All items from Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer

Money is the single largest source of stress in the US.
Other sources of stress are work, the economy, family and relationships.  I can’t offer a remedy for these stressors.  But I have the cure for debt troubles.
On National Stress Awareness Day, the connection between money, stress and bankruptcy merits  some thought.
The debt plan that scares me
Of all the chilling things my clients say to me, the pronouncement that they will just continue to juggle their money worries rather than file bankruptcy is the worst.
Scared of taking steps to get rid of debt, they consign themselves to worry, sleepless nights, and constant tension over their money problems.

Posted 3 days 20 hours ago

Tax ProblemsYou mean the tax liens won’t  go away when I get a bankruptcy discharge?
The client was startled that the lien would live on beyond his bankruptcy.
So, if all my debt doesn’t go away, what do I get from the bankruptcy discharge?  he asked.
I thought the tax debt went away when I filed.

It’s your personal liability that is wiped out when you get a bankruptcy discharge.
Liens live on.
What’s personal liability for debt
In a nut shell, personal liability is the right of your creditor to use the powers of the law to reach your wages and your assets to satisfy a  debt.
When you get a bankruptcy discharge, that personal liability is  erased.  The discharged creditors can’t reach assets that you acquire after the bankruptcy, nor the assets that you exempted in your bankruptcy case.

Posted 1 week 5 days ago

Industrial espionage concept with masked businessmanIdentity thieves are now posing as “helpful” folks from the IRS.
These scammers email you with the disturbing news that your tax return has been flagged for further examination.
Posing as representing the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service, they offer help in “resolving” the problem, if you’ll just click a link and provide them information.
They even provide a fake case number.
Add this offer of “help” to the collection calls threatening arrest if you don’t pay the caller money as the latest scams referencing the IRS.
These are scams.  How do I know?
Tax authorities don’t use email
Neither the IRS nor its Taxpayer Advocate Service use email, text messages or social media to contact taxpayers.
I’ve had trouble, as a lawyer, trying to email IRS personnel about our ongoing work on a client’s tax problem.  They are so skeptical about email that the tax official and I had to develop a code to identify the case in question.

Posted 2 weeks 5 days ago

eks-web-banner-tax-help-260x260Bay Area residents can get free help with their taxes through the United Way’s EarnItKeepItSaveIt project.
Earn less than $52,000 and they will prepare your return for free and help you claim any refund you have coming.
Plus,  you may be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit for low and moderate income working families.

Find a nearby location

Don’t forget to ask if you are eligible to claim the EITC for 2010, 2011 or 2012.  The deadline to amend returns for 2010 comes up on April 15th.
More about the Earned Income Tax Credit
The post Get Your Taxes Done For Free appeared first on Northern California Bankruptcy Lawyer.

Posted 3 weeks 1 day ago

Man's Hand Resting on a Stack of Bibles, Isolated BackgroundYou must “tell the truth” on your bankruptcy schedules, bankruptcy advice sites intone.
Most of us shrug that off: we can’t imagine deliberately lying to a court.
But carelessness about bankruptcy schedules abounds.
If you give the bankruptcy process just a lick and a promise, the resulting schedules aren’t truthful, not because of lies, but because they aren’t complete.
Carelessness has consequences
When the debtor doesn’t take the time to consider all his legal rights and intangible assets;  when he makes assumptions about what the law covers; and when he includes only the debts that represent trouble, he makes trouble for himself.
Bankruptcy schedules that are less than accurate allow judges and prosecutors to inquire as to the debtor’s motives. That’s not a good place to be as a debtor.

Posted 3 weeks 5 days ago

Money on the tableDid you file Chapter 13 to save your house from foreclosure?
Making payments to the trustee to catch up on the mortgage?
If you haven’t claimed a tax deduction for the plan payments that go to the lender, you’re leaving money on the table.
That’s money that fattens Uncle Sam’s coffers at the expense of your own.
You don’t really want to do that, do you?
Mortgage interest deduction
If your Chapter 13 plan is getting you current on your home mortgage, the plan is funneling a part of each month’s Chapter 13 payment to the lender.
Missed mortgage payment are largely interest, unless you are years in to a fully amortized loan.  So when your Chapter 13 plan proposes to get current on the loan through payments to the Chapter 13 plan, you’re proposing to pay the interest due.
The tax benefit in homeownership revolves around the fact that mortgage interest is deductible if you itemize your deductions.  Interest paid reduces the income on which you pay tax.

Posted 4 weeks 1 day ago

another oil can cropped flickr tindaisiesThe  squeaky wheel should not get the oil...
At least, not until you’ve assessed all the other demands for oil.
That’s a quaint way of saying that your decisions about which of your creditors to pay when you can’t pay everyone shouldn’t be based on who is on the phone.
The creditors who call you are the ones with few other tools in their toolbox to collect the money you owe.
They hope to get you to write them a check for money they can’t easily get any other way.
Just because they squeak, doesn’t mean they should  get paid first.
Home invasion
The debt collector on the phone certainly feels like he has invaded your sanctuary.  Life is challenging enough without your money problems interrupting home life.
You are tempted to do anything to get them off the phone.  Or keep them off the phone to friends and family.

Posted 4 weeks 5 days ago

Birthday_cake-wikimedia FIR009
Google and BankruptcyInBrief share a birthday, I’ve learned.
I’m sure you saw the similarities in a flash.
The Mercury News reports that Google was founded in 1998, the same year I bought a book and set out to make a web site about bankruptcy.
I knew nothing about programming, and less about web design.  But I knew that there was a crying need for sound information about bankruptcy, the options and the opportunities.  And it wasn’t there when I started writing.
Bankruptcy in Brief grew exponentially, just like the Google empire <g>.  Starting with four pages, I kept writing til it was 150 pages.

Posted 5 weeks 1 day ago

Most people would rather parade  naked down Main Street than file bankruptcy.
You  can order your life so  you don’t ever need bankruptcy relief from debts you can’t pay.
After more than 30 years as a bankruptcy lawyer, I’ve figured out the formula that assures that you’ll never met me in my professional capacity.
My five easy steps to avoid bankruptcy

  1. Have no family
  2. Stay perpetually employed
  3. Enjoy good health
  4. Don’t go into business
  5. Rent, don’t buy, your home

Do all that, and your chances of needing a bankruptcy lawyer are slight.
It might work.
But really, how much of that list do you really control?
And what kind of a life are we describing without family or business?
Life causes bankruptcy
The events that drive a bankruptcy happen to all of us, at some time.  These events aren’t confined to the foolish or the extravagant.

Posted 5 weeks 2 days ago

ice cream floatIt’s time to talk about the float.
Not the root beer float, though that would be more fun.
The bank “float”:  the period between writing a check and it clearing your bank.
When you file bankruptcy, your schedules are supposed to show what you own on that day.  For checking accounts, that’s the balance that the bank shows.
If you’ve written a bunch of checks right before filing, checks still floating out there on their way to the bank, your bank balance is higher than the balance in your checkbook.
Why does the float matter
The money in your bank account on the day you file belongs to your bankruptcy estate.
In the eyes of the law, it’s yours, even though you’ve written directions to the bank to pay some of it out to the holders of your checks.  Those directions (your checks) just haven’t arrived at the bank.
A bankruptcy trustee can demand that you pay over to the estate that balance, even though the money has long since been paid out by the bank, who knew nothing of the bankruptcy case when it honored your check.

Posted 6 weeks 1 day ago