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Posted By Jennifer Willis-Jost, ASU Law Group, Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Agreements are the Foundations of your Business –Make Sure they Meet your Needs and Ensure your Success.

Are you getting conflicting advice? You’ve been told to get things in writing, but when things go awry and you ask for help, your mentors are shocked: did you really sign this? Many aspects of your business revolve around agreements – you offer to sell a product or service, customers accept. You solicit bids, vendors quote, you negotiate or accept. You recruit, make offers, and hire workers. Contracts can be as simple as an offer and acceptance -- the essence of your trade. When does it makes sense to be in writing and when do you check with an attorney before you sign?
These tips are for business owners about Promises, Promises.
Handshake deals are valid and enforceable in Arizona. Your promise is the same as signing your name to a contract. Look out for these types of contracts which by law must be in writing in Arizona and signed (digitally or inked) to be enforced:

➢ Real estate sales
➢ Leases longer than one year
➢ Contracts taking longer than one year to complete
➢ Agreements to pay someone else’s debts
➢ Purchase, sale of goods valued at $500 or more
➢ Business loans, extensions of credit greater than $250,000
➢ Contracts lasting longer than the life of the party performing the contract

Oral contracts work fine - until they don’t. If you haven’t put the basics in writing, it is your word against theirs.
It makes sense to “get it in writing” to protect your business and the terms of the deal. This in turn helps you get paid, get what you paid for, limits your risk, and provides a remedy if the other party defaults. Written contracts are nearly always more defensible.
Don’t Sign That [yet]
Contract mistakes can cost you money, or worse, which is why we say, “don’t sign that” until you’ve checked it out. Contracts are legally enforceable documents. Just because you made a bad deal is not good enough legally to get out of it.
Watch out for red flags:

➢ Multiyear term. Change is constant. You need flexibility.
➢ No termination clause. You always need an exit plan.
➢ No obligations on the other side. You promise, you pay, but no duty to deliver.

Before signing, review these contracts with your attorney or contract specialist:

• Settlement Checks, Releases, Waivers
• Confidentiality, Nondisclosure Agreements
• Leases – Real and Personal Property
• Hold Harmless and Indemnification
• Co-signing for Another
• Non-compete Agreements • Sale of Business Assets, Interests
• Real Estate Purchases, Sales
• Signing a Contract:
• after you’ve done the work
• a vendor’s quote/proposal
• after you got the job

Texts, IMs, Emails: Beware. Even though texts, instant messaging and emails are informal, courts have found these writings can satisfy legal requirements for a contract. Arizona recognizes ‘electronic signatures.’ A printed name at the end of an email, signature block, or “from” line, can be sufficient as ‘electronic signatures’ and binding. Train your workers about their IMs, emails and texts, to be cautious when proposing prices and deal terms, and not use legal terms like “offer,” “agree” and “accept.”
After all, the devil is in the details.

*This article is general legal information. Check with a lawyer for specific advice.

About ASU Law Group
ASU Law Group is a not-for-profit law firm with the purpose of hiring recent graduates of the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at ASU, to help them become practice-ready. To accomplish this, experienced attorneys mentor associates in core competency and professionalism skills, while delivering high-quality legal services. ASU Law Group provides a wide range of legal services for small to mid-size businesses and entrepreneurs including business organization, transactions, litigation, contracts, intellectual property, employment, real estate, leases, and professional and business licenses; for clients who are attracted to forward-thinking, collaborative services.

Tags:  legal  legal advice  legal services  small business 

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Understanding Trademark and Service Mark Symbols

Posted By Jay Calhoun, Calhoun Law Firm, PLC, Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Trademark and Service Mark Symbols

A trademark/service mark is a distinctive mark (word, symbol, packaging) that identifies goods produced or services provided by a business. Its origin dates back to craftsmen who placed their signatures, or “marks”, on their products.  A trademark aids consumers in identifying products or services associated with producers or suppliers they value.

Trademark protection safeguards an owner’s exclusive right to use the mark to identify their goods or services.  The period of protection varies, but a trademark can be renewed indefinitely. Trademark protection is legally enforced by courts that have the authority to stop trademark infringement.

The ®, ™, and ℠ symbols associated with a mark each have a different use and afford different legal protections.


The trademark symbol, ™, is used to claim trademark rights to a particular name, logo or slogan in connection with the sale of products. When a new line of products is created and the associated trademark has yet to be registered, the ™ symbol can be used next to the mark.  Use of the ™ in connection with a trademark does not grant the business any additional trademark rights. Only applying for and obtaining a trademark can do that. A business can, however, use the ™ symbol even if they have not yet applied for a trademark on the name. Think of it as a placeholder until a registered federal trademark is acquired.


The service mark symbol, ℠, is essentially the same as the trademark symbol. The key difference is that service marks are applied to service businesses where trademarks are applied to products. A service business, will often place the ℠ next their business name in advertising and promotions.  The same legal status applies to the service mark symbol as the trademark symbol. It does not grant the business any additional legal rights, and the business does not need to have applied for a service mark to use it.


The trademark registration symbol, ®, denotes a federally registered trademark. Under federal law, a business may not use this symbol unless they have acquired a federal trademark registration. Once the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) notifies the business that its trademark registration application has been approved and registered, the business can append the ® symbol to the trademarked name, logo or slogan. The business can use the ® symbol only in connection with the goods and services listed in the federal registration, and the business can only use it while the trademark is active.  Federal registration has several advantages, including notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark, a legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and the exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods or services set forth in the registration.


The Calhoun Law Firm, PLC headquarters are located at 2375 East Camelback Road #600 Phoenix, Arizona 85016. For more information visit or contact Jay Calhoun at or (480) 967-1800.

Tags:  attorney  law  lawyer  small business 

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IRS warning: Don’t be a victim of ‘ghost’ tax return preparers

Posted By Lisa Novack, IRS, Wednesday, April 11, 2018

IR-2018-89, April 10, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service is cautioning taxpayers to avoid the dangers of “ghost” tax return preparers.

According to the IRS, a ghost preparer is paid to prepare a tax return, but does not sign it, either electronically or on paper, as the paid preparer. These phantom preparers who won't put their name on the tax return are a warning sign for taxpayers of a potential scam. 

Here's how it works. The ghost preparer can print the paper return for their client and tells them to sign and mail it to the IRS. Or, for electronically-filed returns, they will prepare it but won’t digitally sign it as the paid preparer. By doing so, the tax return appears to be self-prepared, with no indication that a paid tax preparer was used in completing the tax return -- helping keep the return preparer under the radar.

By law, anyone who prepares or assists in preparing federal tax returns for compensation must have a valid 2018 Preparer Tax Identification Number, or PTIN, before preparing any tax return. Tax preparers should sign the tax returns they prepare on paper and include their PTIN on the tax return, which provides the IRS with their identifying information. A paid tax preparer who prepares more than 10 tax returns is also generally required to e-file those returns. In this case, the preparer would digitally sign the tax return.


For 2018, the IRS has issued more than 737,000 PTINs to tax preparers.

Dishonest and unscrupulous tax preparers, including some who are “ghost" tax preparers, perpetuate refund fraud and scams that hurt honest taxpayers who are simply trying to do the right thing and file a legitimate tax return. Dishonest preparers look to make a fast buck by promising a big refund, sometimes charging fees based on a percentage of the refund. These shady preparers may also:

  • Require payment in cash only and not provide a receipt.
  • Invent income to erroneously qualify their clients for tax credits or claim fake deductions to enable the taxpayer to get a larger refund.
  • Direct refunds into their own financial account rather than the taxpayer’s account.

The IRS urges taxpayers to review their tax return carefully and ask questions if something is not clear before they sign and file it with the IRS. They should ensure they are comfortable with the accuracy of their tax return. And for any direct deposit refund, taxpayers should make sure both the routing and bank account number on the completed tax return are correct.


Taxpayers can report abusive tax preparers to the IRS. Use Form 14157, Complaint: Tax Return Preparer. If a taxpayer suspects a tax preparer filed or changed their tax return without their consent, they should file Form 14157-A, Tax Return Preparer Fraud or Misconduct Affidavit.


To find a tax preparer, taxpayers can visit the IRS preparer directory at Remember: Taxpayers are legally responsible for what is on their tax return even if someone else prepares it.



Tags:  finance  government  IRS  small business  tax planning  taxes 

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Do you have the right amount of federal income tax withholding?

Posted By Lisa Novack, IRS, Friday, March 16, 2018


Do you have the right amount of federal income tax withholding?
Find out with a Paycheck Checkup!


Recent tax law changes can affect the amount of withholding you should have for 2018. The revised IRS Withholding Calculator can help determine if you can put more money into your paycheck or make sure that you’re withholding enough. File the recently revised Form W-4 with your employer if you need to change your withholding.

(Please click the underlined text below for more information or check the homepage on


  1. READ IRS News Release 2018-36 to learn more about the Updated IRS Withholding Calculator, Revised Form W-4 and how to avoid under- and over-withholding of tax.
  2. USE the IRS Withholding Calculator to help make sure you have the right amount of tax withheld from your paycheck.
  3. FILE a new Form W-4 Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate with your employer to adjust your withholding if a change is needed.
  4. FIND answers to Frequently Asked Withholding Questions, including the withholding calculator.

(Please consult your employer or tax advisor If you have additional questions about your withholding)


Tags:  income  IRS  small business  taxes 

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IRS Updates & News Releases

Posted By Lisa Novack, IRS, Friday, February 16, 2018

IRS Updates & News Releases:

Did you know? One of the best ways to get information is by visiting the IRS Small Business Tax Center where you can learn everything from how to get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) online to how to best navigate an audit.


Scam Alert: IRS Urges Taxpayers to Watch Out for Erroneous Refunds; Beware of Fake Calls to Return Money to a Collection Agency

The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers of a quickly growing scam involving erroneous tax refunds being deposited into their bank accounts. The IRS also offered a step-by-step explanation for how to return the funds and avoid being scammed.


IRS: Avoid the Rush over Presidents Day Holiday; Online Tools, Resources Can Help

With the surge of tax returns expected during the upcoming Presidents Day weekend, the Internal Revenue Service is offering taxpayers several tips and various time-saving resources to get them the help they need from the IRS quickly and easily. The IRS receives more phone calls on the day after Presidents Day than on any other day of the year. This year, that’s Tuesday, Feb. 20. So, ahead of the Presidents Day weekend, the IRS is reminding taxpayers to “Avoid the Rush,” detailing online options taxpayers and tax professionals can use to get information quickly to avoid busy signals and long wait times on the IRS toll-free hotline. Nearly every tax issue can be resolved from the convenience of a home or office.


Avoid the Rush: Track Tax Refunds Online at

With millions of tax refunds being processed, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers they can get fast answers about their refund by using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on and through the IRS2Go app.


To Help Taxpayers, IRS Clarifies Some Common Early Filing Season Myths

With the 2018 filing season in full swing, the IRS offers taxpayers some basic tax and refund tips to clear up some common misbeliefs.

IRS YouTube Videos:
Claiming EITC or ACTC? Your Refund May Be Delayed --
English | Spanish


Key IRS Identity Theft Indicators Continue Dramatic Decline in 2017; Security Summit Marks 2017 Progress Against Identity Theft

The Internal Revenue Service announced steep declines in tax-related identity theft in 2017, attributing the success to the Security Summit initiatives that help safeguard the nation’s taxpayers. Key indicators of identity theft dropped for the second year in a row in 2017. This includes a 40 percent decline in taxpayers reporting they are victims of identity theft in 2016. Since 2015, the number of tax-related identity theft victims has fallen by almost two-thirds and billions of dollars of taxpayer refunds have been protected.


Tax Pros Urged to Step Up Security as Filing Scheme Emerges, Reminded to Report Data Thefts

Seeing the emergence of a new filing season scam, the Internal Revenue Service urges tax professionals to step up security and beware of phishing emails that can secretly download malicious software that can help cybercriminals steal client data. In a new twist, the fraudulent returns in a few cases used the taxpayers' real bank accounts for the deposit. A woman posing as a debt collection agency official then contacted the taxpayers to say a refund was deposited in error and asked the taxpayers to forward the money to her.


IRS Announces 2018 Pension Plan Limitations Not Affected by Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

The Internal Revenue Service today announced that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 does not affect the tax year 2018 dollar limitations for retirement plans announced in IR 2017-177 and detailed in Notice 2017-64.


IRS Issues Guidance on Changes in Accounting Periods Related to the Transition Tax

The Treasury Department and the IRS announced modifications to the procedures for changing the accounting period of foreign corporations owned by U.S. shareholders that are subject to the transition tax under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.


Tax Issues for Alaska Native American Corporations and Alaska Native Settlement Trusts

The Internal Revenue Service reminds Alaska Native Corporations and Alaska Native Settlement Trusts that they may be able to take advantage of certain benefits in the recently enacted tax reform legislation.


IRS Names 8 New IRPAC Members

The Internal Revenue Service announced the selection of eight new members and 14 reinstated members for the Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee (IRPAC), which provides a forum for IRS officials and members of the public to address information reporting issues.


IRS Statement on Retroactive Extender Provisions

The IRS is reviewing the legislation signed Feb. 9 that retroactively extended and modified numerous tax provisions covering 2017. We are assessing these significant changes in the tax law and beginning to determine next steps. The IRS will provide additional information as quickly as possible for affected taxpayers and the tax community.


Tax Tips

The Right to Be Informed – Taxpayer Bill of Rights #1

Taxpayers with Expired ITINs Should Renew Them Now to File Their 2017 Taxes

Five Things to Remember About Exemptions and Dependents for Tax Year 2017

Six Reasons to E-file

Tax Filing Season is Here – Things for Taxpayers to Consider

How Taxpayers Across the Country Can Have their Taxes Prepared for Free

Tax Preparers: Take these Steps After a Data Loss 

Tags:  IRS  Small Business  Taxes 

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