Jerry Coon

The Tax Attic with Jerry Coon – August 6, 2009

August 6, 2009 // 0 Comments

  Should the government be in charge of our health care? I think it’s time that we discuss the new health care reform initiative that is working its way through Congress. Most of us will agree that our health care system has problems, and those problems have to be addressed. Most of us will agree also that our health care system really has no equal in the world when it comes to delivering health care to the public. If I have an immediate health problem, whether I have insurance or not, I can go to any one of a number of emergency rooms in the area and very quickly be well-taken-care-of. If I should require surgery, it’s scheduled and gets done. We don’t have the delays that our friends up in Canada encounter. The Canadians come south of the border to our Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland Clinic for diagnosis and/or surgeries when their system is out of money for the year. We also don’t have the end-of-life issues that some of our European friends encounter. It’s expensive, really expensive, to care for our elderly, but no government bureaucrat is presently making an end-of-life decision for us based on the economics of the situation. It’s hard for me to imagine that a government bureaucrat in Washington, who has written a set of guidelines, could decide that one of us is too old to have a surgery, too old for a certain procedure, or just too old to treat. That’s a little scary. However, we have several negatives in our present system. We have an inordinate amount of people who are not covered by insurance and the number of people who can’t afford to pay for any coverage seems to be rising daily. We have a system with costs that are spiraling upward at a rate faster than the cost of attending college. We have the baby boomers, a group of people who are all getting older at the same time. They are going to live longer than previous generations and are going to put stresses on the health care system that could be crushing. We are a country that is searching for a blue-ribbon solution that will take the best part of our present health […]

The Tax Attic – July 9, 2009

July 9, 2009 // 0 Comments

Cash for Clunkers Our Congress is at it again. Passing laws and printing money seem to be their specialty these days. This particular program only has a one billion price tag, so it’s kind of small potatoes, but it’s still one BILLION dollars. I’m talking about the bill recently passed by both the House and the Senate, and is now awaiting President Obama’s signature:  HR 2346. It is officially titled as the “Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009.” Unofficially, HR 2346 is known as the “Cash for Clunkers” program. Basically, taxpayers can trade in a clunker on a new vehicle and get a credit from the federal government for a part of the purchase. The credit will only apply to purchases or qualifying leases that occur between July 1, 2009 and November 1, 2009, and Congress has only authorized up to one billion dollars worth of credits. It’s a first-come, first-served type of program. In order to qualify for the credit, the vehicle traded in must meet four qualifications: 1.     The clunker must be in drivable condition. 2.    The clunker must have been registered and insured by the owner for at least one year immediately prior to the trade- in-         no going out and buying a $100 clunker on Monday and trading it in on Tuesday. 3.    The clunker must have been manufactured less than 25 years before the date of the trade-in-no trading in that 1980                Ford Maverick that has been sitting in the back field for the last 18 years. 4.   For automobiles, the clunker must get 18 miles per gallon or less of fuel economy. Once the clunker rules have been met, there are three qualifications the new vehicle must meet: 1.   The new vehicle must have a title that has not been transferred to any person previously, and the purchaser must be the         ultimate purchaser. In other words, it must be new and right off the assembly line. 2.   The new vehicle must have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $45,000 or less. 3.   The new vehicle must meet certain miles-per-gallon (mpg) requirements-22 mpg for passenger […]

The Tax Attic – July 2, 2009

July 2, 2009 // 0 Comments

Who qualifies to receive Social Security benefits? My wife, Deb, looked around our yard the other day and noted that our yard was an example of nature gone wild. The peonies have never had more flowers and those flowers were large and magnificent. All of the varieties of hostas are huge. There were flowers on lilac bushes that haven’t had flowers on them in years. The decorative crab apples had lots of blooms and it seems like the branches have grown a foot a day. The shrubs have more fresh growth on them than I have ever seen. Deb is hoping the cosmos, begonias and impatiens she just planted will grow as well as the rest of the plants in our yard.  Even the lawn looks great. It’s funny, but I buy the same amount and type of fertilizer from Pete’s Ace Hardware every year, apply it in the same manner every year, and apply it at the same time every year. Some years it just seems to work better than others. Being a tax professional and not a trained green thumb type person, I have no idea of how that is possible. If I put the same figures into a tax return using the same forms, I am going to get the same answer every time. However, my lawn seems to look different every year. Of course, the one variable that I don’t have to contend with on my tax returns is something called the weather. It’s been a cool spring with lots of rain lately. It must be perfect growing conditions, at least in my yard. I want to finish up my articles on Social Security by making a few general points and then going over the survivor’s benefits rules. Today, there are approximately 50 million people who receive a monthly Social Security benefit. According to the Social Security Administration, that monthly benefit on the average replaces approximately 40 percent of their retirement income. Obviously it’s going to be a tough go if the taxpayer’s only retirement income is his/her Social Security benefit. Most people do begin drawing at the age of 62. However, there are some rare individuals who continue working past the age of 62-past the age of full retirement of […]

Tax Attic — June 25, 2009

June 25, 2009 // 0 Comments

How are Social Security benefits calculated? The catching of fish in Canada was not quite as good this year as other years. The black flies and mosquitoes were not a problem, though. I guess they don’t like 50 degree and rainy weather either. However, the fishing was as good as ever. As those of us who fish know, catching fish is only a small part of the whole story. I go to Canada fishing for walleye almost every year. I go with fellows whom I have been friends with for more than 30 years now. Around the campfire, along with a beer or two, we get to laugh about the stories of the trips we took over those 30-plus years. Some of those stories are actually true and not embellished too much, like the time we almost ran over a moose between White River and Wawa. Scary, but I swerved right around him and we kept on going. Another time, we hit a rock in the river and I flew out of the boat so fast I didn’t have time to even say “Ro……” before I hit the water. I lost my sunglasses but held onto my coffee cup and hat. They were good sunglasses too. I saw that rock quite clearly. Yet another time, we were driving down the two-track to the boat launch and looked over to see a big black bear nonchalantly walking back toward our camp on the two-track going in the opposite direction. I don’t know, but I think he knew we weren’t going to be there to defend our property. One time we bet one of the guys that he couldn’t leave the campfire, jump into the boat, go out into the lake, catch a fish and get back to his seat at the campfire within five minutes. He won the bet, too, with a nice pike. It’s just as impressive to me today as I write this as it was seeing him do it. Another time, a mink figured out how to open the latch on our minnow buckets and eat all of our minnows. Smart-aleck little fellow, but it was probably quite a feast for him. He ate probably $20 worth of minnows before we got smart enough […]

The Tax Attic – June 18, 2009

June 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

Social Security to go bankrupt It has been an eventful and good last few months for the Coon household. Stephanie, our oldest daughter, has been a student at Rush Medical University in Chicago for the last four years. At the end of April, she completed her studies at Rush. Prior to that time, she found out that she would be serving her three years of residency in Grand Rapids at Spectrum. To say that her mother and I were excited to have Stephanie coming home was an understatement. Since Stephanie also earned her undergraduate degree in Chicago at North Park University, she has really been in Chicago for the past eight years. It will be nice to have her home for the next three years. Having a daughter become a doctor is an event all by itself, but there is more to the story. It has been a whirlwind few months. Stephanie has been engaged to Devon Cunningham, a transplanted Californian, since last year. The Coons gained a son-in-law on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. Congratulations to Stephanie and Devon. On Wednesday of the week of the wedding, Devon and Stephanie bought a house near Spectrum. Since they will be employed for the next three or four years, many incoming medical residents choose to buy houses instead of renting. Once Stephanie and Devon found out she was coming to Spectrum, the plan was to move all of their belongings directly from Chicago up to a house in Grand Rapids. As so often happens, however, things don’t work out quite like the plan. Delay after delay resulted in the house-closing not occurring until the week of the wedding. That meant they and all of their belongings lived at our house until after the wedding. It’s just Deb and me in our home, anyway, so there is plenty of room. But I am sure Stephanie and Devon would have preferred to not have to move everything twice. Then, on June 13, Stephanie and 120 of her classmates received their degrees and became doctors of medicine. All of them will be completing their residencies throughout the U.S. and specializing in many different areas. Stephanie is going to specialize in emergency room medicine. This was not only a […]

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