Thursday, September 27, 2012


Tax planning is the process of looking at various tax options in order to determine when, whether, and how to conduct business and personal transactions to reduce or eliminate tax liability.

Many small business owners ignore tax planning. They don't even think about their taxes until it's time to meet with their accountants, but tax planning is an ongoing process and good tax advice is a valuable commodity. It is to your benefit to review your income and expenses monthly and meet with your CPA or tax advisor quarterly to analyze how you can take full advantage of the provisions, credits and deductions that are legally available to you.

Although tax avoidance planning is legal, tax evasion - the reduction of tax through deceit, subterfuge, or concealment - is not. Frequently what sets tax evasion apart from tax avoidance is the IRS's finding that there was fraudulent intent on the part of the business owner. The following are four of the areas most commonly focused on by IRS examiners as pointing to possible fraud:

Failure to report substantial amounts of income such as a shareholder's failure to report dividends or a store owner's failure to report a portion of the daily business receipts.

Claims for fictitious or improper deductions on a return such as a sales representative's substantial overstatement of travel expenses or a taxpayer's claim of a large deduction for charitable contributions when no verification exists.

Accounting irregularities such as a business's failure to keep adequate records or a discrepancy between amounts reported on a corporation's return and amounts reported on its financial statements.

Improper allocation of income to a related taxpayer who is in a lower tax bracket such as where a corporation makes distributions to the controlling shareholder's children.
Tax Planning Strategies  Countless tax planning strategies are available to small business owners. Some are aimed at the owner's individual tax situation, and some at the business itself, but regardless of how simple or how complex a tax strategy is, it will be based on structuring the strategy to accomplish one or more of these often overlapping goals:
Reducing the amount of taxable income
Lowering your tax rate
Controlling the time when the tax must be paid
Claiming any available tax credits
Controlling the effects of the Alternative Minimum Tax
Avoiding the most common tax planning mistakes
In order to plan effectively, you'll need to estimate your personal and business income for the next few years. This is necessary because many tax planning strategies will save tax dollars at one income level, but will create a larger tax bill at other income levels. You will want to avoid having the "right" tax plan made "wrong" by erroneous income projections. Once you know what your approximate income will be, you can then take the next step: estimating your tax bracket.

The effort to come up with crystal-ball estimates may be difficult and by its very nature will be inexact. On the other hand, you should already be projecting your sales revenues, income, and cash flow for general business planning purposes. The better your estimates, the better the odds that your tax planning efforts will succeed.

Maximizing Business Entertainment Expenses
Entertainment expenses are legitimate deductions that can lower your tax bill and save you money--provided you follow certain guidelines.

In order to qualify as a deduction, business must be discussed before, during, or after the meal and the surroundings must be conducive to a business discussion. For instance, a small, quiet restaurant would be an ideal location for a business dinner. A nightclub would not. Be careful of locations that include ongoing floor shows or other distracting events that inhibit business discussions. Prime distractions are theater locations, ski trips, golf courses, sports events, and hunting trips.

The IRS allows up to a 50 percent deduction on entertainment expenses, but you must keep good records and the business meal must be arranged with the purpose of conducting specific business. Don't hesitate to call us if you need assistance with recordkeeping requirements.

Important Business Automobile Deductions  If you use your car for business such as visiting clients or going to business meetings away from your regular workplace you may be able to take certain deductions for the cost of operating and maintaining your vehicle. You can deduct car expenses by taking either the standard mileage rate or using actual expenses.

The mileage reimbursement rates for 2012 is 55.5 cents a mile for business, 14 cents per charitable mile and 23 cents for moving and medical miles.

If you own two cars, another way to increase deductions is to include both cars in your deductions. This works because business miles driven is determined by business use. To figure business use, divide the business miles driven by the total miles driven. This strategy can result in significant deductions.

Whichever method you decide to use to take the deduction, always be sure to keep accurate records such as a mileage log and receipts. If you need assistance figuring out which method is best for your business, please contact us.

Increase Your Bottom Line When You Work At Home   The home office deduction is quite possibly one of the most difficult deductions ever to come around the block. Yet, there are so many tax advantages it becomes worth the navigational trouble. Here are a few common tips for home office deductions that can make tax season significantly less traumatic for those of you with a home office.

Try prominently displaying your home phone number and address on business cards, have business guests sign a guest log book when they visit your office, deduct long-distance phone charges, keep a time and work activity log, retain receipts and paid invoices. Keeping these receipts makes it so much easier to determine percentages of deductions later on in the year.

Section 179 expensing allows you to immediately deduct, rather than depreciate over time, up to $139,000, with a cap of $560,000, in 2012 worth of qualified business property that you purchase during the year. The key word is "purchase". Equipment can be new or used and includes certain software. All home office depreciable equipment meets the qualification. Also, if you purchase more than $139,000 in equipment, you can expense the first $139,000 then depreciate the rest. In addition, a "Bonus Depreciation" of 50 percent is allowed on qualified assets (new equipment only--no used equipment and no software) placed in service during 2012.

Some deductions can be taken whether or not you qualify for the home office deduction itself. If you'd like to meet with us to learn more about home office deductions, please give us a call.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242
Phone: 718-834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153


Canceled debt is normally taxable to you, but there are exceptions. One of those exceptions is available to homeowners whose mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 through 2012.

Here are 10 things you should know about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness.

1. Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence.

2. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.

3. You may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure.

4. To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence.

5. Refinanced debt proceeds used for the purpose of substantially improving your principal residence also qualify for the exclusion.

6. Proceeds of refinanced debt used for other purposes, to pay off credit card debt for example, do not qualify for the exclusion.

7. If you qualify, claim the special exclusion by filling out Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness, and attach it to your federal income tax return for the tax year in which the qualified debt was forgiven.

8. Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans does not qualify for the tax relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax relief provisions -- such as insolvency -- may be applicable.

9. If your debt is reduced or eliminated you normally will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.

10. Examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven in Box 2 as well as the value listed for your home in Box 7.

Don't hesitate to give us a call if you need more information about mortgage debt forgiveness.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242
Phone: 718-834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153


Got kids? They may have an impact on your tax situation. Here are the top 8 things to consider if you have children.

Dependents: In most cases, a child can be claimed as a dependent in the year they were born. Be sure to let us know if your family increased this year and we'll take a look at whether you can claim the child as a dependent this year.

Child Tax Credit: You may be able to take this credit on your tax return for each of your children under age 17. If you do not benefit from the full amount of the Child Tax Credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. The Additional Child Tax Credit is a refundable credit and may give you a refund even if you do not owe any tax.

Child and Dependent Care Credit: You may be able to claim this credit if you pay someone to care for your child under age 13 so that you can work or look for work. Be sure to keep track of your child care expenses so we can claim this credit accurately.

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): The EITC is a benefit for certain people who work and have earned income from wages, self-employment, or farming. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may also give you a refund.

Adoption Credit: You may be able to take a tax credit for qualifying expenses paid to adopt a child.

Coverdell Education Savings Account: This savings account is used to pay qualified expenses at an eligible educational institution. Contributions are not deductible; however, qualified distributions generally are tax-free.

Higher Education Credits: Education tax credits can help offset the costs of education. The American Opportunity and the Lifetime Learning Credit are education credits that reduce your federal income tax dollar for dollar, unlike a deduction, which reduces your taxable income.

Student Loan Interest: You may be able to deduct interest you pay on a qualified student loan. The deduction is claimed as an adjustment to income so you do not need to itemize your deductions.

As you can see, children can have an impact on your tax profile. If you're a parent, we'll go over your situation with you to make sure you're getting the credits and deductions you're entitled to.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242
Phone: 718-834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Diversity Visa Program: DV-2014 Entry Instructions

The Diversity Immigrant Visa program is a United States congressionally mandated lottery program for receiving a United States Permanent Resident Card.   It is also known as the Green Card Lottery. The lottery is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State and conducted under the terms of Section 203(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 131 of the Immigration Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-649) amended INA 203 to provide for a new class of immigrants known as "diversity immigrants" (DV immigrants). The Act makes available 55,000,permanent resident visas annually to natives of countries deemed to have low rates of immigration to the United States.
      The Immigration Act of 1990 established the Diversity Visa (DV) program, where 55,000 immigrant visas would be available in an annual lottery, starting in fiscal year1995. The lottery aims to diversify the immigrant population in the United States, by selecting applicants mostly from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States in the previous five years.
      Starting in fiscal year 1999, 5,000 of the visas from the DV program are reserved for use by the NACARA program, so the number of immigrant visas available in the lottery is reduced to 50,000.
      Online registration for the DV-2014 Program will begin on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and conclude on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4). After the entry period opens October 2, we recommend early entry, and we strongly encourage applicants not to wait until the last week of the registration period to enter DV-2014 Program Instructions The English version of the DV-2014 Program Instructions is available in PDF format for your convenience and required use. The English language version of the DV-2014 Program Instructions is the only official version. Unofficial translations in additional languages will become available below. Check back later for translations.
      Diversity Visa Program Information See the Diversity Visa Program webpage for information about:
            Important Fraud Warnings
Fraudulent websites are posing as official U.S. government sites. Some companies posing as the U.S. government have sought money in order to "complete" DV entry forms. There is no charge to download and complete the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form. To learn more, see the Department of State Warnings and the Federal Trade Commission Warning.
      The Department of State does NOT notify successful DV applicants by letter or email. Entrants can check the status of their entries, as explained below, by returning to the website at to find out if their entry was or was not selected.
         Qualifying Occupations
      Successful DV entrants must be eligible to receive a visa by qualifying based on education, work, and other requirements. The law and regulations require that every DV entrant must have at least:
A high school education or its equivalent; or Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years' training or experience.
To learn more about qualifying occupations, see the Diversity Visa Instructions Frequently Asked Questions and the List of Occupations webpage.
For free processing with the Immigrant s Journal Legal & Educational Fund, Inc.,   courtesy Figeroux & Associates, call 718-243-9431.  No legal fees, free processing.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242
Phone: 718-834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153

Why become a US Citizenship?

The Value of Citizenship                                                                                                                        The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world.  America values the contributions of immigrants who continue to enrich this country and preserve its legacy as a land of freedom and opportunity.  Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions in an individual’s life.  If you decide to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you will be showing your commitment to the United States and your loyalty to its Constitution.  In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship.

For those who fail to become a United States citizen, because they cannot speak English, cannot pass the US history test, do not want to be a US citizen, committed a crime that disqualified them from citizenship, did not file tax returns, did not satisfy the good moral character requirements or were disqualified for other reasons, they all risk the possibility of deportation.

To assist all the groups listed above, on December 19, 1998, the Immigrant’s Journal Legal & Educational Fund, Inc. (IJLEF), under the leadership of attorney Brian Figeroux was launched to assist immigrants to the United States with their citizenship applications.  Eventually, this program was called IJLEF’s Deportation Inoculation Program, because large number of deportation proceedings that was dividing immigrant families.  Recent statistics show that 50, 000 families have been separated from their fathers, because of deportation orders.

Why should I become a Citizen? There are many advantages to becoming a U.S. Citizen (as opposed to just keeping one’s green card as a permanent resident.  Here are ten reasons to become a U.S. Citizen:

Ten Reasons to become a US Citizen

Not Being Deported: Permanent Residents accused of a crime may be deported. The crime does not even have to be a “serious crime”. Permanent Residents remain under the authority of USCIS and the Immigration Courts, and are subject to potential deportation. As a U.S. Citizen, your right to remain in the U.S. cannot be taken away.
The Right to Vote and Hold Public Office, as an Elected Official.: Only U.S. Citizens can vote on their representatives to political office, on local tax issues, and other ballot measures such as should gay marriage be allowed.

Tax and Estate Reasons: Property left to a spouse is exempt from the estate tax, if the spouse is a U.S. Citizen. The tax code also allows other free transfers of property between U.S. Citizen spouses. If the spouse is not a U.S. Citizen the transfer is subject to taxation.

Guaranteed Re-entry to the United States After Traveling Abroad: After leaving the U.S. for more than 180 days Permanent Residents can lose their green card upon attempted re-entry if the Port of Entry determines that the green card has been abandoned. An  immigration attorney can obtain a re-entry permit for green card holders, which allows a Permanent Resident to travel abroad for up to two years without “abandoning” his/her U.S. residence.

Government Jobs and Benefits: Some government jobs and benefits are only available to U.S. Citizens. In fact some government agencies specifically do not protect permanent residents eligible for Citizenship who decided not to become Citizens within 6 months of eligibility.

The Right to Sponsor Family Members for a Green Card: Becoming a U.S. Citizen comes with the privilege of the ability to sponsor relatives for a green card including parents, children, spouses, and siblings. “Immediate Relatives” may obtain a green card immediately, while other categories such as siblings have a very long wait because only so many visas are issued each year per country per category.
Protecting Your Children: Permanent Resident Children under the age of 18 in their parent’s lawful legal custody automatically become Citizens.  Also, obtaining U.S. citizenship for one’s own child(ren), even if born abroad.

Grants and Scholarships: Many College Scholarships and other Federal Grants are only available to U.S. Citizens.

Performing Certain Civic Duties: Like serving on a jury, participating in the political process, etc. Serve the country when called upon.  Support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States.
U.S. passport: Many persons desire to travel abroad on a U.S. passport. When abroad you will have the full force of the U.S. Government behind you, including assistance from the U.S. embassies if needed. Many countries recognize dual citizenship.

The Eligibility Criteria
If you are interested in applying for U.S. citizenship, first make sure that all of the following apply to you:
* you have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years (with exceptions for refugees, people who get their green card through asylum, spouses of U.S. citizens, and U.S. military personnel)
* you have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the last five years
* you have lived in the district or state where you are filing your application for at least three months
* you have not spent more than a year outside the United States
* you have not made your primary home in another country
* you are at least 18 years old
* you have good moral character
* you are able to speak, read, and write in English
* you are able to pass a test covering U.S. history and government (based on questions provided by USCIS), and
* you are willing to swear that you believe in the principles of the U.S. Constitution and will be loyal to the United States.

For free assistance with your citizenship applications, call IJLEF, at 718-243-9431, and schedule an appointment or visit:

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242
Phone: 718-834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153

What To Do If You Are Arrested by Immigration

The record-setting deportation of illegal immigrants under President Barrack Obama has drawn scorn from Hispanic Americans, Caribbean Americans and members of the clergy, despite recent administration efforts to temper the policy.  According to various studies, including a new Pew Hispanic Center study.
Fifty-nine percent of Latinos said they disapprove of the president’s approach to removing illegal immigrants, more than double the number who said they approved in Pew’s nationwide survey.
Among Latino registered voters, the sentiment was nearly as strong, with 52 percent disapproving of the Obama administration’s handling of deportations.

Since 2009, the annual average number of deportations has approached 400,000, according to the Department of Homeland Security. That’s double the annual average during President George W. Bush’s first term and 30 percent higher than the average when he left office.
Meanwhile, the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States has hit a decade low because of the down economy and stepped-up enforcement efforts.

The President, in a speech in El Paso Texas, in 2012, stated that Latinos and other immigrant groups should not focus on the above statistics, but focus on the facts that he is dedicated to passing Comprehensive Immigration Reform, through proposed legislation,  granted deferred action to undocumented persons that qualify for the Dream Act, a proposal pending in Congress,  and had already instituted a policy of Prosecutorial Discretion for persons apprehended or in custody with DHS.  Unfortunately, If you are apprehended, and do not fall into these categories, be prepared

Be Prepared
If you are concerned that you, a friend, or a relative could be arrested by immigration, have the following information and documents available:
The person’s full name, aliases, date of birth, alien number, (or “A” number) if he or she has one, and information about his/her entry into the United States.
Documentation of any prior deportation orders, criminal arrests and convictions, and copies of all immigration documents filed by the person or on his/her behalf with USCIS. To find out if someone has ever been charged by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), call EOIR at (800) 898-7180. You must have the person’s “A” number available to use this automated system.
Information about factors that favor the person’s release, such as ties to the community, family and employment history.
Contact information for the person’s home consulate. Consulates may be able to provide legal assistance and support to their nationals. Unlike in criminal cases, the U.S. government will not provide a free attorney to someone detained for an immigration violation.
Power of attorney, this is a legal document authorizing an individual to act on the detainee’s behalf.
Note: Make arrangements for the care of children in the event that their guardians are detained. If a person takes medication regularly, a supply should be readily available in case of an arrest.

Locating a Person Arrested by ICE
When a person is arrested by ICE, he or she may be detained in the greater New York area or transferred by ICE to an out-of-state facility. Adult detainees currently in ICE custody or who were released for any reason within the last 60 days may be located by visiting ICE’s Online Detainee Locator System (ODLS) and entering the person’s “A” number and country of birth. You may also search for someone by name, but it must be an exact match, and you must also provide the person’s country of birth.

If the status of the detainee shows "in custody," select "current detention facility" to find where the detainee is being held. If the search result shows “not in custody,” it may mean they were released from ICE and either removed from the United States, released pending the outcome of their case, or transferred into the custody of another law enforcement or custodial agency.

If your search returns the response “detainee not found”, it may mean that the information used to search for the person was incorrect, or he/she may have been arrested by another branch of law enforcement. Note: ODLS does not contain any information about persons under 18 years of age.
If you are still unable to find the detainee after conducting your ODLS search, you may:
Contact the ICE Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in the area where you believe the person’s case was initiated. If detained or arrested in New York, call the ICE office at (212) 264-5954 or (212) 620-3411 extension 2 or 3. If you are detained or arrested in New Jersey, call (973) 645-3666 extension 0.
Contact the consulate of the person’s country of origin. Consulates are often required by international convention or treaty to be notified when one of their nationals is detained. A list of embassies may be found by visiting

Contact different county detention facilities individually. You may find a map of detention facilities on the Detention Watch Network website at Begin with the facilities closest to the arrest location. Be ready to provide EROs and county detention facilities with the detainee’s full name and “A” number.
Contacting Someone Detained by ICE
Family, friends and attorneys may call or visit immigration detainees. Call the facility to find out about visitation restrictions and hours. Note that federal detention centers conduct background and immigration status checks on all visitors. Undocumented immigrants who visit a detention center may be detained and/or subject to removal.

Requesting Release from Detention
A person detained by ICE for removal may be eligible for:
Release on bond: the detainee pays a bond amount set by ICE or an immigration judge.
Release on recognizance: the detainee is released without having to pay a bond. This is generally reserved for detainees with humanitarian reasons for release, such as someone suffering from a serious medical condition or a sole caregiver of young children.

Under some circumstances, a detainee may face mandatory detention without the right to bond. This usually happens when the person faces serious criminal convictions or was previously removed. In rare cases, this may be challenged.

The Bond Hearing
Several factors will be considered when a judge decides whether to grant bond. Evidence that demonstrates the detainee is neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk should be presented at the bond hearing. Examples of evidence may be:

Testimony and supporting letters from family members, employers, and community and religious leaders. Letters should be addressed to the immigration judge, should include the name and immigration status of the person writing the letter, and the relationship of the person to the detainee.

A sworn declaration from a “sponsor” stating that he or she will house and support the detainee. The sponsor must assure that the detainee will attend all appointments with ICE and the immigration court. The declaration must include the sponsor’s full name, address, lawful immigration status in the United States, employment status, and relationship to the detainee.

A statement by the detainee explaining past criminal conduct, including drug abuse or domestic violence, if any. It should provide background into the circumstances of any arrests or convictions and how the detainee may have changed since then. The adjudicator must be convinced that the detainee will not pose a danger to the community.

Pay stubs and letter of employment stating the current job to which the detainee will return upon release. The letter should include the name of the employer, length of employment, job title, duties, hours and salary.
Copies of U.S. birth or naturalization certificates or permanent residence cards of any close relatives, particularly parents, a spouse, or children.

Posting (Paying) the Bond
Bond must be posted (paid) in person at the detention center where the person is detained, or at the ICE Bond Office (in New York City: ICE Detention and Removal Office, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 1104. Located on Broadway between Worth and Duane Streets.)

Bond can be posted two ways:
Paid in full by certified or cashiers’ check or money order, payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” The person posting the bond must have the detainee’s “A” number, home address, date of birth and country of birth. The person posting bond must be at least 18 years old, must be either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and must have a government issued ID, such as a driver’s license, an unexpired green card, a passport with an I-551 stamp, a U.S. passport, or a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship. Note: Immigration routinely performs background checks on people who post bond. Anyone with an outstanding warrant for arrest, individuals in the United States without legal immigration status, and permanent residents with criminal convictions should talk to an immigration law expert before posting bond.
1. Paid by an authorized bail bond agent. The bond agent posts the full amount of the bond in exchange for payment of a percentage of the bond each year until the bond is returned by ICE. Generally, these agents will only provide services to detainees with strong ties to the United States. Collateral such as property, savings, or other items of value must be available to the bond agent. Check the Yellow Pages to find an authorized bail bond agent.

Getting the Bond Money Back
If the person wins the case and is allowed to remain in the United States, the individual who posted the bond applies to the bond office once the proceedings have concluded and will receive a refund in about six months.

If the person is ordered removed or if the detainee is granted voluntary departure, that individual must go to a U.S. consular office abroad and have form GS-146 verified by the consul. Once the ICE Detention and Removal Office receives the verified GS-146 from overseas, the bond is cancelled and the obligor (the person who posted the bond) receives a letter on the procedure to recover the bond money.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242
Phone: 718-834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Small Claims

Q. How much can I sue for in Small Claims Court?

A. Up to $5,000, except is Town and Village Courts where the limit is $3,000.
Q. What are the age requirements for filing a small claim?

A. You must be at least 18. A parent or guardian must file for you if you are under 18. If the person being sued is not yet 18, you must sue the parent or parents and provide first and last names.
Q. How do I file a small claim?

A. Go to the Clerks Office (New York City Civil Court, Nassau or Suffolk District Court, City Court, or Town or Village Court). The Clerk will give you forms. You will need the name and address of the person or business you are suing, the amount you are suing for, and a brief reason why you are suing.

Q. What is the filing fee?

A. The fee is $15.00 if you suing for $1,000 or less. It's $20.00 if you are suing for more than $1,000.
Q. Can I use a personal check or credit card for the filing fee?

A. In some courts. Please call the court where you want to file the small claim.
Q. What does "DBA" mean?

A. "Doing business as."
Q. What is a "claimant?"

A. A claimant is the person suing in a small claims case. The "defendant" is the person being sued.  

Q. What happens if the person or business I sue doesn't come to court?
A. You will still have to prove your case (for example, bring bills, written receipts, photographs, written estimates) and tell what happened. Then you may receive a "default" judgment.
Q. If I win my claim, how do I collect my money?

A. If the defendant doesn't pay, you will have to try to collect the money you have won. How you do this depends on how much you know about the defendant's financial situation (pay from work, bank account, motor vehicle, other assets). You may have to file "information subpoenas" (ask the Court Clerk). Or you may need the assistance of a sheriff or city marshal.
Q. How long do I have to collect my judgment?

A. Twenty years.
Q. If I don't like a Judge's or a Hearing Officer's decision, can I challenge it?

A. Yes. It's called an "appeal." There are different kinds of appeals. Please ask the Clerk. If you agreed to have your case handled by an "Arbitrator" (someone who isn't a judge), instead of by a Judge or a Hearing Officer, you are not allowed to appeal.
Q. I heard Court can be stressful and costly. Are there other ways to resolve my dispute?

A. Yes. Mediation is a free or low-cost option for many disputes. Mediation allows you to resolve your dispute outside of court, saving time and money and reducing stress. You also have more control over the outcome.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242
Phone: 718-834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153

How to Get a Copy of the Death Certificate

A death certificate is a paper that records the official date and location of a person's death.

In some cases, you might need a "certified" copy of the death certificate. A certified copy has the raised seal of the state and is good for legal purposes such as settling an estate or claiming insurance benefits.
If the person died in New York City (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island):
You can order a certified copy of the death certificate online or by mail from the
Office of Vital Records.

If the person died outside of New York City:
You can order a certified copy of the death certificate online or by mail from the
New York State Department of Health.

If the person died outside of New York State:
Contact the vital records or death records office of the state where the person died.

If the person died outside of the United States and was a U.S. Citizen:
Contact the
U.S. Department of State for a Consular Report of Death of a U.S. Citizen Abroad.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242
Phone: 718-834-0190
Fax: 718-222-3153

Housing -Landlord-Tenant

Q. What is a "notice of eviction"?

A. A notice of eviction is a written notice from a marshal or sheriff warning a tenant that he or she has to move out.

Q. What can a landlord do if the tenant has stopped paying rent?
A. If a tenant has stopped paying rent a landlord can start a nonpayment case. First, the landlord must make a rent demand. If the tenant doesn't pay, the landlord can start a case in court. Small landlords can use the free DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Form program to make a written rent demand or the papers needed to start a nonpayment case. For landlords in New York City, for landlords outside New York City.

Q. What can a landlord do if there is a person living in the premises who was invited to stay by the former tenant before the tenant moved out?

A. If there is someone living in the premises who started living there with the tenant's permission before the tenant moved out, that person is a licensee. A landlord can start a licensee holdover case. First, the landlord must serve the licensee with a notice to quit. If the licensee doesn't move out, the landlord can start a case in court. Small landlords in New York City can use the free DIY Form Program to make a written notice to quit or the papers needed to start a licensee holdover.

Q. I received eviction papers called a "Notice of Petition" and a "Petition" saying that I didn't pay my rent. What should I do?

A. In New York City, go to the Clerk's Office of the court named in the papers within 5 days of receiving them to Answer the Petition.

Q. I received eviction papers called a "Notice of Petition" and a "Petition" saying a different reason than nonpayment of rent. What should I do?
A. The landlord starts a holdover case to evict a tenant or another person (also called an occupant) in your home. A holdover case is started for a different reason than nonpayment of rent. For example, a holdover case is started because your lease expired, or you are too noisy, or the tenant gave you the apartment without telling the landlord, or you put a wall up without permission. If you got a Notice of Petition and Petition, go to court on the date listed on the papers.

Q. What happens if a tenant doesn't answer the legal papers or a landlord or tenant misses the court date?

A. If a tenant does not answer the court papers or misses a court date, the landlord could win a judgment which could make an eviction. To ask the court to stop the eviction and reopen the case you must have both a good reason for not going to court when you were supposed to, and a good reason or defense why the landlord should not win the case. You can use the free DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Form program to make the court papers you need.

Q. What should a tenant bring to court?

A. A tenants should bring all money order receipts, canceled checks, or other receipts related to rent payment. A tenant should also bring a copy of the lease and lease renewal, if any, and records, including pictures and notes about problems with the apartment. Bring receipts for materials purchased to repair the apartment, if any.
Q. What happens if I need a postponement (a later court date)?

A. Ask for an "adjournment," which is the same as a postponement. Sometimes both parties can agree to "adjourn" the case to another day and let the judge know that. When they do not agree, the person wanting the adjournment must ask the judge for one.
Q. In an eviction case, what happens if a tenant and a landlord can't agree?

A. They will have a trial. The landlord will have to prove the case. If the landlord can't prove the case, it will be thrown out; if the landlord proves the case, the landlord will get a judgment against the tenant for the eviction.
Q. What is an Order to Show Cause?
A. An Order to Show Cause is a written request to bring the case to a Judge for a reason or reasons in the Order to Show Cause papers. An Order to Show Cause must be signed by a judge and will state the date, time, and courtroom for the court hearing.

Q. What is an inspection?

A. In a case where a tenant claims that items or conditions in an apartment need repair, an inspector (who is not in the case) can be sent to the tenant's apartment to look at the claim. A tenant may request an inspection when he or she first comes to the Clerk's Office or on the first court date.

Q. What is an HP action?

A. This is a court case started by a tenant to have a landlord make repairs to an apartment. (The "H" is for "housing" and the "P" is for "part.") Usually, the cost to start an HP action is $45.00. If a tenant can't afford the filing fee, he or she can get forms from the Clerk for starting the action without paying the fee. A court can order an apartment inspection date and a date, time, and courtroom where the tenant and landlord must go.
Q. Are there different rules for Mobile Home Parks?

A. Yes! A mobile home park is a stretch of land that has three or more mobile homes on it. In a nonpayment case, a mobile home park owner or operator must give a tenant a 30 day written Rent Demand and a 30 day Warrant of Eviction. In a holdover case, a mobile home park owner or operator must give a tenant who owns his or her mobile home a 90 day Warrant of Eviction. A manufactured home park owner must also offer every manufactured home park tenant the opportunity to sign a lease, for at least one year.

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Brooklyn, NY 11242
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Glossary of Common Legal Terms

A decision by the trial jury or judge that a person is not guilty of an offense.
A legal demand for a right asserted by instituting a case in court.
To temporarily postpone or reschedule the proceedings of a case until a future time.
A judgment or decree.
A sworn or affirmed statement made in writing and signed.
(a) An appellate court’s act of upholding as correct a judgment or decision of a lower court; (b) An act of declaring something to be true under the penalty of perjury.
The act of a party to a legal action of stating what he/she intends to prove.
Ways of helping people resolve legal problems out of court. Collaborative law and mediation are types of ADR.
A pleading submitted by a defendant or respondent in response to allegations asserted by the plaintiff or petitioner.
A proceeding to have a case examined by a higher court to see if a lower court’s proceedings and decisions were made correctly.
When a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of the court.
The party appealing a judgment or decision to a higher court.
The victorious party against whom an appeal is brought.
A special proceeding brought to challenge the activities of an administrative agency.
A special proceeding under the Mental Hygiene Law to name a person as the guardian of another. Once appointed, the guardian is invested with the power and charged with the duty of taking care of the person and managing the property and rights of that person, who is considered incapable of administering his or her own affairs.
Formal proceeding where a defendant appears in court and is apprized of the allegations against him or her.
A court order directing a peace officer to arrest/seize a named person to bring her or him before the court for arraignment.
An attorney assigned by the court to represent a defendant without charge.
Cash, bond or other security deposited with the court in order to obtain the release of a defendant. The Surety, who is the party posting bail, undertakes an obligation to produce the defendant as required before the court.

An order issued by the court for the arrest of a defendant who has failed to appear in court as directed.
A written document submitted by a party to an action setting forth relevant facts and law.

The heading of a pleading or case file, indicating the parties, the court, case number and other pertinent information.
An action.
A judge’s office.
The removal of an action to another jurisdiction for legal reasons.
A group of numbers and letters used to locate a previously decided case in a law casebook. Ex. 15 N.Y. 2d 500 - Look to Volume 15 of the New York Reports Second Series, page 500.
A way to solve legal problems without going to court. Both sides have a lawyer but they agree not to go to court.
The power of a court to order a person to a correctional institution, mental hospital or juvenile reformatory.
A determination by the court that a person is legally fit and qualified to give evidence.
A plaintiff.
The initial pleading in an action formally setting forth the allegations in issue.
Opinion of a judge or justice of an appellate court which is in agreement with the decision rendered by another judge for the same or different reasons.
When a court order permits two or more sentences to be served at the same time as opposed to consecutively.
An act done with the intent to embarrass, hinder or obstruct a court from the administration of justice. Direct contempt is an act done in the presence of the court. Indirect contempt is the wilful disobedience of a court order.
A finding of guilt by plea or trial.
Claim presented by a defendant in opposition to those claims asserted by the plaintiff.
An offense which is enumerated in any law governing conduct as a misdemeanor or a felony. (Note: infractions and violations are not crimes.)
The questioning by a party or his/her attorney of another party or a witness called by another party.

A deceased person.
1) Civil case - the party being sued; (2) Criminal case - the party accused of committing the offense charged.
From the Latin for "anew"; usually used to mean a new trial.
Decision or order of the court.
When a party fails to answer or appear in the proscribed time period.
Written testimony of a witness who may not be present in court.
Where one party obtains information or facts about the action pursuant to statutory rules.
An order by the court ending an action for a specified reason. A dismissal permits a party to institute the same action again.
Law in its regular course of administration through courts of justice. Due process means that no person may be deprived of life liberty or property or of any right granted by statute, unless the matter involved shall first be adjudicated upon a trial conducted according to established rules regulating judicial proceedings, and it forbids condemnation without a hearing.

To require an individual to refrain or to perform an act.
The acts by agents of the government to induce a person to perform a criminal act for the purpose of prosecuting that individual.
The right of the state to property in the absence of anyone to inherit it.
A deed, writing or fund delivered to one person to be held until specified acts are performed or certain conditions are met.
To bar or impede
By or for one party done outside the presence of the other party.

An unlawful physical restraint of an individual.
A serious crime, punishable by a term of incarceration greater then one year.
One who is authorized to act for another concerning the subject matter of the trust.
A proceeding whereby a mortgagee (usually a bank) seeks to take title to or forces the sale of the mortgagor’s (for example, a homeowner) property in satisfaction of a debt.
An intentional misrepresentation, deceit or perversion of the truth.

A method of satisfying an outstanding debt or judgment by seizing property or credits of the debtor held by a third party.
A legal arrangement by which one person (a guardian) has the legal right and duty to care for another and his or her property.
A group of sixteen to twenty-three individuals impaneled to hear evidence to decide if probable cause exists that a crime has been committed and an indictment should be returned.
A person appointed by the court to look after the interests of an infant or an incompetent.

The name given to a variety of writs or court orders whose primary purpose is to bring a party before a court or judge to determine if that person is being unlawfully deprived of his or her liberty.
An out of court statement being offered for the truth of its contents.

A method to satisfy a judgment by levying a portion of the defendant's wages.
A sentence without a definite term. For example a sentence of "x to y years" or a sentence of "not more then x but not less than y years."
A written accusation voted by a grand jury.
A order issued by the court directing a person to do or refrain from certain action.
Direction given by the judge to the jury.
Written questions proffered by one side which must be answered in writing by the other side as part of the discovery process in an action.
When an individual dies without leaving a will.

Final decision of a court, resolving the matter in dispute.
The geographical and "type of actions" limitations of a court. For example Westchester County Family Court has jurisdiction over family matters within the limits of Westchester County.
A certain number of individuals determined by law who are sworn to inquire into certain matters of fact.
A 13, 14 or 15 year old charged with acts constituting murder in the second degree or a 14 or 15 year old charged with acts constituting certain serious offenses enumerated in the criminal code.

ÿ hÿ hK L LIEN
A claim, encumbrance, or charge on property for payment of some debt obligation or duty.
A pending suit. Jurisdiction, power or control which courts acquire over property in suit pending action and until final judgment. A notice of lis pendens is filed on public records for the purpose of warning all persons that title to certain property is in litigation, and that they may be bound by an adverse judgment.

A law enforcement official who is authorized, pursuant to a warrant of eviction, to remove one party from a premises and to turn over possession to the other party.
Where you and the other side meet with a neutral person – called a mediator – who is specially trained to help people resolve their disputes without having to go in front of a judge.
A lesser level of crime punishable by a term of incarceration of one year or less.
An invalid trial.
An oral or written request made by a party to the court for specific relief.

The failure to do something that a reasonable person guided by ordinary considerations would do, or something a reasonably prudent person would not do.
A decision by a grand jury not to return an indictment.
From the Latin meaning "no contest.

The act of taking exception to a statement or ruling in a trial.
Conduct for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment or to a fine is provided by any law, statute, or rule governing conduct.
A court order to appear as directed and present to the court such reasons why a particular decree should not be made.

The conditional release of a prisoner under supervision before the termination of the sentence of imprisonment.
The right of a party to dismiss a prospective juror without citing a reason.
The party initiating a proceeding or the party bringing an appeal to a higher court.
An individual who brings a civil action.
A criminal defendant's response to the charges, i.e. guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity.
The process by which the parties in an action present their causes of action and arguments.
Asking individual jurors whether they assent to a reported verdict.
An order of a court finding a person unable to pay the costs, fees and expenses necessary to prosecute or defend an action or appeal. Once the status is granted, the poor person is not liable for the costs or fees in the action.
Authorization for one person to act as the agent of another.
A pretrial hearing conducted by a judge to determine if an individual should be held to answer for criminal charges.
A district attorney, attorney general, their assistants or any other public official who represents the people in a criminal action.
A report filed with the court by the Department of Probation, which contains information about the defendants prior criminal history and background, as well as a summary of the instant case. The report may also contain a statement by the victim and prosecutor. This report is made to aid the judge in formulating a just sentence.
Made between persons in a particular relationship which is not subject to disclosure without the permission of the individual benefitting from the privilege (i.e., attorney-client; husband-wife; doctor-patient.)
Appearing on one’s own behalf without an attorney.
Legal services provided without cost.
The process of proving a will.
In criminal law a sentence served outside of prison under direct supervision according to a specified set of conditions.

A doubt as to the guilt of an individual that a reasonable person would have at the conclusion of a trial.
A plaintiff’s response to a defendant’s answer containing a counterclaim.
(a) The defending party in a proceeding; (b) the party against whom an appeal is taken.
A party rests when he or she has no other evidence to offer.

A court order mandating that a record be closed from public view.
An order issued by a court upon a finding of probable cause directing the search of a particular location for a particular item(s).
The protection of one’s property or person against some injury attempted by another. The law of self-defense justifies an act done in reasonable belief of immediate danger.
A formal rule of law enacted by a governmental body.
The time period in which an action must be commenced. Failure to file the action within the statute of limitations bars the action

A court order that suspends a case or some designated proceedings within it. To "stay" an order or decree means to hold it in abeyance or refrain from enforcing it.
An agreement by adversaries as to any matter pertaining to the proceedings or trial. Must be assented to by the parties and in writing.
A process by which a witness is compelled to appear and give testimony before a court.
Process by which a person is compelled to produce records or other documents.
A process issued by a local court directing a person to appear before it at a designated future time in connection with a particular proceeding.
A pretrial hearing in a criminal matter upon a motion to exclude evidence in which the judge must decide whether or not improper procedures were used to obtain evidence.

The maker of a will.
An injury or wrong against a person.
The official record of a proceeding.

ÿ hÿ hU V VACATE
To set aside a previous action.
The county or geographical area in which a case may be heard.
The examination of jurors or a witness as to their qualifications.

Issued when a judgment orders a transfer of possession of property from one party to another. Such a warrant authorizes and orders the sheriff or marshal to remove one party from the premises and to turn over possession to the other party

One who testifies as to what they have observed.
Order from a court requiring a certain act to be done.


A person who is sentenced for an offense that occurred when the person was 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 years old.