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Austin Legal Blog

Addressing a real estate contract breach

When parties sign a real estate contract, it is with the assumption that the businesses, buyers, landlords or tenants will honor the terms. However, this is not always the case, or perhaps they even violated the law. The contract will usually outline the terms of contract violation, but the reality of solving it may be different.

Before going to court

The dos and don’ts of creating a budget

The April 15 tax deadline for 2018 has now passed. As many went through their pay stubs, credit card bills and other financial information, the common refrain was disbelief at how much was spent and how little was saved.

There are a variety of reasons why we lose sight of our financial goals, including illness, unexpected travel, unemployment, or simply not enough fiscal restraint. Nevertheless, it is not too late to adopt better financial habits for 2019, so we have provided lists of dos and don’ts of making a workable budget.

Last-minute tax tips

Some of us get our taxes done early and cross it off our to-do list. However, there is a sizable number of procrastinators out there who wait until the 11th hour (sometimes literally) to file their taxes. With the major changes due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, waiting this year is even a bigger mistake than ever. Nevertheless, we have your back with some last-minute tips on how taxpayers can determine their obligations.

Seven quick tips

Avoiding disputes with a fair commercial lease

Finding the right space from which to run your company is not easy. An affordable commercial building or storefront that meets your needs can be hard to come by, but it is wise not to allow your excitement to cause you to walk into a commercial lease that will ultimately not benefit your business. The terms of your commercial lease will impact your company for years to come, and it is beneficial to be prudent with negotiations.

You have the right to negotiate a fair commercial lease agreement with your landlord. This effort will help you reduce the potential for future conflict. There is no one-size-fits-all lease for commercial property, and you can work with your landlord to come to final terms that are mutually beneficial. Before you sign on the dotted line, take the time to carefully review the contract and negotiate for the interests of your business

What to do when debt collectors call

Many talk about how well the economy is doing and the historic lows involving unemployment numbers, but the number of people in debt continues to climb. According to Lending Tree, there is an estimated $4 trillion in outstanding consumer debt at the end of 2018 and a chunk of that is placed with debt collection agencies. The numbers vary, but a portion of the 30 million people with at least one outstanding debt is turned over to debt collection agencies, who have an estimated recovery rate of about 20 percent.

Tips for handling these calls

IRS expands penalty waiver

There is more than the usual amount of confusion this tax season with 2017’s Tax Cuts and Job Creation Act going into effect. Addressing this issue, the IRS said that it would be more lenient if filers were close to tax liability for the year.

Now it has announced that it is lowering the threshold again, stating in an announcement that 80 percent of the total liability would receive penalty relief. This is down from the 85 percent announced January 16 of this year and the usual 90 percent filers need to pay to avoid a penalty.

Issues related to tenant improvement allowance

The tenant improvement allowance is an important part of any commercial lease negotiation. This allowance given the landlord enables the new tenant spend money to build out the space so it better fits its specific needs. This along with the length of the lease are going to the be two most significant issues to impact on the amount a tenant pays on its negotiated rental rate.

How it works

Many feel obliged to pay taxes

There have been extensive budget cuts at the IRS and the average audit rate is just .6 percent. The president has bragged and been cagey about how little he paid in taxes. Nevertheless, an annual IRS survey claims that nine out of ten Americans believe that it is their civic duty to pay taxes.

While many bemoan the moral decay of America, this number has remained consistent over the years. According to the Atlantic magazine, an 81 to 84 percent rate of voluntary compliance is actually much higher than similar circumstances in other similar countries in the European Union – for example, Germany topped the list with 68 percent, Italy was near the bottom with 62 percent, and Greece is said to be under 50 percent.

Careful when moving to Texas for the taxes

Austin and the state of Texas have a lot of assets that add up to a great quality of life for many. To start with: theres are the food and music, the weather, the tech industry, and of course the fact that we do not pay income taxes. Many would seem to agree with this assessment, and the moving trucks seem to arrive daily, helping grow what was once a college town with the capital to a thriving and economically metropolis.

However, while some dream of moving here or have taken the plunge and done it, they need to be clear about severing ties with their previous state of residence if they plan to file taxes here in Texas this year or in the next few years. Those high-tax blue states in the Northeast, California and the Midwest will not be so happy to see you go and may find a way to keep you on the tax rolls through their nonresident audit programs, particularly when you are in the upper-income brackets.

Filing for bankruptcy doesn't mean you will lose your stuff

When considering the option of filing for bankruptcy protection, many people express concerns over what will happen to their stuff. You may think that if you file for bankruptcy that you will have to hand over your stuff to pay for your debts. This is not necessarily the case – you may actually be able to keep most of your personal property in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 is liquidation bankruptcy, which means it may require the liquidation of certain assets to pay off debts. However, bankruptcy laws provide certain exemptions, which is how you may be able to retain most of what is important to you. It may help to understand bankruptcy exemptions and what they may mean for your individual situation.

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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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