Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Law

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act Law

As of 2009, employment discrimination on the basis of an individual’s genetic makeup is prohibited under federal law. That means employers, employment agencies and similar entities may not request, require, purchase or disclose a current or prospective employee’s genetic information, nor make employment decisions based on such information. Harassment based on genetic information also is prohibited, as with any other type of harassment covered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Additionally, 35 states have laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of genetic information; some of them may apply to employers with less than 15 employees.

What Does the GINA Cover?

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) covers all U.S. employers with 15 or more employees. “Genetic information,” as defined by GINA, includes information about the following:

• An individual’s genetic tests;
• The genetic tests of an individual’s family members;
• The manifestation of a disease or disorder in an individual’s family (i.e. family medical history);
• An individual’s request for, or receipt of, genetic services (or that of a family member);
• The genetic makeup of a fetus being carried by an individual or family member;

GINA does not cover individuals who already have impairments or conditions that may have a genetic basis, such as diabetes or certain forms of cancer. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against those whose condition meets the legal definition of “disability.”
As with other protected characteristics such as race, gender, national origin, age or disability, an individual’s genetic information is not considered relevant to that person’s ability to work. Therefore, an employer may not use such information as the basis for hiring, firing, pay, promotions, job assignments, layoffs, benefits, training or any other employment action.

Harassment on the basis of one’s genetic information, which also is prohibited under GINA, may consist offensive comments that are considered severe enough to cause a hostile or offensive work environment or which cause an adverse employment decision (i.e. the victim is demoted or terminated). Retaliation against an employee who has filed a complaint or otherwise opposed genetic discrimination also is illegal.

While GINA prohibits employers and other covered entities to acquire genetic information, the EEOC designates the following narrow exceptions:

1. Inadvertent acquisition of genetic information, such as an overheard conversation about an employee’s illness;

2. In some situations where the individual has voluntarily provided such information as part of a health or wellness program;

3. Acquisition of family medical history as part of FMLA leave certification (i.e. employee is caring for a seriously ill family member)

4. Information gleaned from publicly available sources, such as newspapers

5. Information obtained through certain genetic monitoring programs that are required by law, where employee participation is voluntary

6. Genetic information obtained in a facility that engages in DNA testing (such as a forensics lab), as used for analysis of DNA markers to detect sample contamination

What Businesses Need To Know About GINA Violations

An employer may have to request health-related information from an employee in some cases, which can lead to the inadvertent acquisition of genetic information. For example, an employee may be requesting a reasonable accommodation under the ADA or request for extended medical leave. However, it is important for employers to create a safe harbor by providing a warning to the individual about GINA. We reccommend that the Employer provide the following in writing to each employee:

GINA prohibits employers and other entities covered by GINA Title II from requesting or requiring genetic information of an individual or family member of the individual, except as specifically allowed by this law. To comply with this law, it is advisable that your employees not provide any genetic information when responding to this request for medical information. “Genetic information,” as defined by GINA, includes an individual’s family medical history, the results of an individual’s or family member’s genetic tests, the fact that an individual or an individual’s family member sought or received genetic services, and genetic information of a fetus carried by an individual or an individual’s family member or an embryo lawfully held by an individual or family member receiving assistive reproductive services.

GINA Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need legal help, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning


Title Insurance Law

Title Insurance Law

All your hard work has paid off. You just found your dream house. Maybe you even managed to get a deal on it. Or, maybe you paid twenty percent over the list price. It’s still your dream house, and you’ll figure out a way to come up with the extra twenty percent. You’ll cut expenses, starting with that thing called title insurance. After all, the house is in the city, and it has had the same owner for the last 40 years, so how could there be any problems with the title?

We Do Title Insurance Representation

If you have a question about title insurance law in Utah, make sure you give us a call to discuss your situation. Did you know that when you buy a piece of land, you don’t get handed the piece of land — you are given title. Title is the owner’s right to possess and use the property. How a home is titled can vary. For example, title might be held as tenants in common, as joint tenants, there may be a right of survivorship, or there might be a life estate in the home.

In addition, as you might imagine, there are many uses for land and rights can be given or sold for such uses. Someone other than the person you think of as owner of the property itself may own mineral, air, or utility rights on the property. A bank with a mortgage on the property owns an interest in the property, as does someone who has done work on the house and filed a lien against it. The government may also have liens against the property for unpaid taxes, and the city may have an easement giving it the right to string utility lines across the front yard.

What is a Title Search?

A title search will reveal many of these potential problems. A title search is done by examining public records to look up the history of property ownership. You can do your own title search, assuming you know what to look for, but if you are getting a loan to enable you to purchase the property, the lender will require that a qualified third party do the title search. The title search shows not only limitations on the use of the property and rights others may have in the property, but also liens or monetary obligations that are outstanding against the property.

What is Title Insurance?

Once you know whether there are limitations on the use of the property or liens against the title, you may wonder why you cannot just deal with those issue before you purchase the property? Why would you need insurance once you know about all the problems? Isn’t it like buying fire insurance after your house has burned down? In fact, buying title insurance is a little like buying fire insurance on your burned down house.

Most people are familiar with the kinds of insurance that covers events that have not yet happened — automobile liability insurance, medical insurance, life insurance are examples of such policies. Usually, these policies exclude events that occur before the date the policy is issued. In other words, you cannot get life insurance on someone who has already died, and you will not find an insurance company willing to give you insurance coverage for a car accident that has already occurred.

Title insurance, on the other hand, covers events relating to the title that have already happened. It does not cover anything that happens to the title after the date of issuance. If you have liens filed against the property for taxes that you didn’t get around to paying, your title insurance policy is not going to help you. But, if the lien is for taxes not paid by someone who owned the house 80 years ago, then you may have coverage under your title policy.

Before offering to issue a title insurance policy, a title company will do a title search to learn whether there are any problems or limitations with the title. This search is done in an effort to minimize the risks of offering insurance. By minimizing the risks of claims being made, a title insurance company is able to offer its insurance policies for a relatively low, one-time fee.

Problems such as deeds, wills, and/or trusts that contain improper vesting and incorrect names, outstanding mortgages, judgements, and tax liens, easements, or incorrect notary acknowledgments are generally found through the title search and usually can be cleared up before the closing on the property. When these problems are not cleared they will often be listed as exceptions to the policy’s coverage. You would then need to decide whether the property is still something you want to purchase given the known problems with the title. Ascent Law can fix deeds and title issues.

Perhaps you are wondering what the point of title insurance is if the title company won’t cover known problems with the title. Isn’t it like buying medical insurance that won’t cover you if you get ill? The answer is “not really”. There can many problems with a title that even a diligent and trained eye may not uncover during a title search.

Examples of problems that can come up after you purchase your property include fraudulent acts by prior owners — such as forged documents that transfer no title to the real estate, forged mortgages, or forged satisfactions or releases of mortgages, impersonation of the true owners of the land by fraudulent persons, and/or instruments executed under expired or fabricated power of attorney. In addition, the deed may have been executed by someone who forgot to get divorced before he remarried, who forgot he got divorced and has inherited the property as the surviving spouse, or who forgot that he already sold the property to another purchaser who is now in possession of the property. Or perhaps you have acquired perfectly good title to a piece of property for which there is no legal access.

Other problems that may occur include execution of the deed by someone who is a minor or otherwise not competent, mistakes in public records or mistakes in recording the legal documents. Such mistakes can include incorrect indexing, errors and omissions in transcribing due to similarity in names, and failure to preserve original instruments.

In addition, defective acknowledgement due to lack of authority of notary; descriptions that appear to be, but are not, adequate; erroneous location of an ancient pipe or sewer line which does not follow the route of a granted easement; invalid, suppressed, undisclosed and erroneous interpretations of wills; previously undisclosed heirs with claims to the property; tax titles which are invalid because of irregularity in the proceeding; liens for unpaid estate, inheritance, income or gift taxes and/or special assessments which become liens can also impact on the use and enjoyment of your property.

Although the events that cause these types of problems happened before you purchased the property, a good title insurance policy will provide coverage for the consequences of these events as they affect your ownership of the property. There are two types of policies available, a lender’s policy and an owner’s policy. Your lender will probably require that you obtain a lender’s policy. The lender requires this because the loan is made with the property as security. Any defect in the title of the property affects the value of the lender’s security. Because the lender is only interested in protecting its security, the lender’s policy only covers the amount of the loan. As you pay back the loan, the value of the lender’s policy decreases.
Your equity in the property is not covered by the lender’s policy. As time goes by and you dutifully pay back your loan, your exposure increases, unless you have an owner’s policy, which covers the total amount of the value of the property at the time the property is purchased. The cost of such a policy is relatively low since the increase in the risk for the title insurer is not much greater than if it only insured the lender’s interest. Since your interest, unlike the interest of the lender, may increase over time, you may want to consider purchasing an inflation rider that will adjust your amount of coverage to reflect the increase in the value of your property over time.

The coverage of your policy is not just limited by the face amount of the policy. As noted above, there may be other restrictions on the policy that will be set forth in the “exceptions” section of the policy. These exceptions are usually for items that were discovered, but not resolved, prior to the closing. The exceptions may also include some standard items for which you may be able to purchase extended coverage.

In the event that there is a claim against your rights of ownership in the property, your title insurance company will cover the cost and fees associated with defending against the title claim. The policy will also cover, up to the face amount, any loss of title or the cost of perfecting the title. Without title insurance, you may be faced with huge legal fees and costs and even the loss of all or a portion of your dream home.

Title Insurance Lawyer Free Consultation

If you have a real estate issue regarding title insurance, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Property Boundary Law

property boundary law

If you are experienced enough to read and
understand a land survey, you can simply request a copy of the land survey or
subdivision plot from your city clerk’s office. These documents are required to
have detailed information regarding where your property boundaries are.
However, these documents are also quite complex and are written so that
professional surveyors can read and understand them.

Most people often find it too difficult to
tell exactly where their property boundaries are without hiring a professional
to do a land survey. If you decide to hire a licensed land surveyor, he or she
will come out to your land and place markers that mark the boundary lines of
your property. You can find a listing of licensed land surveyors in your area
by simply consulting your local phone book or the internet. It is often best to
call a few such companies, explain what you want them to do, and then hire the
one you think best for the job.

In most situations, the cost of such a land
survey is dictated by the size of the land that is to be surveyed, whether
there is an accurate subdivision map already existing, geographic location, and
the last time the land was surveyed. Costs for such surveys routinely range
between $500 and thousands of dollars. If you land has not been surveyed for a
long period of time, or if there are multiple existing survey maps that
conflict with each other, you can expect to pay more.

Can my neighbor and I simply agree where the
boundary should be?

Yes. If you and your neighbor have agreed
where you both want the property boundaries to be, then you both can make a
“lot line agreement,” also called a “lot line adjustment
agreement.” These agreements are made official and binding by making and
signing deeds that describe in detail the agreed upon property line. However,
it is important to check your local zoning and subdivision laws before making
this agreement to make sure you are in compliance.

If you and/or your neighbors are still both
paying off mortgages on your properties, however, then you will probably need
to consult with an attorney before making a lot line agreement. Your bank may
prevent you from making such an agreement and instead insist that you hire a
licensed surveyor to survey the land.

After signing the deed, you will need to file
it with the county land records office. This office, which is sometimes known
by names such as the County Recorder’s Office, or the Land Registry Office,
will file the deed and make it available for public viewing upon request. This
gives notice to any future purchaser of the land of the new, agreed-upon
property boundaries.

What remedies do I have if my neighbor starts
to use my property?

When you think that your neighbor is starting
to use your land, even if it just a minor thing like building a fence in the
wrong location, you need to act immediately. Property boundaries are very
important when it comes to the use of land, and even a small encroachment by
your neighbor onto your land may result in consequences that you cannot

For instance, if your neighbor builds a fence
or a new driveway that comes onto your property by a few inches, this may be
enough for a title company to refuse to issue insurance when it comes time to
sell your house. Also, many states have laws that allow a person who uses another’s
land for a long enough time period to actually gain a legal right to continue
to use the land, and in some cases, even gain ownership of that land.

As with most
situations, the best option is to start talking with your neighbor as soon as
you notice the encroachment. In many situations, the neighbor will have made a
simple mistake in his construction and will probably rectify the error.
However, if your neighbor does not want to cooperate, your best option is to
point out the deed showing the property boundaries, or even hire a surveyor to
come out and place new property line markers. If the neighbor does not stop
building on your land, hire a lawyer immediately and get a judge to issue an
order that will force your neighbor to stop building on your land until you can
bring a trespass lawsuit.

Property Boundary Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need help with real estate law or property boundaries, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Can the IRS Seize Your Home?

Can the IRS Seize Your Home

Yes. Yes they can.

The United States Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) is a powerful agency able to exercise many options in the pursuit of a
tax debt. This article explains the situations in which the IRS is able to
seize your home or business in the pursuit of a collection of a debt.

The Collection Process

If you owe outstanding taxes, the IRS will
first contact you via mail with a bill detailing the debt. Overdue tax debts
are subject to penalties and interest, so the longer the balance remains
unpaid, the larger the outstanding debt will become. If you are unable to pay
the debt in full, you should make an attempt to pay as much as you can, to
avoid further penalties and accrued interest.

If you cannot pay the tax debt by the date
indicated in the initial bill, you should contact the IRS to negotiate a
compromise to resolve your tax liability or arrange a monthly installment plan.
It is important to contact the IRS and make arrangements to pay the overdue tax
voluntarily, or they will begin the collection process, which can lead to
liens, levies, and future IRS retention of tax refunds.

Can the IRS Seize Your Home or Your Business?

Yes. The seizure of a taxpayer’s home or
business is authorized by the Internal Revenue Code. The IRS District Director
is empowered to take a taxpayer’s home or business with a stroke of his pen.
The Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (1998 Tax
Act) extended the District Director’s privilege to seize homes and businesses
to U.S. District Court Judges and Magistrates. The Act provides a safety net
for a taxpayer owing $5,000 or less.

If you owe the IRS taxes and do not pay in a
timely manner, the IRS can undertake enforced collection in the form of levies,
seizures and public sale. There is very little that the IRS is prohibited from
seizing. Exempt assets are usually confined to small items of minimal value.

The Seizure Process

The IRS must follow specific procedures for
seizing a taxpayer’s home or business. First, they must ask your permission to
enter your premises. If you wish to allow the IRS to enter and seize your home
or business, you simply sign your name to a short form and walk away. If you
refuse to give permission, the IRS will apply for a seizure order with a U.S.
District Court Judge or Magistrate. Once the judge has read and approved the
IRS’ request for a seizure order, IRS agents prepare to descend upon your
property, and may carry weapons. You will be allowed to collect your personal
effects. The IRS will then padlock the premises, post notices to the public,
and arrange to sell the business assets to the highest bidder.

Why Do People Lose Their Homes and Their
Businesses to the IRS?

IRS seizures of homes and businesses are
often unnecessary, and sometimes illegal. Seizures can be caused by ill
feelings and poor communication between the taxpayer and the IRS collector.
Most people who owe taxes are able to negotiate a satisfactory solution with
IRS collectors. The 1998 Tax Act brought new avenues of relief for taxpayers,
allowing them to petition for administrative resolutions if they feel that the
IRS has been overzealous in its collection efforts, or if there is a dispute
regarding the amount that the IRS claims is outstanding.

IRS Lawyer Free Consultation

If you are here, you probably have a IRS issue you need help with. If you do, please call Ascent Law for your free IRS consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Foreclosure Law

Foreclosure Law

If you’re having a hard time paying your monthly mortgage and need help coming up with strategies to right the ship, you may want to speak with a foreclosure prevention counselor. But not all financial counselors have your best interests at heart, so make sure you work with a HUD-approved, nonprofit agency. They can provide free advice and help you determine whether a loan modification or refinance program is available. If a counseling agency charges a fee for advice or offers a scheme that will “rescue” you from foreclosure, it may be a scam. And if an agency tells you to send your mortgage directly to them, you need to know that this is illegal.

The lender may seem like the last one you want to call if you’re having trouble with your mortgage, but it’s often in your best interest to do so. Lenders may make it difficult, but they generally would rather work out an arrangement that allows you to stay in your home than go into foreclosure and be stuck with another home to sell. They may offer any one of the following solutions – (1) Forbearance – Lender may reduce or suspend payments for a period of time, but borrower must prove that extra funds will be available at a later time (such as a tax refund or work bonus).

(2) Loan Modification – This involves a rewriting of the mortgage terms (or just changes to a few of the original terms). (3) Reinstatement – Often used in conjunction with a forbearance, this allows borrower to make missed payments within a given timeframe. (4) Repayment Plan – Usually, this involves a negotiated amount added to the monthly mortgage in order to pay off past due balances. (5) Refinance – This option is available only if you have enough equity in your home to pay off the old mortgage and other fees with the new mortgage.

Keep in mind that you must hurry. Contact your lender as soon as you believe you may need help with your mortgage in order to avoid foreclosure.

Bankruptcy Is Also An Option

If all other options have been exhausted and you still can’t afford your mortgage, or if your home already has been put into foreclosure, you may need to file for bankruptcy. And once you’re in bankruptcy, all debt collection activities (including foreclosure) are put on hold. This grace period can sometimes give homeowners the chance to dig out from debt or negotiate with the lender. Bankruptcy only should be used as a last resort, though, since it will have long-lasting financial implications. It can be difficult for certain struggling homeowners to avoid foreclosure, but it’s usually worth the extra effort.

Free Consultation with a Foreclosure Lawyer

When you need help with a Foreclosure, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Family Law and Divorce

Family Law and Divorce

It’s no secret that a divorce can have a major impact on your life and your finances. To achieve the best possible settlement, it’s important to financially prepare in advance. The following steps will help you get ready for your financial future.

Collect your financial records: You will want to go into your divorce with accurate and up-to-date information about yours and your spouse’s financial status. Secure records of all open bank accounts, retirement funds, mortgages, loans and credit cards that you and your spouse have on file. Then, store the files somewhere safe at a trusted parent or friend’s house.
Secure a post office box: Having a post office mailbox allows you to receive personal and divorce-related mail at a safe location. By being the only person with access to your new mailbox, you can securely accept confidential documents from your attorneys as well as banking and credit card statements.

Begin saving in a private account: One of the most important parts of financially preparing for your divorce is to save as much as possible. Be sure you are placing your savings in a personal account that your spouse does not have access to.
Check your credit score: Pulling your credit score and report will enable you to have a clear picture of your financial standing. Take early action to improve your score as much as possible. During this time, it is also wise to start building credit by opening a card that is solely in your name.

Make a list of your property: Take a moment to create a list of all property you and your spouse share, and all property you owned before getting married. In Utah, property owned by one individual before a marriage takes place is typically restored to that person after a divorce.

Family Law Issues

Family law addresses the business of relationships—of the sometimes-hard endings needed to win new beginnings. Even as laws change and the economy falters, issues such as child custody and divorce, and relocation continue to affect real people like you every day.
We work daily to get good deals for clients and aggressively fight in court when necessary. Our top priority is addressing the unique concerns each client brings through our door.
Right now, we are seeing more cases caused by bad finances, including these issues: Modifications: When jobs are lost, financial support falters as well. Scarce financial times result in more cases involving upward or downward modification of child and spousal support.

Divorce: Fewer divorces are filed during hard economic times, but our firm has not seen a swing in the rate of cases handled. Relocation: With dim job prospects, custodial parents are looking further afield for work. Relocation can result in tough child custody battles that require equally tough advocacy from your attorneys. Financial matters: Careful legal and financial analysis is important for helping our clients move forward.
Custody: Child custody and visitation are perennial issues requiring aggressive legal help.

Family law cases can be tough. When you need a divorce or custody lawyer, look for experience and a willingness to fight to the end to get the new beginning you deserve.

Free Consultation with a Family Lawyer

If you have a question about family lawyer or if you need help with custody, please call Ascent Law at (801) 676-5506. We will help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

IRS Installment Agreements

IRS Installment Agreement

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows taxpayers to pay off tax debt through an installment agreement because not everyone will need an IRS Tax Lawyer to help them. Call if you do, but keep in mind that interest and penalties will apply and that the IRS encourages taxpayers to pay taxes immediately. Interest and penalties can equal 8% to 10% per year. Yeah. That’s right.

If paying the entire tax debt all at once is not possible, an installment agreement is an alternative allowed by the IRS. The IRS has four different types of installment agreements: guaranteed, streamlined, partial payment, and non-streamlined.

What is an Installment Agreement?

To qualify for an installment agreement with the IRS, the taxpayer must meet the following conditions:
Owe less than $50,000, (not including interest and penalties);
In the previous five years the taxpayer has filed tax returns, paid taxes owed, and has not entered into an installment agreement;
The taxpayer is unable to pay the tax liability when due or within 120 days;
The tax liability will be paid off within three years; and
The taxpayer must pay at least the minimum monthly payment (tax liability, interest, and penalties divided by 30).
Under this payment plan, the IRS will not file a federal tax lien against the taxpayer.

Streamlined Installment Agreement

In most cases, a taxpayer that qualifies for a guaranteed agreement will also qualify for the streamlined installment agreement. A streamlined installment agreement has the following requirements:
The tax liability, interest, and penalties do not exceed $50,000;
The balance can be paid off within 72 months; and
The proposed payment is equal to or greater than the “minimum acceptable payment” (the minimum acceptable payment is the greater of $25 or the minimum payment amount reached by dividing the tax liability, interest, and penalties by 50)

The taxpayer must pay a fee to set up the installment agreement or a reduced fee for a direct debit installment agreement. To restructure or reinstate a previous installment agreement, the IRS charges a different fee. Like a guaranteed installment agreement, the IRS does not file a federal tax lien.
Partial Payment Installment Agreement
A partial payment agreement allows the IRS to enter into agreements with taxpayers for the partial payment of a tax liability. To qualify for this arrangement, the taxpayer must complete a financial statement using Form 433-F to report income and living expenses. The IRS will review and verify the information. If the taxpayer has assets that can be sold to pay some of the tax debt, the IRS will require the taxpayer to provide additional information.
If approved, the taxpayer will be required to participate in a financial review every two years. This review may result in the increase in installment payments or the termination of the agreement.
Non-Streamlined Installment Agreement
If a taxpayer owes $50,000 or more and can make monthly payments to the IRS, a non-streamlined agreement is an option. The IRS will not automatically approve this agreement; instead, the taxpayer must negotiate with the IRS. The taxpayer must file Form 433-F, Collection Information Statement. This form collects information about income, debts, living expenses, assets, accounts, and allows the taxpayer to propose an installment payment amount.

It will usually take a few months for the IRS to review a proposed payment plan. The IRS may refuse a proposed agreement if it considers some of the taxpayer’s living expenses unnecessary, if untruthful information was provided, or if the taxpayer failed to complete a prior installment arrangement.
If a taxpayer is unable to pay a tax liability through a non-streamlined agreement, consider filing an Offer in Compromise.

Ways to Make Payments

Taxpayers can make installment payments using the following methods:
Payroll deduction
Direct debit
Check or money order
Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS)
Credit card
Online Payment Agreement (OPA)
When Will the IRS Revoke an Installment Agreement
The IRS can revoke an installment arrangement under the following circumstances:
The taxpayer misses a payment;
The taxpayer does not file a tax return or pay taxes after the agreement is entered into;
The taxpayer provided inaccurate information on Form 433-F; or
The taxpayer is paying under a partial payment installment agreement and a review indicates a change in their financial position.

Free Consultation with a Utah Tax Attorney

If you are here, you probably have a tax law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free tax law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Landlord Tenant Disputes

Landlord Tenant Disputes

Disputes between landlords and tenants can take many forms — from upkeep and repair issues to non-payment of rent and potential eviction. In addition to looking to the terms of any rental agreement in place, being informed of your rights as either a tenant or a landlord can help save money and avoid frustration. When navigating a dispute with your landlord or your tenant, care should be taken to ensure that both sides attempt to uphold their side of the agreement while protecting their interests to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Eviction and Unlawful Detainer Lawsuits

Eviction is the process of terminating a lease agreement, typically for a specific cause, thereby removing the tenant from the rental unit. Common disputes that lead to eviction include failure to pay rent on time, keeping pets against the rules of the rental agreement, and engaging in criminal activity on the rental property. Laws are in place to make sure any eviction follows due process, which protects both tenants and landlords.
Evicting a tenant is not as simple as telling them to leave. There is a specific process in place to ensure the tenant has his or her say, and to give the tenant time to find a new place to live. The first step is to give the tenant formal notice of an eviction, explaining the fault (such as missed rent payments) that needs to be corrected. If the tenant fails to respond in a reasonable amount of time, the landlord may then file for a formal court eviction proceeding; this is typically referred to as a “forcible entry and detainer” or “unlawful detainer” action.

Avoiding Disputes with Your Landlord

The best way to solve landlord tenant disputes is to avoid them altogether. There may be disagreements or misunderstandings, but these are best handled outside of court most of the time. For instance, tenants should study their lease agreement carefully and also get a basic understanding of their rights and responsibilities as tenants. If a problem arises, it’s best to talk to the other party right away and be completely honest. Keeping hard copies of all notes and correspondence related to the problem also is a good idea.

How to Resolve a Landlord Tenant Dispute Outside of Court

Of course, not all disputes are easily resolved by simply talking with your landlord. If you can avoid going to court, that is usually the best and least expensive option. One option is to use a third-party mediator to help draft an agreement between the two parties, which is not binding but can help facilitate communication. You can find a low-cost mediation program for handling landlord tenant disputes through both private companies and bar associations.

The last resort for resolving disputes after direct communication and mediation have failed is to file a claim with your local small claims court. While they cannot hear every type of case, most landlord tenant disputes involving a sum of money below a certain amount (usually a few thousand dollars) can be handled in small claims. For instance, matters commonly resolved in small claims court include disputes over unpaid rent or un-returned security deposits. While you generally don’t need legal representation for small claims court, but in Utah you can use attorneys if you think you need one.

Free Consultation with a Landlord Lawyer

When you need an attorney for a landlord tenant disputes, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

FINRA Arbitration

FINRA Arbitration

In many industries, victims of fraud and misconduct have the option of filing a lawsuit and seeking a just resolution from a judge and jury. For many investors and securities industry employees, however, the available legal options are far more limited. For them, FINRA arbitration is mandatory.

The New York Times’ recent coverage of arbitration between Barclays Capital and a former Barclays employee perfectly demonstrates why FINRA arbitration can be so challenging for individuals going up against massive securities firms.

William Thomas Pair worked for Barclays Capital for several years, having been recruited from his previous position at UBS. To convince Pair to join Barclays, the firm offered him a $1 million forgivable loan, which would be paid off after several years of employment. At one point, Pair’s loan was renegotiated to pertain to Barclays Bank, a British company, which means it should not have been subject to mandatory FINRA arbitration. Several months before that 7-year mark, Barclays fired Pair and assigned his outstanding $600,000 loan balance back to U.S.-based Barclays Capital. Barclays then filed for FINRA arbitration against Pair, who chose to represent himself. Barclays, on the other hand, was represented by highly paid outside legal counsel.

The arbitrators chose to throw out the former broker’s key witness for unclear reasons. Pair lost, and no sufficient explanation was given for why Barclays had passed the outstanding balance back from its British owner to the U.S. subsidiary. As a result, Pair was ordered to pay back not only the $600,000, but also $20,000 in unpaid interest and $360,000 for Barclays’ attorney fees. Pair’s story is, unfortunately, not an unusual outcome in FINRA arbitration. In fact, in 2013, securities customers were awarded some portion of their claimed damages in only 42% of arbitrations.

How FINRA Arbitration Works

The challenges involved in FINRA arbitration are complex and fairly institutionalized, but navigating them is possible. As an independent non-profit, FINRA exists to create and enforce securities regulations for the protection of investors and the overall health of the securities industry.
The challenges for victims of securities industry misconduct center around two major concerns.

First, when you pay for the brokerage services of a securities firm, in most cases you sign away your right to a trial. This is also the case for employees of banks and brokerages who wish to resolve legal disputes with their employers.

Securities firms have powerful outside counsel at their beck and call, which means that standing up against them in arbitration—and prevailing— is a tall and often expensive order. As the Barclays case demonstrated, losing in arbitration can result in a former employee or investor being liable for the firm’s legal costs.

Second, arbitration panels are often far from neutral. Though they are required to remain impartial, the reality is that arbitrators are paid based on how many arbitrations they handle, and if they become known for giving Claimants favorable awards, the banks and brokerages will not use them. There have been past instances demonstrating some arbitrators’ potential conflicts-of-interest.

This is How FINRA Arbitrators are Chosen

Arbitrators are charged with the weighty responsibility of deciding whether those who file claims deserve an award. FINRA maintains a roster of over 6,000 arbitrators.

In order to become certified, arbitrators must complete approximately 10 hours of coursework and an entrance exam. According to research conducted in 2009, the proportion of arbitrators affiliated with the financial services industry, in contrast to those who are not, is approximately 1 in 3.

This is reasonable in the sense that those with a securities background have first-hand knowledge of the nuances of the industry. It is concerning in the sense that some arbitrators may have strong ties to powerful securities firms, which could potentially color their decisions.
FINRA has reviewed this issue in response to concerns that it may cause bias, and has passed restrictions on who is eligible to serve as a public arbitrator. Still, the structure of the system as it stands may make individuals involved in FINRA arbitration feel that they are powerless against a biased system.

What Can You Do if You Are Not Paid the Full Amount of Your Contract?

Unfortunately, an all too common issue for contractors is what to do if they are not paid the full amount they are owed for their work—even when the contract was properly and fully performed. On the surface, reneging on promises would appear to be bad business, not only from a conscientious standpoint, but also because burning bridges can make it difficult to conduct future business.

There’s a simple reason, however, why businesspeople might not pay contractors in full: they can get away with it, since it will cost the contractors more to sue than it will to just take the loss. This strategy relies on the premise that the contractor will need to pay an attorney hundreds of dollars an hour to attempt to recover the money owed, which can quickly make litigation untenable for the average businessperson.

Litigants Can Exploit Contract Law

U.S. law generally requires each party to a lawsuit to pay its own attorney fees. While this rule can encourage more equal access to justice, it can also lead to a situation where a well-funded defendant drags out a case and drives up the legal fees to the point where taking a loss is the better choice for the plaintiff.

For example, if a contractor enters into an agreement to perform painting work at an apartment complex for $250,000 and, upon satisfactorily completing the work, the apartment complex owner refuses to pay, the contractor can file a breach of contract lawsuit to recover the unpaid money.

But if the contractor’s legal fees hit $25,000 – $50,000—which is on the very low end of the cost of prosecuting a business lawsuit—the profit margin on the contract will effectively be wiped out. The lawsuit essentially becomes a no-win situation. As a result, many contractors give up their legal fight, settle their cases for less than they are worth, go bankrupt, or even go out of business.

Knowing this, defendants can offer contractors a lower amount than what is owed and force them to drop the case. This is an example of how hourly attorneys’ fees create a “Justice Gap” for small business owners that cannot afford the high cost of business litigation.

FINRA Arbitration Lawyer Free Consultation

When you need a lawyer for FINRA Arbitration, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning

Tax Extension Law

Tax Extension Law

If you can’t meet the deadline to file your tax return, you can get an automatic four-month tax extension of time to file from the IRS. The extension will give you extra time to get the paperwork in to the IRS, but it does not extend the time you have to pay any tax due.

You must make an accurate estimate of any tax due when you request an extension. You will owe interest on any amounts not paid by the April deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have paid less than 90 percent of your total tax by that date. You may send a payment for the expected balance due, but this is not required to obtain the extension.

If you cannot file your tax return by the due date, you may be able to get an automatic 6-month extension of time to file. For example, if your return is due on April 15, you will have until October 15 to file.
You can get the automatic extension by:

1. Using IRS e-file (electronic filing), or
2. Filing a paper form

E-filing Options. There are two ways you can use e-file to get an extension of time to file. Complete Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to use as a worksheet. If you think you may owe tax when you file your return, use Part II of the form to estimate your balance due. If you e-file Form 4868 to the IRS, do not also send a paper Form 4868. You can use a tax software package with your personal computer or a tax professional to file Form 4868 electronically. You will need to provide certain information from your tax return from the previous tax year.

E-file and Pay by Credit Card. You can get a tax extension by paying part or all of your estimate of tax due by using a credit card. You can do this by phone or over the Internet. You do not file Form 4868.

Filing a paper form (Form 4868). You can get an extension of time to file by filing a paper Form 4868. Mail it to the address shown in the form instructions. If you want to make a payment with the form, make your check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury.” Write your SSN, daytime phone number, and “2005 Form 4868” on your check or money order.

You must request the automatic tax extension by the due date for your return. You can file your return any time before the 6-month extension period ends.

Enter any payment you made related to the extension of time to file on Form 1040, line 69. If you file Form 1040EZ or Form 1040A, include that payment in your total payments on Form 1040EZ, line 9, or Form 1040A, line 43. Also enter “Form 4868” and the amount paid in the space to the left of line 9 or line 43.

To get the automatic extension, file Form 4868, Application for Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, with the IRS by the April 15 deadline, or make an extension-related electronic payment. You can file your extension request by phone or by computer, or mail the paper Form 4868 to the IRS.

You can file Form 4868 by phone anytime through April 15 (or the following business day, if on a weekend or holiday). The special toll-free phone number is 1-888-796-1074. Use Form 4868 as a worksheet to prepare for the call and have a copy of your previous year’s federal income tax return available.

The system will give you a confirmation number to verify that the extension request has been accepted. Put this confirmation number on your copy of Form 4868 and keep it for your records. Do not send the form to the IRS.
You can also e-file an extension request using tax preparation software on your own computer or by going to an authorized e-file tax professional. The IRS will acknowledge receipt of the extension request if you file by computer.

If you ask for a tax extension by phone or computer, you can also choose to pay any expected balance due by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal from a checking or savings account. You will need the appropriate bank routing and account numbers. You must also provide the adjusted gross income amount from your previous year’s federal income tax return to verify your identity.

You can also get an extension by making an extension-related credit card payment by phone or through the Internet. Contact one of the service providers below. The processor will charge you a convenience fee for the credit card payment. See the instructions for Form 4868 for more information on how to make an extension-related electronic payment.
If your return is completed but you are unable to pay the tax due, do not request a tax extension. File your return on time and pay as much as you can. The IRS will send you a bill or notice for the balance due.
Special rules apply to U.S. citizens, resident aliens and members of the armed forces whose home and main place of business or post of duty are outside of the United States. For more information about these provisions, see Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, and Publication 3, Armed Forces’ Tax Guide.

Free Consultation with a Utah Tax Attorney

If you are here, you probably have a tax law issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free tax law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506

from Michael Anderson

from Salt Lake City Estate Planning