Blogs

1 day 16 hours ago

The November 2018 New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) sales results have been released to the public. And as is our practice, provided below are Jim Shenwick’s comments about those sales results.
1. The volume of transfers rose again from October. In November, there were 154 unrestricted taxi medallion sales.
2. However, almost all those transfers were bankruptcy and foreclosure transfers!
3. 50 of the 154 sales were foreclosure sales, which means that the medallion owner defaulted on the bank loan and the banks were foreclosing to obtain possession of the medallion. We disregard these transfers in our analysis of the data, because we believe that they are outliers and not indicative of the true value of the medallion, which is a sale between a buyer and a seller under no pressure to sell (fair market value).
4. And in an unprecedented development, 93 of the sales (60%) were sales of medallions in bankruptcy proceedings.  As these sales are constrained by debtors’ and trustees’ need to liquidate distressed assets, we also disregard these transfers in our analysis.
5. The large volume of foreclosure and bankruptcy sales (approximately 93%) is in our opinion evidence of the continued weakness in the taxi medallion market.
6. The eleven regular sales for consideration ranged from a low of $140,000 (one medallion) to $175,000 (two medallions), $180,000 (seven medallions) and a high of $320,000 (one medallion).  
7.  The fact that 93% of all transfers in November 2018 were either the result of bankruptcy filings or foreclosure sales shows continued weakness in the taxi medallion market and no sign of a correction.
Please continue to read our blog to see what happens to medallion pricing in the future. Any individuals or businesses with questions about taxi medallion valuations or workouts should contact Jim Shenwick at (212) 541-6224 or via email at jshenwick@gmail.com.


2 days 10 hours ago

Every year, thousands of people get the financial start they want through bankruptcy. Despite what many people believe, bankruptcy has been vital in the economic recovery of debtors around the country for many years. However, what happens after your discharge? Can you apply for a credit card after you have finalized your bankruptcy? Our Roseville […]
The post How Long After a Bankruptcy Can I Get a Credit Card in California? appeared first on The Bankruptcy Group, P.C..


1 week 14 hours ago

IRS Tax Tip 2018-186
Don’t take the bait: Here’s how taxpayers can avoid getting caught by a phishing scam
Data thieves don’t take a break during the holidays. In fact, the IRS warns taxpayers that the agency is seeing a large increase in bogus email schemes that seek to steal money or tax data.
thiefThe most common way for cybercriminals to steal money, bank account information, passwords, credit cards and Social Security numbers is to simply ask for them. Every day, people fall victim to phishing scams or phone scams that cost them their time and their cash.
Here are a few steps taxpayers can take to protect against phishing and other email scams. When reading emails, people should:

  • Be vigilant and skeptical. Never open a link or attachment from an unknown or suspicious source. Even if the email is from a known source, the recipient should approach with caution. Cybercrooks are good at acting like trusted businesses, friends and family. This even includes the IRS and others in the tax business.
  • Double check the email address. Thieves may have compromised a friend’s email address. They might also be spoofing the address with a slight change in text. For example, using narne@example.com  instead of name@example.com.  Merely changing the “m” to an “r” and “n” can trick people.
  • Remember that the IRS doesn’t initiate spontaneous contact with taxpayers by email to ask for personal or financial information. This includes asking for information via text messages and social media channels. The IRS does not call taxpayers with aggressive threats of lawsuits or arrests.
  • Not click on hyperlinks in suspicious emails. When in doubt, users should not use hyperlinks and go directly to the source’s main web page. They should also remember that no legitimate business or organization will ask for sensitive financial information by email.
  • Use security software to protect against malware and viruses found in phishing emails. Some security software can help identity suspicious websites that are used by cybercriminals.
  • Use strong passwords to protect online accounts. Experts recommend the use of a passphrase, instead of a password, use a minimum of 10 digits, including letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when offered. Two-factor authentication means that in addition to entering a username and password, the user must enter a security code This code is usually sent as a text to the user’s mobile phone. Even if a thief manages to steal usernames and passwords, it’s unlikely the crook would also have a victim’s phone.
  • Report phishing scams. Taxpayers can forward suspicious emails to phishing@irs.gov.

More information:
Taxes. Security. Together
Publication 4524, Security Awareness for Taxpayers
Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself
Tax Security 101 series.

Share this tip on social media — #IRSTaxTip: Don’t take the bait: Here’s how taxpayers can avoid getting caught by a phishing scam. https://go.usa.gov/xPFuf

The post Thieves Steal Identity and Money – IRS warning appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.


1 week 2 days ago

More and more retirees are filing for bankruptcy due to several reasons. Disappearing benefits, rising medical costs, planning inadequately, increasing caretaker expenses, and declining income are a few of the major causes. More seniors are not only filing for bankruptcy, but they also are representing a larger percentage of filers. In 1991, only 2% of bankruptcy filers were 65 years or older. Now, more than 12% of bankruptcy filers are seniors, up 10% in less than thirty years.
The post More Retirees Are Filing for Bankruptcy appeared first on Tucson Bankruptcy Attorney.


1 week 2 days ago

When: Effective January 1st, there is new help for Chapter 7 debtors who owe money to the City of Chicago for  parking tickets and related fines.  A new Ordinance, sponsored by Mayor Emanuel provides in part that: Payment Plan: An eligible bankruptcy debtor may establish a payment plan to repay fines that were incurred within+ Read More
The post City of Chicago’s New Ordinance Regarding Parking Tickets appeared first on David M. Siegel.


1 week 3 days ago

By Matthew Flamm

The Taxi and Limousine Commission made history on Tuesday morning when its commissioners voted to set the first minimum pay-rate in the nation for app-based drivers. 
Driver groups are declaring victory on—and claiming credit for the win—while Uber, Lyft and Juno found a lot to complain about. Only the pooled-ride service Via, which already pays its drivers better than minimum wage, applauded the changes.

The rules, which will go into effect in 30 days, call for minimum gross pay of $26.51 per hour, which will boil down to $17.22 after expenses. That is the equivalent for an independent contractor of $15 per hour, including paid sick leave and payroll taxes.

Most drivers, a TLC-commissioned study found, earn about $11.90 an hour. On an annual basis, the new rules will mean a raise of more than $9,000.
Copyright © 1996-2018. All Rights Reserved.


1 week 3 days ago

By Emma G. Fitzsimmons
A taxi driver named Roy Kim recently became the eighth professional driver to die by suicide in New York over the last year.
The city’s taxi commissioner, Meera Joshi, has characterized the deaths as an epidemic. The stories have drawn attention to the economic despair in the industry and prompted the City Council to weigh new legislation to help taxi owners reduce their debt and to increase driver wages.
Each case is different and it is difficult to know why someone decides to take their life. Most of the drivers were immigrants in their 50s and 60s, some of whom had told friends and family that they were having a difficult time making a living as Uber began to dominate the ride-hailing industry.
Three of the drivers owned a taxi medallion — the aluminum plate required to drive a cab in New York that once sold for more than $1 million. It is now worth as little as $200,000.
Here’s what we know about Mr. Kim and the broader crisis:Who was Roy Kim?Mr. Kim was a 58-year-old Korean immigrant who lived in Queens. He had driven a taxi for more than four years and bought a medallion last year for about $578,000 — an occasion he celebrated by having a sushi dinner with a driver he met years ago while waiting for passengers at Kennedy International Airport.
But Mr. Kim had complained to friends this year that he could not find fares. He began working more often, eventually driving seven days a week. Still, his friends were surprised by his death.
“There’s no other reason but the financial aspect,” said Kyung Ryong Kang, a friend and fellow driver who had celebrated at dinner with him last year. “It was harder and harder to survive.”
On Nov. 5, Mr. Kim was found hanging by a belt from the doorway to his bedroom, the police said.

He had an adult son who lives in South Korea. Friends have been unable to reach Mr. Kim’s son.

A group of drivers recently held a vigil at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens to remember him. Mr. Kang said he misses seeing Mr. Kim at the airport taxi lot.
“He was a generous person and always bought coffee for us,” he said. Were the other drivers worried about their finances?Two other drivers who took their lives also owned taxi medallions: Nicanor Ochisor, who was from Romania, and Kenny Chow, who was from Burma. Both told friends they were worried about paying off their debt.In February, a black-car driver named Douglas Schifter killed himself with a shotgun in front of City Hall. He had written on Facebook that Uber had flooded the streets with vehicles and complained about having to work 100 hours a week to survive.
Drivers for Uber and other car services have also raised concerns about low wages. The other drivers who died by suicide were: Fausto Luna, an Uber driver; Abdul Saleh, a taxi driver who had leased his vehicle; Danilo Castillo, a livery driver; and Alfredo Perez, a livery driver.
“This tragedy underscores the importance of finding new ways for government, the industry and lenders to work in unity to address the financial challenges that are weighing so heavily on our licensees,” Ms. Joshi said in a statement after Mr. Kim’s death. What is the city doing to help drivers?
In August, the City Council approved a cap on Uber and other ride-hail vehicles — the first major American city to do so. The Council is considering a separate set of bills that would establish a health fund for drivers and create “driver assistance centers” to offer mental health counseling and financial advice.
Corey Johnson, the Council speaker, said the city was also looking at options to help medallion owners saddled with massive debt, from a partial bailout to a hardship fund. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a group that represents drivers, is urging the city to work with banks and philanthropic groups to write off 20 percent of taxi owners’ outstanding debt.
At the vigil for Mr. Kim, the group’s leader Bhairavi Desai had a message for taxi drivers who are struggling: The city is finally addressing the problem and things will get better soon.
“We know change is coming,” she said.
After Mr. Ochisor’s death, his family raised more than $30,000 to help pay off his medallion. An anonymous donor also contacted his son Gabriel Ochisor, wanting to help longtime drivers like his father. The donor sent him a batch of money orders, each worth $1,000, to deliver to 217 owners who bought their medallion before 1990 and still drive their taxi.
Mr. Ochisor is trying to reach all of the drivers to mail the gifts, which will be sent with a letter from the donor.
“Please know that your 3 decades (or more!) of service are appreciated and that my life has been made better by your having worked the streets,” the letter says.

© 2018 The New York Times Company.  All rights reserved.


2 weeks 2 days ago

November 2018: The Arizona Supreme Court established a committee to review the current process authorizing documents preparers to do certain work normally done by attorneys.  Administrative Order 2018-111
The following is part of a discussion by fellow attorneys who describe some very expensive mistakes created by document preparers or paralegals (the Arizona Supreme Court does not allow them to call themselves paralegals).
Document Preparers in Bankruptcy Causing Unnecessary Havoc
document preparerDocument preparers are regularly involved in filing Bankruptcies for better or worse.   There are some very able document preparers and there are some that create plenty of trouble for pro se debtors; the Self-Help Center see this all of the time.   The problem in Bankruptcy is that is hard to be merely a document preparer without giving legal advice as to vehicle reaffirmations and declaration of exempts.
I guess we would not routinely see the work of document preparers that do things well.
With that caveat, I have seen a lot of bad work. I have seen where PCs were charged $3,000-$4,000 for bad documents that were not in the client’s best interest. Many of these said documents, I would have done for $2,000 or less. 
Document Preparers preying on Hispanic and other minority communities
In my experience, this particularly pervasive in Hispanic communities where lawyers have a huge stigma, but it is the document preparers that they should be fearful of. 
Divorce work
document preparerI have routinely seen doc preparers swindle one party; they draft Consent Decrees or Rule 69 Agreements that are overly favorable for one party and that they sign without understanding. 
Recently, I have seen:

  1. a Consent Decree where the parties agreed to Father paying 300% more than the child support guidelines suggested; 
  2. Someone paid $3,000 to Respond to an uncontested divorce and was considering an additional $4,000 for the doc preparer to draft a Consent Decree – No children, no assets, no debt;
  3. And a couple was quoted $5,000 to draft mediation agreements when their combined income was well under $60,000.

Business Structures
So to throw another monkey wrench into this, what about LegalZoom?  Is this a document preparer?  I can’t tell you how many cases I’ve had to unwind or attempt to unwind after folks got their operating agreements from Legal Zoom and agreed that Delaware LLC law applied to this small AZ company.
Estate Planning:
Flyers Left on Doorsteps Lead to Cease and Desist Order of Non-Lawyer
document preparersPHOENIX – Nov. 16, 2018 – A Judgment of Default and Cease and Desist Order was issued by Pinal County Superior Court Judge against Barry L. Cox for engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in Arizona.
The order stems from a complaint filed by the State Bar of Arizona after Cox advertised estate planning services.
A flyer reading “Estate Planning Documents” was left on several San Tan Valley residents’ doorsteps listing a menu of services and identified Cox as “Barry L. Cox, Esq., Legal Document Writer.” In its complaint, the Bar asserted that offering estate planning services, identifying himself as a legal document writer, and using the “Esq.” designation for lawyers led the public to believe he was authorized to practice law in Arizona.
The State Bar found that Cox had never been authorized by the Arizona Supreme Court to engage in the practice of law in Arizona nor certified as a legal document preparer.
On Nov. 9, 2018, Barry L. Cox, and any corporate or business entity owned, controlled or operated by him, was ordered to immediately and permanently cease and desist from engaging in the unauthorized practice of law in Arizona and enjoined from using the designations “lawyer,” “attorney at law,” “counselor at law,” “law,” “law office,” “J.D.,”  “Esq.,” or equivalent words. He must also pay for costs and expenses associated with the State Bar of Arizona’s investigation.
I am sure there are good document preparers out there; I just have not seen them.

The post Document Preparers or Paralegals Ripping Off Consumers appeared first on Diane L. Drain - Phoenix Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Attorney.


2 weeks 2 days ago

Here at Shenwick & Associates, an increasing part of our law practice involves workouts of loans for borrowers with taxi medallions as collateral for the loan.   Over the past three months, we’ve noticed a trend in which the bank or secured lender repossesses the taxi medallion(s) when the loan is in default, instead of allowing the borrower to retain the medallions during workout negotiations.
Under New York law, the security agreement and other loan documents, lenders can repossess taxi medallions, which usually happens on nights or weekends when the cab is not in use.  Typically, the Marshal will crowbar the medallion off the dashboard and take the rate card.  Although the cab is not repossessed, if the cab is subject to a vehicle loan that is in default, the cab may also be repossessed.
Some borrowers have asked us why the lenders repossess the medallions without notice to the borrowers.  New York law and the loan documents signed by the borrower provide that no notice is required for the lender to exercise its remedy of repossession.  And if borrowers were noticed in advance of the repossession, lenders would run the risk of the collateral medallion(s) being hid from the lender!  Accordingly, if you own a medallion and the loan is in default, you may want to park the taxi in a garage or in a location other than on the street.
For borrowers whose medallions are in default, many workouts will ultimately end with surrender or repossession of the medallion.  In certain cases, surrender or repossession of the medallion can end litigation or other collection efforts by the lender.
Taxi medallion loan borrowers and guarantors whose medallion(s) were repossessed still run the risk of a deficiency judgment for the balance of the loan by the borrower or a judgment against the guarantor.  Some lenders may forbear from seeking a deficiency judgment once the medallion is repossessed, but borrowers need to be aware that loan documents allow for that remedy until the statute of limitations has run.  In New York, the statute of limitations for a lender to seek the deficiency balance from a borrower is six years.  In many cases when a lender obtains a deficiency judgment, we negotiate a discounted settlement by threatening bankruptcy or by having the client file for bankruptcy.
Another factor that repossessed taxi medallion owners must consider is relief of indebtedness income pursuant to § 108 of the Internal Revenue Code. Simply stated, if a taxi medallion owner owes a bank $1,000,000 and only repays the bank $500,000, then the tax law provides that they must recognize $500,000 of income on their tax return. Borrowers need to discuss this potential issue with their accountant or tax advisor during settlement negotiations.
For more information about defaulted taxi medallion loans and repossessed medallions, please contact Jim Shenwick.


2 weeks 3 days ago

Nov. 21, 2018 by Seth Kaufman On the heels of the NYC Council passing (and the mayor signing into law) a bill requiring minimum payments for ride-sharing drivers and a one-year freeze on the number of ride-sharing vehicle licenses issued, the NYC Council just passed another six new bills aimed at protecting both taxi drivers and ride-sharing drivers. The bills, approved by the Council on November 14 and expected to soon be signed into law by Mayor DeBlasio, are focused not only on drivers’ pay, but also on the financial and mental well-being of drivers in the wake of a spate of recent driver suicides and some of the more macro-economic issues facing the taxi and ride-sharing industries in NYC.

Two Bills Focused on Drivers’ Pay

Int. No. 1062-A ensures that the risk of loss for a transaction that fails on a completed ride-sharing trip is placed on the ride-sharing service. If a transaction fails for a completed trip, the ride-sharing service must ensure that the driver still receives the entire amount owed for the completed trip. A ride-sharing service that violates the law is liable for a civil penalty of between $250 and $500 for each offense.

Int. No. 1096 requires that ride-sharing services will not make automatic deductions from driver earnings to make payments for the rental, lease, or purchase of a vehicle, unless the automatic deduction is optional and has been chosen by the driver.

Two Bills Focused on Drivers’ Financial and Mental Well-Being

In the last year, eight drivers have committed suicide, with large debt incurred from being a driver cited as the reason. In order to combat this growing crisis, the NYC Council passed two bills. The first would require the Taxi and Limousine Commission to engage in financial education and outreach for drivers concerning financial arrangements relating to taxi medallions and ride-sharing services (Int. No. 1068), and the second would provide financial counseling, mental health services, and referrals to non-profit organizations that could offer additional assistance (Int. No. 1081).

Two Bills Focused on Macro-Economic Issues in the Taxi and Ride-Sharing Industry and Diversity and Inclusiveness

Int. No. 0304 would establish a task force to study the sale prices of taxicab medallions by reviewing sale prices of taxicab medallions and their impact on NYC’s budget, and, within six months, recommending to the Council and Mayor changes to laws, rules, regulations, and policies related to medallions. Finally, Int. No. 1079 would establish an Office of Inclusion within the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, which would be responsible for promoting diversity, inclusion, and cultural sensitivity in the taxi and ride-sharing industry.

What’s Next?

These six new bills, along with the new laws passed by the NYC Council in August, demonstrate that NYC is determined to increase regulation of all aspects of the taxi and ride-sharing industry, from pay to economics to discrimination. NYC has often been at the forefront of employment regulation (for example, its Earned Sick and Safe Time Act), so It is important for businesses to monitor these developments as they could serve as a roadmap for other jurisdictions to regulate the ride-sharing industry, or even for NYC to regulate other gig businesses.
 © 2018 Fisher & Phillips LLP.  All rights reserved.


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