Frequently Ask Questions

Paralegal Services

Q:What is a paralegal?

Paralegal is a person, qualified by education, training and work experience to perform certain legal work, but not fully qualified as a lawyer.

Q:What is the difference between a Paralegal and an Attorney?

In a lot of ways, the work that Attorneys do in the office is similar to the work that Paralegals do as well. Both can prepare, file, and review legal documents, and both can provide information about how the various legal systems work and what the processes are.

However, where the two diverge is in representation and in legal advice. A Paralegal cannot legally represent you and they cannot provide you with legal advice. There are a lot more technicalities of what a Paralegal can do and what they are limited to, but these are the main two differences.

Q:When would I know if I need an Attorney or a Paralegal

Again, the answer is situational; but, we can provide you with a FREE first time consultation, hear about your case, and we could let you know if our paralegal services are more than enough, or schedule you an appointment with our attorneys if that is what you need.

Q:Why hire a Paralegal and not an Attorney?

The answer is situational but simple as well. Normally, an attorney's services cost more than a Paralegal's, and in some cases, it would be easier, more time efficient, and cheaper to hire a Paralegal if all you need is document assistance, for example if all you need to do is prepare and file documents.

Some cases, such as bankruptcies, require an attorney, or sometimes in cases that an attorney is optional, such as a divorce, an attorney may be needed if the situation becomes complex or you would need to appear multiple times in court.

Income Tax

Q:How do I know if I have to file taxes?

As of January 2019, if you:

  • are Single and under 65 and made $12,000
  • are Single and are 65 or older and made $13,600
  • are Married, BOTH spouses are UNDER 65, and plan to put both your names on the same return - $24,000
  • are Married, ONE spouse is 65 OR OLDER, and plan to put both your names on the same return - $25,300
  • are Married, BOTH spouses are 65 OR OLDER, and plan to put both your names on the same return - $26,600
  • are Married but do not plan on putting both your names on the same return, regardless of age - $12,000
  • are the Head provider of your household, are divorced/separated/single, and are UNDER 65 - $18,000
  • are the Head provider of your household, are divorced/separated/single. and are OVER 65 - $19,600
  • are a Widow/Widower whose spouse has passed away less than 2 years ago, is the Head provider of someone in your household, and are UNDER 65 - $24,000
  • are a Widow/Widower whose spouse has passed away less than 2 years ago, is the Head provider of someone in your household, and are OVER 65 - $25,300

Q:If I don't have to file a return, should I still file one?

Generally, if you worked throughout the year in a job where taxes were deducted, you should still see about filing a return. Most likely, some of your earnings were witheld by the government and was used as an estimated way to pay your taxes throughout the year. At the beginning of the next year when you file taxes, your Income Tax Declaration would show that the amount you should have been taxed is less than the amount the government witheld from your earnings. You would then receive a refund for filing your taxes.

Q:What are Dependents, and can I claim one?

In short, dependents are people or a person you can claim on your tax return. These are people who essentially depend on you. You are a provider for them, a caretaker of them, or both. Dependents can qualify you for some credits and deductions that could reduce your tax. There are two types of dependents: Qualify Child and Qualifying Relative.

 

A Qualifying child is someone who is:

  • your son, daughter, brother, sister, stepchild, adopted child, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of them (such as grandchildren)
  • is 19 or younger (and younger than you), 24 or younger and in college/school (and younger than you), or permanantly and totally disabled (regardless of how much older or younger they are compared to you)
  • the person has to live at a bare minimum 6 months with you
  • the person has not provided more than half of their own support, regardless of income
  • the person cannot be married and planning to file a return with their spouse's name on it, unless they want a tax refund.

 

If the person you want to claim as a dependent does not meet these criteria, then they could still be your dependent by being a Qualifying Relative, if:

  • the person lived with you ALL year, for all people who aren't a member of your family.

              - IF THE PERSON IS A MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY (legally, by blood, or by adoption) THEY DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE WITH YOU ALL YEAR.

  • the person's income is less than $4,150.00
  • You provided more than half of their support

Q:What is a Filing Status and How Do I Know What I Am?

A filing status is a way for the government to classify your appropiate tax rate/ tax for your income or financial situation. Depending on your filing status, your tax rate, credit qualifications and amounts, the amounts to deduct your income, and other key factors can change drastically.

  • Single is the most basic filing status. If you are considered unmarried for the tax year, as of now during 2018, your status is single. You are unmarried if you were not legally married during 2018, got a final decree of divorce or legal separation before the end of 2018, or received a marriage annulment during 2018.
  • Married Filing Separately. If you were legally married during 2018, regardless of living together or not, living in a common law marriage during 2018, or are separated in a interlocutory seperation, not a legal separation or final dcree of divorce, YOU ARE CONSIDERED MARRIED. While this is always an option and it may benefit you if your spouse may owe a lot of money in taxes, a lot of the time you will have much less benefits than a maried couple who files a joint return and may be taxed more when the two of you total up your numbers.
  • Married Filing Jointly. The same marital applications apply as above. In a Joint return, both you and your spouse will be filing one return with both of your financial tax information in one form, regardless if only one spouse had income/assets or if both had income/assets.
  • Head of Household. This filing status has some of the more stricter conditions as it doesn't give all the benefits of a Married Filing Jointly status but it is definitely more beneficial than filing single. To claim Head of Household as your status, you need to

             - Be Considered Unmarried before the end of the year or Unmarried all year. If you're still married, but your spouse spent the last 6 months away from the house, you still qualify for Head of Household

             - Provide more than half of the maintenance/ support of your house/household

             - Need at least one qualifying person, either a Qualifying Child or a Qualifying Relative by legallity, blood, or adoption. Your parents can also qualify you for Head of Household, even if they didn't live with you, but you have to provide half of their support.

  • Qualifying Widow/Widower. If you were married but your spouse died during the year, then the year your spouse died would be the last year you file a Married Filing Joint return. For the next two years after the year of your spouse's death, you would be a Qualifying Widow/Widower if you have a qualifying child. Qualifying Widows/Widowers have all the same benefits and treatment as someone with a Married Filing Joint Status. After the Two years, they would then become Head of Household if they meet the criteria.