Fisher's Law Office
Welcome to the NEWSLETTER of Fisher's Law Office, providing you with
legal information you can use in your everyday life. If you have questions,
don't hesitate to call or send us an e-mail today.
1. U.S. CURRENCY
As most of our
readers know, the $100 note and the $50 notes have been replaced.
The $20 bill is next. It will have anti-counterfeiting features such
as an enlarged off center portrait of Andrew Jackson, the seventh
President of the United States. The bill will be released in the fall
look at every note they receive to verify it is not counterfeit. If
you hold a $50 or $100 bill up to light, you can see a colored thread
woven into the note. Also, when you expose a genuine $50 or $100 bill
to ultraviolet light, the thread of the new $20 bill will glow green.
The thread glows yellow in a $50 bill and red in a $100 bill when
exposed to ultra-violet light.
2. MAJOR TAX RELIEF
FOR "INNOCENT SPOUSES"
You should never
file a joint tax return with a spouse. The reason? Under the long-standing
doctrine of "joint and several liability", the Internal
Revenue Service will attempt to collect taxes from both spouses no
matter who incurred the tax.
If you think,
however, that you are eligible to be declared an "innocent spouse",
then you should fill out Form 8857. This new form allows you to claim
that you are an innocent spouse. The requirements to be an innocent
spouse under 26 U.S.C., Section 6013(e), are as follows:
A joint return
has been made for the year.
There is a substantial
understatement of tax. Substantial understatement means a 10% understatement
of tax for people making less than $20,000.00 and a 25% understatement
for persons earning more than $20,000.00 per year.
spouse must show that he or she did not know that there was understatement
It is unfair
to hold the innocent spouse liable for the tax of the guilty spouse.
3. READY TO QUESTION
YOUR TAX ASSESSMENT ON YOUR HOMESTEAD?
Here are some
interesting tax assessments contained in the Hillsborough County tax
rolls: For example, the United States of America owns a skyscraper
at 500 Zack Street where the total market value of the property is
assessed at $1,500.00. Also, Egmont Key, an island with a Folio Number
of 000001.0000 is assessed at $7,840,710.00.
YOU WILL EVER NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIENS
statute is contained in Florida Statute 713. If you do work that is
worth more than $2,500.00 on property, you are entitled to lien the
property you worked on. Assuming that you are a subcontractor, here
is a list of things to follow to lien property:
1. Within 45
days of beginning work on the property, you must file a "Notice
to Owner" that is sent to the bank, the owner, the mortgage
company and the contractor you are working for.
2. You must
then record a lien within 90 days of completing work on the property.
3. You must
foreclose on your lien within one year of filing it or it will expires
under its own terms. If you are not paid for work you do on property
and the total value of work done on the property is more than $2,500.00,
then you may want to consult with an attorney about filing a lien.
5. WITH THE NUMBER
OF BANKRUPTCIES EXPECTED TO EXCEED 1,500,000 IN 1998 AND WITH THE
AVERAGE FAMILY COMPLETELY AND HOPELESSLY IN DEBT, HERE ARE A FEW RULES
IN DEALING WITH CREDIT CARD COMPANIES:
The only person
liable on a credit card generally is the person who made an application
for the account. Others who may use your credit card are not liable
for paying the credit card debt directly to the credit card company
(these people may owe you if they improperly use your credit card
for unauthorized use of your credit card cannot exceed $50.00.
You are allowed
to cancel your credit card at any time. You should always cut the
card in half and send a letter to the credit card company saying
that you want to cancel the account. Each credit card company has
a special address to cancel an account and you should always send
the notice of the cancellation to that address. Never assume that
simply cutting your card in half means you have canceled the account
if you have also failed to give notice to the credit card company
If you miss
a minimum payment and don't make it by the payment due date on a
credit card, the credit card company has the right to cancel the
account and sue you for the full amount that you owe at once. Also,
you must pay attorneys' fees incurred by a credit card company in
The good news
is that once the credit card company obtains a judgment against
you, the judgment bears interest at the maximum rate allowed under
Florida law (currently 10%). This rate changes each year.
companies can sell your account to someone else without your permission.
A credit card
company is allowed to obtain a credit report on you at any time.
However, if you request it, the credit card company must tell you
when they have obtained credit reports on you.
If you charge
something in a foreign currency in a foreign country, your credit
card company wiransaction date and increase it by one percent.
If you notify
the credit card company immediately in writing, you have certain
rights to dispute transactions you don't agree with on your credit
card statement. In such a statement, you must tell the credit card
company in writing your name and the account number; the amount
of the error on your credit card statemente amount that is in dispute
while the credit card company investigates the erroneous charge.
Also, the credit card company cannot report you as delinquent on
any disputed amount on your credit card statement. You must give
these notices within 60 days after you receive the first bill that
contained the error.
6. RULES FOR NOTARIES
Rules for notaries
are contained in Florida Statute Chapter 117. If you are a notary,
or know a notary, tell them to follow these rules to prevent being
1. A notary
cannot notarize their own signature.
2. A notary
cannot charge more than $10.00 for any one notarial act.
3. A notary
seal should be placed on all notarized paper documents. The seal
should be a rubber stamp that says: "Notary Public-State of
4. All notaries
must specify which signature is being notarized and shall affirmatively
state on the document that the person appeared before the notary
at the time of notarization.
5. A notary
should say what form of identification they used to identify the
person whose signature they are notarizing.
6. A notary
cannot notarize a document in which they have a financial interest.
7. A notary's
employer is liable for damages caused by a notary's official misconduct.
8. If a notary
advertises in a language other than English, they must post a sign
that says that they are not an attorney and that they cannot give
legal advice. The words "Notary Public" cannot be literally
translated into any language other than English in an ad for a notary
7. NEVER LIE TO
A FEDERAL EMPLOYEE
Under the United
States Supreme Court case of Brogan v. U.S., cited at 118 S.Ct. 805(Jan.
1998), the United States Supreme Court affirmed a sentence of imprisonment
against a person who lied to a federal employee. Lying to any federal
government employee is a crime under 18 U.S.C. Section 1001. Therefore,
next time you visit Everglades National Park, be careful what you
say to a park ranger because if you lie to him, you could be sent
8. UNDER FLORIDA
LAW AND THE FLORIDA CONSTITUTION, ALL PERSONS CHARGED WITH CRIMES
IN FLORIDA HAVE THE FOLLOWING RIGHTS:
1. You are entitled
to know the nature of the charge against you.
2. They have
explained to you the difference between guilty, no contest, and
3. You have
a right to have a trial before a judge or a judge and a jury of
4. You have
a right to have an attorney or to have a free attorney if you cannot
5. The State
must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
6. You have
a right to question the Government's witnesses at a trial.
7. You are presumed
innocent until proven guilty.
8. You have
the right to remain quiet.
9. You have
the right to testify at any trial.
9. THE FLORIDA
CONSTITUTION PROVIDES NUMEROUS RIGHTS TO VICTIMS
has a special section called the Victim's Rights Act. Victims of crimes
have the following rights under the Florida Constitution:
You have the
right to be heard at all stages of a criminal proceeding against
the person who hurt you.
You have the
right to victim compensation.
You have the
right to crisis intervention services.
You have the
right to be informed about your role in the criminal justice process.
You have the
right to protection from intimidation during criminal proceedings
against the person who hurt you.
You have the
right to seek restitution against the person who hurt you in a criminal
You have the
right to prompt disposition of the case against the person who hurt
You have the
right to file a so-called "Impact Statement" with the
court describing what happened to you in the crime. In this statement
you list your medical costs, wages and other things you have lost
because of the crime.
10. HOW MUCH CAN
BE GARNISHED FROM YOUR WAGES?
Federal law is
very strict on limiting the amount that can be garnished. The federal
statute is located at 15 U.S.C. 1673 and is called "Restriction
on Garnishment." The amount that is garnishable is 25% of your
earnings for the week or 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is less.
Up to 50% of your net wages may be taken to pay child support if an
individual is supporting a child or a spouse. If an individual is
not supporting a spouse or a child, then 60% of their pay can be garnished
to satisfy a child support order.
11. ESTATE TAX
Between 1998 and
the year 2006, the estate tax exemption will be raised from $625,000.00
to $1,000,000.00. What this means is that you can die with up to $1,000,000.00
in the year 2006 and not pay any estate tax. In addition to the above,
you can give up to $10,000.00 per person per year and not have any
estate tax. You can also will or give your spouse an unlimited amount
without having to pay estate or gift tax.
12. GUNS ALERT
Under a little
known federal law, if you are the subject of a court order restraining
you from harassing or threatening a boyfriend or girlfriend or child
or spouse, then you cannot possess a gun. Doing so violates a federal
13. FAMILY LAW
child support laws have changed dramatically. If you are separated
from your spouse and have a minor child, then your spouse may be entitled
to retroactive child support.
The change in the
law is contained in Florida Statute 61.30(17). The statute states that
in an initial determination of child support, whether the case is for
paternity or for dissolution of marriage, the court has discretion to
award child support retroactive to the date when the parents did not
reside together in the same household with the child. Therefore, if
you have a child out of wedlock and do not live with the mother and
the child, you are subject to paying child support back to the date
that the separation occurred and you began to live apart. Similarly,
if you are separated from your spouse and your spouse has custody of
your minor child, beware. You will be subject to a retroactive child
support award from the date of separation onward.