Tax Attic

Useful tax tips and information from Jerry Coon of Action Tax Service.

Tax Attic September 12, 2013

September 19, 2013 // 0 Comments

As far as weekends go, I believe the Labor Day Holiday Weekend might just be my favorite. I know it more or less signals the end of summer, but the weather is usually still quite pleasant. The last few years, Deb and I have spent Labor Day at the Muskegon State Park. Before that, we camped at Manistee’s Orchard Beach State Park and before that we camped at a variety of northern Michigan parks from which we walked the Mackinac Bridge. At Muskegon, we have the option of taking a boat ride in Lake Michigan or, if that is too rough, Muskegon Lake. It’s a short ride via the water from the park to the Bear Lake Inn, located on the river between Muskegon Lake and Bear Lake, for some food and drink. We have the option of going to the beach on the Lake Michigan side of the park or going to the beach on the Muskegon Lake side of the park. No matter where we camp, we aren’t far from the channel. Boat watching is one of my favorite past-times, especially when it includes seeing the impressive Lake Express go by close up. The salmon fishing can be outstanding in Muskegon. It does take water in the 60 degree area and that doesn’t happen until we have some wind and wave action from the north or northwest. On Thursday, the water was 75 degrees. By Monday, it was 62 degrees. Once the water cooled off, the fish began to bite. They seemed to be bigger this year as well; perhaps not quite so plentiful, but we caught a few in the 18-22 pound class. Nice fish. One nice salmon of 20 plus pounds creates enough excitement to last quite a while. It also provides a significant amount of meat for grilling and smoking. All in all, Muskegon State Park is a good place for us to spend the Labor Day Weekend. In today’s environment, the world of income tax is a year around business. The federal government continues to make laws and various departments within the government such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services constantly pump out regulations that affect all taxpayers’ income tax returns. As […]

Tax Attic August 29, 2013

August 29, 2013 // 0 Comments

There seems to be no question that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare is going to take effect. It is not going to be repealed and it is not going to be defunded either. I could be wrong but I believe Congress is slightly too dysfunctional to make any major moves let alone repealing or defunding Obamacare. The public opinion surveys consistently indicate that the majority of Americans don’t necessarily like Obamacare but they like much of what Obamacare does. I went over many of the good features of Obamacare last week. What Americans don’t seem to like is, regardless of the rhetoric from the Washington bureaucrats, the blunt fact is that the federal government will be running the entire health care system at some point in the future. Appointed administrative staff has issued thousands of pages of regulations and rulings that have the authority of law. This myriad of regulations and rulings to implement Obamacare just doesn’t set well with many Americans. In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t imagine that an appointed person such as Kathryn Sebelius, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, could be practically as well known and have as much power as the president, but such is the bureaucratic environment in which we all live right now. We may rue the day that Obamacare passed because of the regulatory environment it will build but we may celebrate the day that Obamacare passed because of the good things that it does. Only time will tell. For many, the best feature of Obamacare is entitled the “individual mandate”. Presently there are thirty to forty million individuals without health insurance. As of October 1, 2013 all taxpayers, including those thirty to forty million non-covered individuals, will be able to enroll in a plan that is typically offered in a state exchange. The coverage will begin January 1, 2014. Those individuals who choose to not participate and do not buy insurance may be subject to a penalty which would be payable as part of their tax return. The specific rules of when the penalty will apply and how it will be collected are a bit murky at this moment but I am sure they will be clarified in the not too distant future. […]

Tax Attic August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013 // 0 Comments

The hottest topic on the accountant/tax professional seminar circuit of today is not income tax; it’s the Affordable Care Act or as it is more commonly called: Obamacare. I get emails daily marketing two hour classes or webinars, four hour classes or webinars, and eight hour classes or webinars. I’m not sure about the eight hour class or webinar. After about two hours, everyone’s mind is already whirling. Who knows what level of psycho-therapy might be needed after a brain has to endure eight hours of Obamacare detail. In addition, there is the inevitable disclaimer accompanying the information stating that everything presented is subject to change and many things learned today might not apply tomorrow. It may be important to go over the reasons that the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare was passed in 2010. The health care system for many people was broken and needed fixing. Whether Obamacare is going to ultimately do much fixing is open to conjecture at this point. However, in my opinion, there were four main items that needed to be corrected. Not two or three thousand items but four main items. Insurance companies clearly weren’t willing to fix these four items. Up until 2010, the federal government wasn’t really willing to fix them either because they could have passed specialized legislation to fix each problem at any time. First, most individual and group health plans had annual and lifetime limits built into the plan. If the individual’s medical billing costs exceeded the annual or lifetime limits, the individual simply received a letter in the mail eliminating the coverage. The individual, most likely, didn’t stop incurring medical expenses. After all, he or she had to be in bad health in order to reach the limits. The individual is put into a difficult situation and often that situation ended in bankruptcy. Second, insurance companies could refuse coverage to anyone based on a pre-existing condition of the applicant. Guaranteed coverage was almost non-existent. Individuals who developed a “condition”, such as cancer, that were fortunate enough to have insurance through an employer were almost forced to remain with that employer because moving to a new employer meant having to qualify for insurance through that new employer. The new insurance company could refuse to […]

Tax Attic August 15, 2013

August 16, 2013 // 0 Comments

In sports, there is a marketing problem when the same people or teams win all or most of the time. How do you market the sport or the league when it’s a foregone conclusion that unless something unique happens, we all know who is going to win? A few years ago, the world of golf was beginning to have a marketing problem with Tiger Woods. It seemed like he won every tournament he bothered to enter. Of course, he took care of that issue himself and now he wins some tournaments but not every tournament he enters. Week-in and week-out, but especially in the four major championships, the rest of the field has as good a chance to win as does Tiger. Just ask the winners of the last four Majors: Jason Dufner, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, and Justin Rose. I personally think that’s good for golf. Baseball had a marketing problem when the New York Yankees dominated whole decades. They won darned near every championship in the 1920’s and early 30’s and the 1950’s into the 60’s. I’m thinking the crowds were small when the perennial first-place Yankees came to town to play the perennial last-place Philadelphia Athletics. How exactly did you market coming to the ball park to watch your home team getting crushed by the mighty Yankees? From time to time, the Yankees still put it all together. But from time to time, so do the Detroit Tigers, the Chicago White Sox, and the Oakland Athletics. Most teams have a chance of winning every few years and that’s good for baseball. Great baseball attendance reflects this trend as well. NASCAR had a problem with Jimmy Johnson winning five championships a row from 2006 through 2010. The rest of the guys won some races but when it came to crunch time, Jimmie got it going and won another championship. NASCAR has been battling attendance issues and Jimmie winning every year doesn’t help, especially if you are a Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, or Tony Stewart fan. LeBron James and his teammates on the Miami Heat are so good they might win the National Basketball Championship for another few years. I wonder how the over-all league-wide attendance figures were when seven or eight teams had […]

Tax Attic August 8, 2013

August 8, 2013 // 0 Comments

All of us encounter “phishing” expeditions in today’s seemingly anything goes communication environment. We receive emails from purported loan financing companies saying our latest payment bounced and demanding that we verify our bank information or our loan will be immediately called. They are phishing for our personal banking information and urgently demand that we email them that information. We receive letters in the mail from credit card companies asking for banking information in order to activate the credit card. Phishing for that information by requiring us to call the 800 number with the information must have some success. We receive letters and emails from a trust account administrator located in Kenya stating we have inherited $1,500,000 and the administrator just needs $5,000 for the legal expenses to release the funds and we can keep the $1,500,000. We must Western Union the $5,000 now and include the bank account to which he can send the $1,500,000. When pigs fly is the term I’m thinking of but it just seems to go on and on. Another phishing example became apparent last week. I received a number of calls from clients that an official looking letter was received from a “Corporate Records Service”, located in Lansing, asking for $125 in exchange for preparing their 2013 Annual Corporate Records. The letter had the look of an official government document from the State of Michigan, coincidentally also located in Lansing. It looked very similar to the Corporate Annual Report form that every corporation has to file, coincidentally, with the State of Michigan each year. While it is true that a corporation is required to have an annual meeting and prepare minutes and a record of the annual meeting, it’s also true that the corporation is not required to pay $125 to the Corporate Records Service to prepare those annual meeting minutes and records no matter how official the letter looks. A search on the Better Business Bureau’s website turned up a BBB Alert on Corporate Records Service. The BBB of Virginia reveals that Corporate Records Service and its parent company, The Mandatory Poster Agency Inc., has an “F” rating, “the lowest possible rating”. The alert goes on to state that, “On February 8, 2013 the Wisconsin Attorney General filed a […]

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