Thursday, July 24, 2014

Could An Employee's Tweet Land Employers in Court?

“Employee Advocacy” is the practice of encouraging and enabling employees to serve as brand advocates for their organizations through posting and sharing social media on their company’s behalf. This practice is continually growing as companies strive to remain prevalent on social media websites. Practicing employee advocacy allows your company’s image to be personal and relevant, but it is important to be aware of what employees are posting, as the companies are ultimately responsible for the content. Recently, Duane Reed had been brought to court by charges stemming from content that an employee posted on the company’s Twitter account. Many other companies have also dealt with unapproved content being distributed by employees on the companies’ social media accounts. In order for employee advocacy to work for your company, and not land you in court or an embarrassing situation, provide clear training and guidelines for participation. Well-managed programs for social media amplification can increase your company’s reach, reputation, and even revenue when conducted properly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Could You Inherit Deceased Parent’s Debts?

The death of a parent is a stressful experience made even worse by discovering that they passed away with large debts. Unless you cosigned one of your parent’s loans or accounts, it is usually the estate, not you that has to pay down the debts left behind. Usually, but not always, as the rules are complex and differ depending on the type of debt accumulated and where your parent lived. Creditors have a fixed period of time, commonly between two and six months, to make claims against your parent’s estate. If there are not enough funds in the estate to cover the debit, in many instances your parents debt will die as well. If there are funds or other assets available, they must be used to pay debts before anything is distributed to heirs. So although you may not be legally responsible to pay your parent’s debts, your inheritance could be reduced or wiped out to cover the payment of debts. CNN Money lists common debts that parents may leave behind and who is responsible for handling these.
·         Credit Card Debt: Unless you’re a cosigner on your parent’s credit card or the executor of the estate, you will not be held responsible to make credit card payments. Credit card companies are often low-priority creditors behind funeral homes, federal and state tax agencies and various lenders. If you are the executor of the account, credit card companies may be willing to negotiate lower payments.
·         Medical Debt: “If your parent received Medicaid, the insurance program for people who can't afford care, the state where your parent died can recover the payments it made from the time your parent was 55 until death. A house is the only substantial asset a person may keep and still qualify for Medicaid. So the state may place a lien on your parent's home to recover payments. Some states, however, may be willing to negotiate and let the executor pay less than the total due” (CNN Money).  States may not ask you to use your own funds to pay the bill, however, and they also are not allowed to pursue payments during the lifetime of the surviving spouse. If your parent was not on Medicaid but died with unpaid hospital or doctor bills, the estate is responsible for payment if funds are available. “But check state law. Close to 30 states have what's known as "filial responsibility" statutes. Those require adult children to pay for a deceased parent's unpaid medical debts, such as those to hospitals or nursing homes, when the estate cannot.”
·         Mortgage Debt: Generally, if you inherit your parent’s home and it still has a mortgage on it, the lender may not demand that you pay off the mortgage immediately, but you will be responsible for making payments on it going forward. If the mortgage is worth more than the property when you want to sell the home, ask the bank if it will agree to a short sale; if the bank will not agree, you can tell the bank to foreclose. Either way, you should not have to pay the bank the difference between the sales price and the money still owed on the loan. The foreclosure should not affect your credit score, so long as your name is not on the mortgage, but it all depends on how the mortgage company reports the transaction to the credit bureaus. You also have the option to disclaim your inheritance.
·         Taxes: The estate is responsible for paying any property and income taxes, delinquent or otherwise, and tax agencies are usually given top priority as creditors. If federal estate tax is due but property is distributed before it’s paid, the Internal Revenue Service may put a lien on the property and collect on it.
The article from CNN Money is linked here. If you have any questions about estate planning or managing, please contact us.

Monday, July 7, 2014

IRS Adopts Taxpayer Bill of Rights

The Internal Revenue Service has created a “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” that will become their guiding focus when it comes to assisting taxpayers gain a better understanding of their rights. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights pulls existing rights already embedded in tax code and groups them into 10 broad categories, making them easier to understand. This Bill of Rights was released following extensive discussions with the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent office inside the IRS that represents the interests of U.S. taxpayers. The IRS website now has a special section to highlight the 10 rights, and will add posters and signs in upcoming months to its public offices so that visiting taxpayers may easily see and read the information. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights are listed below:
1.      The Right to Be Informed
2.      The Right to Quality Service
3.      The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax
4.      The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard
5.      The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum
6.      The Right to Finality
7.      The Right to Privacy
8.      The Right to Confidentiality
9.      The Right to Retain Representation
10.  The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

IRS Expanding Holds on Tax Refunds for Delinquent Taxpayers

The Internal Revenue Service is currently considering expanding their tax refund delay program, which delays tax refunds for up to six months for delinquent taxpayers. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released a report that noted that the IRS has the authority to delay issuing income tax refunds to delinquent taxpayers for up to six months, while the agency investigates tax return delinquencies from other tax years. The report states that holding the tax refund encourages taxpayers to resolve their delinquent filing obligations earlier than they normally would.
“In 2012, the Delinquent Return Refund Hold Program collected nearly $242 million, which was applied to balances due on delinquent returns. From 2008 to 2012, the program held an average of 156,422 tax refunds per year. During that same period, the program secured an average of 64,222 returns from taxpayers per year and coordinated with the IRS’s Automated Substitute for Return program to prepare and post an additional 117,895 substitute returns per year” (Accounting Today).
For additional information, the full article from Accounting Today is linked here.