Thursday, October 11, 2012

Join our Journey - Our NAACP Award

When I arrived in Brooklyn, NY in August 1985, I had just completed a union strike at Barclays Bank/ Republic Bank in Trinidad & Tobago. At the Bank, the Trinidadian French Creole, the white man, through racist tactics had prevented Blacks and East Indians from entering the financial sector, because it provided the most lucrative jobs in the job market.  Additionally, business loans were not given to Blacks and East Indians as it was for the French Creole. 
As a shop steward, my union career focused on giving Blacks and East Indians equal job opportunities at the Bank: equal opportunity in promotions through a structured grading and promotion system and equal business loan opportunity for Black and East Indian businesses.  Eventually, ironically, as a Loans Officer, I later observed, discrimination by an East Indian Bank Manager against Black business people. Luckily, I shortly left the Bank for Brooklyn, NY after the Bank paid me to leave, we were both disenchanted with each other.

At Brooklyn College, I majored in Accounting as my career goal was to be a CPA. I participated in the student government, was Floor Leader of the Black and Hispanic Party, the United Students League, (USL) and was the President of the National Association of Black Accountants. I used these various positions to address issues of inequality at the campus. I advocated for justice on the campus for a Haitian student who was assaulted by the college’s baseball team, accountability for student activity fees, that is, contributions outside of tuition that was wasted by college officials, and for accountability in the Accounting & Economics Department for exams that was continuously leaked to Jewish students.  Inequality, whether in Trinidad & Tobago, or Brooklyn, NY, is inequality. 

While at Brooklyn College, Michael Griffith, a citizen of Trinidad & Tobago, was killed by a white mob, on December 20, 1986. The mob members were later prosecuted by Special Prosecutor, Charles J. Hynes, now, the District Attorney for Kings County. Yusef Hawkins, was killed by a white mob on August 23, 1989 and members of this mob were later convicted. The Rev. Al Sharpton, Civil Rights Leader and Carl W. Thomas, colleague, attorney and friend, now deceased, all motivated me to become an attorney. At Figeroux & Associates, we have worked on many civil rights cases, the most famous being Abner Louima and Bert Dewgard. The cases that did not get media attention, such as, wrongful death issues, stop and frisk issues, sexual harassment, police beatings, and many other civil rights issues, are dearest to the attorneys, paralegals, investigators, and other staff of Figeroux & Associates. 

I am honored to accept this award today, Thursday, October 11, 2012, from the NAACP- NYCHA Branch. This award means a lot a lot to me, our staff and our non-profit organizations: CARE, (Concerned Americans for Racial Equality), IJLEF (the Immigrant’s Journal Legal & Educational Fund, Inc.), NACC (the New American Chamber of Commerce), and AAICC (the African American International Chamber of Commerce). 

As a special note, AAICC, President, Randal Toure, Esq., will be making a trip to China, this month to open a gateway for minorities for EB5 business partnership opportunities. This is an initiative of NACC, under Ms. Pearl Phillip’s presidency to secure capital for Black, Caribbean and Hispanic businesses.  This is real capital that American Banks like Barclays Bank have racially refused to address for over a hundred years.  Through this project, we hope to economically empower our community, like we already empower it through our civil rights litigation. Finally, our attorneys, staff, non-profit organizations and partnerships, are led by minorities that are intelligent, that execute and most of all are thoughtful. Through our various organizations, this is how we contribute. If you have time, we invite you to be part of what we do. Volunteer with us, we execute.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


For all those who maybe confused concerning whether or not it is permissible to vote under certain criminal restrictions, please read this or share with someone who maybe in need of this very important voter information.
I have a criminal history. Am I eligible to vote?According to New York State Election Law § 5-106, individuals who are either in jail/ prison for a felony conviction OR are on parole for felony conviction cannot vote. While this means that some persons with criminal convictions are legally prohibited from voting, the majority of individuals with criminal histories can and should vote.

The following list has examples of individuals with criminal histories who are eligible to register and vote:• those convicted of a misdemeanor, not a felony;
• those currently in jail awaiting grand jury action, trial or disposition of a case, but not yet convicted;
• those convicted of a felony who do not receive a sentence of imprisonment;
• those convicted of a felony who did receive a sentence of incarceration, but who are no longer in prison and not on parole.

Can I vote in New York if I'm on probation?Yes. If you are otherwise qualified to vote, anyone who is on probation, even if convicted of a felony, may register and vote in New York.

Do I have to have a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or other documentation about my criminal history in order to register to
No. You do not need to provide any documentation about your criminal history in order to register.

What address should I put on the voter registration form if I am in jail?If you are in jail or prison awaiting grand jury action or trial, or confined after conviction for an offense other than a felony, you should register to vote in the county of your permanent address. Put your permanent home address on the registration form, not the address of the facility where you are incarcerated.

How do I vote if I'm in jail?You will vote by absentee ballot. To get an absentee ballot, you must fill out an absentee ballot application form. You can request the application form by writing to your county board of elections or you can download one from the New York State Board of Elections website ( See the instructions below for writing to the board of elections; if the information you provide them in the letter is sufficient, they may consider the letter an absentee ballot application. Upon completion, your application must be mailed or delivered to your county board of elections. Once they have received your application, your county board of elections will mail your ballot to you. To vote by absentee ballot in New York State, your ballot must be post-marked on or before Election Day and must be received by the board of elections no later than seven days after Election Day.

How do I register to vote?You need to fill out and submit a Voter Registration form. Contact the League of Women Voters of New York State - 1-866-LWVNYS1, the New York State Board of Elections - 1-800-FOR-VOTE, or  download a voter registration form in New York
State from
Thanks to Ms. James
Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242


All spouses have a duty to take care of each other, and that duty carries on even after divorce when one spouse needs financial assistance from the other, in the form of alimony payments.

Types of Alimony In New York, alimony is referred to in three different ways: as alimony, spousal support, and maintenance. Temporary maintenance is an order that one spouse must financially support the other while the divorce is being finalized. Once the divorce is finalized, the temporary maintenance stops and the judge decides whether permanent alimony is appropriate. A spouse could receive temporary maintenance but no permanent order once the divorce is finalized, or could receive no temporary maintenance during the divorce but later receive a permanent order. Judges decide whether or not to order spousal support based on individual circumstances of each case.                                                                                                                                                       

Making Alimony Decisions To decide whether spousal support is appropriate, the judge will look at the needs of the spouse asking for support and whether the other spouse has the financial ability to provide financial help. For example, if your income is lower than your spouse’s but you are able to support yourself, you may not be entitled to alimony. The court will also look at other factors when making a decision about support:
the length of the marriage
each spouse’s age and health status
each spouse’s present and future earning capacity
the need of one spouse to incur education or training expenses
whether the spouse seeking maintenance is able to become self-supporting
whether caring for children inhibited one spouse’s earning capacity
equitable distribution of marital property, and
the contributions that one spouse has made as a homemaker in order to help enhance the other spouse’s earning capacity.

The court will also look to see whether the acts of one spouse have inhibited or continue to inhibit the other spouse’s earning capacity or ability to obtain employment. The most common example of this would be domestic violence. If one spouse’s abuse of the other affected that abused spouse’s ability to maintain or to get a job, the court might consider those actions in making its order.

Duration of Alimony

Temporary maintenance orders terminate when a final judgment for divorce is entered. Even if you’ve been receiving alimony while your divorce was in process, you will only continue receiving payments if the judge makes a permanent order for it. Permanent alimony ends either on a date specified in the order, at the death of either spouse, or when the spouse receiving alimony remarries

Either of the spouses can ask the judge to modify the permanent order if there is a substantial change in circumstances. For example, if the spouse receiving support gets a better paying job, the court may reduce the payment amount or even terminate the payments.

The state of New York provides an online guideline calculator for temporary spousal support, which can be found here. The calculator only looks at each spouse’s income and does not take into consideration any of the factors listed above, so you’ll get an estimate but not necessarily the exact amount the judge would order. Alimony is tax deductible to the paying spouse and reportable as income by the receiving spouse. New York Statutes. §236: Special controlling provisions (all alimony)

click here for calculator

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242

Equitable Distribution


The law in general, and family law in particular, embodies social values. In 1980, the New York State Legislature enacted Domestic Relations Law section 236 part B, which implemented equitable distribution as the means by which judges should distribute property upon divorce. One of the bill’s supporters hailed the legislation as achieving "the adaptation of law to current social values." The new law sought to eradicate financial inequities suffered by divorcing women by distributing marital assets without regard to which spouse held title. Equitable distribution embraced the modern concept of marriage as an economic partnership and allowed wives to receive a share of the marital assets upon divorce because of their contributions as a homemaker. If you are getting divorced in New York, do you know what property you get to keep and what you have to split with your spouse? You may also have questions about who will be responsible for the marital debt.

Equitable Division
New York is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the marital property will be divided between spouses in a way that is equitable, or fair. The court decides what’s fair based on a set of factors that show what each of you contributed to the marriage and what each spouse will need to move forward after divorce. The division does not have to be equal to be considered fair.

The court will be involved in the division only if you could not work together with your spouse to resolve your property disputes. Throughout the divorce process, you will have opportunities to decide with your spouse how you want to split your property between yourselves. The court will usually accept a written separation agreement on how you want to divide your property. It is only if you cannot reach a compromise with your spouse that the court will step in and divide your property for you.

Only Marital Property Will be Divided
Before the court can divide your property, it needs to know which property belongs to the marriage, which belongs to each spouse separately, and how much there is of each. Generally, marital property is all property acquired or earned during the marriage, regardless of what the title says. Separate property is property you owned before marriage. It also includes some property you receive during marriage, like a gift, an inheritance, or personal injury award to you alone. If you exchange your separate property for new property during marriage, then that new property remains yours alone. There are circumstances, however, when an increase in the value of your separate property will be characterized as marital property.

For example, if you owned a vacation home before marriage that your spouse updated and remodeled during marriage, then the increase in that house’s value is marital property because it comes from your spouse’s efforts. On the other hand, if you bought an apartment in an up-and-coming neighborhood before marriage and it improves in value during the marriage simply because the rest of the homes in the area do the same, then that increase in value remains your separate property.

At divorce, the court divides only the marital property. It can’t award any property that was yours alone before or during marriage to your spouse. It can, however, consider all your financial resources – both your share of the marital property and your separate property – when deciding how much spousal maintenance (alimony) to award, if any.

Factors Considered in Dividing Property  The types of property commonly divided at divorce are real property like the family home, personal property like jewelry, and intangible property like income, benefits, and debts. The court treats debts the same as any other real, personal, or intangible property. Before dividing an asset or debt, the court will have to characterize it as either marital or separate and then assign ownership or responsibility for it based on a set of factors designed to give an equitable result.

These factors include the length of the marriage; each spouse's age, health, income, potential earnings or future financial circumstances; and property. The court also looks at how each spouse contributed to the acquisition of marital property and, for these purposes, the court treats a spouse’s efforts as a homemaker the same as monetary contributions. For the family home, if you have custody of your children, then you have a better chance of keeping that property, or at least the right to live there while you raise the children.

In addition to any other factor that might be relevant to the particular circumstances of your marriage, the court specifically considers what the spouses may have lost at divorce, such as an interest in an inheritance, pension rights, or health insurance. It also evaluates future losses the spouses face in terms of taxes.

Some assets aren't easy to divide between two people. Something like cash, which is very liquid, can easily be split between the spouses. But an interest in a business isn't as easy to divide. The court has the option to order a distributive award – a payment to balance out an uneven distribution of property – if it is impractical to divide a substantial asset.

Although fault in causing the marriage to fail is not part of the calculation, the court can award less of the marital property to you if you wasted marital assets. You can’t spend marital funds flying your lover to Paris, for example, without having to pay for it later. Likewise, you can’t sell, transfer, or otherwise encumber property in anticipation of your divorce. If you do, the court can penalize you for it during the division.

Is a business or professional practice subject to equitable distribution?

Yes. Businesses, professional practices, and enhanced earning capacity attributable to the attainment of a career, or professional license, educational degree, profession or license is considered "property" subject to equitable distribution. However, as noted above, interests in a business or career may be difficult to divide, or it may be undesirable to do so. In this situation, the court will typically award the actual business or practice to the spouse who is running it, awarding the other spouse property to make up the difference.

Spousal Maintenance Determined Separately   Spousal maintenance is a payment from one spouse to the other to help sustain the recipient spouse after divorce. Similar to the division of property, the court’s order for spousal maintenance must be equitable. Payments can be periodic (monthly, for example) or in a lump sum, and for a set or indefinite period of time. A spouse can request temporary maintenance payments during the divorce process, the amount of which will be based on specific income guidelines.

When the court orders the divorce and the property has been divided, the court can also make a permanent maintenance award. In New York, an award for spousal maintenance is based on many of the same factors as the division of property. Some other factors include the spouses’ level of education and earning capacity, the marital standard of living, and the needs of any children. The court also considers domestic violence during the marriage, which may have kept the battered spouse from seeking or improving employment. The court is also free to look at any factor relevant to the award of maintenance, such as a spouse’s ability to pay.

                                                                                                                                                                                  You can read the law on division of property and spousal maintenance in the New York Consolidated Statutes, Article 13 of Domestic Relations, Section 236, which is divided into parts A and B. Part A applies only to divorces filed in New York before July 19, 1980. For all later cases, use part B.

Figeroux & Associates
26 Court Street, Suite 701
Brooklyn, NY 11242

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lending Money to Family? Make it a Tax-Smart Loan

Lending money to a cash-strapped family member or friend is a noble and generous offer that just might make a difference. But before you hand over the cash, you need to plan ahead to avoid tax complications down the road.

Let's say you decide to loan $5,000 to your daughter who's been out of work for over a year and is having difficulty keeping up with the mortgage payments on her condo. While you may be tempted to charge an interest rate of zero percent, you should resist the temptation. Here's why.

When you make an interest-free loan to someone, you will be subject to "below market interest rules". IRS rules state that you need to calculate imaginary interest payments from the borrower. These imaginary interest payments are then payable to you and you will need to pay taxes on these interest payments when you file a tax return. Further, if the imaginary interest payments exceed $13,000 for the year, there may be adverse gift and estate tax consequences.

Exception: The IRS lets you ignore the rules for small loans ($10,000 or less), as long as the aggregate loan amounts to a single borrower are less than $10,000 and the borrower doesn't use the loan proceeds to buy or carry income-producing assets.

In addition, if you don't charge any interest, or charge interest that is below market rate (more on this below), then the IRS might consider your loan a gift, especially if there is no formal documentation (i.e. written agreement with payment schedule) and you go to make a nonbusiness bad debt deduction if the borrower defaults on the loan--or the IRS decides to audit you and decides your loan is really a gift.

Formal documentation generally refers to a written promissory note that includes the interest rate, a repayment schedule showing dates and amounts for all principal and interest, and security or collateral for the loan, such as a residence (see below). Make sure that all parties sign the note so that it's legally binding.

As long as you charge an interest rate that is at least equal to the applicable federal rate (AFR) approved by the Internal Revenue Service, you can avoid tax complications and unfavorable tax consequences.

AFRs for term loans, that is, loans with a defined repayment schedule, are updated monthly by the IRS and published in the IRS Bulletin. AFRs are based on the bond market, which change frequently. For term loans, use the AFR published in the same month that you make the loan. The AFR is a fixed rate for the duration of the loan.

Any interest income that you make from the term loan is included on your Form 1040. In general, the borrower, in this case your daughter cannot deduct interest paid, but there is one exception: if the loan is secured by her home, then the interest can be deducted as qualified residence interest--as long as the promissory note for the loan was secured by the residence.

If you have questions about the tax implications of loaning a family member money, don't hesitate to call us. We're here to help.

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

Figeroux & Associates - Tax Practice

The Law Offices Of Figeroux & Associates, is headed by Brian Figeroux, Esq., a member of the New York Bar, Mr. Figeroux earned his JD from Rutgers University, Newark, NJ, his M.A. in Economics and B.S. in Accounting from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College.

Mr. Figeroux is supported by an experienced legal and professional staff that helps to level the playing field when it comes to tax issues. If you are seeking a corporate or income tax attorney in New York with expertise in handling complex financial issues, then engage Brian Figeroux, Esq., the lead attorney at Figeroux & Associates in New York to defend you and your property.

Contact us to schedule a consultation with a Figeroux & Associates tax attorney today, and get tax relief now! Evening and weekend hours are available by appointment.

Our tax practice expertise focuses in three areas:
Tax planning and tax controversies, including: Audits & Tax Court, Delinquent Tax Returns, Offers in Compromise, Payment Agreements, Tax Liens & Levies, Innocent Spouse, Tax Id Assistance, Wage Garnishment, Tax Preparation Federal & All States, Income Tax Planning and assistance with IRS debt problems. If returns from years past remain unfiled back taxes accrue unpaid, or offshore accounts go unreported, we can help. We can also assist with an IRS lien before the government levies property. No one should face IRS audits or tax problems without a qualified tax lawyer in New York on their side.

Tax issues in estate planning, probate, power of attorney and guardianships. This includes creation of well-thought-out estate plans for both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, estate tax planning, probate administration and litigation, and assistance with guardianships. We can assist with the range of complex issues associated with estate planning.

Tax issues in business transactions, including what is the best type of entity to conduct business and contract review and preparation. We can assist with the range of complex issues associated with business startups, succession planning and resolving shareholder disputes.

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