Tax bills in Hamilton County will be mailed on January 7 and are due February 1. Nonetheless, the County Auditor has sent out notices to homeowners in December as to the new valuation of properties that will appear on the January tax bills. Since the January 2021 tax bills represent the start of a new tax triennial, every property owner in Hamilton, Butler and Clermont Counties will get new valuations in those upcoming tax bills. As a result, our phones are starting to ring about help with property tax valuation reductions.

If you are thinking about challenging your property’s tax valuation, below are linked two blog entries with lots of information on the wisdom of taking such a path, and the detailed procedures for doing so. One of them has an instructional video on tax valuation reduction in Ohio.

Ohio and Kentucky property tax valuation challenges vexing in 2021

’tis the season for property tax valuation reduction (with How To video)

Contact Chris Finney (513-.943.6655) or Casey Taylor (513.943.5673) for information on how we can help get your property taxes reduced.

 

 

 

Over my years of practice, I have seen countless (and needless) debt and real estate title problems arising from divorce proceedings, some arising many years after the divorce decree goes on. In this blog entry, I address several of these.

For anyone going through a divorce, or who has already been through a divorce, I’d recommend “checking all the boxes” in this blog entry to avoid costly problems arising from a divorce. (Just because your divorce was years ago does not mean some of these problems won’t still raise their ugly head.)

  • First, on Day #1, cancel all joint credit cards and terminate all joint lines of credit. Time and time again, I have seen one spouse run up credit card charges on joint accounts, and run up lines of credit — maybe secured by a lien on the house — to the max either as the divorce is proceeding or after the divorce. Worse, they have spent it on jewelry, trips, cars, flowers and candy for the new girlfriend (classy!). On Day #1, and I mean Day #1, stop the soon-to-be ex-spouse’s access to joint credit.  Otherwise, when they go bankrupt or insolvent, you may be left holding the bag.
  • Terminate all accounts on which you are liable: The one that is most common is a cell phone account. But it might be a utility service (water, sewer, gas, electric), a joint account at a retailer, a business line of credit, etc. Close those accounts or take your name off of them. Do it in writing. Do it promptly as the divorce proceeds.
  • A common resolution of the division of the home (or other property) jointly owned by the divorcing husband and wife is that the divorce court orders one spouse to convey their 1/2 interest in such house or property to the other party. And associated with that that, the grantee then is ordered to refinance the mortgage on the house so that the grantor is released from the debt associated with the the-existing joint mortgage. That is fine as far as it goes, but countless times I have seen one or the other spouse not follow through on that. Here are some problems I have seen with this:
    • The ex-spouse who is supposed to grant the real property delays interminably and fails to do so. The grantee ex-spouse ignores the failure, sometimes for years. This is a huge mistake. Get that deed.
    • The grantee ex-spouse gets a deed, but tucks it into her dresser drawer and forgets about it. You have to record that deed immediately, otherwise intervening liens and bankruptcy of the grantor ex-spouse filings take priority! In the case I recall, the grantor spouse filed bankruptcy years later, and that 1/2 interest in the house went to the ex-spouse’s creditors rather than to the grantee. The problem was not fixable.
    • The grantee ex-wife was the signer on a line of credit for the grantor ex-husband’s business. That line of credit was secured with a lien on their marital residence that was ordered by the Court to be granted to the ex-wife. The ex-husband did in fact give the deed to the ex-wife, but ex-wife did not refinance the house as the divorce decree required (which would have almost certainly revealed the second mortgage securing the line of credit that she forgot). Thus, the second mortgage securing the line of credit was never released.  Thirteen years later, the ex-husband hit hard times financially, and ran up the line of credit — that was still secured with a mortgage against the ex-wife’s house. Ex-wife’s property is then subject to a six-figure second mortgage for the ex-husband’s post-decree debt, rather than free of that debt as it should have been. So, cancel all secured lines of credit immediately, and get a title exam on the granted house to assure title you are getting is clear.

These things are not automatically addressed by either a divorce filing or by the decree in a divorce. They have to be carefully implemented to conclusion. Everything bad that can go wrong in these steps does go wrong, time and time again. And while said ex-spouse may be on the hook for the breach of the divorce decree, that does not change the reality that the third party creditor has a right to get paid. And if the ex-spouse is flat busted, there will be no recovery from him or her. This is commonly the case.

At present Finney Law Firm does not handle most domestic matters.  But, these are some tips to form a discussion with your divorce attorney to assure all “I’s” are dotted and all “T’s” are crossed in divorce proceedings.

Please share this with a friend going through a divorce. It may save them headaches and a lot of money.

 

 

 

 

 

To appeal your taxes or not appeal your real property taxes, that is the question.

For some property investors, 2020 has been a difficult year: Many retail properties, hotels and office buildings have suffered from high vacancies, high rental defaults, and slow-to-no calls from new tenants. For these categories of income-producing properties, the enormous challenges presented by COVID-19 seem to have caused a significant reduction in property values.

Thus, it makes perfect sense to challenge those values in 2021, right?

Well, not so fast. Here are some considerations:

State of Ohio

  • Tax valuation challenges filed in Ohio in 2021 are for tax year 2020, and the “tax lien date,” the target date for valuation decisions is January 1, 2020.
  • That is, of course, months before the deleterious effects of COVID-19 impacted the USA real estate market.
  • Therefore, an Ohio property owner is likely to lose a valuation challenge brought in 2021 based primarily or solely upon a downturn starting in March of April of 2020.
  • Even worse, a property owner is entitled to bring tax valuation challenges only once in a “triennial,” the 3-year cycle which Ohio uses for Board of Revision cases.
  • Hamilton County, Clermont County, Butler County, Franklin County (Columbus) and Montgomery County (Dayton) all start new triennial cycles in tax year 2020. This means that if a property owner brings and loses a tax valuation challenge brought in calendar year 2021 in those counties, the valuation by law must stay in place through tax year 2022 (first challenged again in 2023).
  • On the other hand, if a property owner waits until first quarter of 2022 to file a challenge (for tax year 2021) in those counties, he will have a much stronger basis for valuation reduction (valuation target date is then January 1, 2021).
  • On the other hand, Warren County, Lucas County (Toledo), Stark County (Canton) and Cuyahoga County (Cleveland) (among others) are in their last year of the triennial in 2020, meaning a property owner can bring a complaint in 2021 (win or lose) and then turn around and bring a fresh challenge in 2022.

So, an Ohio property owner should carefully consider whether to bring a 2021 challenge. It could bring great rewards or lock in an articificllay high value for three years, potentially unnecessarily.

State of Kentucky

Kentucky is an entirely different matter. Challenges of value — which are started by PVA meetings the first two weeks of May — in 2021 are for tax year 2021. Thus, the full impact of COVID-19 on property values are at issue in challenges in 2021. It is much more straightforward.

Conclusion

For assistance with an Ohio or Kentucky property tax valuation matter, contact Casey Jones (513.943.5673) or Chris Finney (513.943-6655).

 

 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has spurred a second suspension of jury trials in Hamilton County, this one “until further notice.”

This applies to to both civil and criminal jury trials. As far as other proceedings (from conferences with the Judge to non-jury trials), it is “hit or miss” and each case and each Judge may have a different schedule. However, our experience is that things are proceeding, if slower than normal.

Read more on WLWT.Com here.

We are excited to announce the launch of Finney Law Firm’s new website. We have worked hard to create a modern website that is easy to navigate and fun to use. Our website is optimized to work on your laptop, desktop, tablet, and smartphone. Our new social features make it easy for you to connect with our professionals and share content on all your favorite platforms. Please take a look: www.finneylawfirm.com and let us know what you think.

Responsive Design

One of our primary goals in creating our new site was to make our content accessible to all our clients and visitors. Our new website employs what is called a “responsive design” that dynamically resizes to fit your browser. This means that no matter what device you are using right now, our website will change to give you a great viewing experience.

Clean, Modern Design

We are committed to keeping you up to date on the latest legal and business issues. To reinforce this commitment, our new website delivers rich content in a clean and organized way. We have changed the organizational structure of our Blog and have narrowed down our categories for easier searching. Our website infrastructure has been developed to make this content easily accessible and fast to load.

Partnership with Holland Adhaus

We are thrilled to have found an agency that shares our values and integrity. Their honest and open communication every step of the way has helped us to enhance Finney Law Firm’s presence in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Holland provides a comprehensive suite of marketing services for small businesses and large companies alike. Please visit www.hollandadhaus.com for more information.

Thank you for your continued support of Finney Law Firm. We look forward to servicing all of your legal needs and in particular, please check out our new Practice Area, Small Business Solutions Group, at this link: https://finneylawfirm.com/practice-areas/small-business-solutions-group/

Tonight, the Centers for Disease Control issued this proposed Order  that will prohibit most residential evictions nationwide. The Order is scheduled to take effect on September 4, 2020, this Friday, and last through the end of the year. 

Previous rulings by the federal government limiting evictions were limited to projects financed with special HUD loans, which were few and very large projects. In contrast, this ruling applies to almost all residential tenants in all States and US Territories (except American Samoa) with the following exceptions:

  1. Engaging in criminal activity while on the premises;
  2. Threatening the health or safety of other residents;
  3. Damaging or posing an immediate and significant risk of damage to property;
  4. Violating any applicable building code, health ordinance, or similar regulation relating to health and safety; or
  5. Violating any other contractual obligation, other than the timely payment of rent or similar housing-related payment (including non-payment or late payment of fees, penalties, or interest).

The Order also will not apply to residents who earn more than $99,000 individually or $198,000 if filing jointly.

In order to qualify for the protection, the resident must sign a CDC-prescribed form that says:

  • The individual has used best efforts to obtain government assistance for the payment of rent.
  • The individual falls below the above-income thresholds.
  • The individual can’t pay rent due to loss of income or medical expenses.
  • The individual is using best efforts to pay the rent or as much of it as he can.
  • Eviction would render the individual homeless.

The Finney Law Firm sees this as a significant shift in the balance between landlords and tenants in fulfilling leasehold obligations through year’s end. It will cause economic hardship for many landlords, and could force many projects into default.

Contact Chris Finney (513-943-6655) for more details and to learn how we can help.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen E. Imm – recognized since 2010 in Commercial Litigation, since 2011 in Litigation and 2012 for Employment Law

Kevin J. Hopper – recognized since 2009 in Environmental Law and Water Law

About The Best Lawyers in America©

Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Our methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.

Best Lawyers employs a sophisticated, conscientious, rational, and transparent survey process designed to elicit meaningful and substantive evaluations of the quality of legal services. Our belief has always been that the quality of a peer review survey is directly related to the quality of the voters.

ABOUT FINNEY LAW FIRM

In 2014, led by Christopher P. Finney, seven bright, hard-working attorneys and a dedicated and talented staff, came together to form Finney Law Firm. Our team is committed to a unique practice of law that makes a positive difference for our clients by focusing on defining and then arriving at the best outcome for them. Finney Law Firm’s practice has extensive experience in the broad range of legal services that individuals and businesses may need:

  • Business formation and development
  • Residential and Commercial Real estate
  • Estate planning and administration
  • Commercial dispute resolution
  • Public interest law
  • Labor and employment law
  • Small Business Solutions Group
  • Bankruptcy
  • Personal Injury and Wrongful Death
  • Water Law
  • Affiliated Title Company – Ivy Pointe Title, LLC

We work relentlessly to add value for our clients by applying cutting edge legal strategies and utilizing highly productive technology. This approach allows us to keep pace with the changing demands of our clients’ own challenging personal and business environments. ~ Christopher P. Finney

Visit us at finneylawfirm.com

Last week, the Small Business Administration agreed to disclose the business names and locations, number of employees and loan amounts for all Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans in excess of $150,000. The Administration released the information this morning at 10 a.m. CT. As a result, the loan for your small business may become public as part of the disclosure.

Even though your bank may treat loan information as confidential, in this case, the disclosure of information is directly from the SBA as part of the Freedom of Information Act outlined in the PPP instructions. For more information, please refer to the U.S. Department of the Treasury website.

If you need assistance with obtaining or forgiveness of a PPP loan, please contact Rebecca Simpson Heimlich (513.797.2856).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attorney Susan Browning

In Part One of our Bankruptcy Basics series, we discussed Ohio Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, which can be read at this link. In Part Two of our series, we discuss Ohio Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.

The previous blog provided information regarding chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, chapter 7 is not necessarily the right choice in every case. What do you do when you do not qualify for chapter 7 or you might lose an unprotected asset in chapter 7?

What is chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 is a payback of your debt over a period of time. The debtor submits a chapter 13 plan to pay creditors a percentage of their debt. A chapter 13 debtor must have regular income in order to make monthly payments to the trustee. The trustee then distributes the funds to the creditors as directed in the plan. There are three main reasons for filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy.

First, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed for debtors who make enough money to pay back a percentage of their debt. If your income exceeds the median income for your household size and your reasonable and necessary expenses do not offset that income, the court determines that the amount remaining, “disposable monthly income”, can be used to repay your creditors a percentage of your debt. This percentage can vary from 1% to 100% depending on each debtor’s circumstances. You must have a regular source of income to file chapter 13.

Second, Chapter 13 is a tool to discharge debt and keep assets you may otherwise lose in a chapter 7 because there is too much unprotected, “non-exempt”, value. In this case, over the length of your chapter 13 plan, you would pay back at least the value of what the unsecured creditors would have received in a chapter 7.

Third, there are some benefits a debtor can take advantage of in a chapter 13 that are not available in a chapter 7. If you are behind on your mortgage or car payment, you can avoid foreclosure or repossession by catching up the payments in the chapter 13. You may even be able to improve the terms of your car loan. In some cases, a debtor can get rid of a second mortgage if the value of the real estate is less than what is owed on the first mortgage. Chapter 13 debtors can catch up on debt payments that are not dischargeable such as taxes and domestic support obligations.

How long is a chapter 13?

Payments in a chapter 13 plan will last from three to five years depending on your income and/or the goal of your chapter 13 plan. If your income is below median income for your family size, you may be able to complete your Chapter 13 plan in 36 months. However, depending on what you are paying back in the Chapter 13, you may need up to 60 months to make the payments affordable. If your income is above median income for your household size, you will be required to make payments for 60 months.

 What if something happens and I cannot make my monthly payment?

Inevitably there will be changes to your financial situation during the three to five years you are paying into the chapter 13 plan. During that time period, you must notify your attorney of any changes to your financial circumstances. If there have been changes that make it difficult to make payments, your attorney will attempt to modify your chapter 13 plan. These modifications must be approved by the chapter 13 trustee, creditors, and the bankruptcy court.

What happens at the end of my Chapter 13 plan?

After you have made all your required payments into your Chapter 13 plan, the remainder of your unsecured dischargeable debts are discharged. Your car loans that were being paid through the plan will be paid off, and if you made all required payments, you should be current on your mortgage. Non-dischargeable debts, such as student loans, will remain after the bankruptcy case is over.

If you are struggling financially and would like more information about bankruptcy, please contact Susan Browning, 513.943.6650 at the Finney Law Firm for a FREE CONSULTATION.