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It’s Tax Time

It’s Tax Time

It’s that time of the year you dread.  Lucky it only comes once a year!  Doing your taxes can be overwhelming, but it is a necessary evil.   Even if you are going to owe money and can’t pay, make sure you file your taxes on time without an extension.   Most taxes that are filed on time without an extension and are over 3 years old are dischargeable in your bankruptcy, failing to file on time no could effect you in the future.

Here are five tips for organizing your self for tax season:

  1. Know what can be deducted.   For Example: Deduct cash, property and stock donations made to a charity. Make sure you have receipts. You can deduct mileage and vehicle expenses for a charitable purpose.   You can deduct your medical expenses including mileage for doctors.  You can deduct business expenses.
  2. Get proper documentation. Doctors,  pharmacies, child care providers will all provided you a print out of what you spent with them the prior year if you ask.  For any single contribution to a charity over $250 you must have a written acknowledgment from the charitable organization.  For property valued at more then $5,000 you must have a qualified appraisal.
  3. Keep limitations in mind. Your cash gifts are generally deductible up to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income. Noncash gifts, such as property or stock owned for more than one year, are generally deductible up to 30 percent. You can carry over any remaining deduction for up to five consecutive years.
  4. Transfer records to personal budgeting software such as QuickBooks or Quicken. Enter the information from tax-related transactions electronically to stay organized. Doing so will also help you forecast your tax situation to help you gauge whether to give more to maximize tax benefits.
  5. Involve the professionals. Hiring a CPA or accountant  or tax attorney who is up to date on the tax laws to do your taxes is well worth the cost. Just remember you have to provide them the detailed information so they can get you your maximum deductions.

 

IRS SCAM ALERT

IRS SCAM ALERT

There is a scam  auto dialer calling cell phones claiming to be the IRS.  The voice mail message goes like this:

” Hello. This call is officially a final notice from IRS- Internal Revenue Service. The reason  of this call is to inform you that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you to get more information about this case file please call immediately on our department  number 786-452-5241. I repeat 786-452-5241. Thank you ”

 

I repeat this is a SCAM do not call do not give your social security number or any personal information.

Judgments and How they Effect You

Judgments and How they Effect You

If you fail to pay your credit cards, medical bills,  have a foreclosure, or car repossession  they can sue you for the balance owed.   This will normally result in a judgment against you.  Judgments are then recorded with the Clerk of Court in the county in which they were issue.

What you need to know.

How long is the judgment good for?

Lien of Judgment under FSA §55.081 is good for 20 years.

Actions on non-recorded judgments under  FSA §95.11(2)(a) are good for 5 years.

Mechanic Lien judgments under FSA §95.11(5)(b)  are good for 1 year.

Judgments of Foreclosure where  a deficiency is reserved on must have the action on the deficiency filed within  1 year from the foreclosure judgment.  FSA §95.11(2)(c)

Many judgments can be re-recorded for an additional 10 years.

The Judgment will appear on your credit report.

Once a judgment is filed against you it will show under public records on your credit report. This is information that is pulled by the credit bureaus through various services.  The majority of unsatisfied judgments will sit on your credit report for 7-10 years from the date  the judgment is filed by the court.  This will have a major derogatory impact on your credit score.

If the judgment is re-recorded before the 7 year period runs, it can appear for an additional 7-10 years on your credit report from the new recording date.

Satisfied Judgments

If you pay a judgment you will receive a notice of Satisfaction from the  lender. You need to record this with the Clerk of Court. Some lenders will  record these, but many will not.  Once the Satisfaction is recorded with the Clerk of Court the next time the credit bureaus pull your public records they will be notified of the update.  You can also send a letter  of dispute on  your credit report with a copy of the recorded satisfaction.   This will not result in removal of the judgment from your credit report, but you can have it noted in consumer comments.

Vacated Judgments

Vacated judgments can be removed from your credit report. Send a copy of the order Vacating the judgment to the credit bureau.

Some mortgage lenders will require judgments to be paid off in order to  close on a mortgage depending on your credit.

Credit reports contain inaccurate or missing information  about 1/4 of the time. You should check your credit report  for each agency on a yearly and follow up on anything that needs to be disputed.  You can pull a free credit report here: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action It is best to only pull one report every 4 months so you have a constant snap shot, unless you find an error.

Judgments and Bankruptcy

The underlying debt if disclosed to  your attorney, or on your credit report, will be included in your bankruptcy. This means  you will no longer be liable under the judgment once your bankruptcy is  discharged.  However, this does not remove the judgment lien. Additional action, which incurs additional attorney fees in needed.

This action is a Motion To Avoid A Judicial Lien, the typical charge is $400.00 and it is filed during your bankruptcy case.  The Order is then filed and recorded in your State Court Action, thereby releasing the lien.  These judgments can then be removed from your credit report.

Related Articles:

http://carollawsonpa.com/how-long-does-it-stay-on-my-credit/

Unpaid Debt and the Statute of Limitations

Debt Collection Calls

Debt Collector’s Calling?

Time Barred Debt in Chapter 13

http://carollawsonpa.com/fair-debt-collection-act-and-offer-of-settlement/

 

Carol A. Lawson, Esq., 28870 U.S. Hwy 19 #300, Hodusa Towers, Clearwater, FL 33761, Phone: (727) 410-2705 email: calh@gate.net

Attorney Fees for Debtor’s Counsel in Chapter 13 Plan

Attorney Fees for Debtor’s Counsel in Chapter 13 Plan

Above means income debtors are required to use Form B-22C (Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income which is part of a 2 part test) which effective December 1, 2015 will be  Form B122C-2.  Unlike trustee fees there is no deduction for attorney fees being paid in the plan on the form.   §1325(b)(1)(B) provides that a Chapter 13 plan should “provide that all of the debtor’s projected disposable income … will be applied to make payments to unsecured creditors under the plan.” 11 U.S.C. § 1325(b)(1)(B).

Section 1325(b)(1)(B) of the Bankruptcy Code provides in pertinent part that, if a trustee or an unsecured creditor objects to confirmation of a debtor’s Chapter 13 plan, the plan can be confirmed by the court only if it provides to pay the creditors in full or proposes that “all of the debtor’s projected disposable income … will be applied to make payments to unsecured creditors under the plan.” 11 U.S.C. § 1325(b)(1)(B).   Section 1325(b)(2) then defines “disposable income” as current monthly income received by the debtor less amounts “reasonably necessary to be expended.” See 11 U.S.C. § 1325(b)(1)(B).

Trustees across the country have been using this  provision to object to  Chapter 13 Plan fees for Debtor’s attorneys through the plan.   In re Hemker, No. 15-90023, 2015 WL 5262080 (Bankr. C.D. Ill. Sept. 8, 2015), the trustee argued that the amount shown from the B22C form must only go to general unsecured creditors, excluding any attorneys fees to be paid in the plan.  Further, Debtors’ attorney fees are excluded from the calculation under 11 U.S.C. § 707(b)(2)(A)(ii)(III), and thus the Debtors should not be allowed to use their disposable income to pay their attorney fees.  The Trustee based this argument on Ransom.  The Court rejected this argument as making an unfair  treatment between a below income debtor, who was allowed to pay  attorney fees through the plan and a above income  debtor who could not. A debtor’s attorney who has not taken a security interest in the debtor’s property is an unsecured creditor who may be paid from disposable income.

Apparently this case is part of a  nationwide trend to make bankruptcy filings more difficult for the Debtor and their counsel.   On October 6, 2015, the American Bar Institute  held a Webinar  “BAPCPA at 10”.  Attorney Caralyce M. Lassner of Acclaim Legal Services PLLC, Warren, Mich., one of the panelists, said in practice BAPCPA has been like using a backhoe to fix a crack in your sidewalk.  Lassner stated how impossible it is to   confirm a chapter 13 Plan without  major concessions from the debtors or creditors.  She also cited two case in the Eastern District of Michigan which attacked Debtor’s attorney fees.

In re Craig Maike, 15-20218-DOB (EDMI), Docket 25 (9/3/15)

In re Hammon, 2015 WL 4462179 (Bankr ED MI 7/21/15)

Professor Lois R. Lupica of the University of Maine School of Law said empirical studies have found no evidence of widespread abuse among consumer debtors.   In fact, Lupica said that under BAPCPA the cost of access to the bankruptcy system has increased significantly, which is keeping the poorest debtors from being able to file.

In the Middle District of Florida the Chapter 13 Trustees have interpreted Harris that when a  chapter 13 is dismissed or converted,  the check for the balance paid in less their fees,  goes to debtor c/o attorney for refund, however, no attorney  fees or adequate  protection  is paid after dismissal/conversion by the trustee.  The attorney must then try and get the debtor to pay the balance of their fees due under the retainer agreement.  ( If the  Debtor refiles bankruptcy within a year- would the trustee treat our fees as a preference? )

 

Debt Collection Calls

Debt Collection Calls

When creditors or debt collectors are attempting to collect a past-due debt. You may receive debt collection calls and voicemails in their attempts to collect debt. There are several rules ,that must be strictly followed if the creditor or debt collector is going to comply with both state (“FCCPA”) and federal (“FDCPA”) law.

Many creditor and debt collectors use technology (i.e., computers or software) to place these debt collection calls. Automatic Telephone Dialing Systems (ATDS) and Predictive Telephone Dialing Systems (PTDS) are used to place calls repeatedly to consumers until a call is answered. This can mean that you are receiving calls dozens if not hundreds of times a month until a creditor or debt collector reaches you and secure payment.  The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) 47 U.S.C. Section 227, restricts telephone solicitations (i.e., telemarketing) and the use of ATDS, and PTDS from placing or making telephone calls to consumers cellular telephones, as well as the use of  prerecorded voice messages, SMS text messages, and fax machines, in certain circumstances.

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”), creditors are strictly prohibited from behaving in a way that can be classified as harassing. This includes calling debtors at all hours of the night, using offensive language, persistently communicating with a debtor at their place of work after being asked to desist and misrepresenting facts in any way.

If you have notified a creditor or  debt collector that you have hired an attorney for representation regarding your debts, the debt collector cannot call you to collect the debt. If it does, it is violating both the FCCPA and the FDCPA. You could be entitled to up to $2,000.00 statutory damages plus reasonable attorney fees and costs. If you have suffered from the abuse of a harassing creditor, you may have rights. Have the following taken place:

  1. Creditor/Debt Collector has notice of attorney representation regarding the debt;
  2. Creditor/Debt Collector Calls your cell phone in an attempt to collect the debt and has been told not to;
  3. Creditor/Debt Collector uses an Automatic Telephone Dialing System,

If a creditor or debt collector leaves a voicemail on your answering machine or cell phone, never delete it! It is evidence that could assist you in proving a violation of consumer protection laws and getting potentially thousands of dollars in damages, you could be entitled to up to $1,500.00 per call. Specifically note if the call was made to your cell phone, what your cell phone number is, and why you think the call was placed using an automatic telephone dialing system, also  make note of the details of when the call was received, to what phone, etc.

 Revoking Consent

To revoke any consent Associated Recovery Systems or its affiliated entities have to contact you in an attempt to collect any debt owed to them, including revoking consent to use an automatic telephone dialing system to call your cellular telephone, please either:

  1. Tell them you have hired LAW OFFICE OF CAROL A. LAWSON, to represent you, give them our contact information and then use the Creditor Communications Log to capture information regarding debt collection calls;
  2. Send them a Cease & Desist Letter; or contact the creditor/debt collector and revoke consent with the  creditor via their website or telephone.