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Can credit card debt bankrupt surviving family members?

Statistics show three out of every four people will die in debt, and credit card bills don't go away just because a person dies. In some cases, those debts can be passed along to a deceased person's loved ones here in Texas.

Assets from an estate are used to pay off debts, including credit cards. However, paying off that debt can leave heirs with little or no inheritance and even more concerning is when survivors are burdened with paying off that debt, which in some cases can lead to bankruptcy.

Summer-themed tax tips

The Texas heat can be unbearable, but people of all ages look forward to the summer months. There are many fun things to do for families with young folks not in school, the cost of which can often qualify for tax credits or deductions. Parents of older kids also need to remember that those with part-time work or a full-time seasonal job can file a federal tax return to get back money if they are due to get a refund on money withheld on paychecks.

Below is a shortlist of tips to consider long before we get into tax season next year:

Helpful information when dealing with land use disputes

When you buy a piece of property in Texas, you probably have specific intentions for how you want to use it. Whether it's a home for your family, building for your business or land for future development, you want to know if you will be able to follow through with the plans you have in mind. There are certain things, however, that can stand between you and those goals. 

Certain laws determine how owners and developers can use specific types of property. Zoning laws and land use laws can be difficult to understand, and sometimes, authorities can improperly apply them. You may find yourself in a dispute over how you can use your own property, and there are certain things you will find helpful as you fight back and pursue a beneficial outcome to your case.

Where things stand on short term rentals in Austin

Austin and the state of Texas sometimes have different opinions on regulations, policies and laws. One recent high-profile example involves the issue of short-term rentals (STRS), which are a room or home rentals of 30 days or less. This is a hot-button topic as other parts of the country have embraced or sought or regulate the use of Air BNBs and other online STRS services.

Austin drafted a law in 2016 that hits STRS with a stringent set of regulations and a Hotel Occupancy Tax split between the city (9%) and the state (6%) of the total amount charged for the rental. The city sees this law as a way to generate a substantial amount of tax revenue for good reason:

Tips to remember when owing the IRS

There’s that old saying that death and taxes are the two things that cannot be avoided. One reason it is still used is that it is true. Nevertheless, this should not prevent taxpayers from asking questions about their tax burden and how to best address notices from the government.

Below is a list of tips from experts for those who owe or have concerns about the amount:

Can the government take privately owned land?

Eminent domain is the government’s way to take private land for public use under certain circumstances. The Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment defines that power for the government. For state and local governments, the clause applies through the Fourteenth Amendment, which limits governments from taking private property from citizens “without just compensation.”

3 Categories for taking land

Who is most at risk for student loans?

There are a few ways where individuals can get their student loans discharged in bankruptcy, but typically people are stuck paying them. According to a recent study, 45 million Americans have student loans that amount to $1.6 trillion. It is important to remember that not all debt is created equal, with some struggling more than others to make their payments.

According to the Education Department, borrowers with the largest amounts are often those with graduate degrees who are now medical doctors, MBAs or lawyers. The income for these and other jobs can absorb the massive debt involved. The same can be said for those who earned a B.A. and owe about $30,000 or less after graduation.

The basics of collecting debts for small business owners

If you are in the business of providing goods or services to customers or clients here in Austin in exchange for payment, you could at some point end up not receiving payment after doing so. Perhaps a customer or client simply forgot about an invoice and makes payment once you call to remind him or her or send a second invoice.

Unfortunately, it may not always be that easy. You could come across a client or customer who does not want to or claims not to be able to make payment. Now, you have to find a way to collect what the party owes you. How do you go about it?

How to pick a real estate agent

Real estate transactions are the largest deal that the average person makes in their lifetime. So it is crucial to find a real estate agent that is the right fit regardless of whether one buys or sells. At their best, these agents bring advantageous deals to the table and provide knowledge and support that makes for a smooth closing. At their worst, a realtor can badly misread the market, the intentions and potential of a buyer or seller across the table, or unnecessarily delay sales through incompetence or indifference.

What to look for in an agent

Time to do a paycheck withholdings analysis

The recent tax season is behind us unless the taxpayer decided to file an extension. With a year under our belt with the new tax laws, it is now a perfect time to reevaluate the number of withholdings used and make any changes with employers as soon as possible. This will sidestep tax season surprises (good or bad), or it can ensure that the taxpayer gets a bigger refund next year.

When evaluating withholdings from last year, be mindful of those that were in effect for the entire year and those that were implemented mid- to late-2018.

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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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