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Pittsburgh Legal Blog

Careful planning can avoid tax issues in 2019

It may be too late for many Pennsylvania taxpayers to make a difference in their taxes for 2017, but this is the perfect time to prepare for next tax season. In light of the many new tax rules the federal government enacted last year, many are seeking advice about the best ways to avoid tax issues on their returns for the 2018 tax year. Of course, the point is to keep one's tax bill low and to take advantage of every opportunity to save money.

Some advisors recommend that taxpayers start with a clean slate by assuming everything has changed. Enough of the rules are different this year, including changes in standard deductions, that a mistake could cost a taxpayer considerably. For example, while child tax credits have increased, so have the qualifying income limits, so many taxpayers may qualify who were not eligible in the past.

New tax rules in 2018 could leave some people vulnerable

Tax laws in the United States frequently change from year to year. Issues like the cost per mile someone can claim or the credit you receive for each dependent may change to reflect current costs and the modern economy. It's important for all taxpayers to understand their obligations for filing and paying taxes, as well as all the permissible deductions and credits that can limit how much they pay.

Broader reform to tax laws can also have profound implications for the tax obligations of the average worker. The 2018 tax season will likely leave some people in a difficult position. Some experts believe that a significant number of Americans are not withholding adequate money from their paychecks to cover the changes in taxes, especially at the state and local levels.

Technology often contributes to divorce

There is no question that technology is a vital role in modern life. Even those in Pennsylvania with minimal technology in their homes may have a computer or mobile device, and motor vehicles are equipped with programs and devices that practically operate the vehicle automatically. However, when it comes to marriages and relationships, studies show that too much technology can have a negative impact on the way people communicate. In fact, it may be one of the contributing factors that leads a couple to divorce.

More marriage counselors and divorce attorneys hear from clients that social media had a devastating effect on their relationships. It is not unusual for couples to have difficulty communicating face to face the thoughts and feelings they may easily share on Facebook; sending a quick text has replaced conversation between many spouses, and this leads to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Perhaps more urgently, social media and other technologies allow people to connect with others outside their marriage. Whether rediscovering an old romantic interest or seeking a new one, a partner has access to apps and forums that allow one to stray from his or her spouse, often without leaving the room. Even without meeting in person, a spouse can have an emotional affair that can have a ruinous effect on the marriage.

Business law advocate can help form solid strategic plan

Creating a strategic plan for a business is a complex undertaking, but a Pennsylvania business owner can use such a plan to keep his or her operations focused on the future. Whether one is starting a new business or already has an established venture, defining objectives, strengths and weaknesses can set one's business on the path to long-term success. Having a business law professional as an advocate may be an added advantage.

Besides evaluating what is happening within the business, savvy entrepreneurs have a finger on the pulse of their industries. They know what their customers want and how their competitors operate. Obtaining this information should be the first step of any strategic plan, and from there a business owner can take a critical look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, also called SWOT, within the company.

Estate planning for special needs children

Welcoming a child with special needs into the family means accepting a lifetime of joys and challenges. If parents understand that the child may be dependent on them for the rest of his or her life, they carry a heavy responsibility. They also know the time may arrive when they will not be around to care for the child. This is where careful estate planning can provide important safeguards.

Pennsylvania parents of special needs children likely seek any financial means possible to assist their children with their medical and educational necessities. This may include benefits offered by the federal government, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. These government benefits require the recipient to have less than $2,000 in assets, so leaving a special needs child an outright inheritance could seriously compromise his or her eligibility for those important federal benefits.

How does collaborative divorce work?

Avoiding a protracted and contentious court battle is the goal of many couples heading for divorce. Rather than having a winner and a loser, the couples work to resolve and negotiate to arrive at the best possible outcome for all involved. Understandably, this is not an easy task, and sometimes the couple cannot achieve this on their own. This is why more Pennsylvania couples are exploring the option of collaborative divorce.

It is important for spouses to enter collaboration with an idea of what they hope to achieve, the points on which they are willing to bend and the items that are nonnegotiable. Collaboration begins when both spouses meet, along with their respective attorneys, and begin to negotiate. This often takes more than one meeting.

Don't make these mistakes with your start-up small business

Are you ready to launch your idea for a small business start-up? Making it a reality brings you ever closer to your dreams of operating a successful company. But too often, start-ups fail for the same common reasons.

Don't let fear of failure hold you back. Learn the pitfalls that you must avoid to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

Mega jackpot winners deal with heavy tax issues

It seems that very few windfalls come without strings attached. Those in Pennsylvania hoping to win the Mega Millions Jackpot or any other substantial lottery prize would be wise to take heed of this. Just like any payday, the winner of this massive prize will have to deal with tax issues.

Those who play the lottery likely fantasize about how they will spend the enormous jackpot. Breaking the record of the highest jackpot in U.S. history, the recent Mega Millions reached nearly $1.6 billion before last week's drawing. The winner has the choice of taking a $905 million lump sum or a $53 million annual payment for the next 30 years.

Signs may indicate divorce is unavoidable

Despite statistics showing that nearly half of marriages end in divorce, it is probably fair to say that many of those divorced spouses wish they could have fixed their marriages instead. In fact, research shows that spouses in unhappy marriages may work for up to six years trying to resolve their issues before seeking a divorce. Some experts have compiled a list of signs that a struggling marriage is likely over, and knowing those signs may save Pennsylvania couples years of unhappiness.

Most experts agree that going through with a divorce before making every effort to confront the issues is a mistake many couples regret. However, if a couple has tried every possible avenue to repair the broken relationship to no avail, divorce may be the most logical next step. This may be especially true if the respect between the couples has turned to contempt or long days of bitter stonewalling.

Business law includes preparing for the future

To ensure the success of a business, it is important to have a plan. Not only do thriving business owners make a comprehensive plan for the formation and running of their companies, but they may also make plan for the daily and seasonal needs of their businesses. In this way, they are better able to intercept trouble and take advantage of opportunities. Sadly for many Pennsylvania business owners, one aspect of business law that is difficult to consider is what happens to the business after they die.

Without a plan for who will take over the business after the owner's death, many business owners leave their hard work to the discretion of the courts. Instead of providing a resource for loved ones to draw upon, the business becomes a burden for heirs to fight over, sell or allow to dwindle into obscurity. Creating an estate plan for one's business may be unpleasant to think about, but the benefit for one's family can be immense.

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