February 22, 2018

FREE INCOME TAX PREPARATION

Billboard in the snow

The following is summarized from the websites of the American Association of Retired Persons: www.aarp.org/ , the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS): www.ct.gov/drs/cwp/view.asp?a=1462&q=289046 and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS): www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc101.html

People needing free help to complete their federal tax forms have a number of options available to them. They can seek assistance at an IRS office, call IRS toll free numbers for forms or questions, or bring forms to a volunteer at a site offering AARP Tax-Aide program or Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) services. All options are free to the taxpayer.

TAX ASSISTANCE BY TELEPHONE AND ONLINE

  • Refund status information can be obtained four weeks after a claim has been filed, by calling, 800-829-4477. The following information must be given to obtain refund status: social security, filing status and refund amount.
  • Tax assistance for people with hearing impairments and TTY equipment can be obtained by calling: 1-800-829-4059, 24 hours, MondayFriday, 7:00am-7:00pm. People without TTY equipment may be able to obtain access through federal or state relay services.
  • If an individual believes that they may have been the victim of identity theft, they should dial 1-800-908-4490.

 

Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s), can be found at: https://www.irs.gov/refunds/tax-season-refund-frequently-asked-questions

TAX ASSISTANCE AT DRS OFFICE

  • The DRS offers in-person income tax filing assistance at the Bridgeport, Hartford, Norwich and Waterbury offices until April 15. DRS staff help taxpayers prepare Connecticut tax return forms only. Taxpayers must go to the office by 4:00pm and bring their completed federal tax return. No appointments are taken for tax assistance at the DRS office. Taxpayers can call (860) 297-5962 or 1-800-382-9463, MondayFriday, 8:30am-4pm for assistance over the phone.

AARP TAX-AIDE PROGRAM

  • AARP Tax-Aide volunteers offer free income tax assistance for low and middle income households at Tax-Aide sites during the tax season. Assistance to people ages 60+ is given priority. Local Tax-Aide sites can be found by calling the Tax-Aide Site Locator number: (888) 227-7669, using the Site Locator at the AARP website or going to the 2-1-1 database
    Note: Some sites are by appointment only; some are walk in only.

VOLUNTEER INCOME TAX ASSISTANCE (VITA)

  • Trained volunteers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites offer free tax filing assistance from mid-January –April 18. (Dates and times vary by site) Anyone, regardless of age, can use a VITA site for assistance. VITA volunteers help taxpayers prepare basic tax return forms. The general eligibility for VITA assistance is income last year was less than $54,000. VITA sites are held at libraries, churches, senior centers and other community meeting places. Link onto the 2-1-1 website , to find a VITA site
    Note: Some sites are by appointment only; some are walk in only

FORMS TO BRING TO A TAX ASSISTANCE SITE

When visiting an IRS, DRS, Tax-Aide or VITA site, bring the following:

* Photo ID for Caller (and/or spouse, if filing jointly)
* If married filing jointly, both spouses must attend appointment
* Social security cards for every member of the family (if a card is lost, the taxpayer must contact the social security administration to replace card prior to having taxes prepared)
* W-2s and/or 1099’s from ALL jobs worked in 2016
* A check from the taxpayer’s checking account or a savings account number for direct deposit (NOTE: The taxpayer can open a bank account or cash card at the tax site for direct deposit if they do not have an existing account.)
* Interest statements from financial institutions (if applicable)
* Tuition and student loan information (if applicable)
* Documentation from daycare provider, if taxpayer paid for child care in 2015
* Any other income information or IRS notices received
* All 1095 forms
* Health Insurance Statements (including Health Insurance Exception Certificate, if received)
* Copy of last years tax return


SOURCES: 2-1-1 database; AARP website; Connecticut Department. of Revenue Services website; Internal Revenue Service website
INTERNET PAGE PREPARED BY: 211/pt
CONTENT LAST REVIEWED: December201

(Reposted from: http://uwc.211ct.org/freeincometax-assistance/)

Divorce with Agreement (“Waive 90”)

If you and your spouse have an agreement as to all issues, you may ask the court to waive the 90-day waiting period that is otherwise required for divorces.

Note: This information also applies to dissolution of civil unions performed in a foreign jurisdiction.

What are the benefits of requesting that the 90-day waiting period be waived?

  • You can obtain a divorce as soon as you wish, subject to the court’s availability, as compared to the regular process, which takes at least 3 months.
  • You can move on with your life more quickly.

REPOSTED FROM: The Connecticut Judicial Website

For more information, contact Attorney Theresa Rose DeGray at 203-713-8877.

All About the [Connecticut] Lemon Law Program

The “Lemon Law” is a nickname for Connecticut General Statute Chapter 743b, “Automotive Warranties. It establishes arbitration as an informal process for resolving disputes between consumers and automobile manufacturers. The law defines a lemon as a new motor vehicle (passenger car, combination or motorcycle) purchased or leased in Connecticut which does not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty and which, after “a reasonable number of attempts” cannot be repaired. The Lemon Law covers all new passenger, combination passenger/ commercial vehicles and motorcycles purchased or leased in Connecticut:

  • Which do not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty;
  • Which have substantial defects affecting the use, safety or value of the vehicle AND
  • The repairs must have been addressed during the eligibility period*;
  • Have manufacturer’s defects that occurred during the first two (2) years from the original owner’s delivery date or the first 24,000 miles on the odometer (whichever period ends first).
*The time period involved may be extended when repair service is unavailable due to war, strike or natural disaster.
The eligibility criteria for the Lemon Law arbitration refers to occurrences / days that must be met within the specified time frame.  However, you do not have to apply within this time period.
Items NOT covered under the law include:
  • Defects not covered under the manufacturer’s express warranty
  • Defects caused by the consumer’s abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification of the vehicle
For a car to qualify, the same problem has to be subjected to a reasonable number of repair attempts and continue to exist after these attempts at repair. The law presumes that a “reasonable number” of repair attempts is four.  However, your car may be eligible if you have less than four repair attempts for the same problem and can justify this is a reasonable number of repair attempts, and repairs have been performed within the eligibility period.  
– OR –
  
When the vehicle has been out of service for repair at the dealership for a cumulative total of thirty days or more for any number of unrelated problems. These problems must occur within the eligibility period. 
– OR – 
In the case of a safety defect which is likely to cause death or serious injury if the vehicle is driven, the defect continues to exist after two or more attempts during the first year of operation or the term of the express warranty, whichever period end first.
How to Get Started
If you believe you are eligible and wish to pursue the Department of Consumer Protection’s Arbitration Program, please print the arbitration form from this website, complete it and return it by U.S. mail to the Department as soon as possible with the required fee.
Of course, you should report the vehicle’s problems immediately to the dealer or the manufacturer.  Check your owner’s manual/warranty booklet for the address and telephone number of the zone office designated to receive your complaint. The manual will also tell you if the manufacturer requires written notification of a claim requesting a refund or replacement vehicle.  If such notification is required, you must write to the manufacturer. Please send us a copy of your letter to the manufacturer when you submit your Lemon Law application.
If you lease your vehicle, you must advise the leasing company that you are applying for Lemon Law arbitration and if they wish to be a party to the proceedings, they must notify the Department of their intent within ten (10) days of their receipt of your letter. The letter to the leasing company must be sent certified or registered mail, and a copy of the letter and postal receipt must be included with your Lemon Law application to us.
If it is determined that your case does not qualify for arbitration, the fee will be returned to you. Additionally, the manufacturer is required to pay a fee.
Once your Request for Arbitration and filing fee are received, the Department will review your application to make sure all necessary documents have been submitted. If information has been omitted, your Request for Arbitration and filing fee will be returned to you along with a list of the information or documents required to complete the submission. If all documents and information have been included, we will complete an initial review of your case to determine whether basic eligibility criteria have been met. You will be notified within five business days of the results.
If the our review indicates your case is not eligible for arbitration, your filing fee will be returned to you with an explanation as to why your case did not qualify. You may file a written appeal with the Department if you do not agree with our findings.
If our review indicates your case is eligible for arbitration, the manufacturer will be notified and asked to submit a manufacturer’s statement and filing fee. An arbitrator and an Automotive Technical Expert comprise an arbitration panel.
The arbitration panel will make the final determination as to the eligibility of your case. It is possible for a case to be deemed ineligible by the arbitration panel even though it was initially deemed eligible by the Department.
Types of hearings
When you file your Request for Arbitration, you must choose between an “oral” or “documentary” hearing. The oral arbitration process generally results in a more expeditious rendering of a decision.
Oral Hearing:  If you choose oral arbitration, you and the manufacturer’s representative will be present at the scheduled hearing. Both parties will have the opportunity to present their case before the  arbitration panel. The hearing is informal and not structured like a court of law. Typically, the consumer is heard first, followed by the manufacturer. Either party is able to ask the other questions. The arbitration panel may also have questions and may order the Automotive Technical Expert to inspect the vehicle. If possible, bring the vehicle to the hearing to avoid scheduling an inspection for a later date.
Use your “Request for Arbitration” form as a guide when preparing for an oral arbitration hearing. The form contains much of the information you will need at the hearing.
  • Bring records of everything pertaining to the dispute including all correspondence, work orders, receipts, and warranties.
  • Organize your records – Putting them in chronological order will help guide you in presenting the history of the problem.
  • Prepare an outline of the major points you wish to present to help you remember relevant information.
Be prepared to discuss the problem in its entirety.  You should:
  1. State the specific nature of the defect;
  2. Restate any conversations with dealer’s or manufacturer’s representatives;
  3. Describe any new developments which may have occurred since you submitted your “Request for Arbitration” form;
  4. Describe any repair attempts or other actions taken;
  5. State your opinion as to what action would constitute a fair resolution of the dispute;
  6. State why you feel the vehicle is a “Lemon.” For example, how has the use, safety, and/or value been substantially impaired?
  7. Prepare a list of questions to ask the manufacturer’s representative.
  8. Prepare a final summary, which should briefly review the facts you have discussed, this should include a statement regarding your opinion of a fair resolution to the dispute.
Remember, the purpose of the hearing is to allow the arbitrators to gather facts, evaluate information presented by both sides and render a fair decision. Therefore, be prepared to offer SUBSTANTIAL PROOF of each point you make especially those you feel the manufacturer may dispute.
Documentary Hearing:  If you choose documentary arbitration, you and the manufacturer’s representative will be required to submit to the Department sworn statements and other evidence you would like the panel to consider. You will receive copies of each other’s statements and have the opportunity to respond to them in writing. The arbitration panel will meet and review the statements and responses. The panel will base its decision solely on documentation and materials submitted by the parties prior to the hearing. Parties cannot present oral testimony, but may observe documentary hearings. If the panel orders a vehicle inspection, one will be scheduled at a later date and the panel will reconvene to render their decision.
Use of an Attorney
The ”Lemon Law” Program is designed to be accessible to the lay person. Most consumers coming through the program do not use an attorney; however, you are free to use one if you so choose. If your attorney will be presenting your case, you must notify the Department of Consumer Protection no later than two (2) days prior to the hearing. Also, if anyone other than the purchaser of the vehicle will be presenting the case, you must also notify the Department no later than one (1) day prior to the hearing. If someone is going to accompany you and present testimony, no prior notification is required. You also have the right to have a third party assist you in your presentation or act as a consultant or interpreter.

Nonadversarial Divorce (“Non ad”)

Nonadversarial Divorce is a simplified process by which eligible parties can obtain a divorce within 35 days without having to come to court and appear before a judge.

What are the benefits of a Nonadversarial Divorce?

  • You can obtain a divorce in days, as compared to the regular process, which takes at least 3 months
  • You don’t have to come to court
  • You can move on with your life more quickly

Are you eligible?

If you and your spouse meet the following criteria, you may be eligible:

  • We have been married 8 (eight) years or less
  • Neither of us is pregnant
  • No children were born to us or adopted by us before or during the marriage
  • Neither of us has any interest or title in any real property
  • The total value of all property owned by us is less than $35,000
  • Neither of us has a defined benefit pension plan
  • Neither of us has a pending bankruptcy
  • Neither of us is applying for or receiving Medicaid benefits
  • There is no other action for dissolution of our marriage pending
  • There are no restraining or protective orders between us

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

Nisi Period (Latin for “Cooling-Off Period”)

Divorce

Please be aware that in Connecticut, all parties must wait 90 days to obtain a divorce, unless the parties are eligible for a nonadversarial (simplified) divorce or unless the parties have an agreement on all terms of the divorce and ask the court to waive the 90-day waiting period.

Connecticut law provides individuals with options when filing for a divorce.

The following are the different types of divorce processes:

Nonadversarial (simplified or “non-ad”) divorce
This type of divorce is a simplified process by which eligible parties may obtain a divorce within days without having to appear before a judge.
Divorce with an Agreement (or “waive 90”)
If you and your spouse have an agreement as to all issues, you may ask the court to waive the 90-day waiting period that is otherwise required by law, and get divorced at almost any time you choose.
Divorce without an Agreement
It is always preferable for you and your spouse to agree on the terms of your divorce. However, if you are unable to do so, a judge will make decisions regarding alimony, custody and visitation.

(Reposted from the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

Organization of the Courts [In Connecticut]: Probate Court

In addition to the state-operated courts, Connecticut has probate courts, which have jurisdiction over the estates of deceased persons, testamentary trusts, adoptions, conservators, commitment of the mentally ill, guardians of the persons, and estates of minors.

Each Probate Court has one judge, who is elected to a four-year term by the electors of the probate district. There are 54 Probate Court districts and six Regional Children’s Probate Courts. State law requires that probate judges be attorneys, and they are paid through a statutory formula. Probate Courts are housed in municipal facilities, most often town and city halls.

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

Dispel the Myths

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Organization of the Courts [In Connecticut]: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the state’s highest court. It consists of the Chief Justice and six associate justices. In addition, justices who are eligible and who have not yet attained the age of 70 may elect to take senior status and remain as members of the court.

Supreme Court Courtroom

A panel of five justices hears and decides each case. On occasion, the Chief Justice summons the court to sit en banc as a full court of seven, instead of a panel of five, to hear particularly important cases.

The Supreme Court reviews decisions made in the Superior Court to determine if any errors of law have been committed. It also reviews selected decisions of the Appellate Court.

Generally, the Supreme Court does not hear witnesses or receive evidence. It decides each case on:

  • the record of lower court proceedings;
  • briefs, which are used by counsel to convey to the court the essential points of each party’s case; and,
  • oral argument based on the content of the briefs.

State law specifies which types of appeals may be brought directly to the Supreme Court from the Superior Court, thereby bypassing the Appellate Court. These cases include: decisions where the Superior Court has found a provision of the state constitution or a state statute invalid and convictions of capital felonies. All other appeals are brought to the Appellate Court.

The Supreme Court may transfer to itself any matter filed in the Appellate Court, and may agree to review decisions of the Appellate Court through a process called certification. Except for any matter brought under its original jurisdiction, as defined by the State Constitution, the Supreme Court may transfer any matter pending before it to the Appellate Court.

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

New Bankruptcy Form, Rules Take Effect

Individuals filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13 must use a new form that presents their payment plan in a more uniform and transparent manner, and creditors will have less time to submit a proof of claim, under new bankruptcy rules and form amendments that took effect Dec. 1.

By creating greater uniformity of where specific types of information must be entered, the new national Chapter 13 plan form will make it easier for creditors, lawyers and judges to ensure that all elements of a bankruptcy agreement reached under Chapter 13 comply with federal laws. Chapter 13, sometimes known as the wage earner’s plan, enables qualified individual filers to reschedule and make debt payments, allowing them to keep their homes and other property.

Bankruptcy courts previously had relied on local versions of Chapter 13 plans, which varied from district to district, in resolving Chapter 13 cases. They now must either use a new national Bankruptcy Form 113, or create a locally adapted form that contains key elements of the national form. In recent months, courts have been updating electronic filing systems and notifying local bankruptcy lawyers and filers of the pending changes.

The deadline for creditors to file a proof of claim was revised in an amendment to Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 3002.

The new deadline will affect bankruptcies filed under Chapter 7, in which debtors liquidate assets; Chapter 12, which enables family farmers and fishermen to restructure their finances; and Chapter 13. Previously creditors had 90 days after an initial meeting of creditors was held. Now, a proof of claim must be submitted within 70 days of the filing of a bankruptcy petition.

Federal rules amendments typically follow a three-year process, which includes multiple layers of review and extensive public comment.

In April, the Supreme Court transmitted the new rules regarding bankruptcy, as well as amendments to Appellate and Civil Rules of Procedure, and Rules of Evidence, to Congress. The new rules took effect Dec. 1 when Congress did not act to prevent their implementation.

Find a full list of the new rules and form amendments and the Current Rules of Practice and Procedure. Find additional information about the bankruptcy process.

(Re-posted from http://www.uscourts.gov/news/2017/12/01/new-bankruptcy-form-rules-take-effect)

Role of the Courts [in Connecticut]

Maintaining Order – The judicial system in Connecticut exists to uphold the laws of the state. Our courts help to maintain order in our society by:

  • determining the guilt or innocence of persons accused of breaking the law;
  • resolving disputes involving civil or personal rights;
  • interpreting constitutional provisions of laws enacted by the legislature and deciding what is to be the law of the state when none exists for certain situations. The court decision then becomes a precedent to be applied in like situations unless later overruled or modified by the Supreme Court or the General Assembly; and,
  • determining whether a law violates the Constitution of either the State of Connecticut or the United States.

Separation of Powers – Under our constitution, the courts are one of three branches of government:

  • The Legislative Branch (the Senate and House of Representatives) is responsible for creating new laws.
  • The Executive Branch (the Governor and executive branch agencies) is responsible for enforcing them.
  • The Judicial Branch (the courts) is responsible for interpreting and upholding our laws.

Relationship of Connecticut Courts to Federal Courts
In Connecticut, as throughout the United States, there are two judicial systems. One is the state system, established under the authority of the state constitution; the other is the federal system, established under the United States Constitution. Connecticut courts are courts of general jurisdiction. These courts handle most criminal matters and a variety of civil matters, including contracts, personal injury cases, dissolution of marriage and other legal controversies. In some instances, decisions of state courts may be appealed to the United States Supreme Court if a question of federal constitutional law arises.

Federal courts have jurisdiction over matters involving federal law, and over the following matters: cases brought by the United States, cases between two states or the citizens of two different states, cases between a state and a foreign state or its citizens, admiralty and maritime cases, and cases affecting ambassadors and other diplomatic personnel.

(Reposted from the Connecticut Judicial Branch Website)

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