Unless you have been living under a rock for several decades, it is likely that you have heard something about tax evasion on the radio or on television news. Funnily enough, many people know about celebrities, rich companies, and rich individuals avoiding paying all of their taxes at least in theory, but very few people can actually name an individual or instance of tax avoidance.

Some people will point to the Panama Papers controversy a few years ago. True enough, this story is just one example of many, many, many celebrities and companies using complicated and complex maneuvers to avoid or evade taxes. However, the Panama Papers revealed many celebrities at once (and it involved spying, leaked information, and more, so no wonder it made the headlines).

By the way, in researching information about this issue, I discovered there is a legitimate difference between tax evasion and tax avoidance:

  • Tax evasion is the illegal evasion of taxes by an individual or corporation that they are legally obligated to pay
    Tax avoidance is the usage of loopholes, exceptions, ambiguity, and other legal tools to successfully reduce their tax obligations
  • Understandably, governments do not want their citizens to avoid — or evade — paying the taxes that the governments would expect their citizens to pay. The government’s desire for tax compliance is likely even stronger for its wealthier citizens!

The problem, of course, is that if they set out to pay as little in taxes in possible, a wealthy person is going to be able to find someone who can use the aforementioned loopholes or legal tricks to reduce the tax burden. Sometimes, these legal tricks involve the transfer of funds, assets, or businesses to other countries with shadier or reduced tax requirements.

Tax havens are not beneficial to anyone else but their specific country! As a result, governments around the world have made multiple attempts to work together and solve this problem.

As the international tax law experts at THEVOZ Attorneys, LLC discuss on their website, a few different international standards have been established to combat the issue of international tax evasion.

The Automatic Exchange of Information standard was established as a global baseline for information sharing. So for countries utilizing or agreeing to the Automatic Exchange of Information standard, specific information is shared between international governments; the information sharing becomes useful when people report conflicting information to two different tax agencies.

Another standard, called the Common Reporting Standard makes it so that certain accounts (for individuals or businesses) are directly and automatically reported to other countries’ tax agencies or bureaus.

While this information is certainly dry, I find it interesting to know that there are experts who craft policies (like information-sharing standards) in an attempt to ensure even wealthy people pay their fair share of taxes.

On the other hand, if you are a person lucky enough to be doing business in multiple countries, you should speak with a qualified international tax lawyer who can walk you through the process to make sure that you do not violate any international standards on accident.

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I will sometimes find myself in situations where I realize I should know how to cope with the situation, but I don’t. For example, when I need to jump someone else’s car battery or when I need to put a spare tire on my car. It’s not a coincidence that both of the above examples are car-related. Following that same theme, I realized I also didn’t know what to do should I ever get in a car accident, so I decided to look into it a bit should that ever happen.

Call the Police

First, you will need to reach out to the police, especially if your accident is serious. An officer will evaluate the scene of your accident, record data, and create a police report. You’ll need the police report later. This report is important for the insurance companies, as well as your lawyer if you choose to seek legal representation.

A copy of the police report for your accident will be available for you to pick up. There is often a small fee associated with collecting a police report, and the location of your accident will dictate where the report is available. For example, they are typically available at DMVs and police stations, but you will need to double-check for your specific case.

Take Notes and Pictures

If you are in a medical condition that permits you to do so, take pictures of the damage to your car as well as the other cars involved. This concrete proof will be helpful for any legal or insurance disputes moving forward.

Go to The Hospital

If you have any symptoms or issues following the accident it is important to seek medical attention as soon as you can. Not only will this allow you to have your injuries addressed, but it can also be important later if you sue the other driver for your injuries. When you are at the hospital, be honest about how your injuries came to pass.

Call Your Insurance Company

Notify your car insurance company about the accident. They will likely be hearing from the insurers of the other people involved in the accident, but it is best if you give them a heads up of what has occurred.

Seek Legal Representation

If you have been injured in an accident, with the help of an attorney, you stand to receive a more favorable settlement than you may without one. Insurance companies tend to offer lower settlements to accident victims who represent themselves. Information found on the website of Myrtle Beach Attorney, William J. Luse mentions that many injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that you don’t pay them unless they win.

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Its a cliche to say it, but people make mistakes. Sometimes, they make multiple mistakes. In those cases, its generally felt that people deserve another chance. Perhaps they have to suffer some amount of punishment, but we dont want to make them live with a mistake their whole lives. It was, after all, a mistake, something we all make from time to time.

We all believe that on some level, repeating the same cliche, and yet its incredibly rare to see people actually advocate for second chances when it comes to criminal justice.

This is a little bizarre in that this is the area that most requires that need. Plenty of people make mistakes in their youth or out of desperation that require some amount of punishment, but that should be limited enough that the person can then find a way to return to normal life.

Consider the case of burglary. That can be a fairly serious mistake, and yet, it is often enough just that – a mistake in judgment, an act done on impulse, or a moment of desperation. For all that, the penalties can be extremely tough, even if the person only did this one time!

According to the Bruno Law Offices in Champaign, Illinois, the law can be incredibly tough on first time offenders here. Depending on what location was burgled, the penalty can be anywhere from two to five years (for the lowest level punishment) to up to fifteen years and up to $25,000 in fines. That level of punishment, for those who have made a mistake, is simply not reasonable.

This is all the more true when it isnt always clear how guilty the person being punished is. As the Bruno Law Offices point out elsewhere, the person accused has to be proved to be on the property without permission (often a little hazy), in a state of mind to know what they were doing (also questionable in many cases), and finally attempting to steal from that property.

Imagine a case of someone who was intoxicated and on the property of someone that they knew vaguely. Sometimes, that person might be picked up for burglary and have their lives ruined when they were in fact making no attempt to commit the crime they were accused of. As bad as it is not to grant second chances to those who are guilty, the fact that a relatively innocent person could face such strict punishments without the help of a good lawyer is even worse.

Im of the mind that we have to always treat crime and mistakes with as much compassion as possible, always trying to see the damage it will do to the guilty (or the one suspected of guilt) as much as what has already been done to others.

We live in a country built on the idea of second chances. Thats why we need to do more to make sure our system allows for those second chances for everyone, even those who make big mistakes.

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Oil rig job

I’ve made a new friend recently, which wouldn’t be news normally, but this friend happens to have a job opportunity, which I find both tempting and intimidating.

The job is working on an oil rig.

Now, I’ve got no experience in this area—it’s not something I’ve ever considered doing before, not even close—but this new friend assures me that’s not important. His uncle runs a rig somewhere out in the ocean (he pointed in the direction, but that didn’t help much), and he (my friend) is going out to start work next month. And he (my friend still) wants company.

That’s how the job came about. We hit it off and since he enjoys hanging out, he offered me a place as well.

The offer has kind of blindsided me, to be honest. I always imagined I’d get a big job somehow, but I didn’t see it in this field. I had intended to go back to school, get into accounting or put them money down finally and become a lawyer. But school is so expensive these days, and I’m just not motivated enough. I like the idea of the money and prestige of big, fancy jobs, but I don’t actually care about the professions. I’d rather watch lawyers on TV than be one.

So, if this is my big job, the obvious choice would be to take it, right?

There are plenty of positives to consider. The money is excellent. It’s far more than I’d make anywhere on shore with the kind of work experience I have. And the scheduling is interesting. I’d work 14 12-hour days in a row and then have 21 days off. That’s a lot of time to get out in the world and spend my money. With money and a lot of time on my hands, I could save up and travel. Or I could save up for a house. Or maybe, I could just save up for that law degree or something similar.

But there are negatives as well. I’m not so excited about 14 days without sight of land, on a big metal island floating above the Atlantic. I’m not super excited about 12-hour days doing work I don’t understand either (though my friend says I’ll start with the easy stuff and get training).

And then, it’s not the safest job. I’ve seen Deepwater Horizon. It’d be one thing if that were an exception, but it seems to me, based on my research, that working an oil rig is always dangerous, every day, even when Mark Wahlberg isn’t around.

I just don’t know what to do, when it comes down to it. The idea is exciting and terrifying all at once. But, I think, when I really force myself to think over, that I just don’t have what it takes to do it.

I think I’ll pass. I just hope there’s another big job waiting for me out there.

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Bankruptcy is the legal solution that can help individuals or businesses with overwhelming debts regain control of their finances. An article posted in the website of the United States Courts says that a chapter 7 case begins with the debtor filing a petition with the bankruptcy court serving the area where the individual lives or where the business debtor is organized or has its principal place of business or principal assets. In addition to the petition, the debtor must also file with the court:

  • Schedules of assets and liabilities;
  • A schedule of current income and expenditures;
  • A statement of financial affairs; and
  • A schedule of executory contracts and unexpired leases.

Courts charge a $245 case filing fee, a $75 miscellaneous administrative fee, and a $15 trustee surcharge. Normally, the fees must be paid to the clerk of the court upon filing, however, with the court’s permission, individual debtors may pay in installments.

Filing bankruptcy will mean immediate cessation of whatever form of harassment (in the form of e-mails, phone calls, letters, text messages, lawsuits and others) law firms and debt collectors use to force debtors to make payments.

There are different options in the bankruptcy law, each intended to address a person’s or a business’ specific financial situation. Assessing your situation well is necessary so that you will know which bankruptcy chapter to file and whether you qualify under such chapter’s protection.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for instance, is a liquidation bankruptcy.  This is best for people or businesses that have properties, but whose income does not go above the stipulated limit set under the chapter. As the definition suggests, this law will require the liquidation of a few of your properties (you can choose specific properties, though, that should not be sold). The selling is to be done by a court-appointed trustee who will also use the amount earned to pay your creditors. Debts to be paid are only those categorized as non-dischargeable, such as court fines, alimony and student loans. Medical bills, business and personal loans, debts due to use of credit cards are called dischargeable debts, meaning, the court may free you from the obligation of still paying these.

One requirement this law has is the means test, which applicants need to pass. The means test is a way to determine if your income is low enough to qualify you to seek the protection of this chapter.

The Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, says that Chapter 7 is one of the most commonly sought forms of bankruptcy because it provides individuals with a way to discharge, or completely eliminate, many of their existing debts.  If you are suffering under the weight of unmanageable debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be able to provide you with much-needed relief.


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Ensuring the Health of Workers through Clean Air and Proper Ventilation in the Workplace

Buildings constructed before 1980 usually used materials and equipment that contained asbestos, a highly elastic substance that is electricity, chemical, fire and heat resistant. Asbestos had earned the name “miracle substance” due to its superb characteristics, abundance, usefulness and cheapness. This special substance became widely used during the mid of the 20th century; it was usually mixed with other substances to make cement, generators, turbines, boilers, steam pipes, brakes and clutches, insulators, gaskets, hot water piping, furniture, appliances, construction materials and a hundred other different things.

Although totally useful, asbestos has ill-effects: Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma.

Asbestos-containing materials (ACM) can release sharp, tiny fibers into the environment due to wear and tear or when they are disturbed. If inhaled, these fibers can be imbedded in the lungs, remain there and cause lethal damage.

With regard to the three known effects of inhaled asbestos:

  • Asbestosis. This is characterized by scarred lung tissues resulting to difficulty to inhale.
  • Lung Cancer. The risk of lung cancer increases due to further exposure to Asbestos and it can worsen due to exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • Mesothelioma, a form of chronic cancer that can affect the membrane linings of the abdominal organs and lungs, or the sacs surrounding the heart and the testis. It is considered rare, yet deadly.

One characteristic of mesothelioma that puts those diagnosed with it totally at the losing end is its extremely long latency period, which is 40 years or more (there are instances wherein the symptoms appear much faster, especially if the amount of asbestos one is exposed to and the amount of fibers inhaled are too great). Thus, by the time this deadly, chronic cancer becomes diagnosable, it would already have developed to a stage wherein no type of treatment is no longer possible.

According to the mesothelioma lawsuit attorneys of Williams Kherkher, “Anyone who worked with or around asbestos could develop one of the harmful forms of mesothelioma cancer, however, the following workers are more likely to have encountered asbestos in their careers:
construction workers, contract workers, factory employees, military personnel, and railroad workers.

To protect workers from the deadly effects of asbestos, the firm Robovent “Air quality is a critical issue for manufacturers. Fumes and particulates created by welding and other industrial manufacturing processes aren’t just unpleasant — they have real health and safety consequences.” Ensuring the safety of any type of work environment is necessary as the health of workers can be compromised in one where toxic materials, like asbestos, is present.

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The U.S. Bankruptcy Code offers businesses and individuals various legal means which will allow them rise up from overwhelming debts and regain stability in their financial future. These legal solutions include liquidation bankruptcy or reorganization bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy, per se, offers many advantages, such as:

  • the restructuring or reorganization of the debt payment scheme to make monthly payments more affordable;
  • the discharge of all unsecured debts (such as debts due to credit card use, medical bills, personal loans, etc.); or,
  • the liquidation of certain assets and properties to pay non-dischargeable debts (these are usually debts owed to the government).

There are different chapters in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, each designed to address an individual’s or a firm’s specific financial situation. There is chapter 7 (which is liquidation bankruptcy), chapter 11 (or business reorganization), and chapter 13 (or business reorganization designed for sole proprietors).

In the year 2010 alone, the U.S. federal bankruptcy courts recorded the filing of more than 1.5 million personal bankruptcy cases. Millions of American individuals and hundreds of business firms (both small and giant firms) resort to bankruptcy due to the many advantages it offers. However, a good business lawyer would not immediately offer bankruptcy as the main solution to overwhelming debts. He/she will first discuss bankruptcy’s advantages and disadvantages, as well the benefits and detriments of other legal means, like debt negotiation.

As explained in the website of the Bradford Law Offices, PLLC, debt negotiation is a better option due to the more manageable payment plan that it offers. This is because debt negotiation:

  • Does not require a litigation process (which bankruptcy requires);
  • Offers debtors the choice of paying the debt through a single/lump sum payment or through more affordable monthly payments;
  • Frees a debtor from being harassed by debt collectors, as well as from lawsuits and any legal action that will result to the forced sale of his/her properties;
  • Reduces or defers interest payments, lengthens the time span of payment, and allows the consolidation of loan payments; and,
  • Reduces the amount of the loan to more than half its original sum.

It will require great negotiation skills and extensive financial expertise, however, to make debt negotiation effective and successful. And this is what the likes of Ryan Ruehle have been specially trained to deliver.

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A painful shoulder can be extremely debilitating. When this happens, there is usually limited movement in this part of the body. When the traditional method of treatment fails, shoulder replacement is usually the best option. While approximately 9 out of 10 shoulder replacement procedures are usually last for a decade, there are instances when they do fail. According to the website of Williams Kherkher, a failed shoulder replacement surgery can cause significant injuries to the patient.

Over the years, there has been an increase in the number of shoulder replacement lawsuits. Rather than make the patient feel better, some replacement devices have made life more difficult for patients. They reported various complications such as significant bone loss, instability, weakness, and unexplained pain. Every surgery comes with a risk of failure regardless of what the operation was intended for.

In shoulder replacement, the top of the humerus and shoulder blade is replaced by an artificial implant. Cement is used to make the new components stick. Another alternative for holding the new components together is a material that promotes the growth of the new bone. Rehabilitation generally takes several months. A successful operation is good for 10 to 20 years.

However, the failure of the shoulder replacement may bring about various risks and complications. It can cause infections which may result to the removal of shoulder prosthesis. When the infection is gone, the patient may already receive new implants. A failed shoulder replacement may also cause rotator cuff damage. In addition, it may also cause bone fracture which may result to a second shoulder surgery. When all of these happen, it will usually cause severe pain and disability. The only way to treat shoulder replacement failure is shoulder replacement revision surgery. These types of procedures are usually associated with a higher risk of complication. The patient will usually not be able to return to the same level of functioning after a revision procedure.

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Thanks to the exponential advancements in technology, the pharmaceutical industry has been able to evolve in unimaginable ways for the last few decades. Today, medical professionals have access to a huge number of different devices, tools, and medications that makes addressing various health concerns a much easier task. Reliable and accessible medical solutions would be impossible without the pharmaceutical companies that continue to push the borders of innovation.

While the pharmaceutical industry has certainly created many new technologies that allow doctors to do more and more for their patients, its individual players can’t be considered completely infallible. There are plenty of defective medical devices and pharmaceuticals that are that are still widely-used in hospitals and other medical settings across the United States. As a matter of fact, the lawyers of Williams Kherkher have pointed out that a huge percentage of all product liability suits filed in America are for damages caused by medical drugs and devices.

Usually, the Food and Drug Administration is able to catch the issues that could lead to a certain medical product becoming harmful before approving it for public use. There are times, however, when the FDA’s investigations miss certain details and things fall through the cracks. When a medical product ends up being causing harm to patient’s well-being, pharmaceutical companies are expected to take immediate action by calling for a recall and working to improve the errors in their product. Unfortunately, in plenty of occasions, pharmaceutical companies don’t take action until it’s too late.

Metal-on-metal joint implants are an example of defective pharmaceuticals that have caused great harm and injury to a significant number of patients. Complications with these implants are known to cause bone and tissue damage, as well as metal toxicity in the body.

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Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack and Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash, along with other state officials, conducted on Wednesday, April 27 a meeting that seeks to determine how the state can play a role in the self-driving car industry, by making recommendations to the industry that they should hire people who will operate such cars from the state, and by developing regulations that would make it safe for people who want to explore the options of being inside a vehicle without actually manning it.

Self-driving car industry leaders say that such vehicles can potentially make it safer for motorists to drive on roads and highways in the sense that they can lessen traffic congestion. Another great thing about them, industry experts said, is the advantage of allowing people who do not know how to drive to be able to get around.

The elderly, in particular, can be helped by these self-driving vehicles; instead of risking an accident every time they enter the roads with their cars because old age has eroded their once sharp senses and made their reflexes slower than usual, they can rest assured that they will reach their destination safely because an automated pilot is doing the driving for them.

Industry experts also boasted of lower emissions in these vehicles.

John Leonard, a professor at the Massachusetts’ Institute of Technology’s computer science and artificial intelligence laboratory, said there is a possibility that the development of self-driving cars will be likened to the United States-Russia space race back in the 60s, with auto manufacturers like Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. and Detroit, Michigan-based General Motors Co. and technology firms like Uber and Mountain View, California-based Google competing for the industry’s advancements.

In Leonard’s opinion, the state of Massachusetts can take part in this driving revolution: if it banks on its major expertise areas like computer software development.

At present, five states including Washington, D.C. are allowing the testing of self-driving cars on public roads and highways.

Attorneys at Crowe & Mulvey, LLP say that the prevalence of autonomous vehiles in streets can greatly impact the rate of personal injury accidents, particularly car crashes.

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