Seward & Bellum, Attorneys at Law
Legal And Financial Guidance In Western Washington

Port Orchard Legal Blog

Protecting your assets in a Trump administration - Planning Tips Revisited

Now that Donald Trump has been in office for several weeks, the expected changes that we discussed in our last newsletter - repeal of the Obamacare surtax, lower corporate income tax rates, lower individual tax rates, taxes on imports, and child care credits - seem to be on track given the rhetoric from the White House and the majority in the house and senate.

Be Aware - The IRS is Planning to Use Private Debt Collectors

Beginning as early as Spring 2017, the IRS will begin using private debt collectors to collect unpaid federal income taxes. The selection of private debt collectors was in response to a law passed by Congress requiring the IRS to outsource tax debts if one of three conditions applies:

Eminent Domain - The Government's Right to Take Your Property.

It may be hard to imagine, but that home you worked so hard to obtain can be taken by the government for the benefit of the greater good. In fact, the power of eminent domain has been a fundamental part our of Constitution from the very beginning. Originally adopted by the American colonies from the common law, James Madison included as part of the Fifth Amendment the premise that "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." And, if you think about it, there would be no highways, schools, bridges or parks without the ability of our federal, state and local governments to acquire the real estate necessary to make those public projects a reality.

HAMP Deadline to Apply Dec 30, 2016

HAMP, the Treasury program that allows eligible homeowners to reduce their mortgage payment, will come to an end on December 30, 2016. The program, begun in 2009 as part of the "Making Home Affordable" initiative, was extended from its original deadline of December 30, 2015. A compilation of information provided by servicers participating in MHA under a Servicer Participation Agreement shows that, as of September, 2016, the program has processed over 9.3 million applications of which approximately 2.9 million were approved and 6.5 million denied.

Estate Tax and Estate Planning Updates

Federal Estate Tax, Gift Tax and Generation-Skipping Tax Exemptions

The 2016 federal exemption against estate and gift taxes is up to $5,450,000 per person adjusted for inflation, up $20,000 from the 2015 exemption which was $5,430,000 per person. This is up from $5,120,000 in 2012. Estates in excess of this exemption amount are subject to a 40% federal estate tax. The federal generation-skipping transfer tax exemption was also increased to $5,450,000 per person.

How Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Can Modify Your Home Mortgage

Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code used to be routinely used only by business debtors. But, more and more, the bankruptcy courts are seeing individual debtors turning to Chapter 11 for effective relief as a result of the economic downturn. Most often these type of individual debtors have real estate with negative equity, rental properties in need of debt restructuring, or too much debt for Chapter 13.


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