Monday, April 23, 2012

Texas Comptroller Announces Business Tax Amnesty

Have back or delinquent business taxes? Fines and interest mounting up?

 Don't worry about it. You are about to get a free pass.

The Texas Comptrollers office has just announced a Business Tax Amnesty program, where by you can have your ledger marked clean by filing your non/under/incorrectly reported return, but you only have the window from June 12 through August 17, 2012 to do it.

Not a bad deal, right?

The amnesty is good for any thing the Comptroller assesses, except property tax, PUC Commission Gross Receipts Assessments, Sports/Community Venue tax, and taxes under audit or where a settlement has already been done.
But wait, why are they doing this?

A couple reasons. They did it last in 2007, and raised about $100 million in unpaid taxes. Not a bad deal for them.

Ok, is it too good to be true?

Not really. If you have back taxes or have under reported, it can put you out of business. The fact your can waive 100% of penalties and interest is really remarkable, and you shouldn't let this chance get away as it might not come back again for 5 years.

So, what's the catch?

The only downside I see is that if you tell on yourself for not/under reporting, without a good excuse, this might increase your likelihood of future audit. That's all I can really see.

To see if this is right for you, contact your accountant or a business attorney, but do it quickly.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More LegalZoom fun.

Get your will on the internet! Don't pay overpriced lawyers! Trust me! I defended OJ!!!

Lets take a snippet from a recently produced LegalZoom Will. And I quote:

"A. Appointment of my Personal Representative. I appoint _____________ as Executor of my estate. It is my intention, with clear knowledge of the consequences, that under no circumstances shall there be any independent administration of my estate." (emphasis added)

Let's think about this. You write a will, appoint an executor, but you do not want an independent administration. Why, ever, would this make sense? The whole point of having a will and naming an executor is FOR an independent, or un-court-supervised (read, CHEAPER) administration.

Before I get ahead of myself, yes, you can say whatever you want in a will. Yes, section 145 subparagraph O of the Texas probate code says:

 (o)  Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this
section, a person capable of making a will may provide in his will
that no independent administration of his estate may be allowed.  In
such case, his estate, if administered, shall be administered and
settled under the direction of the county court as other estates are
required to be settled.

What that means is that you can request a court-supervised, or "dependent" administration. Always an option. This can be useful in circumstances if you have Hatfield vs. McCoy type heirs, or if you have large debts and creditors, that can often be wiped out through the dependent administration process. But who knows this? Not many. Certainly not legal zoom consumers.

Kudos to legal zoom to being extensive enough in including this as an option. Shame on legalzoom for including this as an option that sounds like a good thing, without explaining that dependent administrations are more expensive, time consuming, and generally unadvisable.

Shame on me, for not inventing LegalZoom, making a better product, and reaping the ungodly profits. I will, however, continue to pick up the pieces of rubble from the chaos LegalZoom leaves behind.