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Thomas Brett Duffy

Thomas Duffy’s Answers

138 total


  • Am i be liable for the lost of investments that we are agreed on. Im a US citizen and they are Canadians?

    I have a Canadian friends are planning to sue me over money that We invested in platform for bitcoin investment. But the platform took the money, but since im the middleman they are suing me for their loss.

    Thomas’s Answer

    I agree with everything stated by the two counsel above. I add that you may have pulled off the somewhat incredible feat of violating both the 1933 Registration Act (for initial sales, unusually by underwriters and their agents) & the 1934 Exchange (or Trading) Act (for fraud that occurs after registration in the exchange (or trading) of securities). Regarding the former you mainly need to refer to Section 11 and, for the latter, to Section 12(g). Taking a look at Regulation 10b-5 of the '34 Act (17 CFR Section 240.10b-5) is probably a good idea too.

    If, after reading these statutes and rules (and further researching them and the relevant case law on the internet), you don't get a chill down your spine, you are probably clinically dead. Try to find a lawyer who understands these statutes, especially from a defense standpoint. Such lawyers usually charge between $500-$750/hour, if you're lucky. I would recommend settling this case before your investor reads the above sections and finds out that he has a really good case.

    The investor still may lose his case but "winning" will probably cost you between $100K-$250K. BTW, if you lose, you'll have to pay his or her attorney's fees, etc. in addition to damages (generally what he lost). Generally, I have found most investors will realize they have been stupid and will settle for 50% of their losses. If the person does not want his business associates finding out what a fool s/he has been, s/he just want "to save face" and may l settle for 25% -- maybe less. You do not mention amounts of money involved but such a settlement will usually be much less than the attorney's fees you'd pay "to win."

    What Mr. Devereux says above about risk is true. And the disclosure of risk WITH THE PROPER PAPERWORK, forms a formidable defense. You don't seem to have such '33 or '34 Act paperwork. Under the above Sections 11 & 12, the mental abilities, knowledge of risk, etc. do not matter. You could have a Ph.D. in economics or finance and still recover your loses.

    Get some advice from a lawyer "in the background," about settling this case. Most investors are willing to settle for $X/month for Y months. If you have even some of the required paperwork, you may be able to force the plaintiff into securities arbitration, which is generally more merciful than the courts (e.g. they rarely award attorney's fees). (The key word being "securities:" if you have any paperwork, it seems it doesn't comply with the Securities Laws so your offer, sale or exchange is just Common Law fraud (research on internet) and not securities fraud.) From what you say, it seems you'd be "stuck" with a court case.

    Good luck -- from what you have stated about the situation, you are going to need it.

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  • Should I add $600 PUA to my income in form I912?

    I'm trying to fill out fee waiver form I912 based on low income. My tax returns for 2019 less than the %150 of the federal poverty guidelines. but now my work closed due Covid-19 and I receive unemployment benefits and $600 weekly PUA . Also, my...

    Thomas’s Answer

    I am sure Ms. Barlow's answer above is correct. I am a tax attorney and I am used to clients having to fill out a form that really has more questions than answers. The IRS, attorneys, economists and accountants argue about the definition of income all the time. Don't panic. Perhaps one issue that is confusing you is that NJ unemployment benefits are not taxable by the state. They are taxable by the IRS at the Federal Level.

    This ICE question is not like an IRS definition of income where there are many, many exceptions. They want EVERYTHING to tell what your resources are. The interesting question: is the $1200/person emergency payment income on ICE's Form I912? You are on strong ground not including it in ICE I912 income because Congress made it non-income and non-taxable. (Technically, it's a refund on past taxes.)

    However, the interviewers will probably be trained to ask about the $1200 refund. What they do after that with the information: who knows? As above, if they don't ask, you have Congress on your side that the $1200 isn't income if there is an "audit."

    Finally, I'd like to emphasize what Ms. Barlow said about all these income problems being bad for your application for citizenship. They are not going to admit people who will become wards of the state. The sole exception may be if you are seeking asylum from severe danger if you go home. RIght now, I assume Trump will not allow any asylum (unless it's his Russian buddies who have angered Putin and may "disappear.") This will change if (hopefully, when) Biden becomes President but it would not be immediate.

    Thank you for getting me educated on immigration. Mainly, that the ICE fees themselves are so expensive. I thought people were talking about legal fees -- which I am sure are more than the ICE fees -- but still are formidable.

    Good luck -- i think you will need it at least until January 20, 2021.

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  • Form 5495.What liability is discharged on behalf of the Executor by the IRS?

    the above is a general question

    Thomas’s Answer

    I assume the estate in question has probably received some 1099-C(s) now or in the future (income from the cancellation of indebtedness). Assuming the Estate can file that form for forgiveness -- which I seriously question for several policy reasons -- it would work like it does for living people. You can "ignore" any 1099-Cs you have received.

    I am sure you can use it (or similar form) in the "short run" on Form 1041 (very similar to 1040 but for estates) to show why you are not paying income tax on a 1099-C income in that year. However, Form 5495's purpose is "to cut a break" to living taxpayers who are technically bankrupt to save them from having to file a bankruptcy in federal court. In bankruptcy, discharged debt is not income or no one would ever get out of bankruptcy. Note that there is a big difference between cancelled debt (where you may be someone in a tax shelter so it's only fair to charge you with the income from cancellation of indebtedness) and discharged debt which involves a court order to give the person a "fresh start."

    First, when the estate settles, if there is money, I have very little doubt the estate is going to have to pay any taxes it may have "escaped" (temporarily) by using Form 5495. You, as executor, can probably use 5495 (or similar form) to explain that you can't pay until the house sells. The estate will owe interest but there should be no penalties, so long as you pay the IRS immediately after the house sale.

    These bankrupt estate issues are usually all handled by state law. Usually, creditors, including the IRS, are quite patient in waiting for payment in the probate process. If say a bank, literally, "gets out of line" by attempting to foreclose on a house in an estate, the state judge is just going to tell them "to get back in line" and wait their turn and s/he may award frivolous litigation fees or impose a fine for violating probate procedure.

    I think you are worried about personal liability and you should be. But not in the situation you describe unless you have done something illegal or violated probate procedure. However, bankrupt estates are no "fun," you should get an attorney and let him or her handle it. This can be a problem if it looks like they won't ever get paid.

    In general, don't worry, about 5%-10% of estates are bankrupt (nearly all are short on cash until assets get sold -- that's a "cash flow" problem, not a bankruptcy). A typical case would be grandma or grandpa have $20,000 equity in their house (usually thanks to 2nd mortgage) but owe $50,000 on his or her credit cards. Sell the house, pay the lawyer and executor (say $10,000) and the credit cards get 20 cents on the dollar (with a copy of the final order of the court stating the estate is bankrupt), hand in the accounting to the court and you are done. There should NOT be a 1099-C in that situation because the debt is discharged, not cancelled.

    Now, probate judges, surrogates, etc. do look over bankrupt estates more carefully because there is no other check on the executor or attorney(s) over-paying themselves because the named heirs know they are getting zero. If you've been honest, you won't have a problem.

    I have not addressed the incredibly complex issue when such a situation may involve income in respect of a decedent. It also does not consider state inheritance or estate tax.

    Good luck -- but make your own "luck" by hiring an attorney!

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  • What are my rights as a corporate employee for a non-essential business with return to the office?

    I am in NJ, my company is deciding to open their offices (non-essential company). The building is multi-tenant and multi-floor. I have been working without issue remotely full time. I have a higher risk family member in my household. What are my o...

    Thomas’s Answer

    This is an incredibly complex question -- as you seem to know. Worse, attorneys rely on experience, cases "on the books," etc. to assist clients. You are in uncharted territory, which is never good. However, I think you are part of a revolution of working from home. It's a win/win -- the employer saves on rent, etc.

    You need a lawyer to work on this. For example, it would not be unreasonable for the employer to request that you accept a lower wage (~10% would be fair). You'll save more than that on gas, wear and tear on your car, etc. Then what's it worth not to have to deal with traffic, etc. In the long run, you'll even save on office clothes.

    Now, a special warning,, my wife is a molecular biologist and we have discussed ventilation systems in any building -- let alone large ones (yours sounds medium size). You are aware this is a risk factor or you would not have given that information. Unless the ventilation system has an air intake high on the building, then a nanometer level filtering system and then a powerful exhaust either to the outside or a to a sophisticated UV-C recycle system (not a "return"), you are really taking your chances. (At least 2 casino are advertising that they have installed this kind of system. But who else has the money for such a system?) Obviously, there is a question about how to do this without losing air conditioning (or heat in winter). If you are "down stream" from an infected person (say a few desks away), there is probably no system that will significantly decrease your risk.

    There is a formula to figure out your risk. It involves how many people work in your building (and the average number of visitors), the infection rate in your locality, the transmission factor, etc. That number is probably around a 10%-15% risk (in a medium size building in North Jersey) BUT your risk of transmitting it to your relative is nearly 100%. You would basically have to do what healthcare workers have been doing -- you live alone in some kind of quarantine situation. It may involve the back door to your house and plastic "curtains" to a guest room or a hotel, where there is a ventilation risk. So it may have to be a one level motel where the guest generally controls his or her own environment via a one room air conditioner or heater (heat pump). Basically, if there are vents (and returns) your risk increases logarithmically relative to the number of average number of people in a given building.

    Again, you need a professional (labor) negotiator to work with your employer. Hopefully, you are in a union that has these kind of services. If there is no union, the office workers should "chip-in" to hire an attorney. You will have to sign some papers that your realize that the attorney is somewhat conflicted.

    S/he will start with getting "work from home" for cancer patients, workers with chronic medical conditions, older people, etc. and then work down to workers who already had Covid-19 who MAY be immune. It won't necessarily be "fair" but it should be logical. It will almost certainly involve an "interactive process" between management and workers like what is done to accommodate people with disabilities. We are "disabled" at the moment -- severely hampered in our "major life activities," the standard for disability in the ADA.

    I'd tell you good luck but you are going to need more than luck in this situation. We are all going to have "to think" our way out of this Covid-19 mess -- with consultations from doctors, lawyers, engineers, HVAC workers, etc.

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  • Audited

    I used Turbo Tax and last year I received notice that I was being audited for 2017. Their original number that they said I was owed was $3,000 when I used Turbo Tax I purchased audit protection so the IRS and Turbo Tax worked on it and I received...

    Thomas’s Answer

    You were sent the standard IRS "you owe us money" letter -- both times. The letters always sound much more ferocious than they actually are. So you get charged some interest -- it's lower than nearly all credit cards, about 4%-6%.
    If you attached some proofs to what you have written above, you can send a letter to the return address in the IRS notice and I think you will be back to $0. One of the attachments should be your wage and income transcript for 2017. That's what is causing you the problem: there is $1500 you never received on transcript. (Or maybe not, then the issue is resolved.) You also need your Record of Account which will show why they changed your return. Your Turbo Tax advocate may have them to give to you. Google "transcript, taxpayer,irs" and you'll see the correct IRS transcript page webpage AFTER the Ads (in the organic results.

    You can get copies right from the web. However, if you don't already have an account, you may have to wait for a code in the mail so they know it's you. (Due to CV-19, this option is non-functional.) You can also do it right away but be prepared to answer a lot of questions to prove it's you. The real sickler is what was your AGI for one of the last two years. Use '18 since '17 is probably a mess. If you do use '17 the AGI, it would be what you sent in originally as the AGI, not what it was changed to by audit.

    It appears to me all the TT advocate did was get the penalties removed. S/he did not "fix" the underlying mistake. It's also crazy that you owe $1300 on $1500 of income. I can tell from your writing you are very intelligent person -- you can handle this yourself. As to dates, I would assume that any April deadline is pushed back to June.

    My guess is that there is an incorrect w-2 or 1099R in your W&I transcript. Usually the name is incorrect but the SS# is yours (somebody filled out a w-9 incorrectly). Or, sometimes it is vice versa.

    I am sorry you were so badly injured defending our country.

    Good luck but I don;t think you need it.

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  • I owe the its back taxes, due to covid-19 I am now on unemployment, can the irs take my unemployment ?

    I owe back 2017 taxes and the irs took my and my husbands 2020 return, are they also allowed to take my unemployment benefits

    Thomas’s Answer

    The first part of your question is very confused. 2020 returns are not due until April 15, 2021 (or later). Even the first quarterly payment is not due until April 15, 2020 (or June 15, 2020 -- it's unclear if it has been pushed back the same as 2019 returns due the same day). I think you mean his 2019 refund.

    The second part does not depend on the confusion in the first. So far as I know, having many clients who owe the IRS and the State Gross Income Tax (GIT) folks lots of money, the IRS is not an issue for Unemployment Insurance (UI). Some clients end up on unemployment. The clients complain when the benefits end but not that they have been garnished by the IRS or the NJ GIT people.

    The Simulus Law temporarily suspends IRS collection, garnishment, etc. so the Feds won't do it. (There are some exceptions such as child support.) New Jersey is totally in control of the unemployment money so if you owe GIT (which you do not state), they MAY be able to garnish it but they can only take a fairly small amount of money. My guess, however, is that Gov. Murphy has followed suit with the Congress and suspended GIT garnishments.

    I don't think you'll have a problem. E-mail me and tell me what happens.

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  • Can i press charges for posting an image of me on facebook without consent?

    A woman posted a picture of me on facebook at my job stating things i did that were untrue. i was unaware of it being taken, and would absolutely not approve of it being posted. since i’m a minor, can i press charges?

    Thomas’s Answer

    While I totally agree with Mr. Aalsberg, call or email Facebook. They have an entire department that employs tens of thousands of people who handle these disputes everyday. Facebook doesn't have to take down the photo under the law but they have a policy of taking down almost anything when someone has a legitimate complaint. I am sure this policy is especially lenient when minors are involved so -- just as you have done in this question -- don't forget to mention it.

    To have an unquestionable case regarding your minority, I'd include your birth certificate, your DL or any other official document with your birthday. (Make a photocopy, cross out anything you don't want to disclose, then make a photocopy or PDF of crossed out document and send it to them.)

    Oh, in the future, don't ever talk or write about anything untrue. Your generation especially is going to have to get used to the idea that anything you are doing is being recorded in some manner. It could be a "friend" with a smartphone, security cameras just about everywhere or the NSA snooping on your emails and phone calls.

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  • Oral arguments at the Board of Trustees following an ALJ ‘s pension denial

    Following an ALJ’s disability pension denial I came to present my oral arguments to the Board of Trustees and emailed the Board’s secretary important evidence that my attorney had failed to present to the ALJ at the hearing. The Board told me tha...

    Thomas’s Answer

    You should probably give up on this fight. Do you have an application in with Social Security for SSD or SSI? That's now your best move, if they didn't already turn you down. If you get SSD/I, the State would pretty much have to honor the Federal Government's decision when you reapply for the disability pension.

    And, yes, your evidence was almost certainly late. If the Board was giving what lawyers call a de novo review (they just look to the transcript and evidence and give no credit to the judge's reasoning below), then you have a better case for an exception. However, I doubt this because basically ALJs, who are all lawyers, exist to hear cases based on the law and the evidence so Boards, etc. do not make wrong legal decisions (many of these bodies have few, if any, lawyers) or have a political motive behind their reasoning.

    If your lawyer left out evidence, are you sure it was admissible or relevant? Office squabbles, etc. don't matter in a disability pension case -- it's all done on the medical evidence.

    For these reasons, I doubt you will even be able to get a lawyer to take your case. If your current lawyer (whom you seem to have "fired," since you were clearly pro se before the Board) will appeal, give it a try. If you stop implying that your former lawyer committed malpractice (which is highly unlikely), maybe you can get back within his or her good graces, bury the hatchet and s/he'll file an appeal. After all, a successful appeal is the only way this lawyer will get paid.

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  • MY home is getting sold at shairriff sale in 2 days IN PA don't want to be homeless in winter how can I stay till its warmer?

    Home being sold at upset sale in 2 days, I don't want to be homeless in winter what can I do after its sold to stay until it gets warmer

    Thomas’s Answer

    I am in total agreement with Mr. Rubin, above: go see an attorney NOW! I add the practical advice that MAYBE the Bankruptcy Court will accept a pro se (DIY) petition without a certificate of credit counseling. They will consider it to be a deficient pleading and you will have 10-14 days to correct it. (An attorney cannot do this because we must use the computer filing system and it will automatically reject the filing.) However, it is considered filed and the automatic stay (which is what you need to stop the sale) will be in effect.

    The filing fee is pretty high about $400 (depending on schedules, chapter, etc.). If you can at all pay it, do so. Your alternative is a motion to waive the fee or, in the alternative, to collect the fee from the trustee later. This motion requires a highly comprehensive financial form, available online, that may be equal in difficultly to the bankruptcy petition -- disclosing all assets and debt, with an emphasis on liquid assets. (Generally, if you have a $1000 in a checking account, you'll probably have to pay the fee.)

    Call the Sheriff, in most states you can get postponements of at least two weeks at least once. Your bargaining power with the Sheriff is that s/he does not want to have "to undo" a sale because of a last minute bankruptcy filing and that s/he really does not want to sell your house (not a good way to get more votes on election day). Some Sheriffs will take your word for it on the phone that you are going to file. Most will definitely take an attorney's word that a petition will be filed in a few days.

    All of these considerations vary a great deal between Sheriffs and, less so, with the particular Federal District in which you have to file. That leads back to where we started -- you need an attorney knows these "ins and outs" for a particular jurisdiction and you really must have one.

    Good luck -- you are only going to need it because you waited too long. However, you probably have a decent "shot" at getting a postponement from the Sheriff -- the granting of an initial postponement may be required by law -- but you have TO ASK FOR IT!

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  • Can a buyer hold money that was promised in an "as is" sale to the seller after the estate taxes have been paid in full?

    Home was inherited in a will in which there was only one beneficiary. Home was free of any tax liens at the time of the decedent's death. The seller has paid all estate taxes and bills and owes nothing on the property. The property sold "as is"...

    Thomas’s Answer

    You are describing a perfectly normal Real Estate escrow situation. It's not that easy to make sure a dead person didn't owe any money. Make sure the escrow has been formed properly (funded with the correct amount of money). Money in escrow is subject to fiduciary duty, which is the highest duty of care known to the law. The escrow agent (usually a bank but also a lawyers) is responsible for any "missing" money.

    Escrow funds have to be in an insured bank account (FDIC or NCUA for FCUs). The insurance is limited to $250,000 by both insurers. This means if you have $1M in your custody from one person as an escrow agent, you need to use 4 different banks to be faithful to your fiduciary duty. (There are other insurance systems for professional escrow agents.) Any money made on the account belongs to you. Nowadays, the biggest issue is that the less that the less than 1% interest rates (frequently zero if it's not over $15,000 or more) cause an issue that the escrow fee is more than the interest.

    Both the buyer and the seller need "to sign off" to get the money. The person who paid the money into escrow cannot unreasonably withhold his or her consent. In many times, where the money is held until a specific event that is clear, obvious and public knowledge, the escrow agent doesn't need permission from the payor.

    Just "wait it out" -- after making sure the funds are safely in escrow. If you spend money to rush the release of funds, it probably won't change when the funds are released (maybe by 30 days sooner).

    Good Luck -- but I don't think you need it. It will happen when it happens (with apologies to Doris Day for the bad translation).

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