Relevant Info

Weekly articles published by Jim Comstock of JCBAS.


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California Fire Prevention Fee          •Divorce — Be Prepared          •Exercises — Simple & Amazing      •FICO Credit Score          •Foreign Financial Account Reporting          •I-9 Employment Eligibility           •Mobile Passport          •Unclaimed Property and Escheat Laws


Divorce – Be Prepared

Jim Comstock Carlsbad with JCBAS offers his insight regarding emotional & financial issues in divorce.

Emotions aside divorce is a very difficult process and the concept can seem bizarre.  However, in California divorce is based upon the concept of fairness.  However, ones interpretation of fairness can be dramatically different from the other parties.

In California, there are two grounds for divorce (also known as dissolution):

  1. Irreconcilable differences. You simply check this box on the dissolution petition and the court will grant your divorce.
  2. Incurable insanity (almost never used).

There are 3 main ways to end a marriage in California – divorce, legal separation, or annulment. It is not necessary for both spouses to agree to end the marriage. Either spouse can decide to end the marriage, and the other spouse, even if he or she does not want to get a divorce, cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. If a spouse or domestic partner does not participate in the divorce case, the other spouse will still be able to get a “default” judgment and the divorce will go through.

California is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that the spouse that is asking for the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse did something wrong.  To get a no fault divorce, one spouse has to state that the couple cannot get along. Legally, this is called “irreconcilable differences.”

After you decide how you want to end your marriage, you need to plan your case ahead of time. Think about how you are going to handle your case. Planning before you start can save you time and money as you go through the court process. And keep in mind that, normally, it does not matter who is the first to file the divorce or separation case. The court does not give any preference to the first person to file or a disadvantage to the person who responds to the case.

Where can I help?

  • After you overcome emotions divorce boils down to dividing your assets.
  • Understanding your true assets and liabilities is critical.
  • Rebuilding for the future is paramount to your financial wellbeing.
  • I can help you understand the overall picture to help in your transition.  I consulting with divorcing couples and/or help the individual(s) to prepare for divorce either through financial analysis or reviewing the financial consequences of divorce.  Remember you need to go into divorce with “Eyes Wide Open

JCBAS advises small business entrepreneurs with planning services including tax, financial, estate, business and divorce.  We are strategic in nature and develop a simple and effective plan of action to reach you goals and objectives.  Visit us at


 I-9 Employment Eligibility Form

Jim Comstock Carlsbad with JCBAS offers his insight regarding required I-9 Employment Eligibility Form.
All employers and employees must adhere to this law and for employers it is cumbersome and time consuming but In order for a business to be compliant with Form I-9 federal regulations, it requires more than completing the Form I-9. A business must have in place written policies and procedures that address a variety of issues that relate to Form I-9 compliance. Too often, businesses fail to do this and when the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) conducts an inspection of their Form I-9s, the business is penalized because it has not properly addressed a wide variety of issues that are critical to I-9 compliance.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) required employers to verify that all newly hired employees present “facially valid” documentation verifying the employee’s identity and legal authorization to accept employment in the United States. The I-9 form or more properly the Employment Eligibility Verification Form is provided by the federal government for that purpose. Every employee hired after November 6, 1986 must complete an I-9 form at the time of hire. Employees must complete Section 1 of the form at the actual beginning of employment. The employer must complete Section 2 within three days of starting work. The employer is responsible for ensuring that the forms are completed properly, and in a timely manner. The I-9 is not required for unpaid volunteers or for contractors. However, a company could still find itself liable if it contracts work to a company knowing that the contractor employs unauthorized workers. On March 8, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS published a new I-9 Form. Use of earlier versions of the I-9 form are only acceptable until May 7, 2013. After May 7, 2013, all employers must use the revised I-9 Form. The revised I-9 form requires input from both the employee and employer (or an authorized representative of the employer). Although the new form is largely the same, several lay-out changes were made in order to make the form easier to read & more user-friendly. See
Employers must retain a Form I-9 for all current employees. Employers must also retain a Form I-9 for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later. Employers must show their employees’ I-9 any time if the immigration or labor authority requests.
The IRCA includes penalties for I-9 noncompliance. According to the I-9 form, “federal law provides for imprisonment and/or fines for false statements or use of false documents in connection with the completion of this form.” An employer who hires an unauthorized worker can be fined between $250 and $5,500 per worker. In addition, such an employer can be barred from federal government contracts for a year. An employee who knowingly accepts fraudulent documentation can also be criminally prosecuted under other immigration laws.
An employer who fails to keep proper records that I-9s are properly filed can be fined $110 per missing item for each form, up to $1100 per form, even if the employee is legally authorized to work in the US. Since 2009, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has conducted over 7,500 audits and imposed over $80 million in fines. In 2011 alone, ICE conducted 2,740 audits and assessed over $7 million in fines.
An individual who knowingly commits or participates in document fraud may be fined between $375 and $3,200 per document for the first offense, and between $3,200 and $6,500 per document for subsequent offenses.
JCBAS advises small business entrepreneurs with planning services including tax, financial, estate, business and divorce. We are strategic in nature and develop a simple and effective plan of action to reach you goals and objectives. Visit us at

Mobile Passport

Jim Comstock Carlsbad with JCBAS offers his insight regarding a free App to fast track you through Customs.

Skip the line at the airport when entering the USA with MOBILE PASSPORT! Officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, MOBILE PASSPORT allows travelers to submit their passport control and customs declaration information via their iPhone or iPad and bypass the regular line to enter the United States. This app effectively replaces the traditional blue-and-white paper declaration form required of all travelers entering the U.S. by air.

1.  Complete your profile with basic passport information.
2. Answer US CBP’s questions about your trip.
3. Submit your information WHEN YOU LAND and get a receipt from US CBP.
4. Skip the regular line and follow the signs for Mobile Passport Control.
5. Scan your receipt and show your passport to the US CBP officer.

MOBILE PASSPORT service is currently available at:
– Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)
– Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
– Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
– Denver International Airport (DEN)
– Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
– Miami International Airport (MIA)
– Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)
– New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
– Newark International Airport (EWR)
– Orlando International Airport (MCO)
– Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU)
– San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
– San Jose International Airport (SJC)
– Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
– Tampa International Airport (TPA)
– Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)

US and Canadian citizens, on B1 or B2 visas, are eligible to use MOBILE PASSPORT. Household members who are traveling together may be included in a single submission.  Submissions must be sent upon landing at destination airport. Receipts are valid for 4 hours.

JCBAS advises small business entrepreneurs with planning services including tax, financial, estate, business and divorce.  We are strategic in nature and develop a simple and effective plan of action to reach you goals and objectives.  Visit us at

Exercises — Simple & Amazing

Jim Comstock Carlsbad with JCBAS offers his insight regarding a simple and effective exercise routine that has served the United States Marines well.  Excerpts taken from Marine Military Academy Blog.

These 7 exercises will get you in shape and more importantly stay in shape.  No gym membership necessary but a determination and commitment is required.  Wake up an hour early and perform these 7 exercises each and every day and in no time your body will adjust and you will feel better.

  1. Side straddle hops or jumping jacks: From a standing position, jump and land with your legs apart. As you jump out, raise your arms and bend them above your head. Jump back with your legs together and your arms back at your side. Repeat.


  1. Push-ups:Facing down, put your hands on the floor in a wide position and straighten your legs. With your heels together, push up with your arms. Repeat.


  1. Mountain climbers:Facing down, put your hands on the floor shoulder-length apart with your legs bent and heels together. Jump one leg forward and the other back. Do the same thing with the alternate leg. Repeat.


  1. Bends and thrusts or squat thrusts: From a standing position, squat down and put your hands on the floor shoulder-length apart. Kick both of your legs out and land them with the heels together. Kick your legs back to the squatting position and stand up. Repeat.


  1. Leg lifts:Lie down with a flat back and lift both legs with the heels together as high as possible. Repeat.


  1. Flutter kicks:Lie down with a flat back and lift one leg six inches high and do the same with the alternate leg. Repeat.


  1. Crunches:Lie down on the floor with a flat back. Bend the legs and keep them shoulder-length apart. Cross your arms. Without moving your legs, lift your upper body up and stop before the elbows touch the knees. Recline back down. Repeat.


Not everyone can start off doing 50 repetitions of the Marine Corps’ Daily 7, but the important thing to take away is to perform the exercises correctly and to the best of your ability. Then just build up.

“The hardest part about working out really isn’t the exercises. It’s the habit. Exercise should be a habit, part of your daily schedule.”

Yes! I finally learned the secret to staying slim and trim: Make exercise a lifestyle! Exercise isn’t something that should only be done once or twice a week — or for only a few weeks after the gluttonous holidays! For it to work its magic, exercise needs to be done consistently.

JCBAS advises small business entrepreneurs with planning services including tax, financial, estate, business and divorce.  We are strategic in nature and develop a simple and effective plan of action to reach you goals and objectives.  Visit us at

FICO Credit Score

Jim offers his insight regarding FICO and your credit score.  FICO stands for Fair Isaac Corporation which is the largest and best known of several companies that provide software for calculating a person’s credit score.  The first FICO scores hit the scene in 1989 and the range of scores today is from 300 to 850.  Your credit score impacts your ability to get a loan and affects the interest rate you will pay.  Nearly 200 million consumers have FICO scores and each consumer can have at least 60 different FICO scores.

Your Fico score is not static.  FICO has refined its model to zero in on certain types of lending that predict mortgage risk, auto loan risk, installment loan risk, credit card risk and personal finance risk.  Furthermore each of the credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion and Experian capture and report data slightly different so the same credit data would result in different scores from each of those 3 agencies.  What does your FICO score mean?

800 or higher – top 20% of consumers. You are exceptional risk

740 to 799 – top 40% of consumers.  Dependable borrower

670 to 739 – average consumer.  Considered good score

580 to 699 – lowest 40% of consumers.  Some lenders will lend to you

Less than 580 – lowest 20% of consumers.  You are considered very risky

For a FICO score to be calculated your record must contain recent info.  You must have an account that has been open for six months or longer and at least one account that has been reported to the credit bureau within the last six months.  The weights assigned to your FICO are based on five factors;

Payment History 35% of your FICO score

Credit Use 30% of your FICO score

Length of Credit History15% of your FICO score

New Credit 10% of your FICO score

Types of Credit 10 % of your FICO score

Think of FICO scores like Microsoft Windows versions that started as basic and have evolved into sophisticated applications over time.  FICO is similar in that they continuously redefine and refine their models to meet lenders needs and to predict with more accuracy your credit worthiness.

You can request a free copy of your credit report.  You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order online from the only authorized website for free credit reports, or call 1-877-322-8228. You will need to provide your name, address, social security number, and date of birth to verify your identity.  Challenge any incorrect info and remember your FICO scores will change over time.

JCBAS advises small business entrepreneurs with planning services including tax, financial, estate, business and divorce.  We are strategic in nature and develop a simple and effective plan of action to reach you goals and objectives.  Visit us at


Foreign Financial Account Reporting

Jim Comstock Carlsbad with JCBAS offers his insight regarding a vexing challenge to taxpayers who have a financial interest in, or signature authority over, at least one financial account located outside the United States and the total value of all accounts held overseas exceeds $10,000.00

Your income tax preparer should ask if you have authority over financial account(s) held overseas.  The purpose of this question is to determine if you have to file a Form 8938 with your personal income tax return (due date April 15) or if you have to file FinCEN Form 114 (due date June 30 but changing to April 15 for 2016 tax year).  You may have to file both forms!

FBAR is the first challenge.

If the aggregate value of financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year or you have a financial interest in an account held overseas then you must report the account and the value.  On your tax return on Schedule B, Part III it asks if you had a financial interest or signature authority over a financial account in a foreign county.  No matter the dollar amount you must answer yes if you do.  The next question asks if you have to file FBAR which if the amount is over $10,000 then you must answer yes.  You then list the county and also answer the question about foreign trusts.  For 2015 tax year (with return filed in 2016) the due date for filing the FBAR is June 30, 2016.  Starting with 2016 tax year the FBAR is due April 15th the same due date as your tax return.  However, you cannot extend the filing date of FBAR.  FBAR is not filed with the IRS.  It is filed with the Department of the Treasury.

See IRS link for additional information at:

For FBAR see:

Form 8938 is the second challenge.

If the aggregate value of financial assets exceeds $50,000/100,000 (depending on filing status) on the last day of the tax year or more than $75,000/150,000 at any time during the tax year then you have exceeded the threshold and must file Form 8938.  This form is filed with you individual income tax return with the IRS.

For Form 8938 see:

The penalties for non-compliance are severe.  Failure to file an FBAR can subject you to a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 per violation for non-willful violation.  For willful violations the penalty is the greater of $100,000 or 50% of the balance in the account at the time of the violation.

JCBAS advises small business entrepreneurs with planning services including tax, financial, estate, business and divorce.  We are strategic in nature and develop a simple and effective plan of action to reach you goals and objectives.  Visit us at


Unclaimed Property and Escheat Laws

Jim Comstock Carlsbad with JCBAS offers his insight regarding claiming money owed to you by the State of California or from the San Diego County the Tax Collector.

The San Diego County Tax collector has $372,244 in overpaid property taxes and fees that they are now trying to refund to some 1,158 people and businesses.  The list of people who may be due a refund is available at the tax collector’s website or by phone at (877) 829.4732.  The deadline to file a claim for the county tax collector is September 12, 2016.  Money that is not returned to the rightful owner is transferred to the San Diego County general fund.

The State of California is currently in possession of more than $8 billion in Unclaimed Property belonging to approximately 32.5 million individual and organizations.  The method is called Escheatment which is a process whereby unclaimed property is rendered to the state.

California’s Unclaimed Property Law requires corporations, businesses, associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies (referred to as “Holders”) to annually report and deliver property to the California State Controller’s Office after there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner for a period of time specified in the law – generally (3) three years or more.

The most common types of Unclaimed Property are:

  • Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Uncashed cashier’s checks or money orders
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Matured or terminated insurance policies
  • Estates
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts.

New eClaim service is available if:

  1. You are the only owner listed for the property and;
  2. The value is less than $5,000.

To check out all the services offered or to investigate a claim go to:

Generally your claim will be processed in 14 days through eClaim.  However, some properties like cashier’s checks, money order, royalties and safe deposit box contents cannot be claimed online because they require additional proof of ownership.

JCBAS advises small business entrepreneurs with planning services including tax, financial, estate, business and divorce.  We are strategic in nature and develop a simple and effective plan of action to reach you goals and objectives.  Visit us at

California Fire Prevention Fee

Jim Comstock Carlsbad with JCBAS offers his insight regarding the California Fire Prevention Fee. Assembly Bill X1 29, approved by the California Legislature on June 15, 2011 and signed into law on July 7, 2011, established the new annual Fire Prevention Fee to pay for fire prevention services in locations throughout the state designated as the SRA.

The Fire Prevention Fee is an annual fee for fire prevention services that owners of habitable structures in the State’s Responsibility Area (SRA) are required by law to pay. The SRA is the area of the state where the State of California is financially responsible for the prevention and suppression of wildfires. The SRA does not include lands within incorporated city boundaries or federally owned land. You can see if your property is in the SRA at this link

The fee is based on $152.33 per habitable structure on your property, adjusted for inflation.  On each bill there should be a $35 credit if you already pay a special tax or assessment to a local fire protection agency.

After the Legislature, by a mere majority vote, imposed a fire protection “fee” on 850,000 rural homeowners who live in state responsibility areas, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed suit against the state.  At issue: the “fee” provided no additional or new services to property owners, and many property owners receive no service at all; therefore it clearly meets the Proposition 13 definition of a tax, which requires a two-thirds vote of lawmakers.

In an effort to protect all charged taxpayers, the suit was filed as a “class action.” Lawyers for the state, who want to continue to collect the illegal tax, have filed repeated motions to delay trial, including motions to dismiss the case and motions challenging the “class action” status of the suit.  After nearly four years of legal work, the court has ruled that the case may proceed as a class action.   Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association just completed the public notification process that a class action suit requires.  It is their hope and intention that the legal process will now proceed rapidly.  You can sign up for free alerts to keep you informed as the case progresses.  Also, review the FAQs for answers to common questions about the tax from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association at

Challenging the Fee and Claiming a Refund: You must pay your bill.  PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE DUE DATE.  You may have fewer than 30 days to pay.  If you are late, a penalty and interest are added.  Moreover, the fee is a lien on your property, and failure to pay can result in foreclosure.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association provides a “Petition for Redetermination” with a preprinted “Reason for Petition” that you can fill out and submit.  The petition includes instructions and can be located at

JCBAS advises small business entrepreneurs with planning services including tax, financial, estate, business and divorce.  We are strategic in nature and develop a simple and effective plan of action to reach you goals and objectives.  Visit us at