I Owe Income Taxes. What Are My Options?

Monday, November 30th, 2015

From time to time, people fall behind on paytaxment of their federal income taxes owed to the IRS. Consequently, I am often asked, “What options do I have for resolving my tax liabilities owed to the IRS?” While it may be difficult to believe, the IRS is often fairly reasonable in dealing with taxpayers that owe back income taxes.

There are several options for resolving outstanding income tax liabilities. They are:

1)  Payment in Full – While this option may seem quite obvious, it should not be dismissed out of hand. Taxpayers can often get the IRS to cease all collection actions if the taxpayer can pay the IRS in full within 30 days. This option is often quite helpful when the taxpayer has adequate assets to pay the IRS in full, but needs time to sell an asset or to close a loan.

2)  Installment Agreement – When a taxpayer cannot pay his or her tax debt in full within 30 days, the taxpayer can request that he or she be allowed to pay the debt over time. The amount of the monthly payment generally depends on (i) the amount of the tax debt owed to the IRS; (ii) the amount of time remaining on the collection period; (iii) the taxpayer’s average monthly income; and (iv) the taxpayer’s allowable monthly expenses. While monthly payments are being made, interest and penalties (if applicable) will continue to accrue.

3)  Offer in Compromise – When a taxpayer lacks the financial ability to pay his or her tax liability in full and also lacks the ability to make monthly payments to the IRS, the taxpayer may consider making an offer of less than the full amount owed, in full satisfaction of the debt owed. The point to remember here is that the amount offered has to be from a source that the IRS would otherwise not be able to reach (e.g., a parent, sibling or friend).

4)  Uncollectible Status – When none of the above three options are viable, the taxpayer may request that the IRS place his or her account into “uncollectible status.” When this occurs, the IRS will temporarily agree to not seek collection of the tax debt, but will wait and see if the taxpayer’s financial circumstances improve in the future. While the taxpayer’s account is in uncollectible status, interest and penalties (if applicable) will continue to accrue.

5)  Bankruptcy – When all else fails, the taxpayer may consider filing bankruptcy, as income taxes are sometimes dischargeable in bankruptcy. For this option, the taxpayer should consult with an experienced attorney knowledgeable with both tax and bankruptcy laws, like Ronald J. Aiani, P.C.

For further help regarding your specific tax situation, call Ronald J. Aiani, P.C. at (540) 347-5295.

What is a Special Needs Trust and Do I Need One?

Friday, October 16th, 2015

wills-etcJust like a Will and General Durable Power of Attorney, a Special Needs Trust can be used to provide assets to a beneficiary long after you’re gone.

In general terms, a Special Needs Trust is a document which permits assets to be held in an account and distributed by a Trustee for the benefit of a person with special needs, specifically for things such as the beneficiary’s health, education, safety and well-being.  If you have someone in your family that is not capable of making decisions on their own because of a disability, but needs financial help living day to day, a Special Needs Trust may be one way to provide for that person without worrying about that person making poor financial choices.

The “Settlor” (i.e. the person who creates the Trust), chooses a Trustee whose job it will be to make payments to the beneficiary as needed for as long as there are assets in the Trust.  The Trustee should be trustworthy, smart, financially savvy, reliable, and willing to seek assistance when he or she needs help because the Trustee has absolute decision-making power on when to make distributions to the beneficiary and in what amounts.

One important thing to be mindful of when creating a Special Needs Trust is that because beneficiaries under a Special Needs Trust very often receive government assistance (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) the Settlor should be certain to include provisions in the Trust that do not disqualify the beneficiary from receiving all the government assistance the beneficiary would otherwise be entitled.  This is just one of the many crucial provisions to have in place when creating a Special Needs Trust.

The attorneys at Ronald J. Aiani, PC can help you navigate through this often tricky process.  Call us at (540) 347-5295 for a free estate planning consultation and to find out if a Special Needs Trust is something that could benefit someone in your family.

Someone Sued Me

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

Ronald J. Aiani, P.C., Attorneys at LawIf you receive paperwork that lists your name as a defendant in a lawsuit, chances are that someone either sued you or is thinking about suing you.  For the court to hear the case against you, the person who sued you has to follow certain rules.

One set of rules requires the lawsuit papers to be delivered to you in a certain way.  This is called service of process.  The paperwork required may include a complaint, a summons to appear in court, a warrant in debt, a warrant in detinue, or a variety of other documents depending on your specific situation.

Service of process can be done in several ways.  Commonly, a sheriff’s deputy or a private process server will personally deliver the papers to you.  The deputy or process server may come to your home or place of business and hand the documents to you.  If you are not at home, a sheriff’s deputy may post the papers to your front door.  If you think someone sued you, but you never received any paperwork, it is possible that the court does not have the power to hear the case.  However, the person suing you may be able to convince the court that you have received the paperwork as required by law.

Without properly challenging what your opponent tells the court, you risk your opponent getting a judgment against you.  It is important to understand your rights and the rules that govern lawsuits.  Taking the time to speak with an experienced attorney about your situation may reduce your anxiety and fears about the lawsuit and allow you to form a solid defense.

If you have been sued, or think you may have been sued, call (540) 347-5295 to schedule an in-person consultation with an experienced attorney at Ronald J. Aiani, P.C.

Click here to read more about Virginia’s Court System.

Can I Discharge My Tax Debt In Bankruptcy?

Thursday, February 19th, 2015


Possibly one of the most well-kept secrets of filing for bankruptcy is the ability to discharge certain tax debt.  Many people might not consider bankruptcy relief as an option if their debt is not due to credit cards or medical bills, but rather is due to taxes.

Generally speaking, if you filed your taxes on time, more than 3 years ago, and were assessed the debt more than 240 days ago, that tax debt may be eliminated through a successful bankruptcy filing.  This is where knowing your important dates is crucial to effective timing of your bankruptcy filing.  Even filing your bankruptcy petition one week prematurely can cause you to miss out on realizing all the benefits of your discharge.  Nothing is more discouraging than going through the bankruptcy process only to realize at the end of the process that your tax debt is still there waiting for you.

Don’t let not knowing the dates of your tax filings and assessments discourage you from seeking out our firm’s advice.  We can find out all the information we need in order to tell you if your tax debt is old enough for discharge through a bankruptcy filing.

Call (540) 347-5295 today to schedule your bankruptcy consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney at Ronald J. Aiani, P.C.

Click here to read more about Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

Bankruptcy FAQs

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

How long will it take to receive my discharge?
For a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, the process should take about 4-5 months
For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, the process takes anywhere from 3-5 years

How can I pay for my bankruptcy if I have no money?
Our office works with each client to accept convenient partial payments over time that we will secure in our Escrow account. Once the funds reach the necessary amount, our office will be happy to prepare and file your bankruptcy petition. Additionally, our office can begin to prepare your bankruptcy petition while you continue to make payments to our office.

Can I just “bankrupt” some things but not others?
No, the Federal Bankruptcy Code requires that all assets and all debts be listed in the filed bankruptcy petition. However, arrangements can sometimes be made with creditors to retain property securing a debt.

Do you take credit cards?
At this time, our office does not accept credit cards. We accept cash, checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders.

What is a homestead deed?
A Homestead Deed is a document that you sign and our office files with the Circuit Court in the county you live in. A Homestead Deed protects up to $5,000.00 worth of assets for each Debtor under the age of 65 and up to $10,000.00 worth of assets for each Debtor over the age of 65. Additionally, Debtors are entitled to an extra $500.00 for each dependent living with them.

Do you offer free initial consultations for bankruptcies?
Our office offers free initial consultations up to 45 minutes for all bankruptcy consultations.

Do I have to hire an attorney to file bankruptcy?
No. You can do it by yourself or hire a “bankruptcy petition preparer.” Please be advised that a bankruptcy petition preparer cannot represent you in court.

Can I file by myself without my spouse?
Yes, you can file on your own without your spouse having to file, but sometimes it is in your interest to file together.

Do I have to go to Court when I file bankruptcy?
In most cases, you will only have to attend one short meeting called the Meeting of Creditors. This meeting is not held in the courthouse and is held by the Bankruptcy Trustee, not the Bankruptcy Judge.

Is all of my debt listed on my current credit report?
No. It’s important to remember that a credit report may not always be a complete list of those creditors you owe. Our office is required to pull your credit report prior to you filing bankruptcy and because you are required to list all of your debts, we encourage you to provide our office with your own list of creditors. This list may contain creditors you believe you owe but also creditors you dispute owing but who have been contacting you anyway.

I Was Just Sued for Not Paying My Student Loans: What Happens Next?

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

If you have been sued for not paying your student loan, know first of all that you are not alone in your difficulty. With the current state of the economy, many people are saddled with student loan debt that they simply cannot afford to repay. There are several things you should consider as you approach this problem.

  1. Do not ignore the lawsuit. Ignoring a lawsuit against you is a great way to lose the case and get a judgment against you. If you ignore the lawsuit and don’t show up to court, you will likely lose.
  2. Keep track of court deadlines and court dates. By missing deadlines and not showing up on time, you may lose favor with the court and discredit yourself and your case.
  3. Gather your records. Gather all your records for your student loan account(s) to begin to lay the foundation for your defense.
  4. You may have valid defenses. The creditor may be suing the wrong person. The creditor may be suing for the wrong amount. The creditor may have sued too late. The creditor may not have enough evidence to prove its case. The list of potential defenses goes on, but the point is, you may be able to defeat all or a portion of your creditor’s claims.
  5. Stand up and defend yourself. Even with a very weak case, some creditors will sue you anyway and hope that you don’t show up to court to defend yourself. You must actively participate in the legal process to raise your defenses. Ignoring a lawsuit will not make it go away. Stand up to the creditor and defend yourself.
  6. Talk to a lawyer. Even the most straightforward lawsuits are not straightforward. If you want to defend your rights the best you can, you should consult with a lawyer who has experience defending against student loan creditors’ claims.
  7. The information contained in this article is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific facts and circumstances of each situation. Therefore, the information contained in this article cannot replace the advice of legal counsel.

If you have been sued for not paying your student loan obligations and you want to speak with a lawyer about your rights, feel free to give Ronald J. Aiani, P.C. a call at (540) 347-5295.

We will discuss your situation confidentially and explore the options to potentially defeat your creditor’s claims.

Filing Bankruptcy Does Not Have To Mean Losing Everything You Own

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

There is a general misconception that if you file bankruptcy you will lose everything you own. If you are thinking of filing bankruptcy, you are probably wondering:

  • Will they take my car?
  • Will I have to sell my house?
  • Are they going to come into my home and sell my belongings?

Our experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorneys will utilize the most current protections provided by Federal Bankruptcy Law to achieve the most favorable outcome possible for you. We can guide you through the process of filing bankruptcy properly, so as to not leave you destitute or having to start all over financially.

Bankruptcy Exemptions Protect Your Assets

Each person who files bankruptcy is entitled to take advantage of what the U.S. Congress and the Virginia Legislature have termed “exemptions.” These are both federal and state laws that protect various assets owned by someone who has filed for bankruptcy relief.

Some of the more commonly used exemptions, current at the time of this article, allow a debtor (someone who has filed bankruptcy) to keep up to:

  • $6,000 of equity in a vehicle,
  • $5,000 in value of household goods and furnishings,
  • a firearm of up to $3,000 in value,
  • up to $1,000 worth of clothing,
  • and an additional $5,000 in value for real or personal property under the Virginia Homestead Exemption.

Additional exemptions are granted to those filing bankruptcy who are at least 65 years old or to those that are disabled veterans. Strategically using all of the exemptions one is entitled to usually results in the debtor retaining more assets than what was previously believed.

Many people are reluctant to even consider filing for bankruptcy because they do not want to risk losing what they own. We encourage those who may be suffering from mounting debt or harassing creditors to take advantage of our firm’s free initial bankruptcy consultation to discuss all available options for protecting your assets and your financial future.

Call (540) 347-5295 to Request Your Free Initial Bankruptcy Consultation

We will discuss your situation confidentially and explore the next best steps to obtain debt relief so you can regain your peace of mind and get your life back on track.

Lynn Aiani is an experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney with the Law Firm of Ronald J. Aiani, PC in Warrenton, Virginia. The law firm has helped numerous individuals file bankruptcy and obtain debt relief.

Should I Use My Retirement Funds to Get Out of Debt?

Monday, January 20th, 2014

During the current economic times, it is often difficult to plan for the future when your present debt is weighing you down. Many people who meet with us regarding bankruptcy often wait too long before seeking our firm’s advice. All too often they drain their retirement funds to attempt to pay off their bills but all that is accomplished is a slight reduction in debt and new-found tax implications from the early retirement withdrawals.

In many cases one’s retirement accounts can remain intact and unreachable by creditors and the Bankruptcy Trustee throughout the entire bankruptcy process. Anyone who files bankruptcy is entitled to certain exemptions which can strategically be used to protect various assets. Because of these exemptions, you can come out of bankruptcy still owning most, if not all, of your assets — and be free and clear from all of your mounting dischargeable debt.

Further, federal law provides a separate exemption for most, if not all, retirement funds that are in qualified retirement accounts. In most instances, the retirement funds you had at the time of filing your bankruptcy case can remain in your possession throughout the bankruptcy process and into the future. Unfortunately, in many cases people seek our advice only after they have already drained those retirement accounts to try to “catch up” with their bills. What they have effectively done is used exempt assets to pay off debt that could have been discharged through a bankruptcy filing.

The goal of our office is to help you preserve as many of your assets as possible throughout your bankruptcy case so that you can start anew and feel confident moving into the future. Spending your retirement funds prior to filing bankruptcy may not be the best use of those funds. Let Ronald J. Aiani, PC advise you before you make a financial mistake that could negatively impact your future and the future of your loved ones.

Lynn E. Aiani, Esq. is an attorney in Warrenton, Virginia who specializes in bankruptcy law and assisting individuals in filing for bankruptcy. If you need debt relief, call (540) 347-5295 to schedule a consultation. We can advise you on your legal rights and help you select the best bankruptcy options for your specific situation.

Essential Estate Planning Documents to Protect Your Family’s Future:
Wills, Advance Medical Directives, Durable Power of Attorney

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Lynn and Ronald J. Aiani, Warrenton VA Bankruptcy Attorneys

Lynn and Ronald J. Aiani Estate Planning Attorneys

If you want to ensure that your family and loved ones are provided for after you are gone, you need to have three essential estate planning documents in place:

  • A Will
  • An Advance Medical Directive
  • A General Durable Power of Attorney

Why You Need a Will

Creating your Will is one of the most cost-effective ways you can ensure that your family is provided for after your death. Many people wait until right before a major surgery or a trip overseas before they realize they have not drafted their Will.

In Virginia, if a person dies without a valid will, they are said to have died intestate. Practically speaking, this means Virginia’s statutes decide who is slated to receive your estate assets (e.g. your money, your property, and all of your belongings).

If you do not want the state deciding who will receive your assets and how they will be divided among your heirs, then you should consult an experienced and trusted Virginia estate planning attorney to help you draft your Will, so that you will retain control over how your lifetime-acquired wealth is to be disbursed.

Fundamentally speaking, a Will is a document that provides instructions to your chosen Executor (the person charged with carrying out your wishes) on:

  • how and to whom you want your assets distributed after your death,
  • who is to act as guardian for your young children,
  • the particulars of your funeral and burial wishes, etc.

Whether or not you have a family and whether or not you have substantial wealth, it is your legal right to have a Will and your legal right to choose what happens to your estate after you die.

Having a Will puts you in the driver’s seat!

Advance Medical Directives and General Durable Powers of Attorney

When we counsel clients about their estate planning needs, we highly recommend executing an Advance Medical Directive as well as a General Durable Power of Attorney.

Similar to a Will, both the Advance Medical Directive as well as the General Durable Power of Attorney allow you to designate an agent who is charged with carrying out your wishes should you become incapacitated and unable to make health care decisions or financial decisions on your own. Without these documents in place, it makes it quite difficult for your loved ones to take care of you or make health and financial decisions in the event that you are unable to make decisions on your own, whether it be due to age, sickness, sudden injury, etc.

Though you cannot always plan your future, you can plan for the future. Acting now to put the correct legal documents in place will give you peace of mind and ensure you have adequately provided for your own future and the future of your family and loved ones.

Ronald J. Aiani, P.C. counsels clients throughout Warrenton and Northern Virginia on estate planning matters. Call our office at (540) 347-5295 for professional legal assistance to draft your Will, Advance Medical Directive, and General Durable Power of Attorney in order to ensure the future well-being of yourself and your loved ones.

Need to File for Bankruptcy? An Attorney’s Advice on How to Get Started

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Lynn and Ronald J. Aiani, Warrenton VA Bankruptcy Attorneys

Lynn and Ronald J. Aiani
Bankruptcy Attorneys

Ronald J. Aiani, P.C. has helped hundreds of clients throughout the Northern Virginia area file for bankruptcy and get back on solid financial footing.  If you are considering bankruptcy, call our office at (540) 347-5295 to schedule a free initial consultation.

Here at Ronald J. Aiani, P.C. we strive to counsel our clients with the most comprehensive and accurate legal advice possible. There are several documents and related information that you can bring to your initial consultation that will help our attorneys determine your best options and streamline the whole process right from the start.

1.    Pay Stubs and Income Information

Possibly one of the most fundamental pieces of the puzzle when determining your eligibility for bankruptcy is your income.  Congress has set levels of income based on where you live that serve as a threshold for determining if you qualify to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7.  Providing our attorneys with your actual pay stubs as well as income information for all other forms of income (e.g., unemployment, side-jobs, Ebay sales, regular contributions from family members, etc.) for the 6 months prior to your initial consultation will allow our attorneys to determine your gross monthly income.

2.    List of All Monthly Expenses/Budget

Even potential clients that earn more than the threshold amount determined by Congress could still qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy once reasonable monthly expenses and other debts are included.  That’s why our attorneys find it extremely beneficial for potential clients to write out a monthly budget listing, as accurately as possible, where their money is spent each month. This monthly expense budget should include expenses such as: food, utilities, rent or mortgage(s), charitable donations, medical expenses, transportation costs, alimony and child support, etc.

3.    List of All Assets and Their Values

The main goal of filing bankruptcy is to obtain a discharge of all dischargeable debt and to start fresh with a clean financial position.  In exchange for this, the Bankruptcy Trustee is granted the power to liquidate any non-exempt assets to pay your creditors a portion of what is owed to them.  The term “non-exempt” here is key.  Congress offers the bankruptcy filer many exemptions that can be taken to protect some, if not all, of the filer’s assets.  Knowing the complete list of your assets and their approximate value will allow our attorneys the opportunity to evaluate your situation and instruct you as to what assets, if any, will remain unprotected and therefore within the Trustee’s power to liquidate.  Quite often, bankruptcy filers are able to retain all of their assets through a strategic use of their available exemptions.

4.    List of All Creditors and Debts Owed

One of the requirements of a bankruptcy filer is to include a list of all creditors within your bankruptcy petition.  This list should include anyone the you owe money to, even those that you intend to pay, those that you disagree you owe money to, and even those that may have forgotten about the money you owe them.

Providing a list of all outstanding debts is also very important because each creditor must be included in the bankruptcy filing.  Failure to include a creditor could result in that debt not being discharged.  Commonly held debts include credit card debt, arrearage owed on mortgage payments, personal loans, car payments, medical debt, etc.

Coming prepared to your free initial consultation will ensure that you are provided with the most comprehensive information and legal advice from our attorneys before you even have to worry about paying.  You can leave our office confident and fully-informed and ready to make an educated decision regarding whether filing for bankruptcy is the right move for you.