The Internal Revenue Service has put out this article "Early Retirement Distributions and Your Taxes". I want to discuss it because it has been a major issue for many of my clients. In fact, I have a running joke whenever a client hands me a form 1099-R (the form that people receive when they take a distribution from a retirement plan) that they "did this to make me look bad". It seems that any time a client takes an early distribution from a retirement plan that it destroys their refund and sometimes even causes them to owe tax when they would otherwise receive refunds. This is true even if they "took the taxes already" which only means that some tax was withheld. Generally speaking, the withholding that is done is inadequate. There are also "hidden costs" to a 401(k) or other retirement withdrawal. I wanted to discuss this article when it came out, but it came out during the height of...

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Make a Wise Choice When Selecting a Tax Return Preparer

The IRS has published its annual advice publication on how to choose a tax preparer cleverly named “Make a Wise Choice When Selecting a Tax Return Preparer”. They list ten (10) tips and explain each one. This article discusses each tip and how Attorney Haskell meets or exceeds the Internal Revenue Service standard. The first tip is “Select an ethical preparer.” The Internal Revenue Service has put the most important issue at the top of the list. Their emphasis is on the fact that you are trusting somebody with all of your personal information. You must give your tax preparer the names, addresses, social security numbers, and dates of birth of yourself, your spouse, your children and any other dependants you may have. Right off the bat, you are giving your tax preparer everything necessary to steal your identity. On top of that, you give your tax preparer your employment information, your bank account information and your investment account...

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What Should A Person Do After A Car Accident?

Today’s topic written by Aaron Crane, an experienced Phoenix car accident attorney, deals with what to do after you have been in a car accident. Car accidents are usually stressful and disorienting experiences. They happen without warning and usually lead to injuries and damage. What a driver does on the scene of an accident is very important. It is easy to panic and make poor or even illegal decisions. Whether an accident seems minor or major, it is important for a driver to keep the following steps in mind. Remain On the Scene Remaining at the scene of an accident is a driver's legal duty. Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime. The last thing a driver needs to do is add criminal charges to their list of troubles. If it is safe to do so, a driver should remain near their vehicle. If it is obviously unsafe, then a driver can and should retreat a safe...

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Are Auto Insurers Putting The Bottom Line Ahead Of Safety?

A recent WCVB expose asked the question “Are auto insurers putting the bottom line ahead of safety?”.  You  The answer is a resounding the YES!!  You can link to that article and broadcast here. The insurance companies are putting profits before safety in auto repairs. It is very easy for them to do this when there is a unitized frame. At this point almost all cars and many small trucks and SUVs have unibody construction. It saves the insurance companies a lot of money, and it does result in unsafe cars being on the road. I discussed this issue at some length three years ago in my blog “Car Accidents and the Importance of Auto Repair and...

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Question About Renting Out Surrendered Property When The Bank Does Not Foreclose

This question came in my email today, and I am going to answer it here: Question Detail: Can I rent my house to someone in need if I filed bankruptcy and the case has been discharged for 3 years but bank has done nothing yet with the house? Answer:  Yes, but you should have a plan for if the bank does come for the house. The fact is that even though you have filed bankruptcy, discharged the mortgage and advised the court and Trustee of your intention to surrender the property, it is still yours until the bank comes to take it away.  It is not uncommon for the bank to take three years to come for a house.  Unless and until it does, you still own it and may treat it as your property.  If you live in it, you may continue to live in it until the bank forecloses upon it and evicts you (or pays you to move out).  If it is a rental property, you may continue to collect rent until the bank forecloses. I will admit that I am a...

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