On May 10th, a significant mistake was made in the announcement for the night’s Mega Millions drawing. As the gold Mega Ball dropped into the chamber, host John Crow made an innocent, but impactful mistake by calling the number 6, rather than the correct number 9.
Eyet Law’s Matthew Eyet was invited to appear on ABC 7 NY to weigh in on whether the State of New York is obligated to or likely to absorb the cost of paying out winners with the mistakenly called number 6 as the Mega Ball.
The May 10th lottery drawing
As the Mega Millions drawing unfolded on the night of May 10th, the first five numbers were called correctly as usual—but as the sixth “Mega Ball” dropped into the chamber, a mistake was made in the broadcast. The golden Mega Ball was a 9, clearly differentiated from a 6 by a line beneath the number, but host John Crow misread the ball and announced that the night’s Mega Ball number was 6. This mistake was also repeated in the broadcast’s graphics, which displayed a 6 as the Mega Ball number.
Although there were no grand prize winners with either a 6 or 9 as the Mega Ball number, there were two $10,000 jackpots with a 6 Mega Ball number, as well as nearly 30,000 other players with smaller prizes totaling almost $130,000. In response to the error, the New York Lottery temporarily suspended all prize payments for Mega Millions tickets.
Eyet Law’s Matthew Eyet responds
Appearing on ABC 7 NY, Matthew Eyet of Eyet Law explained that Mega Millions players with a Mega Ball number of 6 were unlikely to have legal recourse. This is because of a written regulation specifying that the correct numbers are the numbers drawn, rather than the numbers that are reported. While this regulation was likely created in anticipation of a clerical transcription error, Eyet believes that the regulation still applies in the case of the wrong number being announced in a broadcast.
Mega Millions players with a 6 Mega Ball number on their tickets may still have some reason for hope, however. Citing to the broad discretionary authority granted to the Gaming Commission, Eyet believes there’s a possibility that the State of New York could invoke such power to absorb the cost and pay out prize money to players who would have won if the 6 had been drawn. From the State’s perspective, it may be better to absorb the cost rather than undermine faith in the lottery system, which could lead to lower earnings for the New York Lottery over time.
Hold on to your tickets
No official decision has been made regarding the drawing, but the New York Lottery has advised any players to hold onto their May 10th Mega Millions tickets for the time being. Whether the State will choose to pay prize money to winners with the mistaken number remains to be seen.
For the full report, check out Matthew Eyet’s appearance on ABC 7 NY here.
Matt Eyet, Esq., founder of Eyet Law, was recently interviewed on Lawyers Who Care, the video show and podcast that highlights attorneys that go above and beyond for their clients.
You can check out the full video here, but keep reading for a recap of what you’ll get to see!
In the interview, Andrew Samalin, CFP of Samalin Wealth, spoke with Matt about his journey to becoming a tax lawyer. Because of the sheer volume of potentially applicable code sections, case law, and administration guidance surrounding tax, Matt sees every matter as being similar to a puzzle. Figuring out what applies, which code section does or doesn’t affect the case, and how best to move forward while adhering to the myriad of tax rules is all part of that strategy and solution.
In one instance, Matt represented someone who had Google searched for a tax lawyer. The client, having undergone a divorce, agreed to be solely responsible for the joint tax liability that was owed for several years leading up to the divorce. The client’s wife had been under the impression these taxes had been taken care of and hadn’t known about the owed taxes.
Given the situation, Matt worked with the wife to first request administrative relief, and ultimately to file a petition to absolve the wife of the tax liability. With this type of case, there are seven main factors that the IRS seeks to check in order to determine if the relief should be granted.
During the time the petition was pending, the wife attempted to purchase the condo she was currently renting and couldn’t get a loan because of the tax lien against her. But when Matt got a plea for help from her, he couldn’t say no, even though this task was outside the scope of what he was retained for. He drafted a letter to the bank. Given the compelling nature of the carefully crafted letter, the bank disregarded the tax liens and granted the loan.
Though the IRS wound up denying the initial request for administrative relief, Matt remained dedicated to the case and took it to the IRS Office of Appeals. After the appeal, the court only dismissed one of the three years of taxes owed, which still totaled over $160,000. Ever-committed to helping and serving his clients’ best interests, Matt took things one step further by filing a petition in U.S. Tax Court to resolve the remaining tax years. After Matt provided discovery and helped prepare both the client and ex-wife to testify, Chief Counsel’s Office at the IRS gave all the relief they requested for the wife.
While tax law can be black and white in many ways, these are the types of cases where the practical application of the tax rules and legal process make all the difference in the lives of clients.
Running a law firm? That can be a challenge, but small law firm owners in particular, including our very own Matthew Eyet, have been able to navigate the obstacles . Focusing on creating efficiencies and bringing a vision of the ideal law firm—and what that means to clients—to life is just part of what helps create a sustainable practice.
When running a law firm, there’s a list of challenges that present themselves daily. Fielding IT issues, working on process improvements, managing employees, overseeing billing and accounting, marketing the firm, generating new business—and that doesn’t even include the actual legal work! Which means that for anyone who opens their own practice, they will most likely need plenty of personal motivation and hard work to go around.
In a recent article by Loio, Running a small law firm in Pennsylvania: 5 owners share their stories, Matt shares some insight into the scariest and most exciting parts of running his own firm. And we know what you’re thinking: “But Eyet Law is New Jersey-based!” What you might not know is that there’s still a lot of ties to Pennsylvania for us—Matt is a native son of Pennsylvania and he has practiced extensively in Pennsylvania’s state and federal courts.
Matt credits his clients’ loyalty in sticking with him when he opened his own firm, along with utilizing governments assistance programs, as the key factors allowing him to sustain his practice over the years. Going out on your own can be a little unnerving and come with lots of uncertainties, but when your clients let you know they value your experience and want to continue working with you specifically, it’s a sign you’re headed in the right direction.
In addition to all the other responsibilities, the shift to remote work brought some new challenges to solve for our law firm. But it came with some added benefits too. Once our team focused on adapting to new technologies to make our practice more effective while working virtually, we were able to streamline many parts of our firm. Our approach is to be open-minded to these types of changes even during more “normal” times. Pivoting quickly is just part of staying on top of delivering quality.
Having your own law firm isn’t what anyone would call easy, but with personal dedication, the right team, loyal clients and a willingness to adapt it’s possible to turn it into a succes.
Recently, our very own Matthew Eyet, Esq. talked with Rose Davidson, host of Talking with the Experts, a vodcast for business owners, about various hot-button business planning issues including Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and estate tax under the new administration.
You can find the full conversation here, but we have put together a few key takeaways below.
Many businesses have applied for PPP loans, and issues with the first draw loans from the spring of 2020 are now in the news again as federal prosecutors have committed resources to going after fraud.
However, as Matthew emphasized, PPP loans aren’t the only type of loan out there. Economic injury disaster loans (EIDL) also exist, and businesses can qualify for both. In fact, between state and federal relief programs, there are many layers of support available to businesses. It’s possible for businesses to find relief from, five or more different local state and local federal sources.
Matthew and Rose also delved into estate tax and possible legal changes under the Biden administration.
Matthew explained step-up in basis, which has been receiving some press attention lately: If a farming couple in Iowa bought their land for $100,000, but it grows to be worth $10 million by the time of their deaths, then the asset of the farmland has appreciated significantly—yet there is no liquidity to pay the estate tax because it’s a farm. The step-up in basis means that the inheritors of the farm will not be taxed on the gains in value, so long as the property is held in the name of an individual until their death.
The reverse is also true: You can’t claim a loss if your property depreciates from $10 million to $100,000. “Hold on to the appreciated assets until you die and sell the ones that depreciated before you die,” Matthew advised.
Another area of concern when it comes to changing tax laws is the amount of the gift and Estate tax exemption lifetime, which are currently set at a gift of 11.7 million per person. If the value of your entire estate doesn’t exceed $11.7 million, then you don’t pay federal estate tax on it when transferring the assets to the next generation (although you may have to pay state tax). Married couples get to each use the unused portion of the other’s exemption. Once you cross the threshold, you’re facing a flat tax rate of 40%.
Fourteen years ago, the lifetime exclusion amount was only $1 million—a significant difference. Will the Biden Administration succeed in shifting the threshold again? We can’t say, but it helps to be prepared.
As Matthew and Rose discussed, there are many forms of federal and state relief available to businesses. If you have questions about loan forgiveness, especially if you didn’t have much in payroll expenses—or if you have questions about planning for changes in estate tax—then we recommend consulting a qualified professional such as Matt to help navigate the monies you will encounter through the process.
At Eyet Law, we offer concierge legal services by providing full-spectrum support for our clients in tax law, estate planning, business law, and civil litigation. Questions? Contact us.
When you’re involved in litigation, keeping all the possible outcomes in mind is part of the job. It’s a key part of building a strong case. But for attorneys and their clients, there’s little that’s more frustrating than having the defendant declare bankruptcy during the proceedings.
There are times when there’s a legitimate cause to declare bankruptcy, but sometimes it’s used as a legal tactic. Often clients are told that there’s nothing that can be done once their adversary files bankruptcy—they have to cut their losses and accept pennies on the total dollar value of their claim.
It has proven to be an effective tactic, especially for several high-profile real estate moguls and business entrepreneurs who have been known for using the bankruptcy code as a strategic litigation maneuver in various types of lawsuits.
But at Eyet Law, we know there are ways to handle improper bankruptcy filings that are being used solely for litigation maneuvering purposes.
An illegitimate bankruptcy claim?
As we mentioned, it’s a question that a lot of attorneys have rebuffed in the past, saying that there wasn’t anything that you could do about it. However, we’ve been successful at forcing the nefarious-acting adversary to prove the legitimacy of its claim in this very situation. Let’s look at a recent case.
Eyet Law handled a case where a founding business partner was frozen out of his business by his co-founders/former partners. We filed a lawsuit on behalf of the ousted partner against two of the ex-partners as well as the business entity. Despite the entity having generated one million+ dollars of net profit during the prior year, the entity waited until the day before the Order to Show Cause hearing in state court to file for Chapter 11 business bankruptcy, followed by a notice of removal to federal district court of the claims against the principal of the Company.
Ultimately, this case became a matter of principle for us. We wanted to help make sure that the estate of the deceased was able to receive their rightful interest in the business, and couldn’t let this tactic deprive them of the funds.
A bankruptcy claim doesn’t have to mean the lawsuit ends
Because the defendants had filed for bankruptcy, the case moved from the traditional litigation channels of state and federal district court to federal bankruptcy court. The day prior to when we were supposed to be in court together, we learned the defendants had petitioned for their case to be moved from state court to federal court.
Typically, this has been used as a procedural method to short circuit lawsuits. Once cases move to federal bankruptcy court, there’s often little you can do. We knew better though. By proving that the bankruptcy claim was one that had zero independent legal merit, we were able to keep the action against the principals alive through normal litigation channels.
New approach to an old problem
Because bankruptcy filings during litigation have often been written off, taking a new approach to this old problem can surprise even the most-seasoned bankruptcy professionals.
At Eyet Law, we see things a little differently.
Business owners and investors regularly file for bankruptcy. While this can be the cost of doing business, when it’s done with the intention of avoiding litigation, it’s important to hold them accountable.
In fact, this was such a noteworthy approach that we were frequently told by those in the industry that they were watching to see the outcome. Should the case not be able to continue in bankruptcy court, it would send a clear message that it couldn’t be used to avoid litigation.
This is our goal: to advocate for clients and work effectively within the legal system to get the outcome you deserve. Because when it comes down to it, this is a litigation issue, not a bankruptcy issue.
When facing court cases like this, clients often get discouraged at the perceived setback. That’s understandable, but we always impress upon our clients the importance of remaining resilient. If you’re dealing with a lawsuit and your adversary has declared bankruptcy, don’t give up just yet. Instead, contact the experienced litigators at Eyet Law to discuss what your options are.