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As many of our clients have noticed, we have instituted a policy of password protecting .pdf files when we email tax returns and financial statements.
The primary reason for doing so is to protect your privacy between our office and your home or office. Email isn't particularly secure and is fair game to snoops of all kinds, from the federales to identity thieves.
But, for some it is inconvenient have to type an easily forgotten password into your tax return file every time you want to open it.
If you hate the password protection, simply request a regular .pdf copy of your tax return or financial statement. Naturally, it you assume all risk connected with doing so.
IRS announced recently that it will begin processing tax returns with itemized deductions on February 14th.
Much as we'd like to beat on the IRS, the delay resulted from CONgress screwing around until almost Christmas before finalizing tax law changes. That meant the IRS had to scamper around like mad to make program and processing changes to incorporate tax law changes.
After preparing your returns, some of youse may feel like Bugs Moran's guys on St Val's Day.
I used to hang with a shrinker who often observed that it is difficult to get what you want when you don't know what *it* is. I guess those in need of shrinkery have difficulty defining what it is that they want out of life.
Despite being sent back to Foggy Bottom with a mandate to cut spending, apparently John Boehner doesn't know what *it* is either.
From an interview with NBC's Brian Williams:
WILLIAMS: Name a program right now that we could do without.
BOEHNER: I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.
Then again, maybe Boehner knows exactly what he wants. He co-authored No Child Left Behind, which increased Department of Education spending by 80% without educating a single child. He supported Medicare Part D, a staggering $550 billion handout to the pharmaceutical industry. He was an early and vocal supporter of the $700 billion dollar bailout, which, among other things, pulled the stake outta BofA's vile, malevolent heart. The market had decreed death, but BofA staggered back from the precipice of the grave to flounder on, visiting incompetence and malice upon Americans everywhere.
TWC is probably breaking some law by mouthing off, but here goes.
Prop 19: Yes. I usually don't take a yes position that results in more taxes. Pot has been illegal for 75 years and during that time the Drug War has turned America into a police state in the futile effort to stop people from smoking dope. Let's focus those billions of dollars on violent crime and leave the potheads alone. No, I don't smoke pot*, but I know people who do. They pay their bills, take their kids to church, hold jobs, and some of them are Republicans.
Prop 20: Yes. I doubt it will help, but let's get the politicians out of the business of drawing safe districts that guarantee re-election.
Prop 21: No. It raises taxes and the bait is PARKS. Sacramento isn't hurting for cash. Sacramento spends money like a drunk sailor. Except the sailor is spending his own money.
Prop 22: Probably Yes. Stop Sacramento from spending county and local money because they can't stop shoveling cash into the furnace.
Prop 23: Yes. Assuming that greenhouse gases constitute a problem in the first place, California cannot solve a worldwide problem by killing its own economy.
Prop 24: No. This one is more complex, but the ads you've heard on TV from the public employees unions (who are the biggest spenders in this election) are deliberately misleading. Follow the money. Who benefits when taxes go up?
The new laws in place for business bring California into conformity with federal law with respect to net operating loss deductions. This is hardly a give away to rich people or megacorporations.
California loves to tax everything. The new laws allow companies doing business in more than one state to apportion their California taxable income according to how much business they actually do in California. Seems fair to me.
The new law also allows related companies to share tax credits.
A yes vote on Prop 24 *repeals* these three new laws.
Prop 25: No. A no vote retains the 2/3 requirement to enact a budget into law.
Prop 26: Yes. California agencies have figured out that if you call a tax a fee you don't need a two thirds majority to enact it or jack it up. This proposal rectifies some of that problem.
Vote Early! Vote Often!
*Yuppie Pot (Cabernet Sauvignon) is more my style.
This persistent rumor has again triggered a flurry of rank hyperbole in emails, Facebook posts, and blog posts circulating around teh intertubes claiming that President Obama and/or Those Good-For-Nothing Democrats plan to nationalize your private retirement plan in order to shore up the failing socialist security system.
To bolster the charge, critics point at Argentina, where the citizenry was apparently too preoccupied with Malbec to notice that the government nationalized their private retirement plans in late 2008. They'll need that wine now.
BUT! And this is an important difference: The Argentinian private retirement plans were not the equivalent of IRA's or 401(k) plans. Argentina experimented with a plan allowing workers to choose between the government equivalent of America's Social Security system or a privately administered retirement program. Workers either paid into the tax-supported government system as we Americans pay into social security, or, they could opt out of the government system for a mandatory private system. Argentina simply ended the mandatory, private retirement program and moved those assets to the government system.
Critics (including moi) pointed out that this move was a cash grab by Cristina Kirchner's Peronista government that swapped immediate cash for the promise of government guaranteed retirement benefits to be paid later.
The origins of the story come from the testimony of Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic
policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, in hearings
Oct. 7, 2007. Testifying before the House Committee
on Education and Labor, Ghilarducci
proposed that the government eliminate tax breaks for 401(k) and similar
retirement accounts, such as IRAs, confiscate workers’ retirement plan
accounts, and convert them to universal Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs)
managed by the Social Security Administration.
Is there cause for alarm? To be sure, it's troubling that Ms Ghilarducci, who advocates nationalizing all private retirement plans, was invited by several key Democrats to testify at the hearing back in 2007. However, representatives from Heritage Foundation, a strong free market advocate and proponent of private retirement plans, also testified (along with a broad spectrum of other analysts).
Going forward, if the US becomes Argentina, then maybe
you have something to worry about. However, I would submit that you’d already
be in a world of financial hurt long before a Peronista-inspired seizure of your IRA took place.
What may very well happen is point nine in my Election Day
Forecast here. Incidentally, eight out of nine musings from TWC's crystal ball were on the money. The final prediction, that social security will become a means tested welfare program for old people, will come to pass as well. Just not for a while.
The primary reason that the federales won't nationalize your retirement plan is that it will be
much easier to sell the public on Social Security retirement as a social
welfare program for the elderly indigent. You keep your 401(k) but you don't get Social Security benefits.
The secondary reason that the federales won't nationalize your retirement plan is that it would
be politically difficult to seize retirement plans. It might be easier
than sending troops door to door to confiscate guns and ammunition, but it would create every bit as much
The current administration actually proposed mandatory retirement accounts for those whose employers don't offer them. These accounts would presumably be administered by the Social Security Administration. They would purportedly remove all risk from investing for the future in the same way that Social Security does. Rick Henderson explains reality for us.....
There is, of course, no real economic relationship between the (Social Security) taxes working people pay and the benefits they collect as retirees. Both are simply set politically, giving all retirees a vested interest in the welfare state
Further, even considering the financial uncertainty of markets (including the recent meltdown), Social Security offers a very poor return on investment. In some cases, less than one percent. Calculate your own Social Security ROI here. There is every reason to believe that the proposed government-provided retirement program will provide similar results over time.
Economic reality dictates that Social Security isn't sustainable. If it does not become a means tested program, benefits will be cut dramatically and taxes to support the program will be increased just as dramatically. If you have other retirement income, your benefits will be reduced according to some arbitrary formula and the wealthy
will be out of luck entirely. They don’t need it anyway (there’s your easy
In the end, imposing means testing for social security benefits accomplishes the same end as nationalizing 401(k) plans, without the nasty political blowback that would result from the seizure of
We Report. You Decipher.
Portions of this post appeared in early November of 2008. It has been edited and updated.
Although you might think so, Block isn't really a competitor of TWC's tax services. Hence, this will mean little in the way of potentially new business.
My experience with customers of H&R Block is that if the tax return is relatively simple, they can get the job done. However, I've seen the ashes of some really boneheaded decisions made by Block's preparers in my day.
reported that during tax
season its tax
preparation fees in its retail operations slid 5.5 percent to
$2.61 billion. Same-office tax
returns prepared in retail operations fell 4 percent while total tax returns
prepared were down 4.9 percent over the prior year.
Got my hair cut a few weeks ago and The Girl told me that H&R Block charged her $425.00 to do her 2009 tax return.
She isn't married. Seems like she has one kid. No Earned Income Credit. She doesn't itemize deductions. She also isn't going back to them.
Might be one reason Block's revenue is off. You prepare enough $150.00 returns that cost $425.00 and people get peeved. At $425.00, an evening with TurboTax is looking pretty good.