The Legal Insider

April 2014

Are You Unable to Pay Your Taxes? Here Are 3 Options

Every year on April 15th, taxes are due to the IRS. For many people, this means coughing up large sums of money straight out of pocket. Desperate measures include using your savings, home equity, or even taking out a loan. However, if none of these options are viable, donít despair; there are at least four alternatives still available to you:

1. Request an Extension of Time to File

You can request an extension of time to file by submitting an application to the IRS. There are three ways in which you can ask for an automatic extension. You can file Form 4868 and make the entire payment of your estimated income tax or you can make a partial payment. You can use the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) or you can make a credit card payment, or pay using a debit card. You can access Form 4868 by visiting the IRS website and using the e-file option. You can also seek advice from a tax professional who can e-file the application for you.

Keep in mind that if you fail to make a payment on the taxes on the due date, then you will have to pay interest and you may incur penalties.

2. Request an Installment Plan

Another option is to request an installment plan in which you pay the tax liability by making installment payments. You can use Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, to ask that an installment agreement be established. You might be able to set up such an agreement online even if you are not in receipt of a bill for your tax payment. Upon sending this form to the IRS, you will receive a response from them, usually within 30 days, as to whether your request has been approved, denied, or if they require more information.

3. Apply for an Offer in Compromise

You can apply for an offer in compromise, which will permit you to settle your tax liability for an amount that is less than the entire amount due. This is a viable option for people who are unable to pay their tax debt in full, or would be placed in severe financial hardship if they were to make the full tax payment. In making a decision to grant an offer in compromise, the IRS considers each applicantís facts and circumstances, including ability to pay, income, expenses, and asset equity.

Keep in mind that in order to qualify for an offer in compromise, you should be current with all requirements concerning filing and payments. If you have an open bankruptcy proceeding, you will be ineligible. You can submit your offer by completing Form 656 and submitting an application fee of $186.

It is advisable to carefully evaluate each option and decide which is best for your situation. Even if you are unable to pay your tax liability by the due date, it is in your best interest to file by the due date in order to avoid the late filing penalty. You may wish to consult a tax accountant or tax attorney for advice.

Landowners: Beware Premises Liability Claims

Since springtime is here, people are spending more time outdoors. If you are a landowner, you may have to deal with neighbors or strangers trespassing on your property. If someone has an accident, you may be liable for their injuries based on the premises liability theory.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is a form of negligence that refers to an accident caused by a condition on someoneís land. Under premise liability, a landowner owes a duty of reasonable care to any person coming onto the land. Generally, the landowner is responsible for injuries caused by negligence maintenance of the land. For example, even if you did not personally allow your neighbor to visit your garden, you may be liable to your neighbor if he sneaks onto your property and steps on a rusty nail.

Recreational Immunity Defense

Some states have enacted a recreational immunity defense to premises liability. The recreational immunity defense lets the landowner off the hook if a person goes onto the land for recreational purposes. Depending on the state, recreational purposes may include swimming, biking, hunting, fishing, sightseeing, picnicking, riding, camping, and water sports.

The purpose behind this defense is to motivate landowners to allow others onto their property to enjoy the recreational benefits. Otherwise, landowners would be too afraid to ever let anyone onto their properties.

However, the recreational immunity defense will not free the landowner from all premises liability. The landowner still owes a reasonable degree of care to others. When the landowner willfully or maliciously fails to guard or warn against a dangerous condition, or if the person was invited onto the land, then the landowner owes the person a duty of reasonable care. Unfortunately, a landowner may even be liable to a trespasser.

Examples of Premises Liability

Premises liability applies to all conditions on your property. Regardless of whether the property is residential or commercial, the landowner may still be personally liable. These conditions include:

  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Unmarked stairs or steps
  • Sexual assaults and attacks
  • Robbery
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Floor or building collapsing
  • Fires
  • Elevator accidents
  • Slips and falls
  • Injuries from floods

Preventing Personal Injury

Personal Injury lawyers are knowledgeable of these types of cases and can help you sort out the options available to you. A lawyer can inform you whether you need to take additional precautions to guard your property and can help defend you when you are faced with complaints.

Settling Automobile Insurance Claims

When you get into an automobile accident, you should consider retaining a lawyer to help with your case. If the culpritís insurance company offers you an enticing damages package, they may be seeking to prevent you from seeking legal recourse. If you immediately accept the offer, you may be missing out on a larger sum.

Double Check the Initial Offer

Insurance companies are known to throw money at victims to prevent a looming lawsuit. All damages packages come with a caveat in fine print – a contract to prevent you from suing in the future to recover more money. Although a settlement of a few thousand dollars may sound appealing, you will be giving up your future rights to sue. If you later discover that you have more injuries than you initially thought, you could not recover more after you sign that contract.

The goal of the initial offer is to tempt you to settle the case. But you are not obligated to take that offer. And even if you do not take the offer initially, the offer does not disappear and you can get the same offer (or even more) at a later time.

A Lawyer Can Get You More Money

Consulting a lawyer may help you get a better settlement package. The influence of a lawyer will intimidate the insurance company, and thus, they will be willing to give you more money to prevent an expensive lawsuit. Often times, a lawyer can help you get treble the damages.

A Quick Guide to Current Marijuana Laws

A Quick Guide to Current Marijuana Laws Many people see April as the kick-off month for summer music festivals because Coachella happens in April. In addition to showcasing great music, Coachella and other festivals are famous for bringing together marijuana enthusiasts. In the spirit of respecting this cultural tradition, here is a quick guide on the current marijuana laws in the United States.

While marijuana is still completely illegal under federal law, a number of state governments have chosen to lessen their restrictions on marijuana use. Several of these changes have only been enacted since the start of 2014, so this is the first opportunity that some people will have to smoke legally while at a music festival this summer.

Where Is Marijuana Completely Illegal?

The following states still completely criminalize marijuana use: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Where Is Only Medical Marijuana Permitted?

Other states have permitted qualifying people to possess and use marijuana for medical purposes only, including Arizona, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

Where Is Medical and Recreational Use Permitted?

Without fully permitting recreational marijuana use, some states permit medical marijuana use and also decriminalize certain levels of marijuana possession so that the people who violate the relevant laws do not face incarceration. For instance, Alaska no longer penalizes anyone for possessing less than 4 ounces of marijuana in their private residence, whereas Connecticut has made possession of any amount of marijuana only a civil penalty. Other states that have decriminalized marijuana to varying degrees include California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Two states—Colorado and Washington—have even gone so far as to make recreational use of marijuana legal. At the beginning of 2014, Colorado started permitting its residents who are 21 and older to purchase 1 ounce of marijuana from an authorized retailer without requiring them to qualify for medical usage of marijuana. Even non-residents can purchase marijuana for recreational use while in Colorado, but they are limited to only a quarter ounce.

Since December of 2012, Washington has permitted anyone over the age of 21 to possess and use 1 ounce of marijuana, but purchasing marijuana is still illegal because the state has yet to authorize any retailers to sell marijuana for recreation use. However, authorized marijuana outlets should be opening shortly.

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