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Matthew Scott Berkus

Matthew Berkus’s Answers

7,368 total


  • Can you ask for deferment when in collections?

    I have 2 private student loans right now that are in default and with collections.

    Matthew’s Answer

    You mention these are private student loans, if so, you have no "right" to deferement. Deferment is voluntary on the part of the servicer. I suppose you can ask, but if you are in default, it is highly unlikely they would agree.

    If these are really federal student loans, the other colleagues that answered are correct. If you are in default, you cannot put the loans in deferment, you must either rehab or consolidate.

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  • Is his misrepresentation of loan application terms enough that I could get away from the loan/car or renegotiate?

    I just bought a car on finance yesterday. On all of the paperwork for the loan and warranty, the dealer falsified the vehicle's mileage (documents say appx 4k, and vehicle actually has close to six). I'm assuming this was to acquire a higher incen...

    Matthew’s Answer

    The mileage is too insignificant an error to have any legal significance. Also, it is not like you didn't know or could have known (by looking at the odometer). Most likely the car was a demo or a lease take back and the 4k mileage is simply the mileage it had when it was put into inventory for sale. Generally speaking, used cars are sold As Is. So, unless you identify the issues prior to purchase and have the dealer agree to a "fix it list," there isn't much you can do. The imperfections, as you call them, are either covered by the warranty or not. If covered, then the dealer does need to fix, if not, you pay. Maybe there is more to the story, but based on what you wrote, it is far from clear you have any legal claim.

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  • Can you locate an attorney's that except malpractice civil matters.

    my spouse eight and a half months ago hired an attorney after my spouse fell over a case of soda that was left by the check out counter when that case of sodas shouldn't have been left in the path of the check out counter. after eight and a half m...

    Matthew’s Answer

    You are free to find and hire another attorney. If the attorney thinks you don't have a case and terminates services, that is not malpractice. So long as you are still within the statute of limitations (which I believe you are), you can go get another attorney.

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  • I took out a student loan in 1987 and only attend the community college for about 3 months. I never made a payment on it, so in

    I took out a student loan in 1987 and only attend the community college for about 3 months. I never made a payment on it, so in 1993 and 1994 the IRS offset my tax returns and applied it to my outstanding loan. Stupidly around 1995-96 I signed ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    After 22 years, I doubt you have a basis to dispute the amount owed. When we review (audit) student loan debts, we rarely find a problem with the claimed balance due. One point that I might agree with you on is that the loan probably shouldn't be on your credit report at this time. If your timeline is accurate, it should have fallen off. Now, that doesn't mean you don't owe it. At this point, all you can do is call the servicer and request to rehabilitate the loan. Then, based on your income, they will have you make monthly payments for 9 months. At the end of 9 months, the loan will be transferred to a new servicer, a collection fee will be added, and then you may apply for an income based repayment program.

    The reality is, it will likely cost you more money to have an attorney challenge this debt and the chance of success is relatively low.

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  • Can I sue my school? If so, what for and what terms?

    I was enrolled at a university during Spring 2014. During this time, I was a Residential Assistant. I was given free housing while employed. During my tenure, I became ill and had to withdraw from the university. Several months after I withdrew I ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    You would have to review the school's policy, but what you describe is fairly standard policy across the country. Generally, any financial benefits conferred on a college student (e.g. grants, scholarships, housing, stipends, etc.) are nearly always contingent on the student successfully completing the term. If a student withdraws during a term after the withdrawal deadline, regardless of reason (unless the school policy says otherwise), the student is liable to reimburse those benefits. On top of that, it was likely a condition of your employment as an RA that you complete the term to have your housing compensated. I think it is highly unlikely you have a claim. However, an attorney would need to review the relevant school policies and situation (that alone will probably cost you about $1,200 in legal fees).

    Now, there is something amiss in your story. If the debt in question is related to a housing cost, that debt can't garnish federal income tax refund, that is simply a debt owed to the school. Only federally guaranteed student loans (and grants), once submitted to the Treasury Offset Program can do that, so something in your narrative isn't adding up.

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  • Can IRS seize my rental income collected from real estate/properties leased to Marijuana businesses?

    I own couple warehouses in Denver area and I am currently considering leases to recreational Marijuana growers and distributors. My question is, while marijuana is legalized for recreational uses here in Colorado, could the IRS seize my income ge...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Honestly, that is an interesting question. But as Robert points out, solve the underlying tax issue so you don't have the risk. Do you really want to be the test case on the issue and spend tens of thousands of dollars litigating against the IRS over whether they can seize such funds. As a practical matter, they can and will issue the levies, you would be in a position of arguing that you have a defense to the levy because the funds come from an operation that is illegal under Federal Law (you don't want to be that guy), not a good argument when you think it through.

    When they get mob bosses on tax evasion and seize assets for fines and penalties, those assets are clearly fruits of a criminal enterprise, so I don't believe the IRS is prohibited from getting at that money, the IRS is a quasi law enforcement agency. You won't be able to benefit vis-a-vis the IRS because you participate in an illegal enterprise. Even if you somehow won the issue (which I don't think you would), they would just refer your case to the Criminal Investigation Division and prosecute you for tax evasion and probably RICO violations.

    You need to sit down the Marijuana compliance counsel and determine if the income is worth the headache and risk. Be sure to charge a premium for the space, you need to charge above market rental rates when you lease to these operations. When you lease to MJ businesses, it is not business as usual, you can't deposit that money in a federally insured bank, you have tax issues, money laundering issues, there are a slew of RICO lawsuits (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act). If you already have back tax issues and you're not organizationally prepared to operate with these businesses as tenants, you are asking for trouble.

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  • Can I put an outstanding college tuition balance in a bankruptcy?

    I know this has probably been asked before, but I'm having a hard time finding a straight answer. Long story short: I have an outstanding college tuition balance (NOT A STUDENT LOAN) that is in a collection agency. Recently my hours have been ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    It is not that cut and dry. Although it is your opinion that the debt is not a student loan, the definition of what is a student loan--in bankruptcy--is broader than you think. However, all things being, unpaid tuition and fees due a college are "arguably" a dischargeable debt. But, there is a pesky provision in the bankruptcy code that adds this clause to the definition of student loan: "an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit, scholarship, or stipend." Courts tend to apply that clause broadly and it may capture unpaid tuition in certain circumstances. Also, colleges are tasked with directly collecting Perkins loans, often times a debtor will consult with me and claim the debt is not a student loan because the college is collecting only for the debt to turn out to be a Perkins Loan.

    Bottom line, you can, probably, discharge the debt in BK. I would say that if you other reasons (e.g. other debt) over which you need to file BK, go ahead and file and roll the dice on this debt.

    You should consult with a BK attorney in your area. Note, the fact that you live in NJ and the debt is out of VA doesn't matter.

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  • How long after a chapter 7 is the person able to let the home go to foreclosure under the bankruptcy?

    a chapter 7 was discharged, and the filing atty told the person that they could let the house go under the bankruptcy if in the future they , ie lost their job. The atty is no longer in the phone book, and the person is wondering what the limitati...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Unless the debtor refinanced the loan after receiving the bankruptcy discharge (that would be a new debt), the discharge is permanent. There is no time limit on the situation you describe, the only caveat is whether the person has since refinanced; if he refinanced, then the debt is a live debt.

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  • What should I do

    I just refinanced my morgage and supposed to get 22853 cash out as said in documents but they only deposited 22600 and now they don't answer my email, phone calls and no response at all, I am asking for the real numbers but they are just ignoring ...

    Matthew’s Answer

    Realistically, a dispute over $153, there is probably not a whole lot you can do that is practical or economical. Just keep at it trying to talk to them. As for attorneys, you will pay more to have an attorney review the documents than the amount in dispute.

    Have you received your first mortgage statement? Was there a cost buried in the refi (like a recording fee that got paid out of the proceeds).

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  • I have a medical bill that i didnt even know about from 2007 the only way i found about it is because called about a diffrent

    i have a medical bill that i didnt even know about from 2007 and the only way i fround about it is because i called about a diffrent bill can they still collect on it i live in colorado springs

    Matthew’s Answer

    If the debt (i.e. the treatment or visit) is really from 2007, they can't sue you for it at this point. However, they can still ask you to pay it. If by collection you mean, can they still demand payment, yes; but they can't sue you at this point. The only caveat would be is if they already sued you for that debt and obtained a judgment, then they can collect it in a variety of ways, but that doesn't sound like the case.

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