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LEGAL TERMS

SETOFF

A claim made by someone who allegedly owes money, that the amount should be reduced because the other person owes him money. This is often raised in a countercl... (more...)
A claim made by someone who allegedly owes money, that the amount should be reduced because the other person owes him money. This is often raised in a counterclaim filed by a defendant in a lawsuit. Banks may try to exercise a setoff by taking money out of a deposit account to satisfy past due payments on a loan or credit card bill. Such an act is illegal under most circumstances.

ABUSE

Misuse of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy remedy. This term is typically applied to Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings that should have been filed under Chapter 13, because ... (more...)
Misuse of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy remedy. This term is typically applied to Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings that should have been filed under Chapter 13, because the debtor appears to have enough disposable income to fund a Chapter 13 repayment plan.

S CORPORATION

A term that describes a profit-making corporation organized under state law whose shareholders have applied for and received subchapter S corporation status fro... (more...)
A term that describes a profit-making corporation organized under state law whose shareholders have applied for and received subchapter S corporation status from the Internal Revenue Service. Electing to do business as an S corporation lets shareholders enjoy limited liability status, as would be true of any corporation, but be taxed like a partnership or sole proprietor. That is, instead of being taxed as a separate entity (as would be the case with a regular or C corporation) an S corporation is a pass-through tax entity: income taxes are reported and paid by the shareholders, not the S corporation. To qualify as an S corporation a number of IRS rules must be met, such as a limit of 75 shareholders and citizenship requirements.

CHAPTER 13 PLAN

A document filed in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in which the debtor shows how all of his or her disposable income will be used over a three- to five-year period to ... (more...)
A document filed in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in which the debtor shows how all of his or her disposable income will be used over a three- to five-year period to pay all mandatory debts -- for example, back child support, taxes, and mortgage arrearages -- as well as some or all unsecured, nonpriority debts, such as medical and credit card bills.

TRADE DRESS

The distinctive packaging or design of a product that promotes the product and distinguishes it from other products in the marketplace -- for example, the shape... (more...)
The distinctive packaging or design of a product that promotes the product and distinguishes it from other products in the marketplace -- for example, the shape of Frangelico liqueur bottles. Trade dress can be protected under trademark law if a showing can be made that the average consumer would likely be confused as to product origin if another product were allowed to appear in similar dress.

ACCORD AND SATISFACTION

An agreement to settle a contract dispute by accepting less than what's due. This procedure is often used by creditors who want to cut their losses by collectin... (more...)
An agreement to settle a contract dispute by accepting less than what's due. This procedure is often used by creditors who want to cut their losses by collecting as much money as they can from debtors who cannot pay the full amount.

LIMITED PARTNERSHIP

A business structure that allows one or more partners (called limited partners) to enjoy limited personal liability for partnership debts while another partner ... (more...)
A business structure that allows one or more partners (called limited partners) to enjoy limited personal liability for partnership debts while another partner or partners (called general partners) have unlimited personal liability. The key difference between a general and limited partner concerns management decision making--general partners run the business, and limited partners, who are usually passive investors, are not allowed to make day-to-day business decisions. If they do, they risk being treated as general partners with unlimited personal liability.

REPOSSESSION

A creditor's taking property that has been pledged as collateral for a loan. Lenders will most often repossess cars when the owner has missed loan payments and ... (more...)
A creditor's taking property that has been pledged as collateral for a loan. Lenders will most often repossess cars when the owner has missed loan payments and has not attempted to work with the lender to resolve the problem. A repossessor can't use force to get at your car, but he can legally hot-wire it and even drive it out of your unlocked garage.

C CORPORATION

Common business slang to distinguish a corporation whose profits are taxed separate from its owners under subchapter C of the Internal Revenue Code, from an S c... (more...)
Common business slang to distinguish a corporation whose profits are taxed separate from its owners under subchapter C of the Internal Revenue Code, from an S corporation, whose profits are passed through to shareholders and taxed on their personal returns under subchapter S of the Internal Revenue Code.