Non-compete Agreements: Why You Should Not Sign One (and What to Do If You Did)

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

Like most states, Louisiana lets employers ask employees to sign Non-Compete Agreements.

What are they? 

They are contracts that after you leave or lose the job, keep you from doing similar work in a region, for up to two years.  Employers often give these agreements to a new hire with a lot of other paperwork, so you might not notice what you are signing if you aren’t careful.

These agreements began as something to protect company secrets and investments, but have been allowed to spread into practically every type of job, even fast food outlets and home health sitting companies.

Why not sign? 

Employers who won’t hire you unless you sign a non-compete agreement will usually sue you for money and to make you stop working at your new job or self-employment if you violate the agreement.  So, it’s best to not even sign one in the first place.  How do you avoid signing one?  Just say “NO.”  It’s not illegal for an employer to ask you to sign, but you do not have to sign it. You can say, I’ll work for you but not sign that non-compete agreement, if you will still take me.  You can also say no to the job.

If you need work and jobs are hard to find, it will be hard to say “no” to an employer demanding you sign a non-compete agreement to work for them.  But, once you sign one, you’ve limited your choice of future jobs or self-employment for up to two years from when you stop working with that employer.  If you are fine with that, and really want the job, there may be no reason for you not to sign a non-compete agreement. When more and more employers use these agreements to restrict more and more people’s right to work, it gets harder and harder for everyone who works for a wage or who wants to start their own business.

What if you signed one? 

Protect yourself from being sued.  If the agreement is legal, the employer can sue you for any money loss you cause their business and a court can order you to stop working at the new job.

If you aren’t sure it is legal, consult a lawyer if you can.  If it is legal, wait for the time limit to pass before starting any type of work that might be covered by the non-compete agreement.  If you are sued, see a lawyer right away.

Tax Sales: Know Your Rights  

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

What is a tax sale?

A tax title sale is the sale or adjudication of the tax sale title on a property on which delinquent taxes are owed.  These properties are sold to the public at an auction for the amount of delinquent taxes due plus any accrued interest, penalties, costs, and other statutory imposed fees.

How does the tax sale work?

Properties for which past taxes are owed are offered at a public auction for the past due amount.  The tax debtor will be notified in advance by mail, and the sale will be announced to the public through publication in the official journal of the parish more than 30 days before and within 7 days of the opening day of the tax sale.  Properties available for tax sale can be found on https://www.civicsource.com/ They will be subject to an open bidding process and will be available to view starting one month before the opening date. Rather than bidding on the dollar amount, anyone can bid on a percent ownership interest in the property. The bidder willing to pay the total delinquent amount due for the least percent ownership interest will be the successful bidder.

Why is the tax sale happening on the property?

The property is being sold because there are overdue taxes and/or liens associated with the property for the current tax year or previous tax year(s).

How can a homeowner stop a tax sale from taking place on their property?

The homeowner can only prevent the property from being sold at a tax sale if they (1) are a member of the United States military on active duty and notify the parish tax collector of their active military status, pursuant to 50 U.S.C. § 561; (2) pay the overdue taxes and/or liens no later than the day before the opening of the tax sale to the parish assessor; or (3) file for bankruptcy in which an order stopping the tax sale will be issued.

After the tax sale occurs what happens next?

After the successful tax sale, the winning bidder needs to record the tax sale in the parish mortgage office.  The homeowner then has three years from that date to redeem the property (18 months in Orleans Parish if the property is legally blighted or abandoned) by paying all the amounts owed to the Assessor’s office.  This would include the tax sale purchase price, plus a five percent (5%) penalty and one percent (1%) interest per month from the date of the tax sale until the date of redemption.

After the tax sale does the homeowner still own his house?

Yes, the ownership of the house does not change with the tax sale.  However, during this time all notices from the Assessor’s office for the property taxes are sent to the tax sale purchaser.  If a subsequent year’s property taxes are not paid, another tax sale auction could be held on the property.

Can the homeowner be evicted from his house after a tax sale?

No, since the ownership of the house is still with the homeowner and not the tax sale purchaser.  This fact should defeat any eviction attempt.

What if the property was purchased at the tax sale with less than 100% interest?

The tax sale is still a valid sale but the tax sale purchaser only owns the percentage of the tax sale that he paid for.  If the property is not timely redeemed and becomes subject to a Quiet Title lawsuit, the property will have to be sold at public auction and the proceeds will be paid to the tax sale purchaser at their bid percentage.  The homeowner would receive the remaining funds, but the ownership of the house would be lost due to the sale at auction.

Can a family member or other third party redeem the property? 

Yes, any person may redeem tax sale title to property, but the redemption shall be in the name of the homeowner.

What happens if the homeowner fails to redeem the tax sale within the allowed time period?

If the tax sale property is not redeemed within the redemptive period, full ownership of the tax sale property, free of ownership and other interests, claims or encumbrances can be obtained by the filing of a lawsuit to Quiet Title in the parish court where the property is located.  The homeowner and all other interested parties will have to be served with the lawsuit.

Can the homeowner still redeem the tax sale property after getting sued in a Quiet Title lawsuit?

Depends.  First, the redemption will no longer be voluntarily since the redemption period has ended.  If a Quiet Title lawsuit has been filed, then the property rights will be determined in this lawsuit.  At this time, the homeowner can negotiate with the tax sale purchaser to keep his property.  But, the tax sale purchaser can demand any price to settle this matter.

What Should I Do If I Get a Check in the Mail From a Lender?

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

I received a check in the mail made out to me.  Should I cash it?

Not necessarily.  Be sure to read all the fine print to determine whether the check is a refund from a reliable agency such as the Internal Revenue Service or it is a common “Live Check Loan.”

What is a live check loan?

A live check loan is a loan offer sent by lending agencies to pre-approved borrowers offering a small loan, usually $500-$2500, typically at very high interest rates often above 25% APR.  This loan offer will include a check made out to you ready to cash.  Live check loans should also include: a disclosure of the loan fees, the annual percentage rate (APR), the payment schedule, the loan agreement, a privacy notice about the sharing of your personal information, your right to exclude your name from future offers – called an opt-out notice, and contact information for the sender.  Upon cashing or depositing the check, you are accepting all the terms and conditions attached to the loan.  Be sure to read the fine print included with this check to determine whether this loan is right for you.

Is this pre-approved loan offer a scam?

Scammers sometimes send fake loan offers via mail, email, or text. These may look very similar to actual live check loan offers, but they are used to get your personal or financial information in order to commit identity theft or fraud.  If the loan asks you to send money, personal, or financial information in return, it is most likely a scam.  Visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Complaint Database to see if the lender is licensed in your state and whether there are complaints against them at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/consumer-complaints/ If you think this offer is a scam, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/

How does a live check work?

If you want to accept the live check loan, you must endorse the check by signing the back of the check and cashing or depositing the funds into your bank account. This creates a loan agreement that you must repay with interest in accordance with the payment plan included. If you pay late or do not pay, you may be charged fees along with interest, and the lender may report your debt to a credit reporting agency which could affect your credit score. To reject the loan offer, you should securely destroy—by shredding and throwing away—the live check to avoid potential fraudulent use by others.

How do I determine if I should accept this loan offer?

Live check loans may be convenient since you do not have to complete a loan application or file paperwork. However, live check loans may have much higher interest rates than other loans or credit cards. If you are interested in a loan or line of credit, you should follow these few simple steps:

  • Research the lender. Check if the lender is licensed to do business in your state through your state’s bank regulator. Visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau complaint database to see if the lender has complaints.
  • Read the loan agreement. Understanding the loan’s rates and terms helps determine its affordability. The agreement should detail the total annual cost of borrowing, represented as an annual percentage rate and including interest costs and fees; the number of required payments; and payment amounts.
  • Shop around. Compare personal loan rates and terms at credit unions, banks, and online lenders. If you have bad credit, you may be able to get lower rates at federal credit unions, which cap rates on loans at 18 percent. You can also check rates and terms at online lenders. Most run a soft pull on your credit, which has no impact on your credit score.
  • Focus on long-term solutions. Create a budget that tracks your spending, which can identify unnecessary spending and help you pay off debt or direct money to an emergency fund. You can then use cash for emergencies instead of high-interest credit.

What should I do with this live check?

If you decide that you want to accept the loan offer, simply endorse the back of the check with your signature and cash or deposit the check to your bank account.

If you decide that you do not want to accept the loan offer, rip up the check and throw it away.  If you do not destroy the check before throwing it away, you risk someone cashing the check in your name and becoming responsible for a loan you did not receive.

How do I stop these unsolicited loan offers?

If you do not want to receive live checks or other unsolicited loan offers, you have the right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to opt out of future offers for five years or permanently. To opt out for five years, call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t  To opt out permanently, visit https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t and return a signed “Permanent Opt-Out Election form,” which they will send after you make the request.

I already cashed the check.  What do I do now?

Upon cashing the check, you became bound to the terms and conditions of the loan offer.  If you cannot afford the payments as described in the offer, contact the lender about possible options to repay your loan.  If you pay late or do not pay without reaching an agreement with the lender, they may charge fees along with interest, report your debt to a credit reporting agency, or take action to garnish your wages or seize your property.

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

Updated as of 3/16/2021

March 2021 changes to Unemployment Benefits

On March 11, 2021, the President signed the American Rescue Plan Act. This Act has extended the COVID-19 unemployment programs including the $300 added weekly to most unemployment checks. Most rules regarding these plans remain the same, but here is a quick outline of changes.

Has Pandemic Unemployment Assistance been extended?

Yes. This program was enacted on March 27, 2020. The program will now remain in effect until the week ending on Saturday, September 4, 2021 giving claimants up to 79 weeks of benefits.

The program may be extended again, but this will be up to Congress.

There is no information as to what may become available after September 4, 2021.

What if I ran out of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Benefits before March 13, 2021?

If you met the requirements but ran out of weeks of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you will be able to claim additional benefits. But you will not be able to receive any back payments for weeks before the week ending on March 20, 2021.

What if I never filed for Unemployment Compensation until recently, but have been unemployed due to COVID-19 before March 13, 2021. Can I receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits for earlier weeks?

Maybe. If you are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you may only receive back payments as far as December 1, 2020 if you have just filed for this program.

Has Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation been extended?

Yes. The program will now remain in effect until the week ending on Saturday, September 4, 2021 for up to 53 weeks of benefits.

The program may be extended again, but this will be up to Congress.

There is no information as to what may be available after September 4, 2021.

What if I exhausted my Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits before March 13, 2021?

If you met the requirements but ran out of weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, you will be able to claim additional weeks now. But you will not be able to receive any back payments for weeks before March 20, 2021.

But if you were unemployed due to a recognized Covid-19 related reason for weeks before March 20, 2021 you may be able to qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as discussed above above. The agency may switch you to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, but only for these exhausted weeks.

What is a COVID-19 related reason?

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking medical diagnosis;
  • member of your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • You are providing care for a family member or a member of your household who has COVID-19;
  • A child or other person in the household for whom you are responsible for is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 and this makes you unable to work;
  • You are unable to reach your workplace because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of COVID-19;
  • You are unable to reach your workplace because you have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19;
  • You were scheduled to begin employment and do not have a job or are unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19;
  • You have become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19, and/or
  • Your place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • If you refuse to return to work that is unsafe due to COVID-19.
  • If you refuse to accept a job offer or new work that is unsafe due to COVID-19
  • If you provide services or work for educational institutions or educational agencies, but do not have a contract or a guaranteed return date with the educational employer.
  • If you are currently employed, but:
    • Your hours at work have been reduced, OR
    • You are temporarily laid off from your job, OR
    • You are permanently laid off from your job.

Other reasons might be recognized depending on your situation. It is important to remember that the unemployment agency should review each claim on an individual basis.

Has Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation been extended?

Yes. This program adds $300 in weekly benefits to people’s unemployment benefits. The program now runs until September 4, 2021.

The program may be extended again, but this will be up to Congress.

There is no information as to what may be available after September 4, 2021.

Other important information:

It is always important that after your apply for unemployment compensation, you keep filing your weekly certifications to confirm your unemployment status and report your 3 required weekly work searches.

Even if you are not receiving any payments, it is important to keep filing. This confirms that you remain unemployed or are short on hours of work due to COVID-19. Once the agency determines you are eligible for benefits, you will receive payments for all weeks that you have successfully filed a weekly certification.

Failure to file weekly certification was sometimes excused in the summer and fall of 2020 last year, but now failure to do this may keep your benefits from continuing.

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only.

If you are having problems and need legal assistance, you can apply for our services at our webpage or click here for more information.

 

*Please note, our services are only available for residents of the following parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana

Updated as of 3/16/2021

FEBRUARY 2021 CHANGES TO

PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE BENEFITS

On February 25, 2021, the Department of Labor issued new guidelines for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit program. Certain unemployed workers can get Pandemic Unemployment Assistance even if they were disqualified before.

What new types of individuals may now qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

  • If you refuse to return to work that is unsafe.
  • If you refuse to accept a job offer or new work that is unsafe.
  • If you provide services or work for educational institutions or educational agencies, but do not have a contract or a guaranteed expected return date with the educational employer.
  • If you are currently employed, but:
    • Your hours at work have been reduced, OR
    • You are temporarily laid off from your job, OR
    • You are permanently laid off from your job.

What are some examples of refusing to return to work that is unsafe?

  • If your workplace’s conditions do not meet the local, state, or national COVID-19 health and safety standards.
    • For Example:
      • Employees and Customers were not wearing masks.
        • If certain necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) was not provided at work. Examples:
          • Safe disinfectant products to clean highly touched surfaces.
          • Glass/ Plastic shields for customer services booths/counters.
        • Social distancing was not enforced.
      • If you have a high risk health condition and it would not be safe to continue in your workplace because of the risk of getting COVID-19.
        • For Example:
          • Your workplace has a lot of people coming in and out who could expose you to COVID-19.
        • If you are living with a high risk individual.
          • For Example:
            • Living with a person above the age of 50 years old or with a health condition that puts them at risk.

 

What are some examples of refusing to accept a job offer or new work that is unsafe?

  • The examples are like those above.

What are some examples of services or work for educational institutions or educational agencies, that do not have a contract or a guaranteed expected return date with the educational employer?

  • For example:
    • A temporary substitute teacher who is hired on-call to a school or different schools.
    • A school bus driver who is called on an as needed daily, monthly, or yearly basis.
    • A school cafeteria worker who works for an independent company on an as needed daily, monthly, or yearly basis.

What if I meet one of the reasons listed above, but was denied due to that reason?

  • These provisions apply even to your old claim. You may be able to receive back payments of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, if you applied before and were denied.
  • The agency should be reaching out to individuals who were denied for the reasons listed above. But it may not reach you quickly. You may want to call the Louisiana Workforce Commission’s phone number 1-866-783-5567.
  • The phone line system is usually available from Monday to Friday at 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You will need to call on your designated day:
    • If your Social Security Number ends with 0000-2499, you are to call on Mondays.
    • If your Social Security Number ends with 2500-4999, you are to call on Tuesdays.
    • If your Social Security Number ends with 5000-7499, you are to call on Wednesdays.
    • If your Social Security Number ends with 7500-9999, you are to call on Thursdays.
    • Anyone can call on Fridays
  • It is always good to check the HIRE website to see if there are any extended call-in times outside normal business hours or days.

 

Since when was Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in effect?

  • The program has been made effective for the weeks ending on February 8, 2020 to September 6, 2021 (current deadline under the American Rescue Plan).
  • This means that if you were denied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance on February 10, 2020 for one of the new recognized reasons listed above then you may be entitled to receive benefits for the weeks that you were denied.

What if I did not apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits because my unemployment reason related to COVID-19 was not covered until now?

  • You can still apply for unemployment compensation and be considered for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
  • But your claim can only be backdated to December 1, 2020. You will not be able to get back payments for weeks before that. (These new back payment rules were provided under the Continued Assistance Act and reaffirmed under the American Rescue Plan.)

Other important information:

It is always important that after your apply for unemployment compensation, you remain filing your weekly certifications to confirm your unemployment status.

Even if you are not receiving any payments, it is important to keep filing. As mentioned above, the weekly certifications are a confirmation that you remain unemployed or are experiencing a shortage of hours/days of work due to COVID-19. Once the agency determines you are eligible for benefits, you will receive payments for all weeks that you have successfully filed a weekly certification.

Failure to file weekly certification was sometimes excused in the summer and fall of 2020 last year, but now failure to do this may keep your benefits from continuing.

This post is only meant to provide information on the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance guidelines, and does not represent legal advice. It is not clear on how back payments will be processed for these new recognized COVID-19 reasons. As mentioned above, you may want to call the Agency for more information.

If you are having problems and need legal assistance, you can apply for our services at our webpage or click here for more information. In addition, our COVID-19 hotline number is 1-844-244-7871.

 

*Please note, our services are only available for residents of the following parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana

Do You Need Affordable Health Insurance?

New chance to enroll for reduced price, complete health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (sometimes called Obamacare)

ACA Health Insurance Enrollment
You can enroll in or change Marketplace health insurance plans
February 15, 2021 through August 15, 2021

Whether you are signing up for the first time or want to change your plan under the latest expansion, you must enroll by August 15, 2021.

Heard the Rates are Too High? Financial help lowers costs for 93% of people getting insurance in Louisiana. Financial help can pay for premiums, co-pays, and deductibles.

The American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March makes health coverage more affordable for more people. You may now be eligible for additional savings and lower costs for “Marketplace” health insurance. Reductions are available even for people who were not eligible for coverage before. If you lost your job due to Covid and are receiving unemployment benefits, you may also be able to get help for your “COBRA” coverage.

How does the new law make healthcare coverage more affordable?
Based on your income, the new law covers more of your insurance premiums, copays, and deductibles.

Those who make up to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level can now get coverage through a “Silver Plan” without having to pay premiums. Those who are eligible for this premium-free coverage have household incomes that are at or below these amounts:

Number of People in Your Household Annual Household Income Monthly Average
1 $19,320 $1,610.00
2 $26,130 $2,177.50
3 $32,940 $2,745.00
4 $39,750 $3,312.50
5 $46,560 $3,880.00
6 $53,370 $4,447.50
7 $60,180 $5,015.00
8 $66,990 $5,582.50
For each additional person, add $6,810 $567.50

Help for premium costs also increases for everyone with incomes up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (or, an annual income of about $106,000 a year for a family of 4).

Are these changes permanent?
No. These changes are temporary and will be in effect during 2021 and 2022.

Are there any changes to help those receiving unemployment benefits?
Yes. People who receive unemployment benefits at any time during 2021 will be eligible for a zero-premium “Silver Plan.” This also includes reductions in copays and deductibles. These changes will only be in place for 2021, unless Congress votes to extend them.

Where do I enroll for healthcare benefits?
There are two options for enrolling on your own:

Visit www.healthcare.gov
or
Call 1-800-318-2596

What if I need help enrolling or finding a plan?
Find an assister to help you find a plan that’s best for you by visiting: https://localhelp.healthcare.gov

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I enroll?
Visit http://www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 by August 15, 2021.

If I don’t enroll now, can I enroll later if I get sick or hurt?
Probably not between August 15 and November 1 of 2021.  If you or a family member have to go to the hospital or have other expensive health needs during the year, you may not be able to get coverage after the August 15 deadline.  In November, you can start applying for coverage in 2022.

However, you might qualify for an exception (“special enrollment period”) if you get married, have a baby, adopt a child, or lose your current health insurance. And if your monthly income goes under 138% of the poverty line and you live in Louisiana, you can apply for Medicaid.

What documents will I need to sign up?
For each person in your household, you need social security numbers and information about income and taxes.

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying at the "Get Help" section of our website.

*Please note, our services are only available for residents of the following parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana

Jefferson Parish has announced a new Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help cover up to 15 months of rent. Funds will be issued on a first come first served, so apply early.

Funds for approved applicants will be sent directly to the landlord.

Who is eligible?

To qualify, you must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Be a resident of Jefferson Parish.
  • Have a current residential lease agreement.
  • Have current utility bill in your name.
  • Be able to show you were not behind on rent before April 1, 2020, and are otherwise in good standing with the terms of the lease.
  • Total household income is not more than the following:
    Number of People in Your HouseholdAnnual Household IncomeMonthly Average
    1$39,450$3,287.50
    2$45,050$3,754.16
    3$50,700$4,225.00
    4$56,300$4,691.66
    5$60,850 $5,070.83
    6$65,350 $5,445.83
    7$69,850 $5,820.83
    8$74,350$6,195.83
  • Have documentation to show a decrease in household income related to COVID-19. This includes:
    • Employment Termination Notice
    • Payroll Check or Pay Stubs
    • Bank Statements
    • Medical Bills
    • Signed Letter from Employer explaining your change in financial circumstances
    • Unemployment Award Letter
  • You will also need to sign an agreement that states you are not receiving rental assistance from any other programs or other help on the rent from as a sub-lease or roommates.

*Section 8 Tenants whose rent is based on their household income may be eligible to participate in the Program, and receive up to their share of the rent.

*Tenants living in a subsidized property may be eligible for the TENANT Portion only.

 

How do I apply?

To apply, you must create an account and fill out the application here. To create an account, you will need to have an email address. It is important that you provide a working email address and phone number.

If you need assistance with the application, you can call (504) 226-2324 or email help@jpera.org.

Once your application is reviewed, you will receive a call from a representative if you are eligible. If you are not eligible for the program, you will receive a notification in the mail.

 

 

 

 

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only.

If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

 

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only.

If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

Updated February, 18, 2021

Do I need to pay taxes on the stimulus payments I received from the federal government?

No. The federal government sent two rounds of stimulus payments to eligible individuals and their dependents under 17 years old. The first round was for $1200 for adults and $500 for eligibile dependents, and the second round was for $600. This is different from unemployment benefits you may have received. These payments are NOT taxable income, so you do not have to declare them on your 2020 return or pay taxes on them.

What if I did not receive my stimulus payments?

If you did not receive your stimulus payments:

  • Were you claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return? That person may have received the stimulus payment for you.
  • Did you receive a “Refund Anticipation Loan” (RAL) when you filed your 2018 or 2019 return? The tax preparer may have received the stimulus payment in a bank account set up for you. You should contact the tax preparer.
  • Were you divorced or separated in 2020? Your spouse or former spouse may have been sent the stimulus payment.
  • If you did not file a 2018 or 2019 tax return and did not register on the IRS website, the IRS may not have known where to send your stimulus payment.

If you have not received your stimulus payment, or believe someone else wrongly received your stimulus payment, you should electronically file a 2020 tax return now, claiming the credits for the stimulus amount.

  • You can do this even if you did not work in 2020 or did not have enough income to need to file.
  • If your claim for a stimulus payment refund is denied by the IRS, you will have 30 days to submit a written appeal.

Do I need to pay taxes on my Unemployment Benefits?

Yes. Unemployment benefits are like wages, and you must report it as income on your tax return if you earned enough income to need to file taxes.

  • You should have federal and state income tax deducted from your unemployment benefits, if possible.
  • The Louisiana Workforce Commission should issue you a 1099, which will tell you how much you received. You’ll use this amount when you file your taxes. If you were not sent a 1099, use your own records to report.

If I withdrew money from an IRA or Retirement Account, will I need to pay taxes on it?

Yes. It is taxable income that must be reported on your tax return.

  • Normally, if you withdraw money before the age of 59 ½ years, you must pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty as well as the usual income tax.
  • Due to the pandemic, Congress has changed the rule for withdrawals made in 2020, so you do not have to pay the early withdrawal penalty.
  • You can also spread the withdrawal over 3 years, if you cannot pay tax.

Organizations that Provide Free Tax Preparing and Filing

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA Program) https://www.unitedwaysela.org/vita

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide provides taxpayers 60 and older with low income with free tax help.

You can also go to irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep to search for other free providers.

Be sure to protect yourself when filing your taxes or having them filed for you!

If you are filing your own taxes:

  • You can prepare your own taxes using software or forms downloaded at this website. You will have to create an online account to do this and will need to provide an e-mail address.
  • Low Income taxpayers can file electronically for free on this website.

If you are having someone else prepare and file your taxes:

  • Watch out for fraudulent tax preparers putting false information on your return or stealing your identity. Putting false information on your tax return is a crime. Only you are responsible for your tax return. If you receive a fraudulent refund, YOU will have to pay it back, not the tax preparer. Fraudulent tax preparers may try to steal your identity and file false returns in your name. The IRS has put together a directory of qualified tax preparers here.
  • It is illegal for a tax preparer to charge you a percentage of your refund. The preparer should quote you a set fee.
  • The tax preparer must ask you for documentation of your income, deductions, etc. If they do not, your tax return will not have accurate information.
  • DO NOT sign blank or incomplete returns. Your preparer must sign the return with you.
  • DO NOT allow the preparer list a bank account under their name for your refund to be sent to.

The SLLS Tax Clinic cannot electronically file your current tax return.

SLLS may be able to offer free help if you:

  • Federal taxes and cannot repay them.
  • Are being audited.
  • Need to file for Injured or Innocent Spouse relief.
  • Have been the victim of ID theft with the IRS.

To apply for services, call Lynnette Tillis toll-free at (877) 521-6242, extension 225, or apply on our website here. 

*Please note, our services are only available for residents of the following parishes: Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge Parish, East Feliciana Parish, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge, West Feliciana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

Current As of November 2020

Have you gotten a letter or lawsuit about owing money back to ROAD HOME? If so, help may be available for lawsuits and debt collections.

  • There may be help even if you have not returned home, not elevated or are otherwise not in compliance.
  • There may be help as to the first or later grants from ROAD HOME.

If you have proof any of these problems kept you from elevating or returning to your home, you might be able to get your debt ended or reduced:

The Problem or What Happened

Contractor Fraud

Theft or Vandalism

Later Property Damage (hurricane, flood, fire, etc.)

Money used for rent or other housing costs (After August of 2008)

You had to use the funds to pay down or off the mortgage of the damaged property

Proof You May Need

Copy of contract, receipts, lawsuits filed, proof of incomplete work, police reports, etc.

Police reports, insurance claims, civil or criminal complaints, proof of damage, receipts or proof of stolen items, etc.

Insurance claims or paperwork, building inspections, photos of damages, etc.

Lease agreements, rent receipts, hotel/motel receipts, etc.

Mortgage Payoff letter, copies of insurance checks, payoff statements, etc.

These are some of the common problems and documents used to show what happened. This is not a list of every problem or every document you may need.  Keep the documents in a safe place. Make copies, take pictures or scan the documents. A lawyer experienced in dealing with Road Home collections can help you through this. To see if Southeast Louisiana Legal Services can provide free help, call 1-844-244-7871.

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

There are many reasons why the agency (LWC) can cut off your unemployment after it started. These include failing to do your weekly certifications, misreporting something to the agency, and others. You should get a written notice about any cut-off. If your unemployment benefits have been cut off, you can call Southeast Louisiana Legal Services at 1-844-244-7871 to see if we can provide free help.

The cut-off notice should say why your benefits are being stopped and say how you can appeal. It should be mailed unless you signed up with the agency to get notices another way, like by email. You should always be able to see any notices through your online “HIRE” account.

There are only 15 days to appeal a notice. The appeal is easy to file. But if your benefits stop, it is important to look in HIRE immediately for a notice if you have not gotten one.

Some cut-offs can also be fixed if you do something the agency says you failed to do. If you fix the issue, your benefits can restart the next week.  For example, if you missed your weekly certification, go ahead and do your certification the next week. You will only lose one week’s benefits.  If you are unemployed long enough that your benefits run out, you will end up being paid the same number of weeks as you would have been anyway (making up for your missed week).

But the agency should not:

  1. Cut off your benefits without a notice to you about why and without offering you a hearing. (Even if you call in and the agency says it is working on your claim, the agency must still send you a notice. Not sending a notice when it stops your benefits is wrong.)
  2. Cut off your benefits because it thinks you were never eligible for (or were always disqualified from) receiving unemployment without giving you a hearing first. People in this situation will also get an overpayment notice saying they owe all the benefits they were paid back.

If either occurs after you were approved for unemployment benefits, courts are likely to rule that the State has to follow certain steps before your benefits are cut off. In many cases, Louisiana is not doing these things.

What do courts often require before the agency can change its mind about whether I get unemployment?

The agency should let you know that it wants to stop your benefits and why.

And it must give you a chance to respond before cutting your benefits off. It can do this by giving you a notice that you can appeal and an appeal decision before your benefits stop.

If your unemployment benefits were stopped and you were not given the reason why and a hearing before they stopped, Southeast Louisiana Legal Services may be able to help. Call our COVID-19 Helpline at 1-844-244-7871 to apply for free legal assistance.

What else should I do?

You can appeal any decision that you should not get unemployment or that you have been “overpaid.”  Appeal right away to protect your rights! You only have 15 days to submit your appeal. Your notice will include the date you must submit your appeal by. If you miss the deadline, you will lose your right to appeal.

The letter will provide instructions on how to appeal. You can find more information on appeals here.

OTHER RESOURCES

More information on Unemployment Benefits during Covid can be found here.

Information on Unemployment Overpayments can be found here.

 

Announcing new library-friendly “LibGuides” and automated online forms in Spanish

Security Deposit Refunds: This Spanish language information guide includes links to LawHelp Interactive interviews in Spanish to generate letters for different stages in the deposit recovery process. The letters appear in a dual-language English/Spanish format.

Unpaid Wages: This Spanish language information guide includes a link to a LawHelp Interactive interview in Spanish to generate an unpaid wages demand letter in a dual-language English/Spanish format.

Unemployment Compensation: This unemployment compensation (UC) guide is in Spanish to inform people about UC basics. Since the guide is based on our English LibGuide with forms for judicial review, those links and related instructions are there. Forms and related information are in English, along with the text of selected statutes. Automated court forms are in English.

The information provided on this post does not, and is not intended to, represent legal advice. All information available on this site is for general informational purposes only. If you need legal help, you should contact a lawyer. You may be eligible for our free legal services and can apply by calling our Covid Legal Hotline at 1-844-244-7871 or applying online here.

Some people in the following Louisiana jobs can get $250 from the state:

  • Grocery store, convenience store, and food assistance program workers;
  • Bus drivers; gas station staff members; sanitation workers; residential, commercial and industrial solid waste and hazardous waste removal workers; storage and disposal staff;
  • Many medical workers:
    • Nurses, assistants, aides, medical residents, pharmacy staff, phlebotomists, respiratory therapists, and workers providing direct patient care in inpatient and outpatient dialysis facilities;
    • Housekeeping, laundry services, food services and waste management workers in hospitals and healthcare facilities;
    • Long-term care facility staff members, outpatient care workers, home care workers, personal assistance providers, home health providers, home delivered meal providers, and childcare service providers;
    • Public health epidemiologists
  • Many “first responders”:
    • Emergency medical services (EMS) staff, fire and rescue members, and law enforcement officers;
  • Mortuary service providers; or
  • Veterinary service staff

The full list of eligible jobs can be found here.

This is separate from the federal stimulus check and unemployment benefits. Even if you received those, you may still be eligible for the $250 if you meet the requirements below.

To get the check, you must apply. Funds may run out, so sooner is better. If you are eligible, apply as soon as possible.

If you have questions about the program or the application, you can call the Louisiana Department of Revenue at (855) 307-3893 or visit this website.

Who can get the $250?

Workers who meet all of the following requirements are eligible:

Is a Louisiana resident with $50,000 or less in adjusted gross income on their 2019 Louisiana Income Taxes

  • You do not need to be a Louisiana resident for a certain amount of time to be eligible.
  • If you did not file a tax return for 2019, your 2018 tax return will be used. If you were not required to file a Louisiana income tax return those years, that will not keep you from being eligible. But you will have to turn in other documents.

Worked outside of their home for at least 200 hours between March 22, 2020, to May 14, 2020

  • You must have provided in-person services outside of your home to members of the public (customers, clients, patients, etc.)

Employed in one of the jobs listed on or after March 11, 2020.

Submitted their application for the program to the Louisiana Department of Revenue before October 31, 2020.

*If you are mailing your application in, it must be postmarked by October 31, 2020.

How do I apply for the program?

You can apply online at frontlineworkers.la.gov, or you can apply by printing and mailing the form at http://revenue.louisiana.gov/TaxForms/R-6186%20(7_20)F.pdf to:

Louisiana Department of Revenue
P. O. Box 5128
Baton Rouge, LA 70821

  • You cannot apply by phone.
  • Mailed applications will not get a receipt. The department will follow up if there are questions or if you are denied. If you are approved, your payment will be sent to you.
  • Do not apply more than once (like once online and once by mail). The agency says this will delay any payment. Only the first application will be reviewed. All others will be denied.
  • Each eligible worker will need to submit their own application. For example, you and your spouse would both need to apply separately.
  • Filing copies of your paycheck stubs for March 22, 2020 to May 14, 2020 when you apply can speed up your application.

What is this program called?

The Frontline Workers COVID-19 Hazard Pay Rebate Program or Covid-19 Hazard Pay.

I worked part-time in one of the eligible jobs. Can I get the $250?

Maybe. If you worked at least 200 hours from March 22, 2020 to May 14, 2020 and meet the other program requirements, and the money does not run out, you will be eligible. Both part-time and full-time employees can get it.

I did not work the 200 hours in one job. Can I combine hours from two jobs on the list?

Yes. As long as you also meet the other requirements, you will be eligible. There is no requirement that the 200 hours need to be all for the same employer.

I worked in-person in one of the eligible jobs, for at least 200 hours after March 22, 2020. But I was laid off before May 14, 2020. Can I get the payment?

Yes. As long as you meet all of the requirements of the program, you will be eligible. For example, if you were laid off on April 30, 2020, but already worked 200 hours since March 22, 2020, you will still be eligible.

I received unemployment benefits in March 2020, but I worked in an eligible job beginning in April for over 200 hours by May 14, 2020. Can I get the payment?

Yes. You qualify if you received unemployment, as long as you meet the requirements.

I am self-employed doing in-person services in an eligible job. Can I get the payment?

Yes. Self-employed people are eligible if all of the requirements are met. You may need to submit more documents.

How will I receive my payment?

If you give your bank information on your application, you will be paid by direct deposit. If you do not send your bank information, you will be sent a paper check.

How will I know if there are issues with my application?

If the Louisiana Department of Revenue has questions about your application, it will send a letter. Be sure that your application has your current address. If you moved after filing your application, call the Department at (855) 307-3893.

If the Department sends a follow-up for more information, you must respond within 30 days or your application will be denied.

Some common errors that can delay payment include:

  • Applying more than once
  • Putting more than one worker on an application
  • Not sending all documents the Department of Revenue requested in a follow-up letter

If your application is denied, you will receive a letter.