Stimulus Loan vs. Tax Relief: Which is Better for Your Small Business?

stimulus loan

The recent stimulus legislation has provided support for small businesses facing economic hardship during the coronavirus crisis. There are two choices: 1) a combination of tax credits and the deferral of payroll deposits and 2) a loan known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These two options are mutually exclusive, meaning if you take the PPP loan you cannot take the tax credit or defer payroll tax deposits and vice versa. It can be difficult to determine which would be best for your business, but there are some key differences that can make a big difference. Let’s take a closer look.

PPP Loans

Administered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) and applied for through banks or other financial institutions, the Paycheck Protection Program loan can be converted into a grant and is available to businesses with 500 employees or less. For restaurants and hotels, the 500-employee limit applies to each individual location, not the business as a whole.

While the business cannot fold, it does not have to be open and operational during the crisis in order to qualify for the loan. Employees don’t have to work in order to receive their payroll. The ultimate goal of the PPP is for businesses to be able to continue paying employees throughout the crisis.

A PPP loan will be forgiven and turned into a grant if the small business can sustain its payroll for a minimum of eight weeks and use the loan proceeds only for salaries and essential operating expenses like utilities and rent. No more than 25% of the loan can be used for non-payroll costs in order to be forgiven. If the loan is eligible to become a grant, the interest (initially set at 1%) still has to be paid by the business. The maximum loan amount is either $10 million or 2.5 times the monthly payroll, whichever amount is less. The payroll for each employee is capped at $100,000 per employee. Terms of the loans are set by the Small Business Association.

ERTC

The second option is called the employee retention tax credit (ERTC). This credit is taken against payroll taxes. To be eligible for the ERTC, a business’s operations must be suspended by a government authority OR experience a 50% or greater decline in tax receipts for any quarter in 2020 compared against the same quarter in 2019. Eligibility ends when the business’s gross receipts are greater over one quarter of 2020 than 80% of if its receipts for the same quarter in 2019.

The credit includes up to 50% of wages paid from March 12th through the end of the year. The maximum a business can receive is $5,000 per employee against 2020 payroll taxes (both Social Security and Medicare). Since the credit is refundable, a business will receive a payment from the government if the credit exceeds the payroll taxes due. In addition to the ERTC, a business can defer deposits of payroll taxes due in 2020. One half of the deferred taxes must be paid by the end of 2021 and the other half by the end of 2022.

In order to determine which of the above options is right for your business, it’s important that you have a thorough understanding of both. Generally, businesses with higher-salaried employees will benefit more from the PPP loans/grant option while businesses with lower-salaried employees will get more out of the ERTC, but this is not always the case.

IMPORTANT: How fast do you need the money? The PPP requires an application and approval process. You can take advantage of the ERTC option immediately, but you will have to wait for any refunds from the tax credits.

Reach out to us if you need help deciding which option is best for your small business. We are excited by how many small NJ business owners we have been able to help stay afloat thus far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tax Deductions Every Business Owner Needs to Know About

If you are a small business owner, you know the big costs of running a business. Thankfully, most of these expenses can be considered for a tax write-off. The IRS generally considers expenses as deductible if they are “ordinary and necessary” to running the business. This is open to interpretation and will vary from business to business, but there are some common deductions that might apply to your small business. Keep reading to see which tax deductions can apply to your 2019 tax year and which deductions you can implement into your business plan in 2020.

1. Rent and Utilities

If you rent an office, a store, a factory, or any other kind of business property, you can fully deduct the cost of renting the space. Likewise, every dime you spend on utilities, including electricity, phone, internet, water, heat, and sewage, is fully deductible. You can also include any repairs to property or regular maintenance like fresh paint.

2. Car and Truck Expenses

If you use a vehicle to conduct your business, you can deduct the cost of operating the vehicle for business purposes. If you don’t know exactly how much you spent on car-related expenses, you can use the IRS standard deduction at 58 cents per mile for 2019. In order to get this tax write off you will need a record of your business mileage.

3. Salaries and Employee Benefits

Any payments to employees—including bonuses, commissions, contributions to retirement plans, education assistance, or other employee benefit costs—are all tax deductible. This also applies to any freelancers or contract workers you may hire to meet your business needs.

4. Advertising and Marketing

Anything you use to promote your business can count as a write-off. Business cards, t-shirts, billboards, radio spots, boosted social media posts—all 100% tax deductible.

5. Supplies and Expenses

Supplies you need to run your business, from every day office supplies (like printer ink and post-it notes) to items more specific to your business (like tools if you are a mechanic or hair products if you are a stylist) are tax deductible. If you’ve bought new electronics or software that you use for your business, those costs are write-offs as well.

6. Travel

If you or an employee have to travel for the business, you can write off the cost of transportation and lodging for the trip. You must meet the substantiation requirements set out by the IRS to prove the trip was for business purposes so it is a good idea to keep track of any costs you accumulate on your travels. This does not include local and regular commuting.

7. Home Office

If you use a home office to work from home while running your business, you can most likely deduct the expenses for the business use of your home. Keep in mind that this only applies to a home office that is used on a regular basis exclusively for business purposes. This can include mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, and depreciation. The IRS standard is $5 for every square foot of office space, up to 300 square feet.

8. Insurance

The cost of insurance premiums used to protect your business are deductible. This includes malpractice and liability insurance, fire and flood insurance, and business continuation insurance, among other things. Under specific circumstances, medical insurance for your employees can also be tax deductible.

These are just a few of the write offs and deductions available to small business owners. If you are a small business owner, make sure you are getting the most out of your tax returns this year!

First Timers: How to File Your Taxes in NJ

taxes in NJ

If this is your first year filing taxes, you might be unsure of where to begin. New Jersey residents face a specific challenge as the third in the nation for state and local tax burden. It is important to file correctly so you can ensure you are getting the max return possible. Receiving your W-2 is only the first step in the process. What do you do with all those numbers? Here are some steps to ensure your first time filing taxes goes smoothly.

First, you will need to gather all necessary paperwork and make sure it is correct. Look at your W-2 to make sure personal information, employer information, and reported income and withholdings are correct. If you are missing a W-2, you need to reach out to your employer directly or seek help from the IRS. Even if you do not receive your W-2 before the April deadline, you will still need to file. Form 4852 allows you to report income from a W-2 you are not in possession of. You may need more than just your W2. Other documents might include receipts from charity donations or student loan servicer statements.

Once you have all of your correct documentation, you will need to decide how to file. New Jersey recognizes the following filing statuses:

Single: if you are unmarried or not part of a civil union, if you are not a widow(er), and if you are not the head of household.

Married and civil union couples: If you’re married or part of a civil union by the final day of the tax year. You can file jointly or separately.

Head of household: This status can be used if you are not married but you cover more than half the living expenses for yourself and at least one other person.

Qualifying widow(er) or surviving civil union partner: You will qualify for this if your spouse or civil partner has passed during the tax year and you did not marry before the end of the tax year.

You will also need to decide if you want to file with help or on your own. You can file your NJ state taxes online for free with the state’s Division of Taxation filing portal. You can also file on your own through an approved software vendor or by mailing in a paper return. If you think you need more help, or want to make sure you aren’t missing out on any tax credits, you can get the help of a paid tax preparer. However you file, take your time and make sure all the information is entered correctly.

Once you’ve filed your taxes, you can track the status of your state and federal tax refund online. If you end up owing money to the state and can’t pay the full amount immediately, the state provides payment plans ranging from three to sixty months. You can face penalties and fees if you either don’t file or don’t make payments towards the taxes you owe.

Filing taxes in NJ can be easy once you know what to expect. File your return today so you can spend the rest of tax season breathing easy!

The New Jersey Homeowner’s Guide to Tax Credits

new jersey homeowner

New Jersey homeowners are burdened with the highest property tax rates in the US. It is no wonder that every year, NJ homeowners look for ways to reduce their tax bill. The good news is there are a lot of ways to find tax relief in New Jersey; and we’ve compiled a list of four strategies for you right here on the Veitengruber Law blog.

Every single NJ homeowner has the right to challenge the taxable value of their home. While you cannot change the state property tax rate, you can change the number your home is valued at and therefore lower the cost of property taxes you pay. An NJ home valued at $250,000 and taxed at 2.4% (the NJ average) would create an annual property tax of $6,000. The homeowners of this property can appeal the taxable value of the home. If the appeals board agrees and lowers the value to $200,000, their new property tax bill would be $4,800. Even a minor adjustment can save NJ homeowners thousands of dollars over the course of their lifetime.

You can determine the taxable value of your home by visiting the NJ Department of the Treasury website and searching your county’s property records. Your individual county might have further information about how they assess property value, schedules, and assessor records. Once you know the taxable value of your home, you can appeal your property tax assessment. This process will be different from county to county. You will need to prove that your home has a lower value than what it was assessed at, either because of size or condition.

While every NJ homeowner is eligible for the appeals process, the following property tax relief programs require the homeowner to meet specific prerequisites.

1. Basic Homestead Rebate or Credit

If you make less than $250,000 a year, you might be entitled to a rebate or credit. This return is based on the first $10,000 in property taxes paid the previous year. The percentage of your property tax you are entitled to receive back in a credit or rebate depends on your annual income. The lower your income, the higher your percentage.

2. Senior Benefits

If you are 65 or older, you could qualify for an additional rebate or credit under the homestead rebate. This would again depend on your annual income. Additional tax benefits are available if you are a senior receiving Social Security, if you have lived in NJ for 10+ years, if you have lived in your current home for 3+ years, if you have been consistent with paying your property taxes, and if you meet specific income limitations.

3. Blind or Disabled People

NJ homeowners who are blind or otherwise disabled can qualify for similar benefits available to seniors. In NJ, you have to prove you are “permanently and totally disabled,” meaning that your disability is not temporary and you can prove a significant, determinable physical or mental impairment.

4. Veterans Benefits

In New Jersey, the home of a totally disabled veteran is exempt from property tax. A veteran who actively served in a time of war is eligible for a tax credit of $250. The spouse of a veteran is also eligible for these benefits. This November, NJ voters may decide on a bill that would extend this $250 credit to all NJ veterans, regardless of whether or not they served in active duty.

If you think you qualify for any of these or other tax breaks in NJ, it can be worthwhile to consider seeking legal help to reduce your NJ property tax. Veitengruber Law can help you work through the sometimes complicated appeals process to lower your annual property tax bill.

Filing Your NJ Taxes: Go it Alone or Use a CPA?

Everyone knows April 15th is tax day. For months you’ll see the ads everywhere for tax filing services. If you’re reasonably good with numbers you may be wondering if you can handle filing your taxes yourself or if you should use an accountant. There are a lot of factors to consider so it’s best to know all of the options before you file.

 

When should you go it alone?

Filing taxes yourself is best when you’re taxes are fairly simple. If you are filing singly and taking the standard deduction your tax preparation will be fairly straightforward. However if you have dependents, student loan interest, a mortgage, or own a business you will want to itemize in order to get the maximum benefit. That can get complicated quickly. Certain itemizations can raise red flags for an IRS audit. In that case you will have been penny wise and pound foolish. You’ll have to hire a CPA to represent you in an audit in addition to back taxes and fees you’ll have to pay.

 

Not all accountants are created equal.

Anyone who studied accounting can call themselves an accountant. Your college roommate who took a few accounting courses is an accountant. Your cousin’s wife who read Accounting for Dummies is an accountant. Does that mean you should put your tax preparation in their hands?

 

You may think that going to an office like Jackson Hewitt or H&R Block means that you’re putting your taxes in the hands of professionals. The term ‘professionals’ is misleading. Their websites don’t even call their employees accountants or professionals, they call them ‘tax pros.’ Workers filing your taxes are trained on how to use accounting software, that’s it. Hiring one of these companies is hardly a step up from filing yourself using TurboTax.

 

An Enrolled Agent, or EA, is an accountant who has been certified by the IRS. To become an EA, several requirements must be met:

  • Must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN), which must be renewed annually
  • Must achieve passing scores on all three parts of the Special Enrollment Examination (SEE) within two years
  • Apply for enrollment
  • Payment of enrollment fee
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass a suitability check of past tax filings
  • Renew EA certification every three years
  • Obtain continuing education after certification

An EA does not have to have a college education. When choosing an accountant to file your taxes, an EA will probably be more affordable than a CPA. An EA is also capable of legally representing you in the event of an audit.

 

A Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with 150 total semester hours. Of these, 24 must be in accounting and 24 in business. In order to be licensed in New Jersey, a candidate must pass the CPA exam and provide evidence of at least one year of experience working for a CPA. During that term, 25% of your time must be spent auditing and accounting and the remaining 75% on tax services. Maintaining a CPA license requires 120 hours of continuing professional education to be completed every three years including a New Jersey Law and Ethics course.

 

A CPA is the most well-educated and experienced person you can have handling your taxes. If you need help finding an NJCPA, Veitengruber Law has close relationships with CPAs with impeccable reputations. George can recommend a CPA that will handle your taxes with accuracy and honesty beyond reproach.

 

Who should use a CPA?

Anyone not taking the standard deduction should have their taxes prepared by a professional. When itemizing your taxes, a CPA can help you find deductions you might have missed, express concerns about possible red flags, and let you know about upcoming tax law changes for the new year that you can prepare for.

 

In the event of an audit, you’ll want a CPA on your side. They will have experience navigating an audit and won’t be intimidated by the IRS officials. They may even have worked with the IRS agent before on other cases and know what to expect.

 

While most tax returns could benefit from the eye of a CPA, these are some categories of filings that definitely should be itemized:

  • Buying or owning a home
  • Owning a rental property
  • Moving and moving expenses
  • Moving to a new state and filing 2 sets of taxes
  • Medical expenses and medically related travel
  • Owning a business
  • Working from home in a home office
  • Paying student loan interest

 

It’s best not to leave your tax returns to chance. Hiring a CPA for your filing is the best way to ensure you get the maximum benefit on your return.

9 Smart Money New Year’s Resolutions for 2019

money new year's resolutions

Everyone looks forward to the New Year as a fresh start. This year, use your New Year’s Resolutions to benefit your wallet! From big goals to small changes, these 9 tips can get your finances on track in 2019:

 

  1. Eliminate/Reduce Credit Card Debt

If your credit card debt has gotten out of control in 2018, plan to make paying down your credit card balances a priority in 2019. With the Federal Reserve likely to increase interest rates this year, credit card debt is only going to become more expensive. Set a specific goal for yourself, (for example:  pay down 25% of your current debt). Focus on paying down the debt under the highest interest first to avoid income-draining interest rates. If you are struggling to make credit card payments, do not hesitate to reach out for help from Veitengruber Law.

 

  1. Pay Down Student Loans

For a lot of people, student loan debt is a heavy financial burden. It’s a great idea to take 2019 as an opportunity to make a huge dent in your student loans. Start by reviewing your loans and determining which ones have the highest interest rates. Making extra payments on those loans will save you money on interest in the long run. Paying more than the minimum due each month is also a great way to make sure you are not spending more than you should on interest. If your interest rates are high or you have a lot of different loans, consolidating your loans may allow you to get a lower interest rate and create more manageable monthly payments.

 

  1. Emergency Fund

In 2018, 39% of Americans paid for an unexpected $1,000 expense with their savings.* Many Americans end up in debt trying to cover unexpected costs. Most experts recommend having at least six months’ worth of expenses in savings, but if you are starting an emergency fund from scratch, make your goal something you think is reasonable to achieve. Even having a few hundred dollars in savings is better than nothing. You may want to consider setting up automatic transfers from your paycheck into a savings account so you are not tempted to spend this money.

 

  1. Improve Your Credit Score

The first step to improving your credit score is to know what it is in the first place. Signing up for free and reliable credit score monitoring through services like Experian or Mint will help you see how healthy your credit score is now. Good credit scores range from 700-749 and scores of 750 and higher are considered excellent. If your credit is not where you want it to be, make raising it your priority in 2019. Small things like paying your bills on time, keeping credit card balances low, and setting up automatic payments right after you’ve gotten paid can help reduce your debt and improve your score.

 

  1. Do Taxes Early

Filing for your federal income tax returns as soon as you can is a great way to start the New Year. Not only will you get your refund faster, it can give you extra time to pay taxes you may owe or help you avoid needing a tax extension. If you are expecting a big life change in 2019—like returning to college or buying a home—filing early will help you get a head start on this paperwork. For instance, students can use the information on their 1040 form to apply for financial aid. Plus, the sooner you apply for your refund, the less likely it is that you will be the victim of tax return identity theft.

 

  1. Cook More

Americans spend thousands of dollars a year eating out. A big way to save money in 2019 is to spend less time eating out and more time making your own food. Use 2019 as a chance to get more comfortable in the kitchen. Bring lunch from home, meal prep on the weekends, and spend some time researching quick-to-make meals. The more frequently you eat food bought from the grocery store, the less money you will spend—and the healthier you will be, too!

 

  1. Retirement Savings Plan

It is important to start saving for retirement as soon as possible. There are many options for creating a savings plan for retirement and you can determine which one is best for your specific circumstances. Maybe your employer provides a 401(k) plan, but if not – you can open an IRA or, if you are self-employed, a Simplified Employee Pension IRA. If you already have a retirement plan in action, reassess the plan in 2019. Could you be saving more? Are you on track for retirement?

 

  1. Home Improvements

While some home improvement projects will cost big and add value to your home, sometimes it’s the small projects that can have a big impact on your finances. Investing in energy-saving appliances in 2019 could allow you to save money every month on energy costs.  Energystar.gov has recommendations for energy efficient products and other home improvement ideas to get you thinking about ways you can save money on energy this New Year.

 

  1. Focus on Your Health

The average American spends over $4,000 a year on health care. Make your health a priority in 2019! Join the gym, focus on eating well, and take the time you need to relax. Go to the doctor at the first sign of illness instead of waiting until your health has been severely diminished. Preventative healthcare measures can save you big in the long run.

 

 

 

*From Bankrate

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.

How (and when) to Appeal Your NJ Property Tax

Each year, homeowners in New Jersey are required to pay property taxes, but when the time comes for you to make that payment, you may be in for a shock. If you have an understanding of how your property tax is calculated, you will be able to investigate whether you’re paying too much, depending on the assessment of your home. The good news is that the taxable value of your home may be sky high, but there are steps you can take to decrease that value and save a few bucks on your property tax bill.

Before you can move further along in the appeal process, it’s helpful to know how your property tax is actually calculated. In NJ, there are two aspects of your tax bill: first, the taxable value of your home and second, the tax rate. Normally, the municipal tax assessor will review your home to determine the taxable value. The taxable value is 100% of the home’s “worth” or the amount it would be sold for on the open market. The taxable value will be multiplied by the tax rate to decide the property tax. Unfortunately, local officials set the tax rate, so you don’t have much control over that. You may be able to get the taxable value reduced if you believe it is set too high.

If you’re planning to appeal your property tax, one or more of the following must be true:

  • The tax assessor determined your property tax bill using inaccurate information. For example, the official may have assumed your home is 3,000 square feet when it’s actually only 2,500 square feet.
  • The current market value of your home is lower than what was actually concluded by the assessor.
  • Compared to similar homes in your community, the assessor may have determined the taxable value to be too high. It’s important to know whether or not your home is over-assessed, as some municipalities do not evaluate properties at 100% of the true value. If the assessment on your home is 15% higher than the market value, this would be a case in which an appeal would be acceptable. Before filing an appeal, contact your local assessor if you believe he or she has made a mistake. They will often correct it.

If you’re confused as to exactly what steps to take to appeal your property tax, keep reading!

  1. Request a copy of the card with the details of your house assessment from the local or county tax assessor.
  2. As stated above, know the details of your appeal and be sure that you can provide support. Also, compare your home to similar homes in the community to determine an appropriate taxable value for your home.
  3. Meet with a real estate attorney who has experience with tax appeals. Because each case has its own labyrinth of details, it may be unwise to try to handle it on your own. An attorney will understand the local real estate market and have knowledge of crucial deadlines and regulations specific to NJ.
  4. Collaborate with your attorney to determine whether or not you are going to appeal. Be aware that the appeal must be filed prior to the April 1st deadline. Once the filing is complete, a hearing before County Tax Board will be scheduled. It is crucial to comply with all of the deadlines and regulations to have a successful appeal. If you miss the date of your appearance before the Board, you will have to wait until the following year to refile.

If you submit your appeal, but do not agree with the final decision, you can take your appeal to the New Jersey Tax Court. If you haven’t yet, it would be helpful to hire a lawyer if you decide to take your appeal for further review. The appealing process can be difficult and involves many intricacies. Make sure that you do your research before making any quick decisions!

What Does the Recent Tax Reform Mean for the NJ Real Estate Market?

It is not a “Happy New Year” for New Jersey residents and prospective homeowners when it comes to the new tax plan that was unveiled at the White House last week. Essentially, a tax increase is the way these homeowners are starting 2018, as the cap on state and local tax deductions is now $10,000. Not only did taxes go up, but the state housing market is also affected.

New Jersey residents pay one of the highest tax rates in the federal government but experience one of the lowest returns of federal spending of any state. At the center of the first federal tax code reform in 31 years is a steep corporate tax cut that proponents of the legislation hope will unleash the nations’ economy. Of course, to make up for dramatic corporate tax cuts, deductions are placed under the microscope. Unfortunately, some of these targeted deductions have been particularly beneficial to New Jersey residents in the past.

If a current or prospective homeowner was paying $10,000 with pre-tax dollars and they’re now paying $14,000, in reality they will have to pay about $5,000 to pay the additional difference of $4,000. Fourteen thousand dollars in real estate taxes doesn’t compare with the top 5 New Jersey towns when it comes to their 2016 Average Residential Tax Bill. The municipality of Tavistock comes in at number one with the 2016 average bill at $31,132.

As a current homeowner, you may wonder how this will affect your property value. The landscape doesn’t look very green. Nobody knows for sure; as real estate markets are affected by more variables than just real estate taxes. The most affected consumer lives in 1 of 7 New Jersey counties that make up the top 10 in the United States. These are the consumers who will lose the most in home prices across the nation.  At the top of the Average House Price Decline list is Essex County which will take a hit of 10.5%.

Some grim scenarios propose that high-income residents would migrate to other states, a slowdown in home sales would affect contractors and home building businesses and stores, and the already high-taxed state would see even higher taxes.

As mentioned before, there are many factors that enter into the real estate market and New Jersey realtors must continue to sell the same way even with the uncertainty created by the new tax plan. With a low-inventory market or, in other words, when there are more buyers than sellers, and when you write off your full real estate tax amount, the real estate market is much more stable. It has been considered a sellers’ market for some time now with sellers getting considerably more than just their asking price in many cases. Eager buyers may now delay making a move from renting to buying or purchasing a bigger home for their growing family. Those who invest in real estate and current landlords will be able to pass along these tax increases to their tenants.

Normally, if the economy holds steady, the real estate market follows suit or self-corrects. Of course, the true impact won’t be known until spring has sprung and the real estate market begins to bloom.

Are You Committing Financial Child Abuse?

Although it may be something you’ve never considered, there have been many reports of what is now being called “financial child abuse.” One of the easiest ways to commit financial child abuse is to use your child’s Social Security number instead of your own.

Why would anyone use their child’s Social Security number?

Typically, the perpetrator has found himself with a significant amount of debt that may include wage garnishment. What this means is that any time the adult in question attempts to get a job, his debts follow him and his creditors will be able to take a portion of his paycheck.

Because of this, the adult decides to use his child’s Social Security number when applying for a new job. Oftentimes, the father and the child in question have the same name, making this kind of activity slightly more difficult to detect by law enforcement.

Is it a crime to use your child’s Social Security number?

Not only is it illegal, but to do so would be committing a number of serious crimes including:

  • Identity theft
  • Fraud
  • Tax fraud
  • Social Security fraud
  • Theft

These crimes will almost certainly prevent the adult in question from ever discharging any of his debts in a bankruptcy in the future, and in addition, he may face prison time and thousands of dollars in fines.

Why is it a crime? Who is it really hurting?

The reason it is a crime to use a child’s Social Security number to obtain employment or a loan, etc. is because regardless of whose Social Security number is being “borrowed,” it is illegal to do so. End of story. A Social Security number is not something that can be borrowed, shared, or changed.

It can affect the child in question by tacking on Social Security wages to his SSN that he may have to answer for later in life if the activity is not stopped and reversed. This can cause the child serious legal problems involving Social Security fraud, even though he had no knowledge of the crime being carried out.

What is a better solution to my debt-related problems?

It is always a good idea to avoid committing a crime in order to get out of paying your debts. The reasons? You’re going to end up getting in serious trouble, you may go to jail, you will owe more money in the end, you will cause conflict within your family, and most importantly: There is a better solution!

You can erase the debts that you have. You do not have to borrow someone else’s Social Security number to get around your creditors. It is understandable and admirable that you want to get a job to support your family. Just don’t resort to committing a crime that you will regret later in order to do so.

Filing for NJ bankruptcy will wipe out most or all of the debts that you have racked up (with some exclusions) – allowing you to have a relatively clean credit report and no debts that will be taken from your wages.

Will a bankruptcy appear on my credit report?

It is impossible to avoid a bankruptcy showing up on your credit history, however, taking the responsibility for your debts and doing the right thing is viewed much more favorably by employers and lenders. You will have a much easier time getting a job with a bankruptcy on your record than if you had been convicted of fraud and identity theft.

The bankruptcy will disappear off of your credit report within seven to ten years depending on which chapter you file. Committing a crime like identity theft or Social Security fraud will remain on your criminal history record for the rest of your life. Which sounds more desirable to you? Do the right thing – file for bankruptcy and get rid of your debts so that you can move forward with getting that job and supporting your family the right way.