It's April 18, 2017.

The deadline for filing your taxes this year.

Normally it's April 15.

However, because that date fell on a weekend and Monday April 17 was a holiday in Washington, D.C., the tax deadline was moved to April 18.

How nice.

An extra three days to file your tax returns.

Lots of people fret and develop anxiety over filing their tax returns.

I understand that.

But still some people, for whatever reason, choose not to file their tax returns.

Maybe they feel they don't have to.

Maybe they protest the government collecting taxes.

Maybe they're trying to conceal their income.

Maybe they don't owe the government anything.

Maybe they feel that since our President hasn't disclosed his tax returns, they don't have to follow the rules and file theirs.

I don't know.

The reasons don't matter for this article.

If you intend on bringing a lawsuit against someone who was careless who caused you injury, you need to know why it's important that you DID file your tax returns.

Let's say you want to sue your doctor.

For medical malpractice.

For violating the basic standards of medical care.

As a result of his wrongdoing, you suffered significant injury.

Permanent injury.

Injury that prevents you from doing your daily activities.

Injury that prevents you from working.

As a result, your income has dropped significantly.

When you bring a lawsuit seeking money as a form of compensation, you put your medical condition in issue.

That means the defense will have an opportunity to get copies of your medical records.

To see what your exact medical problems are now and what they were, if any, in the past.

In addition, you will likely bring a claim for lost income.

That means that because of your doctors' carelessness you suffered injury and now cannot work.

That means the defense will want to see what you were earning for at least three years before you were injured.

They want to see what your income was.

Then, they want to see what your income is now.

Well, how do they do that?

If you work for a company, you likely get a W2 form at the end of the year showing what you earned.

It will show what taxes you paid.

Medicaid taxes.

Social security taxes.

State taxes.

If you're an independent contractor, you'll get a 1099 at the end of the year.

In addition to showing the attorneys for the defense copies of your W2 form or your 1099 form, the attorneys will want to see copies of your tax returns.

During your lawsuit you will also be required to show up in your lawyer's office for a question and answer session.

This is known legally as a deposition.

There is no judge present.

There is no jury present.

There is a court reporter there.

Of course your attorney and the defense attorneys are there as well.

This deposition takes place in your lawyer's conference room.

You might think this is informal and things you say are 'off the record'.

Just the opposite.

Every question you are asked is recorded.

And every answer you give is recorded by the stenographer.

Those questions and answers are transcribed and put into a booklet.

This booklet is called transcript.

This transcript can and will be used against you at trial.

The defense lawyer will ask you about your damages.

He'll ask you about your lost earnings.

He will ask you what you earned for the past three years.

Then, he will casually ask you whether you filed your tax returns for the past three years.

If you have, then you simply say"Yes, I have."

He will then ask your attorney for copies of those tax returns.

You will provide copies to your attorney and he will forward copies to the defense lawyer.

But what if you haven't filed tax returns?

What if you filed for one or two years but not the others?

That may be a problem.

It may be a significant problem.

Let's say you worked in a cash business.

You have not filed tax returns in at least five years.

You didn't want to declare your income to the IRS.

Well, when the defense lawyer asks you whether you've filed tax returns for the past three years, if you say "No" but have been earning income, you've got a problem.

A big one.

You may have committed a number of crimes.

(1) Not filing your taxes is the first one.

(2) Not paying taxes on your income is another.

(3) You might have committed fraud in your medical malpractice case by swearing that your doctor, the one who caused you harm, was responsible for your lost income.

In addition to the criminal ramifications of lying under oath, you now have set the stage of destroying your own case.

What do I mean?

In every civil lawsuit in New York the most important part of any case is not the facts.

Although they are definitely important.

The most important part of your lawsuit is not the law.

Although this too is obviously important.

Instead, the MOST IMPORTANT part of your lawsuit is something intangible.

Want to know what it is?


If you destroy your credibility, your case is virtually over.

If you give the defense a reason to destroy your credibility, the jury will not appreciate you or your claim.

Doesn't matter how great your medical experts are.

Doesn't matter how compelling the facts are in your favor.


Getting back to the headline of this article...

When the defense lawyer asks whether you have filed your tax returns for the past three years, if you filed a claim for lost earnings, you're going to have to answer that.

If you are NOT claiming lost earnings, you will NOT have to answer this question.

Nor will you have to provide the defense with copies of your tax returns if you are not claiming lost income.

To learn more about this topic I invite you to watch the video below...




Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer