Tax breaks for the wealthy to protect undeveloped land draw Senate scrutiny

Conservation easements — tax breaks granted to protect undeveloped land — have become an increasingly common practice over the last decade, especially in Georgia.

Syndicated conservation easements, such as the one in Clay County, grant write-offs to multiple partners, each buying a share in a tract of land. They are attracting increased scrutiny from lawmakers and the IRS as a means for the wealthy to avoid paying their appropriate share of taxes.

As of February, about 84 percent of syndicated easements were in some stage of an IRS audit, according to the finance committee report, which was released in August. The report found that about $10.6 billion of tax revenue was lost to syndicated easements between 2010 and 2017. And lawmakers in September introduced a new bill aimed at closing such loopholes.

The IRS publicly flagged syndicated conservation easements in December 2016, and the Department of Justice filed suit against

Read More

Is home title theft a real thing? You bet it is, and here’s how to protect your property

Have you heard the commercials for a company, Home Title Lock, warning about how the title to your home can get stolen without you knowing it?

So many Texans have written The Watchdog to learn more.

“Are home title ads a scam or is this a real problem?” one man asked me.

“I figured the commercials for this were like many, playing on the fears of people, just to make money,” another said.

And another: “I am skeptical and would appreciate your advice.”

The Watchdog surveyed the county clerks in Dallas, Denton, Collin and Tarrant counties. I also talked to the company that bombards us with advertising.

I have experience covering this. A decade ago, I told the story of Norris Fisher, who stole 170 homes in Tarrant County (some kind of record) before he was shipped off to prison.

So yeah, it’s real. Crooks can forge names and use

Read More

Some Helpful Ways to Protect Your Intellectual Property

There are times when you suddenly think of a creative idea that you think can be very useful. You don’t know if such idea will be your key to starting a business venture. But you know that the idea you have in mind is so innovative and so revolutionary that you want to make sure nobody steals it from you. However, how can it be stolen from you if nobody knows it’s there to begin with? This is where intellectual property comes in.

Intellectual Property or IP is a legal concept about things our mind create for which there exclusive rights. The term ‘intellectual’ can refer to intangible assets like musical and artistic works, inventions, and even words and symbols. Although discovering a new idea can be very exciting, they are only of value if you can protect them as your own. Here are tips to make sure the product … Read More

Protect Your Intellectual Property

Suppose you decide to do what I recently did and contact the managing partner of a consulting firm and propose that the two entities agree to explore the possibility of forming a business alliance that just might become very profitable? Business is all about deal-making and every once in a while a Solopreneur has to pitch a good proposal to the right prospect. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

But there is risk involved, usually for the smaller entity. Solopreneurs typically offer intangible services, better known as intellectual property. We trade on our expertise and judgment, our brand and reputation, that which distinguishes us from the pack and allows us to make a living.

Engaging in a business alliance or joint venture usually involves the sharing of intellectual property by one or all of the parties (in this case, it would be me). How can you protect yourself from unscrupulous … Read More