John D. Teter Law Offices

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San Jose, CA 95128
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San Jose business lawyer for residential and commercial leasesWhether you are a landlord or a tenant, you will want to make sure you fully understand the terms of your lease agreement. Commercial and residential leases address a wide variety of issues that affect landlords and tenants, and if the language in a lease is not carefully drafted, this can lead to disputes that could result in financial losses or other legal issues. Before signing a lease, it is important to have an attorney review the agreement and identify any language that may need to be revised or other issues that could lead to problems in the future.

Terms to Address in a Residential or Commercial Lease

Some of the terms that should be reviewed before signing a lease include:

  • Severability - This clause states that if one or more terms in a lease are found to be invalid, this will not affect any other provisions in the lease. If this clause is not included or is not worded properly, an entire lease agreement could be found to be invalid based on a single error.
  • Use and exclusive use - A lease should detail the ways the tenant is allowed to use the property, and it may grant exclusive use to a commercial tenant, which would prevent other similar businesses from occupying the same building or another part of the property. When these terms are drafted correctly, the landlord and tenant can make sure they understand any restrictions or limitations that apply to them.
  • Improvements and alterations - A lease should specify whether a tenant can make any changes to the property while also detailing who will be responsible for paying for improvements. Wording these terms correctly will ensure that both parties fully understand their rights and requirements.
  • Renewal - The parties should understand the steps that must be taken to renew the lease at the end of its term. If the process for renewal is not clearly defined, a tenant may not be able to renew its lease, or a landlord may not be able to receive favorable terms in an agreement with a tenant.
  • Rent escalation - A lease should describe when and how the amount of rent may be increased. Unclear terms may lead to financial issues for the tenant if rent is raised unexpectedly, or the landlord may not be able to increase rent in response to higher taxes or insurance costs.
  • Force majeure - This clause will detail what will happen if either party is unable to meet their obligations due to issues that are out of their control, such as natural disasters or government orders. If these terms are not drafted properly, a landlord may not be able to collect rent from a tenant, or a tenant may face unreasonable financial obligations.

Contact Our San Jose Lease Agreement Lawyer

At John D. Teter Law Offices, we provide representation for small businesses, helping them address their legal issues. If you are a landlord who leases property to residential or commercial tenants, or if you will be leasing space where you will operate your business, we can review your lease agreements and help you draft language that will provide you with the legal protection you need. Contact our San Jose, CA business law attorney today at 408-866-1810.

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San Jose, CA tax debt relief attorneyWhen a married couple files a joint tax return, “joint and several liability” will apply to any tax debts related to that return. This means that if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) conducts a tax audit and determines that the couple owes taxes due to erroneous information on their joint tax return, the spouses will be equally liable for paying these tax debts. This can sometimes come as a surprise, especially if a couple has gotten divorced since filing the joint tax return in question. Even if a divorce decree addressed tax issues and states that one spouse will be responsible for paying joint tax debts, the IRS can still pursue repayment from both spouses. However in some cases, a person may receive innocent spouse relief if they were not responsible for the tax debts.

Innocent Spouse Relief Eligibility Requirements

Innocent spouse relief may be available in situations where individual income taxes or self-employment taxes are owed to the IRS based on incorrect information on a couple’s joint tax return. To be eligible for innocent spouse relief, a person must be able to show that errors on a tax return were solely attributable to their current or former spouse. They will need to verify that when they signed the joint tax return, they did not know or could not reasonably have known about the errors.

A person may receive innocent spouse relief based on errors on a tax return related to unreported or misreported income or claiming of improper tax deductions, credits, or property basis. For example, if a person’s ex-spouse was a business owner, and they did not report all income earned through their business in a certain year, while also claiming tax deductions for business expenses without actually paying for those expenses, a tax audit may determine that taxes are owed. If the other spouse was not involved in the business and had no knowledge of the business’s finances, they may be eligible to receive innocent spouse relief, and the other spouse will be solely responsible for paying the tax debts.

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San Jose tax compliance lawyer for cryptocurrencyThe use of virtual currencies has become more and more widespread in recent years, especially in the Silicon Valley area. Many people and businesses invest in and trade cryptocurrencies and use them to make purchases or pay employees. As financial activity in this area continues to increase, the IRS has taken note, and it is taking steps to make sure taxpayers properly report these transactions and pay applicable taxes on the income they earn and the gains of their investments. Some recent developments have shown that those who own virtual currencies will want to make sure they are meeting the requirements under the tax laws.

IRS Clarifies Reporting Requirements for Virtual Currency

Those who have begun to file their tax returns for 2020 may have noticed that a new question has been added to Form 1040 asking “At any time during 2020, did you receive, sell, send, exchange, or otherwise acquire any financial interest in any virtual currency?” This indicates that the IRS will be monitoring these transactions and taking action to collect taxes that are owed. However, taxpayers have faced some uncertainty about exactly what types of transactions need to be reported. Recently, the IRS offered some clarification by stating that those who purchased cryptocurrencies using “real” currencies do not need to answer “yes” to this question. 

For other types of transactions, virtual currencies are treated as property. When selling or exchanging cryptocurrencies, a taxpayer will need to recognize any capital gains or losses based on their basis in the cryptocurrency (the amount paid to acquire it, including fees or commissions) and the amount they received in exchange for the virtual currency. Those who receive cryptocurrency as wages or as payment for services must treat the virtual currency as income based on its fair market value at the time it was received.

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San Jose, CA tax law attorney for IRS installment agreementsCompliance with tax laws is a requirement for people and businesses in the United States, but some taxpayers may struggle to pay the taxes they owe. A person who has unpaid taxes may worry that they will be subject to collection actions by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) such as wage garnishment or tax liens. Currently, this is a major concern for those who have experienced financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of its ongoing efforts to address these issues, the IRS has given taxpayers more options for paying the taxes they owe through installment agreements.

Installment Agreements Under the Taxpayer Relief Initiative

Taxpayers with outstanding tax liabilities have the option to pay off the amount they owe over time by making regular payments to the IRS. To qualify for an installment agreement, a taxpayer will need to have filed all required tax returns and tax forms. To address the financial issues that many people have experienced due to the COVID-19 crisis, the IRS has created a Taxpayer Relief Initiative that has expanded people’s ability to use installment agreements. The changes made under this program include:

  • While installment agreements had previously been available to individual taxpayers who owed up to $50,000 in taxes, penalties, and interest, this option is now available for certain individual taxpayers who owe up to $250,000. These taxpayers may be able to set up installment agreements without the requirement to provide financial statements verifying their monthly income and without the need for the IRS to file a federal tax lien.
  • The time limit for paying off tax debts through short-term installment agreement plans has been increased from 120 days to 180 days.
  • For taxpayers who have existing installment agreements, the IRS will automatically add certain types of taxes owed in subsequent tax years to their balance rather than causing them to default on their agreement.
  • Taxpayers who use direct debit to make payments in an installment agreement can use the IRS’s Online Payment Agreement system to request changes to their agreement, such as lowering the amount of their payments or changing the payment due dates.

The Taxpayer Relief Initiative also provides several other options for those who owe taxes. In some cases, taxpayers may request that the IRS delay collection of taxes until their financial situation improves. Taxpayers may also be able to negotiate offers in compromise with the IRS to pay taxes owed, or they may qualify for penalty abatement relief if they can show reasonable cause for failure to file tax returns or failure to pay taxes.

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San Jose tax penalty notice attorneyTaxes are a reality that most U.S. citizens and residents need to deal with, and understanding the various tax laws that apply to a person or business can often be a complicated matter. If a taxpayer makes mistakes or oversights when filing tax returns or other tax documents, they could face penalties from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Being contacted by the IRS may cause taxpayers to worry that they will be subject to these types of penalties. However, not every piece of communication from the IRS will result in penalties, and taxpayers will want to understand the different types of notices that the IRS may send and their options for responding and addressing or correcting tax issues.

IRS Letters and Notices

Communications from the IRS can generally be grouped into one of the following categories:

  • Soft letters - In some cases, the IRS may identify potential issues that may affect certain taxpayers and send notice reminding the taxpayer of the actions they can take to ensure that they are in compliance with tax laws and avoid potential penalties. In some cases, the IRS may request that a taxpayer provide certain types of information or file amended tax returns. In recent years, the IRS has sent soft letters related to issues such as reporting virtual currency transactions or filing the proper forms related to foreign accounts or investments.

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