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Month: December 2014

Ways and Means Introduces Tax Reform Measure

Ways and Means Introduces Tax Reform Measure

On December 11, Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) officially introduced HR 1, the “Tax Reform Act of 2014.”  A few of the interesting provisions which would affect individuals, as embodied in this first tax reform volley, about which we will expect to hear more from the new Congress, are: Consolidate the present seven individual tax brackets to 3: 10%, 25% and 35% Repeal the personal exemption. Change the personal residence exclusion by requiring use of such for 5 out of the…

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Wondering What Your Real Estate Agent Does All Day?

Wondering What Your Real Estate Agent Does All Day?

If asked to guess what tasks a real estate agent spends time on, one might answer, “driving around to properties,” “preparing marketing materials,” or more cynically, “rounding up new clients.” But such answers overlook the significant amount of time that a high-quality agent spends on crucial background research, studying the local real estate market and how its ups and downs affect each home’s worth. Here’s how Daniel Stea, a broker/attorney in Berkeley, California (and one of the newest advisers to Nolo’s…

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NLRB Says Employees Have the Right to Use Work Email for Union Organizing and Other Protected Activities

NLRB Says Employees Have the Right to Use Work Email for Union Organizing and Other Protected Activities

Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that employees must be allowed to use their work emails for union organizing efforts and other protected activities under federal labor laws. In doing so, the NLRB reversed one of its previous decisions from 2007, which allowed employers to limit the use of work email to “business use” only. As of December 11, 2014, this is no longer the case. As with many other NLRB decisions (including those on employees’…

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President Signs Bill to Extend Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Break Through 2014

President Signs Bill to Extend Mortgage Forgiveness Tax Break Through 2014

On December 19, 2014 President Obama signed H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act. One of the provisions of that Act extends the tax break for homeowners who have had mortgage debt canceled or forgiven in 2014. When Is Mortgage Debt Forgiven? Thousands of financially struggling homeowners had mortgage debt forgiven by their lenders in the past year.  Mortgage debt forgiveness might happen as part of a mortgage modification – lenders often forgive part of the principle in order to…

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California Court: Police Can’t Take DNA From Arrestees

California Court: Police Can’t Take DNA From Arrestees

A California law known informally as the DNA Act requires that law enforcement take a DNA sample from every adult arrested for or charged with any felony. The sample extraction—via cheek swab—is to occur soon after arrest. (Cal. Penal Code §§ 296.1, 296.) The U.S. Supreme Court reviewed a somewhat similar law in 2013, with a case called Maryland v. King. (133 S. Ct. 1958 (2013).) The high court decided that the cheek-swab collection of a suspect’s DNA after arrest…

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