Category Archives: Laws

Preparing your own Taxes

It is a fact that millions of taxpayers in USA are losing millions of dollars to the government because of erroneously prepared tax returns. This is mainly because of the ignorance on their part, or because of the ignorance or negligence of the professionals they have paid to prepare their tax return.

Tax

Tax

This incidence of ignorance has increased to such a magnitude that the IRS is forced to take action. From 2013, anyone who prepares tax returns for a fee, unless he is an attorney, CPA or enrolled agency, they have to be certified by the IRS. They will have to pass an IRS competency examination and a background check, before the certificate is issued to them.

Preparing your own income taxes is not at all that difficult as your tax professional might want you to think it like. There are many advanced tax preparation softwares available that has made preparing taxes so easy. You do not need any knowledge of tax laws to understand the process. This holds particularly true with the Turbo Tax Home and Business Tax preparation software, which has now gotten much better in the recent times. As it is not that expensive, it is virtually just as easy and effective to use this tax software as it will be used by a professional tax preparer.

There are many benefits of preparing taxes on your own. You do not need to disclose your sensitive personal information to any other person. It will reduce the risk of your personal information being compromised. Your never know how much your personal information is safe after leaving from the doorstep of your tax preparer. The IRS has found a huge increase in taxpayer identity theft in the last couple of years. That’s why they are always advising to consult with honest tax accountants with whom your personal information is safe and secure.

You can actually save a lot of money when you prepare your taxes on your own. Hiring an accountant can be quite costly and tax preparation fees can range from $300 and upwards for an average tax return with a Schedule A. When you file taxes on your own, you will have full control over it. You can take as much time to prepare your own taxes and do your own research to ensure optimum results.

It will also motivate you to look at your own finances and as you immerse yourself in the process, you gain more knowledge about tax matters and money management issues.

More information:

http://www.irs.gov/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_law

What questions to ask an attorney before finalizing him!

These questions will vary as per your case. Go through these points and know how to get started.

  • What are your areas of specialization?
  • What is the cost of the initial consultation?
  • Have you handled cases like mine before? How many? What was the outcome?
  • Will you be the only attorney who works on the case? If not, who else will work on it?
  • How long will it take for this case to be resolved?
  • How much will my case cost? Can you take my case on a contingent fee basis?
  • Can I do some of the work on the case to keep the cost down?
  • Are there things I should do to improve my case, or to help you?
  • How will you keep me informed about the progress of my case?
  • If I contact your office with questions, how long will you take to return my call?
  • If you are unavailable or on vacation, who can I speak to about my case?
  • Can I reach you after hours, if I have an emergency?
  • How often do you go to trial?
  • If I am not happy with a settlement offer, and you want to settle, will you go to court anyway?
  • If I am happy with the offer, but you think we can win more at trial, will you follow my wishes?
  • Have you ever been disciplined by an ethics committee, or been suspended from the practice of law? If so, why?
  • What “continuing legal education” courses have you attended during the past few years?


A written agreement is a must

Always get the written retainer agreement so that you have your rights protected. Before signing the contract, go through the points carefully and if you have any queries, get it clarified by your attorney. If you are paying thousands of dollars just in fees, you might even like to get the contract reviewed by another attorney and compare. The retainer agreement should accurately describe the legal issues for which the attorney is representing you, the amount of fees and all terms that have been discussed.

Terminating the agreement

You have the right to terminate a relationship with an attorney in an ongoing case. It must be noted that you have to pay for the services that the attorney has already performed for you. If the attorney has mentioned about recovering the complete cost of the case even if you decide terminating the agreement in between, you will have to pay the full amount.

Dispute between you and your attorney

In the event a dispute arises between you and your attorney, dispute resolutions services are offered by the state bar councils. These services are particularly beneficial in the event of fee disputes. Each state has a “grievance” procedure where you can file complaint against your attorney and have them investigated.

How to hire an attorney?

Why should one hire an attorney? The court system has become so complex, sometimes it becomes quite difficult to find a way through the system without special training. Even when judges sound to be understanding, if you are fighting your case on your own, their might be undue delay in the getting the final resolution of the case. Sometimes, small procedural errors can be very damaging to the outcome of a case. Expert advice from a lawyer is always recommended to avoid such situations.

  • What will be the cost of an attorney?

The cost of an attorney can vary in each case. Some types of cases are more costly to litigate than others. If you are fighting on a case of traffic ticket, it will be cheaper in comparison to a federal case where an attorney is fighting on a felony criminal charge. Different attorneys have their own charges. It is not always true that the best lawyer will be very expensive. Sometimes they can win your case at an affordable price. When you are looking for an attorney, ask for the cost of their representing your case in the court. Most attorneys will not quote a price until they have gone through the case and learnt the facts. You need to feel comfortable with your attorney and the price quoted by him should not sound a burden on you. Other attorneys quote a very low retainer in order to get the client to hire them, and then bill the client for additional work.

  • Where to find an attorney?

You can find attorneys from a variety of sources. Seek advice from your friends, or from your doctor, or, accountant, or another professional. You may contact the State Bar lawyer referral service. You may find an attorney through a variety of sources but there is no magical answer of finding the best attorney. It all comes by experience.

  • Should the attorneys advertised in TV or 800 numbers be hired?

Generally speaking, television and radio advertisements are a bad way to find an attorney. There are many referral agencies who advertise the attorneys on TV and radio. They collect a large number of calls and then divide it to their member attorneys. The law firms pay a high cost on advertisements. They refer the cases to other law firms to share the enormous cost of advertising. Most of the time, the attorney will not take your case if there is no scope to make a large sum of money from your case.

Writing Bad checks

Managing savings accounts can already be a headache, couple that with careless check handling and you might even find yourself behind bars.Every state has laws for writing bad checks. The amount of the check is important. If you are putting an incorrect figure on the check and you don’t have the money in your bank account, you can be charged with a crime. Most creditors will not take you to the court in the very first chance after writing a bad check. They will keep sending the check to your bank account until the time it is proven that you are intentionally avoiding the debts. They will try to get a judgment in the court. If you are in a state where garnishment is allowed, the court might order to garnish your wages.

Not every state permits wage garnishment. Check with your state laws. The creditor has to follow your state laws before taking the case to the court. If a court hearing is fixed, don’t avoid the court date. You have to show your income ability to the judge and agree to make small payments. This way, you can avoid a possible judgment.

You should also check the statute of limitations of your state if any creditor has filed a case against you. If the debt is past the SOL period, you can request the judge to dismiss the case. You need to send a dispute letter to the creditor explaining the expiry of SOL if the creditor has threatened to take you to the court. You need to show proof that a letter was sent to the creditor in right time in order to avoid the judgment. If you are in the state of FL, TX or PA, your wages cannot be garnished. Wages of a federal employee cannot be garnished in any state. I would start making a small payment towards the debt in good faith and prove my every intention to pay the debts.

A check may bounce anytime due to unforeseen reasons. If you accidentally have bounced a check, contact the payee as soon as you have realized the error. The creditor will allow you to work out some alternative arrangements with them. They might charge a fee due to the check being returned by your bank.