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Changes to the tax law affect businesses and the self-employed

The last quarter of the year is upon us. This makes it the perfect time to discuss changes to tax obligations under the Tax Cut and Jobs Creation Act signed at the end of 2017. There are changes that directly address business owners and freelancers.

It should also be noted that those businesses who pay taxes quarterly will need to offer (or are already doing so) a best guess for the correct amount of taxes to be paid. More information about pay as you go taxes is located here.

Common questions asked by residential tenants

It is a fact that landlords are emboldened to raise the rent in tight markets, so tenants may feel like they are getting pushed out the door of their home. Some landlords may also eschew general maintenance to help the process. However, tenants do have rights here in Texas. If a landlord is breaking the law or not honoring the rental agreement, it is advisable to speak with a real estate law attorney. They can help protect the rights of renters.

Below are some commonly heard questions about landlord tenant issues:

Victims of creditor harassment can fight back

One of the most unpleasant effects of owning a significant amount of debt is the fact that debt collectors and creditors will contact you to attempt to collect on what you owe. This is a standard practice, but there are times when creditors may step over the line and actually infringe on your rights. If you are a victim of creditor harassment, you have the right to fight back.

According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, there are limits to what creditors can do to attempt to collect on owed balances. If you believe that what you are experiencing is harassment, there are ways you can make it stop. You have the right to protect your interests and enact the automatic stay through filing for bankruptcy.

Common tax frauds surrounding Oct. 15 filing

The scammers come out around tax time. For many tax-paying Americans that means April 15, but those who filed an extension must pay by October 15. According to the Internal Revenue Service, taxpayers need to be on the lookout for scammers who use this date as an excuse to try and steal money or personal information from unsuspecting victims. 

Posing as IRS agents, these criminals try a variety of methods, but the most common are telephone scams, phishing or donation requests. There are, however, oneself.

New tax codes for online retailers

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Boston-based Wayfair Inc. in 2018, determining that states could levy sales tax upon internet retailers who are based in other states. The court also suggested that there should be a checklist of rules that go with this new tax law.

How it works

New study on gentrification in Austin neighborhoods released

There are two sides to the gentrification issue. Many homeowners love it because they buy a property and the value goes up as new services come in, neighboring properties are better maintained and the neighborhood becomes safer. The flip side is that residents who may have roots in the neighborhood for generations can be displaced because of escalating rents or taxes. 

Everyone in Austin knows that the metro area is in a housing and affordability crisis because of the changes the city has gone through in the last 20 years. There is now a new University of Texas study that researchers claim will help solve the affordability issues, particularly in the eastern crescent near U.S. 183, east Austin along Interstate 35 and just south of downtown.

The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion

The IRS provides a lot of helpful information, but it is not always clear whether making certain tax deductions are legitimate. The web site is a good place to start, but it does not provide all the answers. Smart filers want to get the maximum number deductions to reduce the amount they are obligated pay but there are ground rules.

It all breaks down to whether the filer is practicing tax avoidance versus tax evasion. The former displays good financial sense, while the latter is a crime. However, all the rules and exceptions in the tax code can make it hard to tell the difference.

Two main types of easements and what they mean for your property

Texas property owners or potential buyers may find themselves surprised to learn about specific types of complications that can affect how they use and enjoy a specific piece of land. Easements can affect property use, and both owners and potential owners would be wise to find out about any potential easement before moving forward. As a buyer or owner, it could be important to know what an easement means and what you can do about it.

An easement is a legal interest in another owner's property. Simply put, this means that another party could have the legal right to access, walk through, drive on or use your land for a specific purpose. There are two main types of easements, express and implied.

Buying a car? Do not let the dealer scam you.

Buying a car is likely to be one of your biggest loans, perhaps second in size to a mortgage. Those who are financially savvy will often come into a dealership with cash or a prearranged loan. While they are in business to sell cars, financial experts say that unscrupulous dealerships often come up with other ways to make additional money off customers.

The Patriot Act scam

Bankruptcy filer fights back against student loans

The Federal Reserve estimates that Americans owe $1.5 trillion in student loans. This crippling debt is forcing many working folks to file bankruptcy. One reason may be because those with federal loans (such as those through Sally Mae) get offers for additional loans that can help pay for living expenses while in school. 

Unfortunately, according to a recent story, many students do not realize that these secondary private loans do not have the same fixed rate and manageable repayment schedules because a student went to a private institution. Private education loans can have no repayment help and a variable interest rate.

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William T. Peckham
1104 Nueces Street, Suite 104
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-487-7604
Fax: 512-478-1790
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