We were members of a church for quite some time and put all of our trust in the pastor. He came to us one day and told us that God told him that we should give him whatever money we had, that he had a way to give us a high interest rate every month so we don't have to worry about working and could focus our time and energy on the church and service to God. We believed him and gave him all of the money we worked hard for. He gave us a document that says it was a loan. He also did this to other members of the church. He paid us the high interest rate for three months, and then started to make excuses. I have copies of all of the emails and also a copy of the check we gave him. This pastor scammed us out of our life savings. I tried an attorney, but it is very expensive, and we weren't getting any place with it. I don't know where to go from here. My husband and I have health issues, are making little over minimum wage and struggling to make ends meet. Can you advise? -- Ronnie from Orlando, Fla.
Shame on the pastor! Is he still your pastor? If so, why? If you haven't reported this to the police, you should. The problem is that people who do this type of thing spend all the money they take. Even if he were sued or prosecuted, there may not be anything left for restitution. This is a very sad case of someone you trusted taking advantage of you. Have you spoken to the church administration? Are they aware of what he did? Go to them. And if he did this to others, it may be helpful for all of you to go to the church higher ups and make this known. In the future, if something sounds too good to be true, it most likely is, so don't do it.
My brother and I were left our parents' house. He was living there to ge tback on his feet after a job loss and was supposed to buy me out. He is neve rgoing to have the funds to do so, since he lives paycheck to paycheck and really can't afford to own a house. If it came to it, is there any legal way I can sell the house if he doesn't want to sell? -- Steven from Los Angeles, Calif.
The answer is maybe. There are factors that impact what you can and cannot do. Your options are controlled by the laws of the state in which the property is located, and how the two of you hold the property. Depending on the law, you may be able to go to court by filing a partition action. This allows you to tell the court of your dispute, and then the court decides what is to be done with the property. My suggestion is that you contact a good real estate lawyer in the city where the house is located. They can advise you and tell you about the possible results and what this could cost. You will then have to decide whether it is worth it based on the value of the property.
Recently my wife and I received a notification from the IRS indicating that we owed a payment of close to $1,000 from a return of our 2010 taxes because my wife had earned more than $30,000 that was unreported by us. My wife is well over 70 years of age and hasn't worked or earned any income in more than 15 years. The IRS letter noted that a company we never heard of had reported her Social Security number and therefore was the reason for our being charged. Our accountants looked into the matter and told us that the IRS had turned down our explanation. Is there any recourse for matters like this? We have never submitted any tax returns that weren't 100 percent honest. -- Sandy from Delray Beach, Fla.
My research shows that you should demand an abatement of the tax. Did your accountant ask you to demand this? If not, your wife should prepare a detailed, notarized statement claiming that that she did not work for the company. This affidavit should also say that all income that was earned during that period was reported on your tax returns. If you know the name of the company that attributed this income to your wife's Social Security number, then you should contact them and request that they correct it. Put this request in writing and, if you receive a correction, send it to the IRS. If this doesn't work, get a second opinion from another accountant. Whatever you do, don't ignore this problem! IRS issues have a way of getting worse over time.
(Jackie Glass is a lawyer and former district court judge from Las Vegas, Nev. Submit your legal questions to Jackie by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Twitter at @theJudgeGlass. This column is being provided for informational purposes only. It may not be relied upon by you as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.)Copyright 2013 by Tribune Media Services, Inc.