Taxes play a role in diversifying your investments

Savvy investors often spread their risks by investing in a variety of asset classes such as stocks, bonds, commodities, and real estate. But with a changing tax landscape, investors might consider three more classes: taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free.

In days gone by, taxpayers often worked under the assumption that their tax bracket would be lower after they retire. Therefore, a common strategy was to defer as much taxable income as possible to the golden years. Now, however, with the possibility of higher tax rates in the future, it could be more efficient to pay those taxes today while rates remain lower. Since no one knows for sure what Washington will do, it might be time to hedge your tax risk and allocate your portfolio between accounts with differing tax consequences. [Read more…]

Ask questions before going into business with your spouse

Starting and running a business is rarely a safe or simple process, and doing so with one’s spouse creates an additional layer of complexity. Whether that complexity will have a positive or negative effect depends on several factors. Here are some of the questions you need to discuss before going into business with your spouse.

How well do you work together at home? If you cooperate and collaborate for domestic chores, you’ll probably carry that pattern into your workplace. If you bicker constantly over how to do the laundry or maintain the yard, working together in business might be a risky option. [Read more…]

IRS releases vehicle deduction limits for 2012

The IRS has published depreciation limits for business vehicles first placed in service this year. Because 50% bonus depreciation is allowed only for new vehicles, these limits are different for new and used vehicles.

For new business cars, the first-year limit is $11,160; for used cars, it’s $3,160. After year one, the limits are the same for both new and used cars: $5,100 in year two, $3,050 in year three, and $1,875 in all following years. [Read more…]

Second 2012 estimated tax payment is due June 15

June 15, 2012, is the due date for making your second installment of 2012 individual estimated tax. Your check to the United States Treasury should be accompanied by Form 1040-ES. June 15 is also the due date for calendar-year corporations to make their second quarter 2012 estimated tax payment.

Attorney Margaret Cross-Beliveau handled my Wills / Living Wills matter

“Margaret was so helpful in planning our will and other documents. She is a true professional and great to work with. She explained very carefully the contents of each document to make sure we understood them. It is not often you feel this comfortable with an attorney. We would contact her again with out reservation.” – Donna, Wills Client

Felony conviction long ago doesn’t prevent man from adopting

Even though a state law says that anyone who has been convicted of a violent crime can’t adopt a child, an exception can be made for unusual circumstances, a New York judge recently ruled.

In that case, a married woman had had custody of a seven-year-old boy since he was born, and she wanted to adopt him. In New York, a married person can’t adopt a child unless his or her spouse is also part of the adoption. But the woman’s husband had been convicted of third-degree robbery nearly 20 years earlier, which disqualified him.

Nevertheless, a judge said an exception should be made in this case. The judge found that the husband had completely rehabilitated himself, and that the child would suffer a devastating impact if he were taken from the home. Therefore, the child’s best interest required that there be an exception to the rule.

Wife had to separate from husband before seeking support

A woman can’t go to court and seek financial support from her husband if she’s still living with him, the South Carolina Supreme Court decided recently.

The wife claimed she could no longer stand to live with her husband because of his abusive conduct and his total control of their finances. Nonetheless, she didn’t move out of their home.

Although there’s no law in South Carolina that specifically says a spouse has to move out in order to claim financial support prior to a divorce, the court said such a requirement made sense. [Read more…]

Spouse who makes a good living is not guaranteed alimony

It’s often assumed that someone who makes a lot more money than his or her spouse will probably pay alimony in the event of a divorce.

But what if the lower-earning spouse still makes a nice living in his or her own right?

In those situations, alimony is not a guarantee, the Tennessee Supreme Court recently ruled.

In that case, a woman who made $72,000 a year working for the state divorced her husband, a company comptroller who earned between $120,000 and $140,000 a year. [Read more…]

Be careful about sending text messages to an ex-spouse

Text messaging can be a good way for ex-spouses to communicate with each other about certain topics, such as the practical details of child custody. Text messages are short and quick, and they can be less likely to lead to extended arguments than a phone call.

On the other hand, sending repeated text messages to an ex-spouse, ex-lover or ex-partner can sometimes be considered harassment – especially if the texts are insulting or have a threatening undertone. Sometimes, repeated texting can result in a restraining order…or even criminal charges.

A recent court case in New Jersey explored where to draw the line. [Read more…]

‘Wheel of Fortune’ winnings are split at divorce

For many people, hitting it big on a game show epitomizes the American Dream. And losing half of it in a divorce sounds like the American Nightmare.

But that’s exactly what happened to Scott Dole, who went on the show in 2009 and walked away with $51,600 in winnings.

Dole’s wife Carrie had filed for divorce in 2008. Nonetheless, she argued in court that Dole’s prize money counted as community property, and thus she was entitled to half of it. [Read more…]

Taxes can get complicated when people get divorced

Divorce can involve a number of difficult issues, such as child custody, who gets the house, how other assets are divided, and how support and alimony are determined.

But one thing a lot of people don’t realize is that taxes can also become very complicated when people get divorced. That’s why it’s always a good idea to seek advice from an attorney or other professional if you’ve recently split up. Even if you’ve always done your taxes by yourself, there are a lot of tricky issues after a divorce, and it’s easy to make a costly mistake. [Read more…]

Estate Planning

“Recent events in the family motivated my wife and I to revisit what would happen if one or both of us passed on, or became incapacitated. We are nearing retirement and felt it was time to put things in order to protect property and earnings. To this end our financial advisor highly recommended David Beliveau. After an initial consultation my wife and I hired David for our estate planning. Looking back we were quite naive when it came to probate courts, state inheritance and tax laws. David explained everything to us, laying out the benefits and drawbacks of each option. David covered sensitive topics in a way that made us feel comfortable and did not overwhelm us with “legalese”.  In a short time we had established a trust and will, and now feel secure that our children will receive an inheritance according to our wishes. My wife and I strongly recommend David Beliveau for estate planning, and feel well armed to meet any future legal issues with the Beliveau Law Group. Bruce B., NH.” – Bruce, Estate Planning

Injuries at home may be covered by workers’ compensation

Workers who are hurt on the job can generally expect to have their injuries covered by worker’s compensation. But in some cases, this benefit can extend even to workers who are injured at home, as long as the worker was hurt while engaging in a work-related activity.

For instance, an Oregon woman worked for J.C. Penney as a custom decorator. Though J.C. Penney provided her with an office that she shared with others, she usually worked from her van, traveling to and from appointments at customers’ homes.

She suffered a broken wrist in her own garage when she stumbled over her dog while trying to move fabric samples into her van. [Read more…]

Workers who want to sue for age discrimination need to act quickly

Workers who suspect that their employer has discriminated against them because of their age must act quickly to protect their rights, or they may be unable to sue. This fact was illustrated by a recent case in Mississippi.

A 66-year-old accounts payable clerk lost her job in a consolidation of plants. She was told in June 2007 that she would be laid off effective July 30 of that year.

In early August, though, she was called back to work on a temporary basis to help with the consolidation. She stayed for five months. [Read more…]

Older worker can sue for ‘hostile environment’ at work

A 65-year-old salesman at a Chevrolet dealership who claimed he quit his job because he was verbally abused and intimidated at work can sue for age discrimination, according to a federal appeals court in New Orleans.

Even though the employee wasn’t fired or demoted, and didn’t suffer any other sort of specific adverse job action, he can still sue if his employer allowed a “hostile environment” at work such that keeping his job was intolerable, the court said.

The man claimed he was repeatedly called “pops” and “old man,” was the subject of profanities, and was treated with extreme disrespect because of his age. [Read more…]

Company could reject applicant who sued her previous employer

A company offered a woman a job pending a background check. But when the check revealed that she had filed a lawsuit against her previous employer for violating the federal minimum wage and overtime rules, the company withdrew the offer.

The woman then sued the new company as well.

The Fair Labor Standards Act is the federal law that governs minimum wages and overtime. The law protects workers from retaliation when they accuse their employers of wage-and-hour violations. So the woman claimed that the new company was illegally retaliating against her for pursuing her rights under the law against her old company. [Read more…]

‘Me too’ evidence can be used at discrimination trial

A woman who sued her employer for sex harassment could have other employees testify at trial that they were harassed too – even though they didn’t work with the woman and she only found out about the other incidents after she was fired.

That’s the word from the California Court of Appeals.

In this case, a Latino-American woman claimed that her employer called her profanities on a regular basis, touched her inappropriately, referred to his employees as “my Mexicans,” and fired her after calling her a “stupid bitch.” [Read more…]

Employers and workers should handle ‘moonlighting’ with care

It’s not uncommon in these challenging times for people to take a second job on the side – or even spend time outside of work trying to create a new business venture of their own.

Employers’ reactions to moonlighting run the gamut: Some couldn’t care less, while others consider it a firing offense. Many employers have no problem with a second job as long as the employee’s work performance remains solid, and as long as nothing the employee does for an outside company compromises the employer’s business interests. [Read more…]

We’d recommend to family and friends

“We used Attorney David Beliveau as our Estate Attorney to set up family Trusts. He patiently took the time to listen, explain, make suggestions and prepare the appropriate Trust documents. He and his staff were pleasant, thorough and accommodating. He was just as greatly knowledgeable and helpful with legal corporate questions we had. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Attorney Beliveau to family and friends.” – Judy, Estate Planning

Trust work and licensed in MA, NH and FL

“David did trust work for our family, and I was happy with his knowledge, judgement and interest in crafting appropriate docs for our circumstances. He is licensed in MA, NH and FL which was also a benefit to us because we own real estate in all three states. His law firm also has an active real estate practice. ” – G.G. Trusts

Filing reminder for tax-exempts

Tax-exempt organizations are required to file annual reports with the IRS. Those with gross receipts below $50,000 can file an E-postcard rather than a longer version of Form 990.

The deadline for nonprofit filings is the 15th day of the fifth month after their year-end. For calendar-year organizations, the filing deadline for 2011 reports is May 15, 2012.

To avoid identity theft, think before you click

The e-mail from your bank gets your attention right away. It says you need to log into your account in the next 48 hours to continue your online privileges. Something about a system upgrade. You wonder, is it legitimate? How can you know for sure?

Bogus e-mails designed to steal your identity, also known as phishing, are becoming a bigger problem these days. While they can take many different forms, most scams are designed to trick you into revealing personal information such as your social security number or online account password. Through clever use of logos and familiar-looking web addresses, these e-mails often appear to be an urgent message from your bank, mortgage lender, or e-mail provider. [Read more…]

Tax Alert: Plan now for changes coming in 2013

What’s the summertime forecast? From a tax perspective, the outlook calls for planning now to prepare for changes gathering on the horizon – specifically, provisions currently expected to take effect in January 2013. Here are four new rules to think about during your mid-year tax review.

1. A decrease in tax-free contributions to your flexible spending account. Starting in January 2013, the maximum you can contribute to your FSA will be $2,500. In addition, the “use it or lose it” feature of FSAs means you won’t be able to carry any 2012 excess remaining in your account into 2013 (unless your plan provides a 2½ month grace period for using prior-year funds).

Planning move: Schedule elective medical procedures during the last half of 2012. [Read more…]