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Are Lawsuit Settlements Taxable in New York?

When you receive a settlement for a personal injury case in New York, one of the questions that often arises is whether or not this money is taxable. Understanding the tax implications of your settlement is crucial for both planning your finances and avoiding any legal complications.

Federal vs. State Taxes: What’s the Difference in the Context of Personal Injury Settlements?

When dealing with the taxation of a personal injury settlement, it’s important to understand the distinctions between federal and state tax laws. Each has its own set of rules, regulations, and exceptions that may affect the taxability of your settlement. Below, we delve deeper into these crucial differences, especially as they pertain to New York residents.

Federal Taxes

Federal taxes are governed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and apply uniformly across all 50 states. According to IRS guidelines:

  • Personal Injury Settlements: Generally, settlements received for personal physical injuries are not considered taxable income.
  • Punitive Damages: These are usually taxable under federal law, regardless of whether they are related to a personal injury.
  • Lost Wages: If the settlement compensates for lost wages, this portion is often considered taxable income.
  • Interest: Any interest accrued on the settlement amount is taxable.
  • Legal Fees: Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not be able to deduct attorney’s fees from your taxable income.

New York State Taxes

In New York, state taxes are overseen by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. New York generally aligns with federal tax law on the taxability of personal injury settlements, but there can be state-specific considerations:

  • Personal Injury Settlements: As with federal taxes, these are usually not taxable in New York.
  • Punitive Damages: These are considered taxable income, aligning with federal tax law.
  • Lost Wages: Any portion of the settlement attributed to lost wages is usually considered taxable income on your state return, similar to the federal treatment.
  • State Tax Returns: You may need to report certain types of settlement income on your New York state tax return, even if they are not taxable, to ensure full compliance with state laws.

Why Understanding Federal vs. State Tax Differences is Vital

Understanding the nuances between federal and New York state tax laws is crucial for anyone receiving a personal injury settlement. A lack of awareness could lead to unexpected tax liabilities and penalties. Given these complexities, it’s imperative to consult with a qualified New York personal injury lawyer to fully understand your tax obligations.

Tax-Free Personal Injury Settlements

In most cases, personal injury settlements are not subject to federal income tax, per the IRS regulations. The premise here is that the settlement money is not income but a compensation to make you “whole” again. This generally extends to emotional distress that originates from the injury or accident. New York generally adheres to federal guidelines on this issue.

Exceptions: When is a Personal Injury Settlement Taxable in New York?

Understanding the taxability of a personal injury settlement in New York can be complicated. While many types of settlement proceeds are not taxable, several exceptions exist. Below is an expanded look at the circumstances under which your settlement may be subject to federal or New York state taxes.

  1. Punitive Damages
    Punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant rather than to compensate you for your losses. Because of this, both federal and New York state tax laws usually consider punitive damages as taxable income.
  2. Interest on the Settlement
    Sometimes, your settlement may take a long time to resolve, and interest accrues on the amount. This interest is considered taxable income. It’s crucial to understand how much of your settlement is interest, as this portion will be subject to tax.
  3. Lost Wages and Earnings
    Settlement amounts designated for lost wages or lost earnings are generally considered taxable income. Both the federal IRS and New York state see this part of the settlement as a replacement for income you would have otherwise earned, making it subject to income tax.
  4. Emotional Distress Not Related to Physical Injury
    Compensation for emotional distress is generally not taxable if it directly results from a physical injury. However, if your claim for emotional distress is not related to a physical injury, the settlement amount you receive for emotional distress is usually taxable.
  5. Legal Fees
    In some cases, legal fees can affect the taxability of your settlement. If you have to pay attorney fees and those aren’t separated from your settlement amount, the full amount—including what goes to your attorney—may be considered taxable. Tax treatment of legal fees can be complex and may require specialized tax advice.
  6. Reimbursement for Medical Expenses Previously Deducted
    If you had previously deducted medical expenses related to the personal injury on your tax return, and your settlement includes a reimbursement for those expenses, that portion may be taxable.
  7. Breach of Contract, Property Damage, and Other Non-Physical Injuries
    Settlements related to non-physical injuries like breach of contract, property damage, or infringement cases are usually considered taxable income. If your personal injury case involves elements like these, part or all of your settlement may be taxable.

How The Orlow Firm Can Help Maximize Your Personal Injury Case in New York

When you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, choosing the right legal representation can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. The Orlow Firm is committed to providing exceptional legal services to those who have suffered personal injuries in New York. Below, we outline how our team can help you maximize your settlement or verdict.

Extensive Experience in Personal Injury Law

Our team is skilled in handling a variety of personal injury cases, ranging from car accidents to premises liability and medical malpractice. Our broad experience allows us to anticipate challenges and formulate effective strategies, giving you a distinct advantage.

Comprehensive Case Evaluation

At The Orlow Firm, we conduct a thorough analysis of your case to identify all liable parties and sources of compensation. We gather necessary evidence, consult with medical professionals, and utilize expert witnesses to strengthen your claim.

Skillful Negotiation Tactics

Our New York personal injury attorneys are seasoned negotiators, and we strive to secure a fair settlement without going to trial when possible. We prepare every case as if it will go to court, giving us leverage during settlement negotiations.

Aggressive Court Representation

If a fair settlement isn’t possible, our attorneys are prepared to take your case to trial. We present compelling arguments backed by solid evidence, seeking to maximize your compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Contingency Fee Structure

We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless we win your case. This ensures that high-quality legal representation is accessible to everyone, regardless of financial standing.

Continuous Communication and Support

We maintain ongoing communication with our clients, updating you at every step of the legal process. We are always available to answer questions and provide guidance, ensuring you are never in the dark about your case.

Knowledge of New York Laws and Regulations

Our attorneys are well-versed in New York personal injury laws, as well as the specific regulations that may apply to your case, whether you’re dealing with a construction accident in NYC or a slip and fall in another part of the state.

Multilingual Services

In order to serve New York’s diverse community, our services are available in multiple languages, ensuring clear and comprehensive legal assistance for all.

Expertise in Maximizing Settlements

Our track record speaks for itself. We have successfully obtained significant settlements and verdicts for our clients, and we focus on maximizing your compensation through meticulous case preparation and aggressive representation.

Take the Next Step: Call Us Today

If you or a loved one has been injured, don’t wait. Reach out to The Orlow Firm at (646) 647-3398 today for a free consultation and take the first step towards obtaining the compensation you deserve.