Category Archives: Legal Issues

Don’t Forget Those Digital Assets in Your Estate Plan?

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/f09/53155056/files/2014/12/img_3632-0.jpgWhen we ask our clients about digital assets, many respond that they don’t have any. That is not the case for most people. Do you have a bank account or brokerage account that you can access on your computer or phone? What is the user name and pass word for the account? Do you have a Facebook or Twitter account? Again, what are user names and pass words for the accounts? Even if your executor or trustee as the representative of your estate has the user names and pass words for the accounts, does your representative have the legal authority to access the accounts? This is an area of the law where there are no absolute answers at this time. Until we have legislation covering such assets, you should at least attempt to cover said digital assets in your estate planning documents. If you have not already done so, consider updating your estate planning documents to cover your digital assets.

Why Must The Taxpayers of the City of Freeport Have to Fight to Get Their Homes and Small Businesses Assessed Fairly?

IMG_3485.JPGMost properties in the City of Freeport are over assessed. This means that your real estate taxes are too high. Property values since 2008 have been falling, and assessments do not accurately reflect this fact. If you don’t like your assessment, you must file a complaint with the Stephenson County Board of Review. Why can’t the Freeport Assessor treat all property owners fairly by basing all assessments on current market values? The answer is simple – government bureaucrats at the city and county level have a vested interest in maintaining high assessments in order to produce more tax revenue. Many properties in Freeport are assessed at 20% to 30% over market value. This could cost a taxpayer hundreds and even thousands of dollars each year.

If someone robs a bank, it is called stealing since you are not entitled to money which depositors have entrusted to the bank. When government unfairly taxes its citizens and misuses taxpayer money, it is justified since the bureaucrats rationalize that it is used for a good purpose – the salaries of government workers! In truth it is just plain wrong and no different than stealing.

Governor Quinn Finally Does Something Right – Signs Bill Allowing Illinois Residents to Keep Driver’s Licenses After Routine Traffic Violations!

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Governor Quinn on August 9 signed a new law effective immediately to end the practice of posting a valid driver‘s license as security for traffic citations in Illinois. It’s about time Illinois started treating its residents like most other states where drivers can sign for a ticket keeping their driver’s licenses. Governor Quinn previously signed a bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain Illinois driver’s licenses. If you are an al-Qaeda terrorist in this country illegally, it’s nice to know that you can get a driver’s license in Illinois – and can keep it after a traffic ticket so that you will have valid government ID when you fly next time!

We Are The Internal Revenue Service – We Are Above The Law!

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Any taxpayer who has had the unfortunate experience of dealing with the IRS can attest to the fact that there is double standard in Washington.

If you work for the IRS, and don’t pay your income taxes – what do you get? A big fat bonus.
See LA Times article at http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-irs-bonuses-20140424-story.html

If you don’t work for the IRS, and don’t pay your income taxes – what do you get? A sentence to a federal prison. See some of the cases the IRS publicizes at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Examples-of-Nonfiler-Investigations-Fiscal-Year-2014

If you work for the IRS, you can refuse to answer questions before a U.S. House Committee about your work and possible criminal activities asserting your right against self-incrimination – what do you get? A big fat retirement check each month. See article at http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/melanie-hunter/lois-lerner-pleads-fifth-again-house-hearing-irs-scandal

If you don’t work for the IRS, and agents ask you about your failure to report income, and you refuse to answer – What do you get? A sentence to federal prison.

If you work for the IRS, and don’t want incriminating emails released when requested by a Congressional Committee, you say your computer crashed! What do you get? A big fat retirement check each month? See article at http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/06/17/lost-irs-emails-get-real-team-obama-were-not-that-gullible/

You’re audited by the IRS, and tell them your computer crashed and you lost all of your records – What do you get? A sentence to federal prison.

And finally, if you’re the IRS Commissioner, and a U.S. House Committee asks you if you owe the American people an apology for the conduct of the IRS – You refuse to apologize since you know that it’s part of the code of conduct of the IRS. You never apologize no matter how much damage you have done to an honest taxpayer. I guess that means if your are the IRS, you can do what every you want – damn Congress and the citizens of this country. So sad, but true.

Supreme Court of the United States Rules Inherited IRA’s Are Not Retirement Funds!

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In 2000 Ruth Heffron established a traditional IRA and named her daughter the beneficiary of the account. In 2001 Ms. Heffron died, and the account had a value of little over $450,000, and the daughter received the account electing to take monthly distributions. In 2010 the daughter filed a bankruptcy petition listing the inherited IRA as an exempt asset worth about $300,000. The bankruptcy trustee objected to the characterization as an exempt asset on the grounds the funds in the inherited IRA were not “retirement funds.” The case went through the appeal process and now the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled on June 12, 2014 that an inherited IRA is not an exempt asset.

This decision is important to anyone with substantial funds in an IRA. You die, and your child could lose the whole inherited IRA if the child has financial problems. Some states do exempt inherited IRA’s, and more states will probably consider exempting them in light of this decision. In the meantime one should review beneficiary designations on their retirement accounts. Beneficiaries should even consider taking lump sum distributions paying the tax, and investing in exempt assets!

Read the case at
http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-299_mjn0.pdf

If You Live in Freeport and Stephenson County, Your 1st Installment of Real Estate Taxes Is Due Friday, June 6. Freeport Rates Up Over 10% in Two Years!

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Don’t let those taxing bodies fool you. Every taxing body in the City of Freeport has increased their tax rates for 2013 led by the Freeport School District which has the capacity by itself to bankrupt this community. The total tax rate for those living in Freeport has increased over 10% in two years, and this is a fact. If this rate increase continues at 5% per year, it would be up 25% in five years. If you work in the private sector, has your income gone up over 10% in last two years? If you are retired without a public pension, has your social security gone up 10% in the last two years? When will the taxpayers in Freeport say enough is enough? The answer is clear – only after it is too late, and we are close to that point.

If You Like to Eat – Read This! Some Day Not in the Too Distant Future!

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You go to a restaurant and have a good dinner. After you have finished your entre you start thinking about dessert. The waiter does not mention dessert to you, and in fact just brings you the check. Finally, you ask the waiter if you could have a dessert menu, and the waiter replies that the City where you are having dinner has an ordinance called “Healthy Eating Habits for All – A Program to Reduce Obesity.” You ask the waiter how he decided that you could have no dessert. He says that the ordinance has ten criteria which the wait staff must use in determining whether dessert should be denied to the patron. One of the criteria being that your shirt is too tight in which case you will not get dessert. He tells the patron that he met the too tight shirt requirement and therefore no dessert. As a consolation, the waiter does offer the patron a complimentary salad in place of dessert.

See the future – first they will take away our desserts and next will be our french fries and cheeseburgers. America will become a healthy nation – but at what expense!

Oh, by the way, for lunch treat yourself to a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese at McDonalds – it’s only 750 calories and the rumor is it will soon be banned in New York City!