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Kane County identity theft protection attorneyIn a recent blog, we looked at the issue of tax-related identity theft, which can occur when a person steals someone else’s information and files a fraudulent tax return in their name. Another form of identity theft that is sometimes related to these illegal practices involves a person applying for unemployment benefits in someone else’s name. Unfortunately, this practice has become more widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic as scammers attempt to take advantage of expanded unemployment programs. Individuals and families who are building a wealth protection strategy will want to address any forms of identity theft quickly and take the proper measures to ensure that they will not be victimized by this type of fraud.

Reporting Unemployment-Related Identity Theft

In many cases, people become aware that they have been the victim of identity theft when they receive notice of unemployment benefits being paid in their name, even though they never applied for these benefits. In other cases, a person may receive a 1099-G tax form stating that they received unemployment benefits and are required to pay taxes on the amount that was paid out.

After learning of a false unemployment claim, Illinois residents should immediately contact the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) in writing to report the identity theft. A victim of identity theft will not be required to repay IDES for any fraudulent benefits that were paid out, and they will be able to receive unemployment benefits in the future if necessary. The IDES has noted that due to widespread unemployment fraud, notices may be sent out stating that a person must pay back an overpayment of benefits. Those who have reported identity theft can ignore these notices, although they may want to contact the IDES to verify their requirements.

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Elgin, IL tax planning lawyerThe first few months of every year are known as “tax season,” and during this time, many taxpayers compile their financial information and prepare to file their tax returns, which are due on April 15th. Unfortunately, many taxpayers may become the victims of identity theft during this time. If a taxpayer’s personal information is compromised, scammers may file fraudulent tax returns in their name, access their accounts, or use their information to open new accounts or obtain employment. A person’s identifying information may also be used to file false unemployment claims (we will be providing more information about this type of identity theft in an upcoming blog). However, families can take steps to prevent identity theft as a part of their larger wealth protection strategy.

Signs of Identity Theft

Scammers may use a variety of methods to obtain a taxpayer’s personal information, such as calling a person, claiming to be an IRS agent, stating that the person owes money, and asking for details such as bank account numbers or the person’s Social Security number. They may then use this information to file a tax return and claim a refund in the person’s name.

A taxpayer may have been the victim of identity theft it:

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Elgin, IL small business attorney for PPP loansThe COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the U.S. economy. In many cases, small businesses have been hit the hardest. Many businesses have been forced to close, scale back their operations, or come up with new ways of completing essential business activities. This has in turn caused difficulties for people who have been laid off or forced to reduce the hours they can work and the amount they are able to earn. To address these ongoing problems, the federal government has passed economic stimulus and relief programs meant to help businesses continue operating and paying their employees. A law that was implemented at the end of 2020 may provide businesses with more opportunities to receive relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Relief for Businesses Through PPP Loans

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was passed in March of 2020, created the Paycheck Protection Program. Under this program, businesses that had been affected by the pandemic could obtain low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA), and these loans were forgivable, as long as a certain percentage of the balance was used to pay employee wages and other payroll costs.

Initially, applications for PPP loans had to be submitted by June 30, 2020. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA), which was passed on December 27, 2020, reopened the Paycheck Protection Program, making it available to businesses that had already received a PPP loan, while also allowing other types of businesses to receive loans for the first time, including sole proprietors, independent contractors, and people who are self-employed. 

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Kane County business law attorneysThe COVID-19 crisis has placed many businesses and their employees in difficult financial situations. Some businesses have had to close or limit their hours of operation, and many employees have been laid off or had their work hours reduced. While some government relief programs have provided aid to those who have been affected by these issues, many people are continuing to experience financial difficulties. A recent executive order may provide some help in this area by allowing employers to defer some of the taxes withheld from employees’ pay.

Social Security Tax Deferral

In August of 2020, President Trump issued an executive order that allows for the deferral of the 6.2% tax employees pay toward Social Security. This deferral will be allowed for wages earned between September 1 and December 31, 2020. To qualify for deferral, an employee must earn less than $4,000 in pre-tax income in a bi-weekly pay period.

While these payroll taxes may be deferred, this order does not provide for the forgiveness of any taxes owed. Deferred taxes will be collected between January 1 and April 30, 2021. During the deferral period, employees will receive a temporary boost in their take-home pay, but they will then see reduced paychecks in 2021 due to the deferred taxes being withheld from their pay along with all other applicable taxes.

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Kane County family law attorneysConcerns about discrimination and harassment affect many employers and employees, and in response to these issues, the state of Illinois has passed the Workplace Transparency Act (WTA). This law went into effect on January 1, 2020, and in addition to addressing employment contracts and non-disclosure agreements, it has placed new requirements on employers regarding sexual harassment training that must be provided to employees. Business owners should be sure to understand these requirements and make sure they take the right steps to maintain compliance with the WTA.

When Will a Business Be Required to Provide Sexual Harassment Training?

The Workplace Transparency Act requires all employers with at least one employee to provide sexual harassment training to all staff members. This training must be completed by December 31, 2020, and it must also be provided on an annual basis to all employees. 

The training requirements apply to all employees who will be working in Illinois, including part-time workers, temporary or seasonal employees, and interns. While training is not required for independent contractors, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) encourages employers to provide training for anyone who will be working at an employer’s office or interacting with their employees.

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Kane County business law attorney for PPP loan forgivenessIn response to the financial impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on many businesses, the U.S. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in March of 2020. One of the key provisions of this act was the ability for businesses to apply for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). However, the restrictions and requirements for these loans had caused some difficulties for small business owners, and in response, Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, and it was signed into law by President Trump on June 5. This act implemented a number of changes that will give businesses more options for using loan funds, obtaining forgiveness, and repaying loans.

Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program

Under the CARES Act, businesses could apply for a PPP loan, and they were required to spend the funds from these loans within eight weeks after receiving a loan. This time period has been modified to allow businesses to choose a reporting period of either 8 or 24 weeks. However, the 24-week period is from the loan origination date or until December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier (which may result in less than 24 weeks). This period can be used to restore a business’s workforce to pre-COVID-19 levels, and the deadline for doing so has been moved from June 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020. However, the deadline for applying for a PPP loan has not changed, and applications must be submitted by June 30, 2020.

If a business is unable to fully restore its workforce, there are some new exceptions that may apply that will still allow for forgiveness of PPP loans. These include provisions for businesses that are unable to rehire previous employees or other people with similar qualifications, as well as businesses that were unable to return to their previous level of business activity due to restrictions related to COVID-19.

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Elgin small business attorney CARES act covid-19Over the weekend, the United States Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides new programs and initiatives intended to assist small businesses, as well as certain non-profits and other employers.

Do You Need:

1. Capital to cover the cost of retaining employees?

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans will provide cash-flow assistance to employers through 100% federally-guaranteed loans. The loans are available for employers are who maintaining their payroll during the coronavirus emergency and are eligible to be forgiven if the payroll is maintained. Borrowers are eligible for loan forgiveness for up to eight weeks of their payroll, depending on employee retention and salary levels. 

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Elgin trust administration attorneyThere are a variety of estate planning tools that a person can use to protect their assets and pass them on to beneficiaries. Trusts are some of the most powerful and flexible of these tools, allowing a trustmaker (also known as a “settlor”) to place assets in the control of a trustee, who will then distribute the assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust. There are certain requirements that must be met during the trust administration process, and trustees and beneficiaries should be sure to understand how recent changes to Illinois law will affect their rights and responsibilities.

The Illinois Trust Code

In 2019, the Illinois legislature passed the Illinois Trust Code (ITC), which took effect on January 1, 2020, replacing the Illinois Trusts and Trustees Act. This new law addresses the rights of trust beneficiaries in a number of ways, including:

  • For trusts that become irrevocable on or after January 1, 2020, the trustee must provide an annual accounting of the trust’s inventory, receipts, and disbursements to ALL beneficiaries. These include beneficiaries who are currently receiving or could receive a distribution from the trust, as well as presumptive remainder beneficiaries who would be eligible to receive a distribution if the trust was terminated or if the interests of other beneficiaries ended. In the case of married couples, it is typical for one spouse to create a trust for the benefit of the surviving spouse during the surviving spouse’s lifetime, and then, upon the death of the surviving spouse, the trust would distribute the trust assets to their children. This new law REQUIRES the children to receive annual accountings during the surviving spouse’s lifetime, which may or may not be desire of the creator of the trust. If not desired, the creator of the trust can “opt-out” of this requirement.   
  • A settlor may create a “silent trust” that waives the requirement for the trustee to provide an accounting of the trust to beneficiaries under the age of 30. However, the trustee will be required to make an annual account to a “designated representative” nominated or authorized by the settlor, and the beneficiary will have the right to receive an annual accounting upon reaching the age of 30.
  • Trustees are not required to provide beneficiaries with advance notice of transactions involving property owned by the trust.
  • A beneficiary of a trust can serve as the designated representative of other beneficiaries, including minors, unborn children, or beneficiaries who have not been located.
  • A beneficiary can serve as the sole trustee of a trust, but in these cases, they will only be able to make distributions to themselves based on an “ascertainable standard.” This means that distributions should be used to provide for needs such as healthcare, living expenses, or education, rather than to pay off personal obligations or debts.

Contact a Kane County Trusts Attorney

If you are the beneficiary of a trust, you should be sure to understand how your rights will change under the ITC. At Ariano Hardy Ritt Nyuli Richmond Lytle & Goettel, P.C., our experienced Elgin estate planning lawyers can answer your questions about trusts, and we can assist you in any matters involving trust administration. To arrange a free consultation, contact us today at 847-695-2400.

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Elgin business formation attorney LLCFor anyone who has suffered a personal injury, coping with the effects that it will have on their life can be incredibly difficult. This is especially true if the injury results in disability that affects a victim’s ability to work and earn an income. While it may be possible to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit, many people also rely on public benefits such as Social Security income (SSI) or Social Security disability income (SSDI). However, some recent changes to the rules followed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) may affect a person’s ability to receive Social Security disability benefits.

Updated regulations which went into effect in March of 2017 have changed some of the processes followed by the SSA in Social Security disability appeals hearings. These changes include:

Opinions of Treating Physicians

In a Social Security disability appeals hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) is no longer required to give more weight to the opinion of the doctor who originally treated the claimant. Instead, an ALJ will consider the following factors:

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Elgin special needs trust lawyersOver the course of your life, you are likely to save money and acquire assets, and you will probably want to use these resources to provide for the needs of your loved ones. This is particularly true if you have any family members who are disabled or have special needs, since you will want to do everything you can to ensure that they will always be taken care of. However, simply gifting funds to a person or naming them as a beneficiary in your will can actually have some negative effects. To ensure that a beneficiary will continue to have the resources they need, you should consider passing your assets to them through a special needs trust. In some cases, you may also want to use this type of trust to provide for your own needs, especially as you reach an advanced age.

Public Benefits and Special Needs Trusts

A person with a disability will often be eligible to receive certain types of public aid, such as Medicare, Medicaid, public housing, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). However, this type of aid is only available if a person meets certain requirements. Typically, the total value of the assets they own must fall below a certain threshold, and they will be limited to a certain amount of income earned per month. If a person who receives any of these benefits is named as the beneficiary of significant assets, this could make them ineligible for one or more types of public benefits.

To ensure that a beneficiary will continue to be able to receive public aid, a special needs trust or supplemental needs trust can be created. The assets in this type of trust will be in the control of a trustee, so they will not be considered part of the total assets owned by the person with special needs. The beneficiary can then receive regular payments from the trust that will be used to provide for needs that are not covered by public benefits. Since public aid is intended to pay for a person’s daily needs, including food, housing, and clothing, payments from the trust can be used for other purposes, such as transportation, furniture and household items, education, entertainment, and cell phone or internet service.

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Kane County cohabitation agreement attorneyThese days, more and more unmarried couples choose to live together instead of or before getting married. Consequently, they often buy property such as a house or a car together. However, unmarried couples do not fall under the same property division laws as married couples in Illinois. In order to protect both parties’ interests and assets in case of a breakup or death, it is important to have a formal agreement in place before buying property together. Often known as a cohabitation agreement, this type of arrangement is similar to a prenuptial agreement. When creating this type of agreement, an experienced family law attorney can ensure that all legal issues are addressed correctly.  

If a couple is not married, it can be easier to break up and “go their own way,” since they do not have to go through the legal proceedings involved with a divorce. However, the question of who gets what property in the separation can be a difficult and sometimes contentious decision. If only one name is on the mortgage or car loan, that person is solely responsible for the financial obligations that come with those types of loans, and they will typically remain the sole owner of that property, even if both parties participate in making loan payments. If two names are on a loan or title, both people are held accountable, and the couple may also need to decide between themselves how ownership will be handled when dividing any assets or property.

Tips for a Cohabitation Agreement

A cohabitation property agreement should describe the ways in which their property will be divided, such as by one person buying out the other’s share, as well as the process used to resolve any ownership disputes that may arise. The percentage of the property owned by each party can also be designated. These stipulations should be put in writing, since property might not all be divided equally, depending on how much money each person put in when buying the property.

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Kane County business tax deduction lawyer QBIOn Jan. 1, 2018, Section 199A was inserted into the Internal Revenue Service tax code as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. As stated in the code, Sec. 199A says sole proprietors, business partnerships, S corporations, and many trusts and estates could be eligible for a qualified business income (QBI) deduction. This lets qualifying taxpayers deduct a maximum of 20 percent of their QBI, in addition to 20 percent of qualified publicly traded partnership (PTP) income and real estate investment trust (REIT) dividends.

When the new law was announced, uncertainty remained as to what kinds of businesses would qualify for the deduction and the scope of its limitations. In January of this year, the IRS issued Publication 535, in which Chapter 12 addresses the QBI deduction. 

Here are some of the key points that answered questions which had lingered since the introduction of Sec. 199A last year. For a full examination of how Sec. 199A affects your business and taxes, contact an experienced business law attorney

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Elgin business formation attorney LLCIn mid-2017, a 112-page bill from the Illinois General Assembly significantly altered the Illinois Limited Liability Company Act. Its purpose was to align Illinois law with the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act adhered to in most states. In addition to affecting the formation of future companies, the law also applied to LLCs already in existence. Changes that significantly impacted Illinois business entities and individuals starting a new company include:

Clarification of Procedures for Records Inspection and Copying

If an LLC member wishes to assess the business’ transactions and financial status, the company must provide the necessary records within 10 days of the request, unless it is understood the individual already knows the information contained therein. Disassociated members also maintain these rights, and any denial of access must be made in writing by the company.

Verbal and Inferred Agreements Now Accepted 

While this reverses the previous standard regarding oral and implied operating agreements, a written operating contract is still the preferred method. In some situations, a court may decide there is no proof of an oral agreement, but persons who neglected to draft a written agreement now have an avenue to assert their rights.

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Kane County family law and personal injury lawyerThe new year typically brings alterations to existing federal and state laws, and 2019 is no exception. This year’s updates include a change to federal tax laws that will significantly impact both parties involved in divorce, while one change to state laws adds a provision designed to reduce injuries in car accidents.

Spousal Support Tax Changes 

A substantial change in U.S. tax law that went into effect on January 1, 2019 spawned an increased push to finalize divorces before the new year. To help defray the cost of the 2017 tax reform bill, spousal maintenance (formerly called alimony in Illinois) is no longer tax-deductible for former spouses who make payments. Also, maintenance recipients will no longer claim those payments as taxable income. This change applies to couples who finalize their divorce after December 31, 2018.

The previous tax deduction law dated back to the 1940s. This change is expected to save the U.S. Treasury $6.7 billion, but it comes at a price. Many divorce attorneys say it will reduce the amount of money that can be split between former spouses, which is what sparked the run on divorces in the final weeks of 2018.

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Elgin tax planning lawyerThe federal government recently passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which has ushered in major changes to tax laws that will affect nearly every business and individual taxpayer. It is critical to understand these sweeping changes so that you can anticipate your tax burden each year.

According to the Tax Policy Center, under the TCJA, approximately 67% of taxpayers will owe less taxes, 25% will have no change in their taxes, and 7% percent will owe more taxes. However, this may not mean that taxpayers will receive a refund next April.

For most, whether a refund is issued depends on how much tax one pays through income withholding. Experts predict that because the government has reduced the withholding amounts to reflect the reduced taxes, between one third and one half of taxpayers may have a balance due with their next tax return.

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Kane County divorce lawyer taxes withholdingGoing from married to divorced radically changes one’s finances. Instead of splitting bills with a partner, you now have to pay expenses on a single income. In addition to this, your taxes will likely change in several ways. In most cases, you can anticipate how your taxes will be affected by divorce, allowing you to alter your tax strategy accordingly.

Updating Income Tax Withholding

One area of your taxes you should review is whether you are withholding the right amount of taxes from your paycheck. Typically, married taxpayers who file together are taxed at a lower rate, and they may be able to claim certain deductions to reduce their tax burden.

When someone is no longer married, his or her tax liability will likely go up. If you do not change the amount withheld from your paycheck, you could face a large tax bill when filing your next tax return.

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Elgin real estate attorneyThinking of investing in real estate? Investment deals can be complex, and those not familiar with real estate terminology or the banking industry can be taken advantage of. There are many scams surrounding real estate investing, and one type of scam that seems to be common in the Kane County area is the opportunity to join a real estate investment club.

Generally, this scam operates by asking that investors pool their money to buy properties that will be renovated or rented. Investors who may be priced out of investing in real estate on their own are promised large sums of money in return once the property has been sold.

To be fair, real estate investment clubs can be legitimate. However, some clubs make untrue and inaccurate representations about how the club is structured, what loans may be involved, and what the probable returns will be on these investments.

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Kane County alimony attorney Illinois spousal maintenance lawsFor many couples, spousal maintenance is an important issue to address during divorce. Alimony payments can help a lower-earning spouse maintain a standard of living similar to what they enjoyed while they were married, and they will also have a major impact on the finances of a higher-earning spouse. However, divorcing couples should be aware that there are significant changes in store for divorces which are finalized on or after January 1, 2019. On that date, both federal and state laws will be going into effect that will change the way courts award spousal maintenance and how alimony is treated for tax purposes.

Changes to Federal Law

At the federal level, alimony will no longer be tax deductible for the paying spouse. For the spouse receiving spousal maintenance, the new law does not require that spousal support be claimed as income. Experts generally agree that this will likely have the effect of smaller spousal maintenance payments, since more of the paying spouse’s income will go toward paying taxes.

Changes to Illinois Law

The state of Illinois has also changed its laws on spousal maintenance in two main respects. The first change to the law concerns how courts will decide if spousal support is appropriate at all between the spouses. Not every divorcing couple will qualify for spousal support. 

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St. Charles distracted driving accident lawyerEveryone who uses the road has a duty to protect the safety of others. Unfortunately, many drivers neglect this duty and fail to drive as safely as possible. One of the most common ways that drivers endanger themselves and others is by not paying full attention to the road. Distracted driving can lead to car accidents that result in serious injuries and death, and those who are injured by a distracted driver should be sure to understand their options for pursuing compensation for their damages.

The Dangers Posed By Distracted Driving

Driving is such a commonplace activity that many people divide their attention between the road and a variety of other concerns. While multi-tasking may seem to be an effective strategy in many areas of one’s life, driving is not one of them. Drivers should keep their complete attention on the road, since even momentary distractions can have deadly results. In fact, more than 420,000 injuries and 3,100 fatalities occur in the United States every year as the result of distracted driving. 

Using cell phones or other electronic devices while driving is one of the most common types of distracted driving, yet it is also one of the most dangerous. Drivers who interact with their cell phones increase their crash risk by 360%. But even though the dangers of using cell phones while driving is well known, nearly one third of drivers aged 18 to 64 continue to send or read text messages while they are behind the wheel.

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St. Charles divorce lawyer parental responsibilityIf you are an Illinois parent going through a divorce, your divorce decree will include a parenting plan that specifies how parental responsibility (also known as decision making) and parenting time (also known as custody and visitation) will be allocated between you and your ex-spouse. 

This is an important document that will play a major part in determining how you will interact with your former spouse and your child for years to come. Therefore, it is critical to think through this document and to be as comprehensive as possible. It is also important to make the terms flexible. This plan must be able to grow with your family for years to come. 

The Importance of a Parenting Plan

Before discussing what should be covered in your parenting plan, it is important to understand the purpose of such a document within the scope of your family law case. You and your ex may be able to work together to create a parenting plan, but if you cannot agree on the terms of the plan, each of you must file your own parenting plan. Typically, each spouse is required to file a parenting plan within 120 days of petitioning for parental responsibilities. A court will review and consider the parenting plans when deciding how parental responsibilities will be divided. 

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