Did you know that many people with disabilities qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit; yet up to 1.5 million fail to claim this valuable benefit

The Internal Revenue Service wants taxpayers with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities to be aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and correctly claim it if they qualify.

The EITC is a federal income tax credit for workers who don’t earn a high income ($53,505 or less for 2016) and meet other eligibility requirements. Because it’s a refundable credit, those who qualify and claim the credit could pay less federal tax, pay no tax or even get a tax refund.

The EITC could put an extra $2 or up to $6,269 into a taxpayer’s pocket. Nevertheless, the IRS estimates that as many as 1.5 million people with disabilities miss out on this valuable credit because they fail to file a tax return. Many of these non-filers fall below the income threshold requiring them to file. Even so, the IRS urges them to consider filing anyway because the only way to receive this credit is to file a return and claim EITC.

To qualify for EITC, the taxpayer must have earned income. Usually, this means income either from a job or from self-employment. But taxpayers who retired on disability can also count as earned income any taxable benefits they receive under an employer’s disability retirement plan. These benefits remain earned income until the disability retiree reaches minimum retirement age. The IRS emphasized that social Security benefits or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) do not count as earned income.

Additionally, taxpayers may claim a child with a disability or a relative with a disability of any age to get the credit if the person meets all other EITC requirements. Use the EITC Assistant, on IRS.gov, to determine eligibility, estimate the amount of credit and more.

People with disabilities are often concerned that a tax refund will impact their eligibility for one or more public benefits, including Social Security disability benefits, Medicaid, and Food Stamps. The law is clear that tax refunds, including refunds from tax credits such as the EITC, are not counted as income for purposes of determining eligibility for benefits. This applies to any federal program and any state or local program financed with federal funds. Continue reading

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MLK day tribute: The best parts of we.

THE BEST PARTS OF WE… by Patrick McClure

So as usual on this day, I try to remind my boys what this holiday is about, not just missing school. I read the speech to them. It is important that they learn, and it is truly moving to hear it in your own voice, because it is not for any “they”. It is for “we”.
My boys are getting older. They are beginning to understand. They ask questions about how militias of the state can turn fire hoses on little children. How ordinary citizens can justify burning a cross in their neighbors’ yards. How devils in white hoods can threaten the lives and dreams of our communities, black, white, red, or yellow with dripping hatred, violence, and murder.
I have to answer that they are cowards. They may stand on big stages, but they are still too low to take the pillowcases off their heads and let the world judge them. They may have turned in their sheets for screen names and avatars, but their cloak of cowardice is just as great, and far more reaching.
However we must consider that they are also the woman who walks down the other aisle at the grocery store because they don’t like the look of the guy buying bread. They are the juror who decides a man’s guilt when he walks in the trial, not at the close of evidence. They are the lawyer who begins his work assuming he knows what happened based solely on where it happened and with whom. They are me. They are the worst parts of me.
But this man we celebrate today represented a hope for a better time, a better soul of this nation, this grand experiment. He died in Memphis not waging a war for race, but speaking for sanitation workers, many of them white, trying to alleviate deplorable conditions. His life was not only about race, but about a social breakdown that caused people to lose faith in what we CAN do; what we CAN be. He did not speak and he did not die for one cause, but for many. He did not just fight “them” in their sheets and armour and vitriol. He fought me. He fought for ideas and temperament because all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
So he wrote, he spoke, he marched, and he preached not for us, or for them… but for WE. The best parts of WE.
Don’t ever forget it. Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. So as we look back today at the horrors of the 19th and 20th centuries, let’s not be so arrogant as to think that shameful thoughts and evil deeds, along with the apathy of the good children of light, do not persist. Reject the unearned fears, the reticence to accept all our neighbors as friends and brothers. Remember to look first at the content of the character of the man down the street, in the courtroom, in the grocery; so that WE the people can let freedom ring. The best parts of WE.

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Shop with a Cop

shop with a cop

A Law Enforcement Officer helps a local child shop during the Boyle County “Shop With a Cop” event this year.

We want to share a special story that recently appeared in the local paper. We are so glad to be able to help with this special project. We hated to hear that kids were being left out, so we decided it would be better to take a little off our own Christmas to ensure others had something. What the story doesn’t mention is that some of the kids were buying things that most of us consider everyday basic needs.

The officers involved wanted these kids to have positive interaction with law enforcement in a safe environment and to help make their Christmas a little brighter. We couldn’t be happier to help. Quite a few local attorneys joined us to set aside professional competition and come together for this wonderful cause.  It is part of who we are in this community that law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, clerks, and our community at large work together for the common good.

What a wonderful way to demonstrate that at this time of year, and hopefully in the one to come!

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Employee vs. Independent Contractor

w2

Do things seem a little hazy? Like the picture above, knowing whether that new hire is an employee or an independent contractor can be a little fuzzy. However, mistakenly classifying an employee as an independent contractor can result in significant fines and penalties. There are 20 factors used by the IRS to determine whether you have enough control over a worker to be an employer. Though these rules are intended only as a guide-the IRS says the importance of each factor depends on the individual circumstances-they should be helpful in determining whether you wield enough control to show an employer-employee relationship.

Checklist for Independent Contractor Status

Listed below you will find the a slew of factors with brief explanations of how to interpret each factor.  If you answer “Yes” to all of the first four questions, you’re probably dealing with an independent contractor. If you answer “Yes” to any of questions 5 through 20 means your worker is probably an employee.

4 Essential Independent Contractor Tests

In order to be considered an independent contractor you MUST answer “Yes” to the following Items:

  • Profit or loss: Can the worker make a profit or suffer a loss as a result of the work, aside from the money earned from the project? (This should involve real economic risk-not just the risk of not getting paid.)
  • Investment: Does the worker have an investment in the equipment and facilities used to do the work? (The greater the investment, the more likely independent contractor status.)
  • Works for more than one firm: Does the person work for more than one company at a time? (This tends to indicate independent contractor status, but isn’t conclusive since employees can also work for more than one employer.)
  • Services offered to the general public: Does the worker offer services to the general public?

Other Tests of Independent vs Employee

To further determine if you might be at risk of having a contractor be considered an Employee by the IRS, you should evaluate him/her based on the following: Continue reading

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The Accidental Bigamist

Why it is so vital to make sure you get and keep your records in a Divorce

I was asked recently how changes in Kentucky’s marriage license forms could affect issues arising from subsequent marriages. I believe ultimately the Legislature will need to revise the language authorizing the various County Clerk’s offices to issue the licenses, but for now using the phrase “The Office of the Boyle County Clerk”, or whatever County it may be, would suffice. In point of fact, the elected Circuit Clerk or County Clerk rarely signs documents or licenses anyway, as that is almost always handled by the Deputy Clerks who greet you at the window.

However, in looking at the question I was reminded of another issue that can arise. The form asks if the applicant has been married before, but there is little other verification that the prior marriage has been dissolved by death or divorce. A person who knowingly misrepresented that fact on a marriage license request would be signing a false affidavit, and when the marriage occurs, be knowingly engaged in Bigamy, a crime in all 50 states. Continue reading

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Is Your Case Criminal or Civil?

Civil or Criminal LawHave you ever wondered how the difference between criminal or civil cases is determined? These are the differences:

Criminal Cases

A criminal case — whether or not something is a criminal action — is defined by state or federal statute. This means a law has been written that specifically makes an action illegal in our society. For example, designer drugs are so lucrative and popular when they are initially introduced because they are NOT illegal.

The legislatures must MAKE them illegal by statute before individuals can be prosecuted for making, distributing, or using these products. Criminal cases require that an individual be deemed guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for convictions.

If you are looking for defense from criminal charges, visit our Criminal Law Defense page.

Civil Actions

In simplest terms, a civil case is anything that isn’t a criminal case

In a civil lawsuit the Plaintiff sues the Defendant to get the Court to order the defendant to either perform some sort of action or to pay the plaintiff money for something the defendant did or did not do.  For example, if a neighbor damages your fence with their lawnmower and then refuses to repair the damage they caused, you might pursue this as a civil action to get the court to order your neighbor to pay for the repairs to the fence, or to repair the fence themselves.

Sometimes, civil actions can arise out of a criminal action. For example, in an assault case, the attacker may face both, criminal charges  for the crime of assault and a civil lawsuit in which they are required to pay for the medical bills, lost work time and/or emotional distress of the victim. Civil actions usually have a lower burden of proof (which is called “a preponderance of evidence”) for a judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Family law is also a civil matter. If you are looking for an attorney to help you in a divorce or other family law matter, visit our Family Law Page. If you have any questions about how to determine if your case is civil or criminal, call us: 859-236-8888. We can help you determine where you are now and what you need to do to move forward.

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Do I Need to Set Up an LLC?

Forming An LLC Business Law in Boyle County KentuckyWhat is an LLC?

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a hybrid between a partnership and the more traditional corporate structure. An LLC is an unincorporated entity. You register an LLC, you don’t incorporate it.

What Are the Biggest Advantages to Forming an LLC?

  • Provides the protection of a traditional corporation
  • Allows you to maintain the flexibility and “informality” of a traditional partnership
  • Cheaper to maintain (in the long term) than a traditional C-corp or S-corp structured business
  • Transfer of ownership is easier than traditional corporate structures

What are the Tax Advantages of Forming an LLC?

  • You avoid the double taxation you encounter with C-corps
  • No need to file a second tax return, you can take gains/losses on your personal tax return
  • No requirement to be a state resident or a US Citizen to form an LLC.

Do I Need An LLC?

If you think you might benefit from an LLC structure for your current or planned business venture, call Brian Bailey. He will be happy to consult with you before you decide to help you determine what the advantages and disadvantages might be in your particular situation.

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Brian Bailey Knows Business

Small Business Success Starts with Business Planning Business Is In My Blood

I’ve been extremely lucky. I was raised by parents who took the time to pass on their wisdom. My mother, an accountant, has incredible business talent. She used that talent to help my father keep his own books in shape. While working outside the home and working to help my father succeed in his own business, she also managed to find time to recognize and gracefully utilize natural “teaching moments” at home while raising my brother and me.

My father, like my mother, is an inspiration to me. He was a plumber and shared his business wisdom freely and put me to work at a very young age in his entrepreneurial business. By the time I was in high school, he allowed me to take on more responsibility and learn more of his business. He made sure I would have the experience and work ethic that most of my peers didn’t.

I had the opportunity to repay him when his health began to fail. Together, we were able to keep his business open longer than he would have been able to manage alone. But, as his health worsened, he had a choice to make: he could sign up for disability or he could change his career path to a business model he could manage with health issues. My father went back to school in his late 40s and got his degree in Social Work. He became a Family Therapist and retired from that career in his late 60s. Continue reading

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