Napoleon Bonaparte was always depicted with his hand inside his jacket. Know why? Because he suffered from “chronic nervous itching” and even often scratched stomach sores until they bled. Ugh!
According to the New York Times, the Obama administration is considering canceling plans for the trial of the accused chief organizer of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and four accomplices to take place in Manhattan.
The issues at hand: cost and security.
The report said Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others have raised objections to having Manahattan ad that President Obama Thursday directed the Justice Department to handle the decision, and agency officials have begun looking at other sites in the U.S.
City officials have estimated the trial could cost more than $200 million, last several years and make the city a target for additional terrorist attacks while it’s underway.
By Sean Chi
Tax Attorney, The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein
1. What is Tax Relief?
Tax Relief is a small number of programs offered by the Internal Revenue Service to facilitate effective tax collection for people with past due income tax liabilities. The programs were created by Congress to keep the IRS from unreasonably harassing taxpayers or creating undue hardships in their zealous collections mission. The most common programs are the Offer in Compromise, Installment Agreement and Currently Not Collectible Status.
Technically, the IRS is forced to work with each taxpayer to find a resolution to the taxpayer’s tax debt based on his specific financial situation. The reality is that most IRS agents are single mindedly focused on simply getting as much money as they can from the taxpayer regardless of their specific financial difficulties. However, someone familiar with the tax code can aggressively negotiate with the IRS. By making the IRS play by the rules Congress established, the best possible tax relief resolution can be obtained for taxpayers with IRS liabilities.
2. Why Would the IRS Settle My Tax Debt?
If it were up to the IRS, they likely would not settle your tax debt. However, Congress created rules the IRS must abide by to prevent them from unreasonably harassing or creating undue hardships to taxpayers. Congress has a vested interest in not creating a population of homeless and jobless Americans; something that could easily happen if IRS collection methods went unchecked.
With that said, the IRS does not go out of its way to make hard working Americans aware of their options when they go through hard times. Even if you are aware of tax relief options, they will likely make it as difficult as possible for you to get the tax relief you are entitled to.
3. Can the IRS Garnish All of My Wages?
YES! The wage garnishment is the IRS’ primary method of enforced collection actions. If you owe the IRS money and continue to ignore the problem, it is likely only a matter of time before the IRS garnishes your wages.
4. Can the IRS Garnish My Wages Without Warning Me First?
Yes and no. The IRS must first assess a tax balance against you and send you a notice and demand for payment. The only other step the IRS must take after this is to send you one Final 30 Day Notice of Intent to Levy before they can garnish your wages, levy your bank account, and any other enforced collection actions.
Additionally, the IRS only needs to send this notice to your last known address. If you have moved, you may never receive any of these notices and it is still legal for the IRS to garnish your wages. It is not uncommon for taxpayers to be suddenly garnished after months or even years of hearing nothing form the IRS.
5. What Can I Do About A Wage Garnishment /or Bank Levy?
Some form of resolution must be achieved before the IRS will release a wage garnishment or bank levy. A temporary release can be obtained by proving the wage garnishment or bank levy is causing extreme hardship for you, but it will not be permanent.
The only way to permanently remove the threat of a wage garnishment /or a bank levy is to enter one of the IRS relief programs or to full pay your balance. Remember, the IRS only has to leave you a predetermined amount of money on each paycheck. A person making $5,000 a month and another person making $1,000 may both be left with less than $500 a month after the wage garnishment.
6. The IRS Keeps Calling Me and Sending Me Certified Letters. How Can I Make Them Stop?
Be thankful they are only calling you and sending you letters. The IRS will not stop contacting you barring one of the following:
• Full pay your tax debt;
• Enter into a Tax Relief program;
• The Statutory Collection Period expires on your tax debt (ten years from the date the tax debt was assessed, not the tax year);
And the last one doesn’t even always apply.
7. How Much Can I Save?
It all depends on your particular financial situation. You could conceivably pay as little as $20 no matter how much you owed. Or you might have to settle for a minimal monthly payment plan instead. The simplest way to look at it is the less available monthly income you have and the smaller the value of your assets the more you could potentially save on your IRS back taxes.
8. I have unfiled tax returns and I have lost all of my records. Do I need to file them?
Yes, but only for the past six years. However, for those six years you will need to file a tax return for any year you earned income of at least $3,650 (this amount may vary depending on your circumstances).
There is one quasi-exception: the IRS will usually file a return on your behalf if you do not file within a certain time frame. This is called a substitute return and the IRS will simply assess a tax balance based on all reported income without allowing any deductions. This substitute return will likely result in a much higher tax balance than you would normally owe.
9. Can the IRS take my house?
Yes, the IRS can foreclose on any property they have a lien against to pay past due taxes. However, they usually do not resort to this extreme except for significant tax debts.
10. Can anyone get tax relief?
Most people will qualify for tax relief in some form; the question is simply what kind of relief can you get? A professional tax attorney will likely be able to get you the best relief you qualify for as quickly as possible. Contact us now to get a free consultation as to what you can do to relieve your tax burden.
Please know that this list is in random order, NOT order of importance:
1. @willcoley – Will Coley
Bio: A latte-drinking, bike-riding, NY Times-reading, taco-loving, social justice do-gooder freak show originally from North Carolina now living in Los Angeles.
2. @TGSterling – Terry Greene Sterling
Bio: Arizona journo writing book about people in the shadows of America’s kidnapping capital.
3. @LIRSorg – The Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Bio: Since 1939, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has created welcoming communities for newcomers. We resettle refugees, reunite families and rekindle dreams.
4. @americasvoice – America’s Voice
Bio: Real immigration reform, now!
5. @andreachristina – Andrea Nill
Bio: Chapina Americana immigration blogger @ Think Progress/Wonk Room.
6. @blogdiva – Liza Sabater
Bio: Blogdiva extraordinaire from www.culturekitchen.com and www.dailygotham.com
7. @breakthrough – Let’s Breakthrough
Bio: Building human rights culture: immigration in the U.S. & women’s rights in India.
8. @ruthlessfilms – Ruth Leitman
Bio: An independent filmmaker working on a feature-length documentary called “Tony & Janina’s American Wedding,” which follows a Polish immigrant family in Chicago being torn apart by the immigration system. It’s scheduled to premiere in 2010.
9. @LeslieKohler – Leslie Kohler
Bio: Author of Sins of the Border, a fast-paced mystery that travels from AZ high society to violence of Mexican border. http://iuniverse.com.
10. @ErwindeLeon – Erwin de Leon
Policy researcher & blogger focused on LGBT, Immigrant, Diversity & other Progressive issues.
11. @MicEvH – Micheal E. Hill
Bio IP and Immigration Lobbyist, Adjunct Professor of Law, and Amateur Runner
12. @cliniclegal – The Catholic Legal Immigration Network
Bio: The Catholic Legal Immigration Network’s mission is to enhance and expand delivery of legal services to indigent and low-income immigrants.
13. @anjamd – Anja Asenjo
Bio: Uber liberal geek, activist and well rounded weirdo.
14. @raylab – Rachel LaBruyere
Bio: Blogger, Spanish speaker, coffee lover. From the south, but you wouldn’t know it.
15. @DetentionWatch – Detention Watch
Bio: National coalition of organizations/individuals working to educate the public & policymakers about US immigration detention/deportation system & advocate for reform.
16. @leareiter – Lea Reiter
Bio: Civil Rights for Immigrants.
17. @JuanSaaa – JuanSaaa
Bio: Activist, Aspiring Blogger, Political Junkie, @DreamAct team-member Boba Fett enthusiast, Student, all-around good hearted person!
18. @vmramos – Victor Manuel Ramos
Bio: Staff writer covering Hispanic affairs, immigration and east Orange County for the Orlando Sentinel.
19. @hng2wiusa – H. Nelson Goodson
Bio: One of the foremost respected immigration rights and reform journalists.
20.@ GrayRiv – DGrayRiv
Bio: Progressive, pro-immigrant, prO-bama. Formerly ForumDriv on Digg + Twitter.
21. @AmericasColors – America’s Colors/ Pedro and Peter
Bio: One More Voice for balanced Immigration Reform that combines fairness, accountability and dignity!
22. @angelamkelley – Angela M. Kelley
Bio: Angela M. Kelley is Vice President for Immigration Policy and Advocacy at American Progress Action Fund.
23. @DreamAct – Dream Act Network
Bio: DreamActivist – Undocumented Youth Action and Resource Network.
24. @KetyE – Kety Esquivel
Bio: Leader in Social Media, Published Author, Consultant, TV Commentator, Exec Coach, LatISM Director, World Traveler, Progressive, Populist, Spiritual, Mujer.
25. @oasanchez – Orlando Sánchez
Bio: A proud citizen of the world.
26. @marlitah – Marlita H
Bio: By Day, Fortune 100 Data Analyst serving a Fortune 100 customer; By night, Human Rights, Latin America, Religious Left, Legislative Advocacy.
27. @arnoldogarcia – Arnoldo Garcia
Bio I am poet-organizer human rights artist for community land & the natural world.
28. @mkolken – Matthew Kolken
Bio: Immigration tweets from a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Author of Deportation & Removal Blog on ILW.com.
29. @jdcasa – Deb
Bio: Italian-Canadian mashup of food, travel, old Calabria and the wisdom of nonnas. Social media for good, not evil. And same-sex immigration pioneer.
30. @desidyke – Prerna Lal
Bio: DreamActivist. Post-grad in IR. Immigration Blogger (Change.org), new media consultant, political economist. UBC Law School, Class of 2013.
31. @ImmPolicyCenter – The Immigration Policy Center
Bio: IPC is an immigration research and advocacy org that seeks to shape a rational national conversation on immigration through its research and analysis.
32. @NIJC – The National Immigrant Justice Center
Bio: The National Immigrant Justice Center is a Chicago-based legal aid program that advocates for human rights and immigration reform.
33. @JulieDiazAsper – Julie Diaz Asper
Bio: A Latina getting social for the cause. Advocacy. Green Mom. Social Entrepreneur.
34. @swatmigration – Calvin Ho
Bio: Swarthmore Migration Project – Swarthmore College students exploring human migration through multimedia
35. @kyledeb – Kyle de Beausset
Bio: I am a migrant advocate who was born in Guatemala of U.S. citizen parents and is currently going to school.
36. @BorderAction– Border Action
Bio: A Non-Profit Organization Building the Voice for Human Rights on the Arizona-Mexico Border
37. @papersthemovie – Paper the Movie
Bio: Papers the documentary is the story of undocumented youth and the challenges they face as they turn 18 without legal status.
38. @change – Change.org
Bio: Change.org raises awareness about important causes and empowers people to take action with leading nonprofits.
39. @colombiancoffee – Colombian Coffee
Bio: I believe in equal rights for all and that no one should ever be a bystander.
40. @DukeReed – Duke Reed
Bio: Pro migrant blogger and online activist.
41. @icirr – IL Immigrant Rights
Bio: Dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in all aspects of the life our diverse society.
42. @out4immigration – Out4immigration
Bio: Out4Immigration addresses the widespread discriminatory impact of U.S. immigration laws on the lives of gay and lesbian Americans with foreign partners.
43. @ilwcom – ILW.COM
Bio: Spreading the latest news about immigration law and supporting comprehensive immigration reform!
44. @LongIslandWins – LongIslandWins
Bio: Long Islanders for an immigration policy that works for everyone.
45. @LaMarichola – Marisol Ramos
Bio: Bronx-born Xicana youth/immigrant organizer and progressive foundation staff.
46. @lafronteratimes – Alfredo Gutierrez
Bio: Daily digital newspaper about immigration reform. information activism and attitude.
47. ImmPolitic – NalImmigration Forum
Bio: National organization that advocates for the value of immigrants and immigration to the nation.
48. @tonyherrera – Tony Herrera
Bio: Workers Comp Consultant. Working to protect the rights of undocumented immigrants, one worker at a time.
49. @weareoneamerica – OneAmerica
Bio: OneAmerica advances the principles of democracy and justice by building power within immigrant communities in collaboration with key allies.
50. @ErinRosa – ErinRosa
Bio: Journo at Center For American Progress living it up in Washington D.C.
“The law condemns and punishes only actions within certain definite and narrow limits; it thereby justifies, in a way, all similar actions that lie outside those limits.”
- Leo Tolstoy
“The more corrupt the republic, the more numerous the laws.”
“Law is not justice and a trial is not a scientific inquiry into truth. A trial is the resolution of a dispute.”
- Edison Haines
“The most absurd apology for authority and law is that they serve to diminish crime. Aside from the fact that the State is itself the greatest criminal, breaking every written and natural law, stealing in the form of taxes, killing in the form of war and capital punishment, it has come to an absolute standstill in coping with crime. It has failed utterly to destroy or even minimize the horrible scourge of its own creation.”
- Emma Goldman
“Law is nothing unless close behind it stands a warm living public opinion.”
- Wendell Phillips
Please find below another installment in our popular regular series of frequently asked questions about immigration law. Although most of these questions have come from real clients of Spar & Bernstein, we have also included questions from other resources for your benefit. Please note that the answers here are to be used for guideline purposes only, as the questions are specific to a particular case and may not necessarily be the best advice for YOUR situation.
Question: I came to this country as a lawful permanent resident when I was 24 years old. Five years later I filed for citizenship. At my interview, the Immigration Officer asked me if I ever registered for the Selective Service. I was not sure what he was asking me. I know I did not register with anyone. My citizenship was denied because of that. Can I ever become a citizen?
Answer: Yes, you may still be eligible to become a United States Citizen. Any male who is a US citizen or who was a lawful permanent resident between the ages of 18-27 must register with the Selective Service Administration. You are ineligible to become a United States Citizen if you did not register for the selective service as a lawful permanent resident. Now that you are 29 years old, it is too late for you to register. There is an exception to the above rule: if you did not know you had to register. In order for you to obtain your citizenship, you must prove that you did not know you had to register and that the Selective Service never notified you of your requirement to register. You may need a lawyer to help you.
Question: Will the Child Status Protection Act help my sister? Her preference category is F-4. Her priority date is March 1993. Will her two sons who are now over 21 be granted visas to travel with her to the USA? She received a letter stating that they are no longer eligible to be a derivative beneficiary of the petition but under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) which applies to a narrow range of cases, it may allow them to remain eligible under this petition and only at the time of the parents visa interview, the consular officer will determine whether or not CSPA is applicable in the present situation. Thanks for any helpful information you can provide.
Answer: You did not give me enough information to determine whether the children qualify for green cards under the Child Status Protection Act. The general rule is once a child turns 21 years old, they are no longer eligible to obtain a green card as a derivative beneficiary on a parent’s visa petition. However, under the Child Status Protection Act, you get to add the time period in which the visa petition took to get approved to the child’s 21st birthday to get the final age in which the child is still allowed to be included in the case. For example, you already told us that you began filing for you sister in March 2003. Let’s assume that it took 24 months to get your visa petition approved. You would then add 24 months to the child’s birthday and under the Child Status Protection Act, the child would have until his 23rd birthday to get a green card as a derivative beneficiary. Remember, just add together 21 and the time that the visa petition got approved and you come up with the child’s age for purposes of the Child Status Protection Act.
Question: I am married to a U.S. citizen who is filing for me. I have a daughter in Jamaica who is 16 and just gave birth to a baby boy. She is not married. My husband is filing for her as well, but our attorney told us that she will not be able to bring the baby. That can’t be true, can it?
Answer: Your daughter is classified as an “Immediate Relative.” This category while sporting many great benefits has one drawback – it does not allow accompanying or derivative beneficiaries. There is no petition for your grandson at this time, which means that he will be left behind until his mother is able to file for him and bring him in. When your daughter enters as a Lawful Permanent Resident, she will be able to file for her son. Your grandson’s priority date will be established by this filing. He must wait for either the priority date to be reached or if your daughter becomes a U.S. citizen, he will no longer have to wait for the priority date as he will upgrade to being an Immediate Relative. Upon his entry, if his mother is a US Citizen, he will automatically derive US citizenship also. If he enters as the child of a Lawful Permanent Resident, he will derive citizenship if his mother naturalizes before he turns 18. Good luck to you and your family.
Source: Immigration Policy Center
Washington D.C. – In the State of the Union Address this evening President Obama made clear his ongoing commitment to immigration reform noting “we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation.”
Some may continue to argue that immigration reform is too politically risky to move on this year and that we should focus instead on rebuilding our economy. However, comprehensive immigration reform is compatible with economic reform as it would generate needed economic growth, create jobs and increase tax contributions by ensuring that everyone working in the United States is doing so legally. In fact, immigration reform would allow us to take full advantage of the opportunities for economic growth that immigrants bring.
Immigration Yields Tremendous Economic Benefits to America
A 2007 report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers concluded that immigration as a whole increases the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by roughly $37 billion each year because immigrants increase the size of the total labor force, complement the native-born workforce in terms of skills and education, and stimulate capital investment by adding workers to the labor pool.
Immigrants do not compete with the majority of natives for the same jobs because they tend to have different levels of education and to work in different occupations. In fact, The roughly 90% of native-born workers with at least a high-school diploma experienced wage gains because of immigration between 1990 and 2004, ranging from 0.7% to 3.4% depending on their level of education, according to a 2006 study by Giovanni Peri, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California-Davis.
Immigrant entrepreneurs are twice as likely as Americans to start business and immigrant inventors account for more than one quarter of all U.S. patents according the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, 2008.
If Comprehensive Immigration Reform is Enacted the Benefits Will Be Even Greater
According to a 2010 study by UCLA professor Raul Hinojosa, comprehensive immigration reform that includes a legalization plan for the unauthorized would contribute a cumulative $1.5 trillion to the Gross Domestic Product over ten years, as more tax revenues are collected, wages increase for U.S.-born and legalized workers, and immigrant workers spend more in our economy. The report also finds that wages for immigrant and native-born workers would rise in part because workers will have more bargaining power in the workplace.
The libertarian Cato Institute also reported that “legalization of low-skilled immigrant workers would yield significant income gains for American workers and households.”
“Tonight the President paid tribute to those who struggle to build the American dream, even in the midst of economic uncertainty. His call for a revitalized domestic and foreign policy agenda based on American values and innovation included immigration reform because the White House recognizes the economic and moral necessity of fixing our broken immigration system,” said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. “We have a golden opportunity to enhance the gross domestic product, create and sustain new jobs and businesses, and maintain our competitive edge in the world if we create a system that legalizes current undocumented workers, provides for improved legal channels for families and new workers when they are needed in the future and adopts sensible policies to secure our border. Such measures will help to provide the framework for an economic recovery that will allow us all to pursue our American dreams.”
By Sean Chi
Tax Attorney, The Law Offices of Spar & Bernstein
The Internal Revenue Service has kicked off tax season with a bang, pursuing tax collection efforts with full force.
Some of the more notable targets so far in 2010:
• Nicolas Cage – The IRS filed an additional $6.7 Million tax lien against the academy award winning actor. This is in addition to the $6.2 Million tax lien the IRS had filed against him earlier. He owes the IRS a total of $14 Million. For his part, Mr. Cage announced he plans to repay his tax debt in full by selling off his mansions and other property.
• Brooke Shields – The IRS filed over $10,000 tax liens against the “Lipstick Jungle” star. The actress’ representative claims the IRS has made a mistake, and that all taxes have been filed and paid. It is more than plausible that the IRS made a mistake and simply won’t admit it without legal action. All the more reason that a taxpayer should seek legal help if the IRS claims you owe them significant taxes.
• Marvin Gaye III – The adopted son of legendary Motown singer has been liened for nearly $185,000 in overdue taxes. His business manager has stated that he is attempting to work out a settlement with the IRS. It is unknown if he has filed an Offer in Compromise, but an Offer is the only avenue for a tax settlement with the IRS.
• Harvard University – Not content with mere individuals, the IRS has set its sights on esteemed academic institution Harvard University along with 39 other colleges in an audit of tax-exempt non-profit organizations. One hopes that the brains behind the university will be smart enough to avoid the same tax issues as the “Ghost Rider” and “Hannah Montana’s” mom.
It just goes to show that no matter how famous, smart, or on fire your head may be, you are NOT immune from the long arm of the IRS.
The following is an in-depth interview with Spar & Bernstein immigration attorney Nita Dobroshi:
Q: Okay, let’s get the intro out of the way. Where did you go to college, what did you major in, and what year did you graduate?
A: I attended Kenyon College and graduated in 1998 with a B.A. in History and Integrated Program of Humane Studies.
Q: Law school?
A New York Law School.
Q: Where were you born and raised?
A: Born in Kosovo (the former Yugoslavia) and raised in Akron, Ohio, the Goodyear capital of the world.
Q: What was it like living in a war-torn country?
A: I was out of there by the mid 1980’s, before the turbulence began and way before the war started, but I did go back the year after it ended. I wanted to see for myself what had happened. Thankfully, nobody I know died, but I still have grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends living there.
Q: Are either of your parents lawyers?
A: No. In fact, they’re both physicians. My father is an endocrinologist, my mother a psychiatrist.
Q: Was there any pressure on you as a kid to become a doctor?
A: In my family, you were essentially given two choices for a career: a doctor or a lawyer like my grandfather, who was also a law professor and judge. And since I always rejected science—it just didn’t mesh with me—I knew that I didn’t want to become a doctor.
Q: How about your siblings? What professions did they choose?
A: My older sister is a criminal defense lawyer in the public defenders office and my younger sister went off on her own, becoming a jewelry designer and social worker.
Q: What posters did you have on your walls growing up?
A: Johnny Depp, Sting, and Einstein.
Q: How would you describe your personality?
A: I think I’m pretty easy going, like my dad, but I hear from a lot of people that they don’t see me that way, so I don’t know.
Q: How would you sum up your philosophical beliefs?
A: I root very hard for the underdog.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: I see a difference in people’s lives when cases conclude. That’s very fulfilling.
Q: What do you think is your greatest strength as a lawyer?
A: I’m truly dedicated to my clients.
Q: What can you say about the challenge of immigration law?
A: People see immigration law as a black and white kind of thing. They are not fully aware of all the nuances of the law. They really think it’s just based on how sympathetic a certain case is, rather than how it fits into the legal framework, which a lot of times is very nonsensical because it doesn’t jive with the person’s circumstances.
Q: What’s the most important thing on your desk?
A: A good luck shamrock stone with a four-leaf clover chiseled into it. It was given to me by my father, who’s not really a gift giver, after I graduated law school.
Q: What’s your passion outside of law?
A: Art. I like to paint and I like to look at art.
Q: What kind of art?
A: Abstract expressionism.
Q: What else do you like to do?
A: I exercise, run, do Vinyasa Yoga. I also go to a lot of movies and read a lot.
Q: Favorite book?
A: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
A: My first boss once said to me: “Ninety percent of being a good lawyer is just showing up.” And what he meant by that was not only being physically there, but being on time and being completely prepared. It’s true. Very little is done at the time of the trial. It’s all prep work. As scared as I was when I was just starting out, that advice took all the fear out of me. It really calmed me down.