Bookkeeping Legal Issues for Small Business


Owning and running a small business is hard. There are lots of things to keep up with. You have to file taxes differently. You have to pay people if you are going to have employees. There are many legal issues you need to be aware of and avoid.

Tax Mistakes

Many people make mistakes on their taxes for their business. The process is exponentially more difficult than personal taxes you may be used.

They may not be required by the IRS, but they give you backup documentations for any deductions you claim. Keep a folder for the receipts. Honestly, you should go to a bookkeeper to assist in your ongoing business operations, there are many different small business bookkeeping services that you can make use of that will help you avoid excess work and focus on your core business (they are very difficult to do on your own). They can also do the job quickly and efficiently. Also, remember to track any expenses you can be reimbursed for.

You really need to keep good, detailed books of all money exchanged. This will make tax time much easier. The books will become more difficult as your business grows. Make sure you keep up with business regulations that affect you.

Partner Agreement

If you decide to take on a business partner, make a good, strong partner agreement. This can cause a lot of trouble if things go south between you and your partner. The agreement should cover several things. Include your goals for the business. Outline what happens if one partner doesn’t comply with the rules. Include a section on selling the business to outline what happens if either of you want to ever sell the business. Outline how much money each partner makes. Outline the role(s) and responsibilities of each partner.

Potential Legal Troubles

Many small businesses fail to set up the right legal structure for their company. It can open you up to liability if you don’t. You also need to have a shareholders’ agreement if you sell shares. You also need human resource guidelines if you have employees. You can get in trouble if you don’t have a handbook. You need specific guidelines for your employees’ jobs. Keep up with all of the laws surrounding employees. Decide if you want your employees to sign non-disclosure agreements or anything similar. Do not, do not, talk trash about your competition. Don’t do it publicly or anonymously. Be careful not to commit libel against them. Also, it just looks bad as well. You can compete civilly. If you have created something with this company, you should get patents or copyrights or trademarks. Keep your work your own. Be very careful if you are dealing with users’ information online as well. This can cause chaos if you get hacked.

When starting a business, make sure that you do plenty of planning before leaping into it. Make sure you are ready to take on the responsibility of a legal entity. Decide early on if you want to have employees or not. If you take on a partner, make an agreement between the two of you. Enjoy being your own boss and the freedom that entails.


Rental Laws in the South for Tenants and Landlords

Landlord-tenant laws differ from one country to another. In the United States of America, the rent laws are made to cover all the aspects of both the parties. Any violation of the laws gives extra rights to a landlord or a tenant.

Use and return of security deposit

The landlords decided a fixed amount called security deposit, which has to be deposited by the tenants at the time of making of the contract. This money is usually one month’s rent and is returned to tenants within 30 days after they move. It covers the damage occurring to the premises beyond normal wear & tear; if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying the rent, security deposit money gives the payment to the landlord in such case. If the tenant does not get his security money from the landlord, a lawsuit can be filled in the magistrates court.

The security deposit is used as an added layer of security, similar to a credit check, bank statements and references.  Some landlords also use things called lease guarantors, for more info on that check out no credit check rental source anchor your assets.

Withholding or reduction of rent by tenants

In the rental laws, tenants are legally entitled to rental property which has basic structural, safety, and health standards and also in in good repair condition. If a landlord is not able to take care of the maintenance of important areas like roofs, walls, pillars, etc., a tenant has a right to withhold the rent until the repairs are done. The time is also fixed within which the landlord has to fix the problem of the property. The rental laws also specify the limit and frequency of withholding rents by the tenants.

Unconditional termination of the tenants

The landlord has a right to ask for unconditional termination if the tenant violates the clauses of lease regularly, damages the rental unit, deals with drugs or some other specified reasons. The time given by the landlords varies according to the cause behind the termination. The time period can be extended in case of any emergency for the tenant.

Entry of landlords in the rental property

A landlord or his agent has right to enter the property to make necessary or agreed repairs, to show the unit to tenants or potential purchasers or repair persons, and to supply agreed or necessary services. In case of any emergency also, the landlord can enter the tenant’s home. A different case is also when the landlord believes the property has been abandoned by the tenant. If you have skipped out without returning the key or giving any notice, the landlord has legal rights to enter the premises.

The duties specified for the landlord and tenant

The rental laws in the South have mentioned the duties for the both landlord and tenant. The duties of landlord include provision of the rental agreement to the tenant, maintenance of the property in a habitable and fit condition, cleaning of the common areas, and the provision of heat and water. The duties defined for the tenants are clean and safe keeping of the premises, disposal of garbage and other waste in a clean and safe manner and a reasonable use of ventilation, air-conditioning, heating, sanitary, electrical and plumbing systems.

In a single sentence the rental laws give landlords more responsibilities and the tenants more rights.

Question About Divorce Law in California

Dear Law Guy, When I married my husband, I was a little overweight, he was quite trim. Now I’m slim, and he’s put on the pounds and I want a divorce. I used to think he was the best I could do, but now I’m a brand new babe in the Bay Area and I want to see what I’m worth, if you know what I mean.   What’s the quickest way to get a divorce?

First off, because divorce, like marriage, is subject to state law, you should check whatever information I’m about to give you with a divorce lawyer in Oakland who will naturally be more tuned in to the particulars of divorce law in your home state. in California, all divorces are “no fault” divorces, which means you can request a divorce without claiming your spouse has done something wrong. (Be happy you don’t live in the 1800’s. Back then you could only get a divorce in California if your husband were impotent, extremely cruel, had deserted or neglected you, was habitually intemperate, committed fraud or adulter, or had been convicted of a felony.) You, as the first to file, would be the “Petitioner,” and your husband would be the “Respondent,” but the distinction is not that curcial. Divorce in California need not be mutual, meaning either spouse can file and obtain a divorce without the cooperation of the other spouse. You asked about the “quickest way to get a divorce.” No matter what, it will take at least six months for your divorce to be finalized. That’s the mandatory waiting period. If you want your divorce to actual become final as the six-month waiting period passes, you will want to settle your divorce case and implement the terms of your settlement within that time frame. Most divorces do not happen that quickly. In fact, they typically take a lot longer than the minimum six months. You can explain your situation to a lawyer – which with all due respect may or may not inspire them to work quickly. But even if it takes a while, you ought to be thankful that California divorce law is relatively simply. The default grounds for dissolution of marriage are “irreconcilable difference,” which are accepted as true at the word of just one spouse. If I were you, I might not go into detail about your superficial reasons for seeking the divorce, so as not to risk trying the patience of the judge. The other major piece of advice I’d give is to stay as civil as possible with your husband. While on the one hand he has no way of ultimately blocking the divorce, he can certainly drag it out considerably and make it much less pleasant. So, as much as possible, try not to make it personal. You might also think about what you’re willing to accept in terms of a divorce settlement. As the Petitioner, you have more of an incentive to accept a settlement which favors your spouse. He, or rather his lawyer, will be well aware of that, and may use that to chisel you.

Personal Injury vs. Impersonal Injury

Dear Law Guy, What exactly is a personal injury? And what’s the opposite – an impersonal injury? Can impersonal injuries warrant lawsuits? I’m asking because my neighbor drives me nuts for about a million reasons, most of them spiritual, but I’m wondering if maybe I could sue him. The sidewalk in front of his house isn’t well maintained in the winter and always winds up treacherous with ice, but also his house is painted an offensive color. My question is basically, do I have to actually go and break my ankle on his sidewalk or can I sue for the pure psychic distress that that his teal siding and cotton-candy shutters causes me?

The term personal injury covers harm to the body, mind, or emotions. The opposite of a personal injury is not an “impersonal injury” but rather property damage. As to your suggestion, tripping is among the most common personal injury claim, but I would of course never recommend that you deliberately injure yourself on your neighbor’s property. You never know how bad you could hurt yourself, and if the ethics of the situation doesn’t bother you, know that if someone found you googling the ins and outs of personal injury claims before your supposed fall, it would look bad and jeopardize your entire caper. And in fact, you could run into problems with your own insurance company, and there you’d be, potentially navigating a major injury, with sizable medical bills and loss of income. To make a long story short, do not do that. Bad idea. As to whether you could have a claim for an offensive house color, your only cause of action under the umbrella of personal injury cases would be negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED), but it’s a longshot. In theory, we all have a legal duty to avoid causing emotional distress in another, within reason. In practice, it came about as something to tack-on to a case of negligent physical harm. Then people began successfully claiming NIED in the case of negligent physical harm to a loved one. Then came NIED in the case of negligent property damage. Courts don’t typically like dealing with emotional distress as an intangible condition – and so it’s not easy to demonstrate without concrete effects to your life – such as a divorce that would have otherwise been avoided. We all suffer emotional distress at different times in our lives, and most of those instances are not compensable. So, techincally, your course of action would be to claim NIED, but in reality, you don’t have much of a claim at all and should perhaps consider planting some fast growing trees to block out your view of your neighbor’s house. What the cost for landscaping, it will be less than potentially bringing a losing claim against your neighbor – and it won’t sour your relationship (whatever its current state). The best defense is not to start a war with your neighbors.

Responsible for Loans after Divorce?

I reside in Winston-Salem, NC.  I was married to a woman for about six years in Davidson County, NC.  While we were both married we applied for and received funds from student loans.  I do not ever recall ever having co-signed for her loans nor did she co-sign for mine and upon divorce I did not assume any financial obligations for her debts.  Basically my best recollection was that the court order stated something like any property, loans, etc in my name remained mine and property, loans etc in her name remained hers.  It’s been about three years since the divorce and debt collectors are calling my parents and interrupting their lives.  They want my parents to give a message to my ex-wife or they want my contact information for me to give messages to my ex-wife.  My parents number is also on the do not call registry.  I have recommended they do not give them any information and report future calls to the FCC using their online form and under no cirumstances give them any information about me.  Is there any way they could pursue me for her debts?  I thought this was all taken care of when we divorced with the court order.  I am about to get married and my fiancee is thinking we will hounded by my exes debts for the rest of our lives and it’s quickly turning into a bummer.
You are not obligated to pay the loans (unless you co-signed), but why don’t you tell the loan companies how to get in touch with your ex-wife?  If you don’t know where she is tell them that.  Why should you run interference with with loan companies for your ex-wife.  The FCC won’t take any action here.  The do-not-call list does not apply in this situation.


Creeper or Peeper?

Last fall the neighbor behind us built a hideous shed that is two stories high with a window on the second “story”.  It is less than 6 feet from our back chain-link fence.  This is bad enough, but I wasn’t going to complain about it.  However, last weekend when the weather warmed up he and another adult friend had chairs up on the second story and were sitting with a perfect vantage point right into our backyard.  This window is only looking down into our backyard and nothing else.  I am very uncomfortable with this.  Is this legal?  First of all, should he have had a permit to build this huge shed, and secondly, is it legal to have this window so close to our fence to look down directly on us? 
Yes, your neighbor probably needed a building permit for his shed.  But provided he complied with setback rules, zoning and building codes I can’t think of anything that would prohibit him from having a window that looked directly into your backyard.  If you decided to, you could put up a barrier that would obstruct his view.  Maybe a few Leyland Cypress.  It is illegal (in North Carolina) for a someone to “peep” secretly into a room occupied by a another person.  So if he used the window for secret peeping he might be committing a crime.  But a backyard is not a “room.”
I can understand why this makes you uncomfortable.  You might try calling a code enforcement department and see if the building had a permit (permits are public record).  If there was no permit and a code inspector found a violation (violating a setback rule, for instance) the inspector could require it to be corrected.

Those to Trespass Against Us…

I have a business … which has a gate around almost all of it. On one end there is an opening that cars have been coming through, to spin donuts on our ball field in back. So I put up a barricade to try to stop this, and they just moved it, or found a way to drive around. So I put up no trespass signs, and put the barricade. But this time I put spike strips down to stop them before they started. A young guy came through the barricade in a big truck and run over the spikes and got four flat tires, and now wants to sue me for the tires. Should I pay him, or take him to court?
Interesting question with no simple answer.  While a property owner has the right to exclude others from his property and even use reasonable force to prevent someone from entering his property, in general you cannot set traps to catch trespassers.  The court might find that the spike strips (with no warning that they were present) were a trap.  That means you would be responsible for the damage to the tires.  Think about it this way: a landowner might decide to put up an electrified fence to keep out trespassers, but if the fence was not marked with signs, the owner might be liable for injuries to someone touching the fence.
By trespassing the driver was also breaking the law.  He could be prosecuted for trespassing and you could sue him in civil court.  However in a lawsuit for trespass you would only be entitled to nominal damges ($1 or so) unless you could show actual injury to your property.
I think right is on your side, but the law favors the trespasser.  So if I were the judge for your case I would rule that you had to pay for the damage to the tires, but unless the tires were brand new I would not hold you responsible for the full value of new tires.  I would rule that the trespasser owed you $5 for trespassing and I would order him not to enter your property in the future.
Remember though small claims court is about “rough justice.”  There is very little argument about the fine points of law.  A friend once told me that actual legal precedent carries about as much weight as a comic book in small claims court.  If I were you I would wait and see if he goes to the trouble to sue you.  Many people don’t bother.  If he does sue, counterclaim for trespass.  Then offer to pay for repair of his tires or the cost of used tires.