Rest assured, this is not the last post we will ever devote to unclaimed property. We are wrapping up this series with neither a bang nor a whimper, but we do have good news.
Most of us hope for a windfall, a healthy infusion of cash that comes free of obligation -- and taxes, of course. There must be an old uncle somewhere who amassed a fortune panning for gold somewhere in the Rockies, someone who has no other living blood relative. You will hear through a law firm that his pile of cash is now yours.
April 15th – or there about – is a date that many people dread. It is safe to say that most people do not get excited about filing their tax return. It is a confusing process involving complicated calculations and many different forms depending on your financial situation and the circumstances of your life.
Under federal law, homeowners who have a portion of their debt forgiven in a loan modification, foreclosure or short sale are required to pay income taxes on the amount forgiven. In some cases, struggling homeowners can end up owing tens of thousands of dollars, reducing the financial relief available to them.
There are only a few ways the government can take private property. Eminent domain, for example, allows the government -- usually the city or the state, but, really, any government body -- to take privately owned land for public use. The government still has to pay for the land, but as long as it pays a fair price and meets the "public use" requirement, it's valid. The meaning of public use, of course, is tested time and again in the courts, but if there is a public use, the taking is legal.
An acquaintance told us an interesting story. She grew up in the suburbs in a solidly middle class family. She had older and younger siblings, and she knew that her parents worked hard to make sure they were all well dressed, well fed and indulged to a point just this side of spoiled.
Law students learn how to read statutes, to be careful with conjunctions and punctuation. They learn, too, how to research legislative intent. If there are questions about how to apply a law, for example, you would go back to records of debates or written analyses, even speeches to figure out what they were thinking when they wrote the law.