Life Lessons

Why You Cannot Trust or Rely on What an IRS Agent Tells You

A client talked to the IRS about his back payroll tax issue.  The revenue officer said not to worry about it, that the account was not a high priority for the revenue officer and that they had time to work things out.  Two weeks later, the IRS levied on his payroll account, and his business […]

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A Tax Protestor by any other Name Can Never Sail Sweetly

Is it true that there is no law requiring payment of income tax? My tenure as an IRS attorney caused me to think deeply about taxes, courts, and government. And it helped me see how I can help individuals who face the tax system. There are people – common in the San Fernando Valley – […]

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It happens to the best of us

My mother-in-law, Margret, is in a nursing home. She knows who she is, but not much more than that. My wife does her taxes every year. And it’s usually pretty simple to do, because Margret’s income is fixed: some social security, some pension money from Mercedes-Benz, where her husband had worked for 40 years. I […]

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Nothing left to lose and loving it

I had a client come to me a few years ago to file bankruptcy.  He owned two office buildings with mortgages totaling more than the buildings’ values. They were going to be foreclosed, triggering personal guarantees, and the client would owe millions of dollars to the lender.  If he somehow got out of the personal […]

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Does bankruptcy even have a negative side?

Not all effects of bankruptcy are negative. Certainly getting rid of your debt and starting fresh is a positive effect of filing. Your name won’t be published in the newspaper (unless you’re famous). However, anyone who has access to your credit report will find out about the bankruptcy. This can make it more difficult to […]

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5 Things You Can Do To Rebuild Your Credit After Bankruptcy

A couple recently asked me how to rebuild their credit after filing bankruptcy and I would like to share some of the information that I gave them as it may be helpful to you in improving your credit score after bankruptcy. First, for those who are worried about a bankruptcy being on your credit report […]

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Can an Arsonist Discharge Fire Fighting Costs in Bankruptcy? (Yes, Seriously)

Living in semi-arid California, I’ve gotten used to seeing large columns of smoke on hot, windy days.  Most recently, I could see the Springs Fire burning between Camarillo and Malibu from a distance; happily, it did little damage to structures, and no one died from it.  This one was not caused by arson, but it […]

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Trader Joe’s

My client had been an executive with an ad agency.  He had put a daughter through college, then lost his retirement nest egg in the real estate crash.  He now lives with his wife in a rental in the Valley.  Stretched beyond his means, he was having his wages garnished because of a credit card […]

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Becoming financially sick while pushing physical health

It used to be that a medical degree was a ticket to a relatively secure life: in exchange for spending years achieving at school and amassing formidable learning, and just showing up at your practice for 50 or more hours a week, a doctor could be guaranteed a comfortable income, if not outright wealth.  No […]

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Bankruptcy: Redemption, not Failure

I like to say that I am involved in “capitalist recycling.” In a capitalist, free-market society, there are people who win and there are people who lose. Those people who do not win and cannot function economically because of crushing debt need to come back into the system and function again. By helping them through […]

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