About Tal Rappleyea
As a municipal lawyer, Tal Rappleyea gets asked this question all the time: What is a municipality?
A municipality is actually just a technical term for a county or city. Although municipalities are mainly responsible for creating their laws, they hire municipal lawyers that are responsible for enforcing those laws. Tal Rappleyea covers the following municipal law issues to reflect the needs of area residents:
- Education policies, which governs the safety and standards of education in public schools, accommodating students with disabilities, and job security for teachers.
- Property taxes, which outlines how taxed income from residents can be used to benefit the community.
- Police power, which oversees how police officers monitor resident behavior.
- Zoning, which determines how land in the municipality is used.
Some municipal lawyers work internally for one municipality, while others practice law individually for multiple municipalities. Tal practices law individually in his own private practice and serves several counties in the Albany metro area in New York state.
Tal Rappleyea was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in January 1989. This chapter of the bar association is actually the largest voluntary state bar organization in the nation with a membership of more than 74,000 lawyers. Tal is proud to be a member, considering former presidents Grover Cleveland and Chester A. Arthur were members of the New York State chapter as well.
With nearly three decades of experience and a Juris Doctorate from Hamline State University, Tal Rappleyea has explored municipal law in several roles as an attorney, ranging from positions as Attorney for the Town and Attorney for the Village of several municipalities. Currently, Tal is a solo practitioner in his own Law Offices of Tal G. Rappleyea in Valatie, New York and lists municipal law as one of his main concentrations.
Tal is a supporter the New York State Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials (NYCOM), which is an organization that trains municipal officials and operates as a general support group for municipal officials in each state. He is also very active in his community, as he is a member of the Capital District Trial Lawyers Association and holds a position in the County Bar Association of New York State.
Although Tal Rappleyea maintains an active lifestyle by volunteering in his community and maintaining memberships in his field of practice, he still makes time for one of his pastimes, golf, by on the range.
- “Deal of the Year” Award from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY)
- Named one of the three new inductees to the Ethics Committee of REBNY
- Named to the Executive Board of New York Residential Specialists (NYRS).
When the IRS processes tax returns, a computer selects some of them at random for closer examination and a possible audit. There isn’t really a way to avoid this lottery, and any return could be the lucky winner. There are, however, red flags that can make a return stand out in a bad way and prompt a closer look. It’s best to avoid these audit triggers whenever possible.
Work expenses, charitable donations, and business losses can all lower a taxpayer’s bill come April 15. Excessive amounts in these columns look suspicious, however. A business that loses thousands of dollars every year isn’t likely to last long and most people won’t keep a job that requires them to spend large amounts of money rather than making it. Taxpayers who make a large donation or suffer a significant loss may want to keep the proof in a very safe place.
The Home Office Deduction
The IRS allows those with a home office to claim a deduction but only if the space is used for business and business only. A woodworking bench in the corner of the garage does not make a carpenter’s entire garage a home office. This deduction is one of the most misunderstood and frequently abused deductions, so taking it can trigger the IRS to take a closer look at a return.
The earned income credit (EIC) gives low-income taxpayers a hefty boost come tax time. As an added bonus, the credit counts as a payment to the IRS even though none was made. This makes it possible for EIC-eligible taxpayers to get a tax refund that exceeds the amount of taxes they actually paid for the year, essentially allowing them to make a small profit when filing their taxes. Because there is a lot of money at stake and it comes out of Uncle Sam’s pocket, EIC returns get run through an extra check as a matter of course, increasing the odds of an audit.
The IRS allows taxpayers to use whole numbers when filing returns, but there are rules about rounding. Any dollar amount ending in 50 cents or more gets rounded up to the next whole dollar. Amounts ending in 49 cents or less go down to the next whole dollar. It’s unacceptable to round $495 up to $500, however. Returns filled with perfectly round and even numbers raise red flags.
If an audit does happen, the key to getting through it is to stay calm. Always keep the necessary paperwork as proof and simply provide the IRS with the requested information. With the right documentation or access to it, most audits actually cause very little pain.