Should Law Firms Care About Online Reviews?

NJ bankruptcy attorney reviews

In today’s tech-centric world, online reviews can cement your reputation as either a credible business that is fair and easy to work with, or a deceptive business that is difficult to work with and cares little about their clients. Law firms are no different, and your online reputation means everything to your current and potential clients. A plethora of positive reviews online may be the single most important deciding factor in a client choosing to hire your firm over your competitor’s firm. Conversely, negative reviews can leave potential clients with an uneasy apprehension about hiring you and therefore they may likely consider hiring a competitor that has stronger online reviews instead.

How does a law firm go about securing solid online reviews? Here’s a hint: it starts with positive customer interactions.

It should go without saying that any reputable law firm should place quality customer care as a top priority. Customer care encompasses everything from returning client calls and emails in a timely manner while directly addressing all of their questions and concerns, to remembering to explain legal concepts and jargon in layman’s terms. While it can be easy to forget and revert to “legalese” when passionately absorbed in talking about a case, it is important to consider that your client likely doesn’t have a background in law and conversing in plain English makes you a more down to earth attorney.

Practice the nearly lost art of active, attentive listening. Try not to become distracted by your digital devices during face-to-face client meetings. Take notes on paper if you have to, but be engaged as the client is telling you their story. Try not to interrupt too frequently with questions. Take the extra time to listen to their whole story first, then go back and ask pertinent questions after they have finished. This shows your client that you respect them, value their time, and are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

If you’re already routinely practicing the aforementioned approaches in your client interactions, you’re likely also confident that you possess the legal experience, interpersonal skills and integrity to represent your customers fairly and successfully and ultimately win cases in their favor. So how do you go about soliciting for positive reviews in a non-awkward way after having successfully represented your clients? There are a few subtle yet straightforward approaches you can take to gently encourage satisfied clients to leave you a positive review online. Most former clients are happy to take a few extra minutes out of their day to oblige. This is especially true if they’ve had a good experience working with you and would hire you again in the future or recommend your legal services to friends and family.

Here are a few ideas on ways to obtain online reviews that will represent your firm in a positive light.


  • Feel free to include a tactful written request for reviews in the close-out letters you send to clients. This is a great way to plant the idea of writing a review in your client’s head without coming across as too pushy or arrogant.


  • Get in the habit of following up with a thank-you email to clients after their case has been closed. Thank them for choosing your law firm and giving you the opportunity to represent them. Make sure you emphasize that client satisfaction is a priority and that you’re always interested in feedback. Include a link to your Google business page or other relevant review site for their ease and convenience.


  • In a final follow-up phone call, ask your client if they are satisfied with the services you’ve provided and if there is anything you might be able to improve upon in the future. Be careful with this option, as some people don’t like to be put on the spot, and would rather have a chance to reflect upon something in writing before they commit to leaving a review. However, depending on the personality of your client, they may prefer talking on the phone and may happily agree to write a review, where you can then follow up with a final email that includes links to where you would like them to leave a review.

Here are a few of our favorite reviews from satisfied customers:

“I had a consultation with George regarding some questions I had about a loan modification. He was able to put everything into plain English for me and gave me sound advice as to handle my particular situation. He very patiently listened to all my concerns and while I knew he had another appointment coming in, he didn’t rush me or cut me off. In sum, I would highly recommend him to anyone seeking advice on mortgage or foreclosure issues. He’s obviously a great lawyer, but, maybe more importantly, a genuinely good guy.” -Laura Turner

“Great Mortgage Lawyer. Down to earth and to the point.”-Richard Greene


“I have sent many people to George to help them with foreclosures and bankruptcies. He has always delivered and went out of his way to make sure they were satisfied. I highly recommend him and his firm.”-Dr. Phillip Agrios


“I am an attorney in Arizona, and from time to time I have needed information regarding New Jersey law. I have found Mr. Veitengruber to be very knowledgeable, and still friendly and approachable. I am glad that I will never have to try a case against him.”-Thomas Cesta


Will I Lose my Alimony if my Ex Files for Bankruptcy?

When it comes to the complexities that come with divorce, most divorced couples find that one of the most stressful aspects is – you guessed it – money. Both parties will feel the effects of their divorce in the two places it hurts most – the heart and the wallet.

Regardless of how intertwined you and your (soon to be ex) partner kept your finances when you were married, going from living on two incomes to scraping by on one is never easy. This is especially true if you are the spouse who makes less money, was a stay-at-home parent, or have been otherwise dependent on your partner financially.

If your marriage resulted in children and they’ll be living with you after the divorce, you’ll be able to benefit from child support payments from the non-custodial parent.

Children or not, you may also benefit from alimony in order to help you maintain the quality of life you enjoyed while married.

In theory, the concepts of child support and alimony can help a newly single parent stay out of debt and continue paying all of the bills on time. The reality, of course, is that not every person will come through with the payments – for a number of potential reasons. A big question on many splitting couples’ minds is:

What Happens if my Ex Files for Bankruptcy?

Prior to 2005, filing for bankruptcy in New Jersey could help lower the amount of child or alimony support an ex-spouse had to pay each month. Luckily, amendments made in 2005 to the Bankruptcy Code set stricter enforcements into place to protect individuals who are entitled to domestic support obligations.

In Section 523, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code delineates that “domestic support obligations” are not dischargeable when an individual files for bankruptcy. In addition to alimony, “domestic support obligations” also include child support and money owed to the petitioner’s former spouse, child, legal guardian, or the government.

The spouse entitled to receive support may understandably be quite nervous if the other party files for bankruptcy after their divorce. Because of the 2005 amendments, the receiving spouse doesn’t even have to file a claim with the Bankruptcy Court.

What About the Automatic Stay?

As soon an individual files for bankruptcy, all creditors are obligated to stop collecting debt money. This is known as an automatic stay. The collection of alimony or child support does not fall under the enforcement of an automatic stay; rather, it is held in higher priority under the Bankruptcy Code. In other words, before any other debts from creditors are considered, alimony and child support need to be paid.

There is no difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy when it comes to alimony. Individuals who file for either chapter are still required to pay (in full) any alimony and/or child support obligations.

Are There any Exceptions?

There are two very specific situations in which “alimony” can be discharged in bankruptcy.

  1. Sometimes, a divorce decree states that one spouse has a monetary obligation to be paid to a spouse, and it is mis-labeled as “Alimony.” If it is determined that the obligation is not actually alimony, then it can be discharged. For example, the divorce decree may state that “Husband shall be responsible for $10,000 of a debt accrued during the marriage (often credit card debt).” At times, items like this can be labeled incorrectly as alimony, when in fact, it is completely separate from alimony. Once this monetary obligation has been legally determined as “non-alimony,” it then becomes dischargeable.
  2. The second exception occurs if an individual has a monetary obligation to a third party. For example, Bob and Mary Jones divorce, and Bob is required to pay Mary $1000.00 per month. Bob decides not to pay the alimony, so Mary assigns her father the responsibility of collecting the alimony. Mary still needs the money and her father distributes it to her, but there is no record of that. Now that Mary’s father is responsible for collecting the alimony, if Bob files for bankruptcy, the order to pay alimony can be discharged since it was assigned to a third party.

Help with a New Jersey Bankruptcy

If your ex does file for bankruptcy, they may be granted forgiveness of other debts like credit card debt, or past utility bills.

TO BE CLEAR: It is not possible for your ex to file for bankruptcy in order to get out of paying domestic support. They can file for bankruptcy, but they cannot discharge child support OR alimony.


Paying alimony or being entitled to receive alimony while filing for bankruptcy can be a sticky situation for all of those who are involved. Rifts between family members can occur, and they normally don’t end well.

If you are the person filing for bankruptcy, work with an experienced NJ bankruptcy attorney rather than trying to go it alone to ensure that all of your obligations are being met. In the end, it will be well worth your investment of time and money.

Making Sure Your Loved One’s Final Wishes are Respected

At some point in our lives, we all come to the end of the last chapter – the place at which life ends. Sometimes this chapter is short and sweet and for others, the process can be drawn out and more difficult. Often, at that time, many people simply want to keep their loved ones close and help them uphold their dignity. As the caregiver, it’s your job to make sure this happens. Your goal is to honor their dignity while also respecting their final wishes.

If your loved one’s death was sudden, you may not have been given the chance to discuss their wishes before he or she passed. Without this knowledge, it can be difficult to know exactly what he or she would want, but it’s important make your best judgement for each decision that you face. On the other hand, you may have had the opportunity to talk with your loved one if his or her death was not unexpected. This facilitates decision-making when it comes to final wishes.

There is research that has shown that many seniors lack the necessary tools to ensure that their wishes are going to be upheld and carried out by caregivers or family members. It’s possible that this is due to the fact that people avoid the topic of death. Individuals are more likely to think about this when a family member is ill, but in the case of a stroke, heart attack, or other deadly event, it will be too late. Sometimes, decisions are made for that person that go against what the individual actually would have wanted if he or she would have had a say.

There are two ways in which you can be sure that your final wishes will be respected. First, gather the correct legal documents. Second, don’t hesitate to communicate your desires to family members and others close to you.

The two important documents that are necessary for every individual include a living will and a power of attorney for healthcare. A will, sometimes called an estate plan or last will and testament, usually refers to information that delineates your loved one’s final wishes in regards to his or her assets. Typically, an estate plan will detail what assets go to each family member or friend.

A living will is a type of an advance directive in which an individual specifies what actions are to be taken or not taken in the event that they are incapacitated and can no longer make decisions for themselves.  A medical power of attorney is the most significant document that any person should have in place. This document authorizes an individual (an agent) to make decisions on behalf of someone who is incapacitated. If an individual is forced to make important decisions regarding their care, but is unable to due to a medical issue, he or she will want a trustworthy family member or friend that can uphold their wishes and quality of life in that situation. It’s not a good idea to store these documents in a secret or conspicuous location. Communication with your spouse and other loved ones is key in this process.

So many different names for these documents exist in each state, making it ever more important to have a bit of background information on these end-of-life processes. Because a regular power of attorney cannot be used in medical decisions, it’s necessary to designate a medical power of attorney or healthcare proxy. When and only when an individual is unable to make his or her own medical decisions, a proxy can then step in.

Although it’s a difficult planning process, thinking ahead and making important decisions concerning these crucial situations while you’re healthy can ensure your wishes are carried out. The decisions about these documents clarify your wishes to your family, close friends and health care providers.

How Can an Attorney Help me Get out of Debt?

If you find yourself saddled with more debt than you can comfortably pay back in a timely fashion, it may be time to consider seeking professional counsel to help you resolve your debt in a manageable way. An attorney is often a good place to start, even if you’re unsure if your debt is serious enough to warrant professional help. A qualified attorney will be able to determine if and how they can be of assistance to you during a private consultation.

Learn your options

For starters, you need to find a NJ-certified attorney you are comfortable with disclosing your unique financial information to, including all of your debts. Whether you’re drowning in six figures of debt, or simply have a few unpaid medical bills, your attorney will need to know the scope, nature and sum of your debt to determine if you may be a candidate for any reputable debt consolidation programs, whether it’s time to consider bankruptcy, or, if they may be able to negotiate a lower debt repayment rate with any debt collection agencies pursuing payment from you. Debt collectors do appreciate when you reach out and demonstrate a good-faith effort to consistently pay on time, even if you cannot afford to pay the minimum required amounts.

Debt repayment negotiation

If you have something like past due medical debt, it may be easier to negotiate a lower rate, as oftentimes hospitals are able to write off at least a portion of the debt and use a sliding scale to determine whether or not a patient is eligible for financial aid. Do you have childcare, child support or other necessary expenses? Have you demonstrated a consistent effort to chip away at your debt even if you cannot afford your monthly minimums? An attorney will be able to better negotiate with your debt collector on your behalf. While many debt collectors can be heartless and ultimately do not care about any of your other financial responsibilities other than the debt you owe to them, your attorney has a good chance of arguing successfully on your behalf and ultimately negotiating a pay-back plan you can realistically afford.

The B-word

If your debt is truly beyond your financial ability to realistically pay back, it may be time to consider a more drastic solution like bankruptcy. While bankruptcy can sound like a scary word, it need not be as daunting and overwhelming as it sounds. An attorney will be able to walk you through every step of the process and explain how bankruptcy may impact your life going forward. With careful planning, bankruptcy may not be as painful of an experience as rumor would have it. It will not hinder you financially for the rest of your life, however you can expect some changes to your immediate financial future.

Life after bankruptcy

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You will be taught how to bring your score back up even higher than what it was pre-bankruptcy, which is possible in just 12-18 months. There are some fairly straightforward steps you can take to start rebuilding your credit, even during bankruptcy proceedings to get on a better financial path. An attorney can steer you in the right direction, and if necessary refer you to a financial planner who has experience in budgeting, credit building and other financial planning skills to set you up for success once your bankruptcy has been fully discharged. There is no time like the present to get established on the right path to a debt-free future.

8 Little Known Credit Score and Credit Report Facts

Cash is quickly becoming a thing of the past, being replaced by plastic and virtual payment methods. Credit cards are now everyone’s new best friend. Along with a credit card comes a credit score and credit report, which leads to the first thing you may not have known.


1. Credit scores and credit reports are not the same thing.

Yes, they are two different things. Credit reports include information such as how frequently you apply for credit, data about your credit accounts, your payment history, a few public records, debt collection and a few other related points. Credit scores, on the other hand, are calculated based on the data found on your credit report.


2. Specific employers check credit scores.

Did you know that applying for a job in certain industries will most likely cause your credit score to be checked by your potential employer? These industries/jobs include the armed forces, Transportation Security Administrators (TSA), law enforcement, financial planners/accountants, mortgage loan originators, and, believe it or not, parking booth operators.


3. You could catch a criminal!

By keeping a close eye on your credit report, you can see if someone runs up a massive credit card bill or draws out credit in your name. If there is an unanticipated change, contact your bank or lender immediately. You may be able to stop a scammer from stealing someone else’s credit information.


4. Identity theft can affect your credit score.

Over 8 million people are victims of identify theft each year in the United States. Believe it or not, hundreds of millions of hours are spent each year trying to find the problem, halt the fraud, and wipe credit reports clean. This is yet another reason why it’s crucial to keep a close watch on any changes in your credit report.


5. Seven is the magic number.

After about 7 years, negative information will be eliminated from your credit report, with the exception of bankruptcy (find out how long your bankruptcy will show up on your credit report here.)


6. Maxing out is not as fun as it sounds.

Did you know that maxing out your credit card can lower your credit score anywhere between 10 to 45 points? Aim to keep your debt to income ratio between 28 – 33% (this means that your monthly debt and spending is no more than 33% of your total monthly income).


7. Closing out an account is actually a bad idea.

Are you aware that closing credit card accounts can damage your credit score? Even if you only use the card once or twice per year, keep the credit card active. Your credit score will be more positively influenced the longer you keep the account open. A longer credit history, which determines 15% of your credit score, makes you look more responsible, and will boost your score.


8. Five Factors

There are five factors that go into formulating your credit score, also known as your FICO score. Your payment history makes up about 35% of your score. This is why it’s so important to make all of your monthly payments on time. Responsible for 30% of your score is how much you owe, so don’t leave debt hanging on your card. Your credit history length is responsible for 15% of your credit number. Accounting for 10% of your total credit score is your last application for credit (how long ago it was, what type of credit and the amount). The final 10% is calculated based on the types of credit you use.

If you have more questions about your credit score and/or report, please check out our many other blog posts on the topic. Happy reading!


What a NJ Foreclosure Defense Attorney Can Do for You

Unfortunately, New Jersey has the dismal “honor” of being the state with the highest number of active foreclosures. To say that NJ has a bit of trouble with foreclosures would be a massive understatement.

Are you in the process of going through foreclosure of your home? Perhaps it’s just a “potential foreclosure” looming at this point. You’re probably trying to decide whether or not you should attempt to go through the foreclosure process alone or whether you should invest in a foreclosure defense attorney. Are you looking for more information regarding how an attorney might make the process easier?

To begin, let’s cover a few basic points about foreclosure. A foreclosure occurs when the bank or lender takes possession of your home or property if you fail to make the required mortgage payments. Typically, if you do not make 3 mortgage payments, the bank or lender will issue a Notice of Intention to Foreclose. Before issuing a Complaint, they are required to send the notice at least 30 days ahead of time. As soon as you receive the notice, you should contact a foreclosure defense attorney, as you only have 35 days to respond and 60 days to request foreclosure mediation.

It may come as a surprise to you that lenders don’t actually want to take your property from you; they would much rather you be able to make the monthly payments. If you are at risk of losing your home to foreclosure, a foreclosure defense attorney can help you fight to lower your monthly payments and allow you to keep your home.

Your foreclosure defense attorney will strive to:

  • File a Notice of Appearance (NOA) – This is filed with the court or bank to allow the attorney to enter into the case and fight for you. Following this, the bank will send all information to the attorney rather than force you to act as an intermediary.


  • Decrease the original amount of your loan – For example, your attorney could potentially lower your original loan amount from $500,000 to $450,000. It’s possible that the lender may be willing to take a small loss in place of you ceasing to make any mortgage payments.


  • Assist in acquiring a loan modification – This may be the only way to permanently keep your home. The positive here is that there are no costs associated with modifying your loan, but it can be quite difficult to obtain one on your own. Your original mortgage may have had a high interest rate (10%), but lowering it to a rate of 6 or 7% will significantly reduce the amount you pay in interest over a lifetime.


  • Apply foreclosure defense techniques – It’s possible that he or she will argue that the plaintiff has an unrealistic mortgage assignment and lacks the appropriate standing to foreclose. In addition, the attorney may argue for unfair lending practices. Various strategies have been known to delay foreclosure for years.


  • Eliminate late charges – As you might already know, penalties and late fees accumulate quickly, but your attorney will attempt to wipe your slate clean. This will prevent you from having to dig yourself out of a hole just to get back to your baseline.


  • Extend the life of your loan – Your attorney may be able to lengthen the life of your loan, say from 20 years to 30 years, which will lower the monthly payment.

An attorney may also be able to prolong the amount of time you’re able to stay in your home. You could potentially enter into a foreclosure avoidance mediation program, which would be an alternative to foreclosure. With the help of mediation, you may be granted a short sale, loan modification, or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Normally, the foreclosing party is required to send you information on a mediation program, but an attorney can provide guidance through the process.


A foreclosure defense attorney can be extremely helpful in this daunting process, so don’t be afraid to reach out and contact a professional.


NJ Mortgage Down Payment Help: The Family Gift Option

You’re ready to buy your first home but lack a sufficient down payment. With a stable income and a solid credit score, your lack of a down payment need not prohibit you from purchasing a home. There are several feasible financing options available, including a few you likely haven’t yet considered.

In addition to certain conventional loans, FHA loans and VA loans are programs that offer very low down payment options. It is also a common misconception that most conventional home loans require a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price of the home. In most cases, you will still be able to purchase a home without the 20% down payment. The caveat with most conventional loans is that you may be expected to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI) to help protect the lender until you have obtained 20% equity in the home.

FHA and VA loans do not require private mortgage insurance and have low down payment options, but have more specific eligibility requirements. If you have parents or relatives who are financially secure and willing to help you with a down payment, consider asking them to gift you the funds. This may be the most convenient option of all. It is relatively simple and efficient to incorporate the family gift option into the processing of your mortgage.

Many different mortgage programs allow for a family gift option in the financing of your home as long as a few basic requirements are met. Conventional loans and FHA loans both typically allow for the family gift option.

Proof of relationship

While the funds gifted to you don’t necessarily have to be from a family member, if they are not from a close relative, you may have to prove that the relationship is a close one in order for the lender to accept the plausibility of them gifting you the funds. Make sure the contributor of your funds understands that they may be liable for a gift tax depending on the amount of funds they are giving away. It is always wise for your donor to obtain legal advice in this situation –  especially when gifting a substantial sum of money. When handled properly, they may actually be able to avoid any tax liability.

Signed proof of gifted funds

The lender will also require a legal document (this letter is customarily provided by the lender) to be signed by both parties that states that you will not be expected to repay your family member for any of the down payment funds gifted to you, and that it is truly a gift and not an interpersonal loan of any kind. This letter helps protect you immensely as a buyer.

Obtain funding from family

Once you have met with your lender and consulted with a NJ real estate lawyer to determine your best options, your donor will need write you a check for the funds to be deposited into your bank account. The mortgage underwriter will then make sure the funds provided by your family member are well-documented and that you can proceed smoothly with the rest of the financing process.

If you are fortunate to have generous family or friends to gift you a down payment, please let them know just how grateful to you are. It may be the most valuable gift you ever receive from a monetary standpoint, as well as a gift that will help to establish your financial security for the rest of your life.

How To: Overcome Financial Stress and Get Your Finances in Order

Before the Great Recession, financial stress was the number one worry of over 70% of Americans. Since the Great Recession, money issues have become increasingly depressing for some people. With the loss of a job or a decrease in income, many people can have a prolonged stress that sits like a ton of bricks upon their shoulders. This chronic financial stress is extremely detrimental to the body, and you will begin to affect the lives of those around you. Before you know it, you may start to rely on bad habits to relieve your stress. How can you get a foot in the door of overcoming your financial stress and straightening out your money matters? Well, it obviously doesn’t happen overnight, but if you keep reading, you may gain some insight as to how you can begin.

Setting Goals. 

Though you can’t control all of your circumstances, you can initiate steps towards improving them. One of the most important first steps is setting a goal. This might sound simple, but that’s because it is! Before you can even think about your goals, you need to take a step back and review your finances. Doing this on a monthly basis could be beneficial for you, and don’t forget to check out your budget to know where exactly your money is being delegated.

Once you’ve had a chance to look over and get really familiar with your debts and income, set some goals. We are always setting goals in life – (financial, fitness, education, etc) and this goal is just like the others. It should have a purpose and a particular plan of action that will help you to attain the goal. Rather than setting a broad goal, attempt to set specific goals. Maybe your goal is to have $5,000 in your bank account within the next 2 months. You can break that broad goal down into smaller goals, like making yourself more valuable to your employer or improving your business plan. No matter the goal, review your financial state, set a goal, and clearly define the parameters and steps needed to reach it.

Make it measureable.

As covered in the last paragraph, clearly defined goals will be of more benefit. A goal such as “having a lot of money” does not have clear parameters. Some financial professionals suggest keeping 3-6 months of expenses in your bank account. Rather than setting a goal of “I want to always have 6 months of expenses in my account, sit down and put an actual value to that 6-month amount. This will focus your mind on a specific number instead of a vague sum.

Realistic and Reachable.

When you are setting your goal, it’s crucial to ensure that it’s one that you can actually attain. If you don’t have a good chance of reaching the goal, what was the point in setting it? Since you’ve already reviewed your finances and budget, you know whether or not a goal is realistic. If the goal is realistic, in your mind, you know that it’s attainable. Maybe your goal is adding $500 to your savings account each month. If you’re currently struggling to pay rent and have a low income, that goal may be a little out of reach. Work with what you have.


If you have no time limit on your goal, it might take you forever to reach it, which in turn makes setting the goal a waste of time. Part of defining a goal is listing a deadline so that you are able to separate your one big goal up into smaller chunks. Focusing on reaching your goal week to week can be mentally easier than seeing a huge number in front of you and stressing about how to climb that mountain.

Financial stress can take a toll on your mental, physical, and emotional state, which is why it’s so crucial to alleviate at least a small portion of that worry. Now that you have a few pieces of advice on how to overcome your financial stress, don’t wait until you find yourself in a desperate financial state. If you aren’t sure how to go about everything on your own, don’t hesitate to get in contact with a professional debt resolution/credit repair expert. They will be able to help you in setting a proper budget as well as raising your credit score and negotiating with any creditors to whom you may owe outstanding payments.

Self-Employment Income Taxes: The Basics

It’s time to file taxes: everyone’s favorite time of year! Taxes are collected by the government each year in order to pay for public services and goods. You may have heard of the Internal Revenue Service, also known as the IRS, which is the nation’s tax collection agency. For many individuals, their taxes are paid through withholding, meaning that the money is taken out of each paycheck. For other individuals, specifically the self-employed, this is not the case.

You are considered self-employed if you meet any of these requirements. If so,  it will be necessary for you to file self-employment income taxes.

·        You own or operate a trade or business as an independent contractor or sole proprietor

·        You are a partner or member in a partnership that runs a business or trade

·        You are in business for yourself (this includes part-time business)

·        You file a business tax return through Schedule K-1

Self-employed individuals are required to pay an income tax as well as a Social Security and Medicare tax. The Social Security and Medicare taxes are similar to those withheld from the paycheck of normal wage earners. You might be asking: exactly what is the self-employment tax rate? It is currently 15.3% on net earnings, but a limit is set as to how much can be paid into the Social Security portion each year.

To know if you have to pay self-employment tax and income tax, you have to calculate your net earnings and net loss. This step is simple: subtract your business expenses from your business income. If your answer is positive, congrats, you made a profit. If your answer is negative, you lost money. If your overall earnings were over $400, you are required to submit an income tax return form. Even if your net earnings were less than $400, you have to submit the form if you meet any of the requirements in the Form 1040 instructions.

The IRS will require you to submit quarterly estimated taxes if you plan to owe more than $1,000 in taxes when you file the return. These taxes are submitted April 15, July 15, September 15, and January 15, or each quarter. If you do not file these taxes, the IRS can fine or penalize you for underpayment. To submit these taxes, you will fill out Form 1040-ES, which will assist you in figuring out if you have to pay estimated taxes and also calculating the amount you owe for estimated taxes. You will need your annual tax return from the previous year to fill out Form 1040-ES. Though the IRS does not require this form to be turned in, it is recommended that you keep it on record. Form 1040-ES contains vouchers that can be completed when you send in your quarterly payments or you can submit the payments online using the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS).

The type of business that you own will also play a factor in determining which form you need to complete. Sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and S corporation are the most common forms of businesses. A Limited Liability Company is also a business structure that has recently been allowed. Each type of business requires its own specific forms to be submitted, so be sure that you are aware of this.

These are only the basics of filing for self-employment income taxes. If you are new to self-employment, it may be helpful to meet with a professional to find out more information on paying taxes. A professional will also make sure you are completing the correct forms and filing at the necessary times. Veitengruber Law can direct you to a trustworthy and experienced tax professional – we’re happy to connect you! Don’t let the details scare you away, being self-employed can be a great opportunity to explore a passion and make a difference in the community around you.

Getting Back on Your Feet After Bankruptcy

nj bankruptcy

You’ve finally crawled out of the deep, dark, seemingly unending hole of debt. After this exhausting journey, you’re more than ready to get back on your feet. Many people wonder how exactly how to get back to “normal” after bankruptcy. If you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and your debts were discharged, or you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and you developed a payment plan, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now you have a fresh start, but before you get too excited, you need to be aware that it does take effort on your part to make sure you stay on the right path for good.

The state of New Jersey requires all individuals that receive a bankruptcy discharge to take a debtor education course that focuses on personal financial management. A bankruptcy discharge will not be given unless the debtor completes this class. The course must be done through a certified counseling agency and an Official Form 23 must be filed when the financial management course is finished. If a married couple files for bankruptcy, both individuals must attend counseling and submit an Official Form 23.

Here are a few post-bankruptcy steps you can take that will get you standing on two feet in no time.

1. Make a budget.

The first step is to track your spending for a few months to get an idea of how much you’re bringing in and where your money is going. Once you do this, you can come up with a monthly spending plan based on your income and the tracking results you gathered. It’s important to also become acutely aware of what exactly you’re spending your money on; if it’s mostly necessities, it’s crucial to have money set aside for that, but if you’re still spending significant amounts on unnecessary items, you’ll need to rethink your budget. Discipline in setting boundaries for yourself is vital.

2. Love cash; like credit.

Once you’ve gone through bankruptcy, it might be a good idea to develop the mindset of paying with cash more often than paying with credit. If you allow yourself to only carry a specific amount of cash in your wallet, you will be able to limit your purchases to necessities. On the other hand, there is no reason to fear credit. Following bankruptcy, it’s crucial to reestablish your credit, especially if you eventually want to purchase a house or car. Future employers, banks, and potential landlords will want to be reassured that you have been able to reestablish a decent credit score.

3. Pay bills on time.

Whether the bill is big or small, make sure you pay it on time. If you have bank fees or are bouncing checks, these will show up on your credit score, which can be detrimental to your financial health – knocking your credit score down incrementally when it needs to be moving upward.

4. Don’t fall into the scam trap.

Be aware of anyone that offers to “fix” your post-bankruptcy credit situation. You are completely capable of fixing your credit on your own, therefore you don’t need anyone else’s assistance. There are a plethora of scammers who will claim to be able to repair your credit overnight, (but for a fee – and believe us when we tell you it won’t be a small fee). Building credit requires time and patience.

If the offer from a credit repair “company” seems too good to be true or they request money upfront, be incredibly careful. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to check with the credit bureau or state regulatory agency. If you’re truly in need of help, reach back out to your NJ bankruptcy attorney – he will be the best source for reliable post-bankruptcy assistance.

Bankruptcy can be a long and trying process, but once you make it through, be assured that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing how to get back on your feet and actually “doing” it are two different sentiments. Be self-disciplined in working towards a financially healthy state. If you’re feeling unsure or a little bit lost, don’t be afraid to contact your bankruptcy lawyer who can help you after bankruptcy as well as during it.