Most Americans know that the First Amendment grants the right to free speech. The problem that many of us encounter is we don’t fully grasp the differences between free speech and slander.

What is Free Speech?

Many of us interpret the First Amendment to mean that we’re free to say whatever we want, to whomever we want, whenever we want. That’s not the way free speech works. The purpose of free speech is to provide Americans with the ability to openly speak against the government without fear of legal ramifications. What freedom of speech doesn’t do is allow you to say whatever you want about neighbors, family, and businesses you don’t like.

What is Slander?

The legal definition of slander is, “oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit. Damages (payoff for worth) for slander may be limited to actual (special) damages unless there is malicious intent, since such damages are usually difficult to specify and harder to prove. Some statements such as an untrue accusation of having committed a crime, having a loathsome disease, or being unable to perform one's occupation are treated as slander per se since the harm and malice are obvious, and therefore usually result in general and even punitive damage recovery by the person harmed. Words spoken over the air on television or radio are treated as libel (written defamation) and not slander on the theory that broadcasting reaches a large audience as much if not more than printed publications.”In California, slander legally takes place when:
  • You say something that you know is untrue
  • When you make a statement that you know isn’t privileged
  • When you make a statement that is said with the intent to do harm or cause an injury

Yes, it’s only January and your 2020 tax return isn’t due until mid-April, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore that tax season is officially here. The last thing you want to do is wait until a few days before the deadline to file. Turning your thoughts to your tax return now and creating a plan to help you prepare them reduces a great deal of tax season stress.The key to keeping your stress levels low during tax season is creating a plan of attack. Create a list of specific tasks that need to be completed and determine when you’ll do them. You’ll be amazed how much a solid plan of attack smooths out the process of filing your 2020 tax return.

Gather Your Paperwork

Spend the second half of January and the first half of February gathering up all the paperwork you need to complete your 2020 tax return. The paperwork you need to have on hand before you’re ready to start preparing your tax return includes:
  • W2s
  • Documents that indicate itemized expenses such as child care, medical insurance, and educational costs
  • Any 1099s connected to freelance contractors you hired throughout the year
  • Donation receipts
  • Mortgage interest payment documents
  • An itemized list of business expenses (if relevant)
  • Investment statements
  • Receipts for any tax-deductible purchases you made throughout the year

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