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Knox County Law Blog

IRS' new passport restrictions scheduled to take effect next month -- II

A few weeks back, our blog began discussing how the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015 contained a little known provision calling upon the IRS to begin working with the State Department to revoke, deny or otherwise limit the ability of individuals with "seriously delinquent tax debt" to use passports.

Indeed, this interagency initiative is scheduled to take effect next month, affecting those individuals possessing passports or looking to secure passports who have a legally enforceable tax debt of more than $50,000, and who have seen either a levy issued or a lien filed by the IRS.

How can I avoid dangerous driving behaviors?

If you regularly travel on Knoxville roads, you’ve no doubt encountered hazardous drivers during your treks. While you can’t control the actions of others, you can refrain from partaking in unnecessarily risky behaviors yourself. Accordingly, it’s important for all drivers to be aware of the most common dangerous driving behaviors and take the right steps to avoid causing serious harm to themselves or others.

As illustrated by Road and Track, there are numerous risky driving behaviors that can lead to significant accidents and injury. Inclement weather can certainly play a role in your overall safety behind the wheel, with poor weather being implicated in 24 percent of all vehicular accidents that occur. To this end, you are urged to decrease your speed when faced with snowy or rain-soaked streets. Your vehicle’s braking power will be greatly limited in this case, which can make stopping in time exceedingly difficult.

Tennessee's sexting laws are poised for legislative overhaul

When many parents stop and reflect on their teenage years, they may simply chuckle to themselves and shake their head. More than anything, this simple action serves as a sort of tacit recognition that they engaged in antics when they were younger that were puerile at best and illegal at worst.

While things certainly have not changed in terms of high school students being more prone to engaging in certain risky or even unlawful behavior -- speeding, underage consumption, etc. -- it's also important to understand that this risky or unlawful behavior has evolved and expanded. Indeed, one needn't look any further than the smartphones found in the pockets and purses of most teens for proof.

IRS' new passport restrictions scheduled to take effect next month

Six years ago, the Government Accountability Office, the independent congressional watchdog tasked with helping "improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government," released a rather eye-opening report examining the feasibility of leveraging passports as a tax collection tool.

Specifically, this GAO report determined that in 2008 alone, passports were issued to 224,000 people who collectively owed over $5.8 billion in outstanding federal taxes. Based on these findings, it urged the Internal Revenue Service and the State Department to begin collaboration on the matter as soon as possible.

Why is the IRS so adamant for people with disabilities to file tax returns?

It may seem impossible to believe, but the 2017 tax filing season officially began last Monday, meaning the countdown to Tuesday, April 18, 2017, this year's deadline for filing 2016 tax returns, has officially begun.

Interestingly enough, the Internal Revenue Service is now urging both taxpayers with disabilities and the parents of children with disabilities to make sure they complete this typically tedious task over the next several months. However, its motivation in doing so isn't to secure more tax revenue, but rather to ensure that these individuals take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, or the EITC.

Tennessee law calls for serious penalties for illegally hunting big game

For people throughout Tennessee, hunting is more not just a hobby or something to do on the weekends, but rather a way of life. Indeed, the tradition of hunting everything from turkey and deer to elk and bear with rifle, muzzleloader or bow has been passed down by countless generations of families here in the Volunteer State.

As much as hunting is ingrained in the fabric of our state, it's also subject to considerable regulations in order to protect hunters, landowners and, of course, animal populations. By way of example, consider an amendment to state law passed back in 2015 after intense lobbying by residents of Moore and Lincoln counties, who were growing increasingly fearful of the danger posed by illegal poaching on private lands.

Am I guilty of a crime if I share my prescription medication?

Imagine this: You've just had surgery, after which you are prescribed an opiate painkiller such as Percocet or Oxycodone. You take the pills for awhile, but quickly realize you won't need all of them. A friend of yours, however, has been complaining of pain and could benefit from your remaining pills. You ask yourself: Is it okay if I give them my remaining pills?

If you answered yes to the hypothetical question above, you may not realize that by giving your friend your remaining prescription medication, you're actually breaking state and federal drug laws. You could face serious drug charges for this seemingly innocent act, leaving you in need of legal counsel and a good defense strategy. 

How the SSA's Compassionate Allowances initiative helps the truly ill -- II

In a post last week, our blog began discussing how applicants are sometimes surprised to learn that the process of receiving benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program can take months or even years, and how this reality can be beyond frustrating for financially distressed individuals suffering from medical conditions that are at best completely debilitating.

We also began discussing, however, how those people in this unenviable position who would otherwise clearly satisfy the agency's disability standards can actually see the processing of their applications expedited thanks to what is known as the Compassionate Allowances initiative.

Factors used to determine which parent will have custody

There are many different parental situations in Knoxville. Sometimes the parents are married, sometimes they are divorced or separated and in other situations the parents were never married. While the parents are married, they are generally living together and raising the children together. However, if they divorce or were never married in the first place, this is not usually the case. The parents will live separately, but that does not mean that only one parent is responsible for raising the child.

It does mean that there must be an order to determine whether one parent will have child custody or whether the parents will share custody of the child. Custody in general is just decision making for the child regarding decisions such as education, religion, medical decisions and others. However, custody orders often times will also include a parenting plan or visitation schedule determining when each parent will have the children.

How the SSA's Compassionate Allowances initiative helps the truly ill

As we've previously discussed on our blog, the Social Security Disability Insurance program is designed to provide much-needed financial assistance to those individuals with qualifying work histories who meet the Social Security Administration's rather exacting definition of total disability.

To recap, a person is consider disabled for the purposes of SSDI benefits if the SSA determines that their medical condition 1) prevents them from performing their previous work, 2) prevents them from adjusting to other work, and 3) has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

Ms. Easter was voted by her peers as a “Top Attorney” in Cityview Magazine for Family Law / Divorce / Child Support in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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