September 2021 Newsletter
First, the good news: We successfully placed all of our client data on the Cloud. This included client document copies with the relevant tax returns for additional security. The processing involved three steps and we have accomplished handling over a million documents for the last four years of both current and non-returning clients. As you know, all of our tax work has been conducted through Drake Software, which is the biggest on-line Tax Practitioner provider in the country. All of our completed tax returns are available through Drake but we had a garage full of copies including the input documents we had photocopied to process the returns. Drake has fantastic security for the millions of returns they process every year. We eliminated three filing cabinets from my garage in the process and provided about 50 bags of shredded and diced material, now disposed.
Then the bad news: Some sophisticated people got through to our contacts by way of AOL and sent a stupid HELP message from me. Fortunately, they did it on September 21st at 10:30 am in the morning and five minutes later we were online to block and halt the further usage. If you received this silly message just delete it. Many clients have called us in response. These data thefts are used to solicit other data from clients, so simply delete and ignore. Our entire contact section from our AOL account was missing afterward. Our contact section generally does not include phone numbers, mailing or physical addresses, or SS numbers. Just a name and e-mail address. There simply is no connection to the tax business or Drake files in any way. It was a real headache, and we changed all passwords and related data immediately afterwards.
WARNING! These bad people are everywhere, copying letterheads, official computer sites, invoices & statements, everything. Be aware. Best way is to look for spelling errors or especially the sender’s e-mail address. These are dangerous times as we get more integrated with computer usage and capabilities. Your turn may be next!
Of public interest: Electric cars will be mandatory in just a few years. The biggest problem is where to find enough electricity as the existing power plants are systematically being shut down. Next will be the big car batteries. I looked into solar panels and Tesla is the cheapest. Problem is that they work best with a battery during blackouts and after the sun goes down. Tesla recently repackaged their solar panel + battery deal. Somehow the battery price went up 20% from six months before. They must have found that cheap panels are good to find clients and the battery prices at $12,000 are hugely profitable. Best to buy the panels and wait until someone else makes panels at a reasonable price [they don’t need to be as compact as a car battery]. That is Capitalism.
I have data in front of me which shows the ingredients of electric car batteries required to produce the 75KW of juice for a new car battery. They will each require a total of 325 pounds of nickel, manganese, cobalt, and copper. This does not include the lithium, just all the other metallic elements. There will also be huge quantities of rare earths to make the superalloy magnets for the electric motors driving the cars. Where will all of this metal come from? Has anybody really thought it out in the crusade to eliminate nuclear and carbon-based electric sources? Is there an end to the game?
Current tax legislation is too complex to quote yet as it is still being brewed in the Democratic House. I am afraid it will be more like Obamacare when we see the final product. Remember all the money it was supposed to save and that you could keep your family doctor with the changes? Also, that the bill was too big and lengthy to discuss on one read before the required signature and that there would be no surprises? What they didn’t tell about was the huge co-pays that emerged from the policies.
Well, the new bills are supposed to require no new taxes. The 85,000 new IRS auditors they are hiring are supposed to bring in most of the money to cover the social welfare and union dominated Infrastructure Bill by auditing mostly small businesses. This is exactly a new business tax. The bigger companion Reconciliation Bill leaks daily rumors which mention a new $1 a pack for cigarettes [because it is a sin and not good for you to smoke], higher capital gains taxes, higher surtaxes, higher death taxes, higher income taxes, additional new highway taxes based on distance traveled-not fuel consumption, higher estate taxes, investment taxes based on appreciation-not sales, dramatic Subchapter S corporate changes, etc... These are to cover the social giveaways to buy the next vote. Accordingly, I will wait for the bills to pass the House and then we will learn the names and doses of the poisons. Maybe the 11% of the bill actually earmarked for infrastructure [including trains to nowhere] will do some good.
California EDD problems: There is a pall of silence over the $30 Trillion of Unemployment insurance claims. paid to phony employee claimants but lots of action on the small business front. Our little business with seasonal 2-3 part-time employees is now subject to a field audit by the regulars of the EDD audit staff. I guess that they go for the easy marks first because nobody would miss $30,000,000,000 but maybe spending $2,000 to audit and supervise a small household tax preparation business is lucrative for them, especially if it resulted in additional taxes and penalties of only $1,000 three years ago when they first tried it. Maybe they have also forgotten about the added expense of two appeals to settle.
About Audits: We had an IRS audit of a Los Angeles County employee who was required to drive his car to various school and County facilities to repair their equipment. The dedicated employee kept fine records of his trips and mileage. All he needed to close the IRS audit was a letter from his bureaucratic supervisor to state that it was important for his job to drive to these additional locations to do his work. He did not get the letter and is now subject to non-deductible expense of travel with additional penalties and interest. I advised him to retire or get a real job.
Another audit went to Tax Court: This was the case where the IRS ignored the 125 pages of documentation which was finely referenced and indexed with the cover letter and the IRS request for same. We are waiting for a response which is slow compared to prior years where there was someone to answer the phone and mail. We are waiting for a trial date and hoping it isn’t another trial by mail like the last one which was a complete faceless fiasco.
I pity the results of 85,000 new auditors in a non-responsive environment as important as the income portal of the U.S. Government. If this continues, I have the opinion that we might become a third world country sooner or later.
I have scads of things to write about but will close to mention that we have only two weeks left of the extension deadline. There simply is no further extension possible and a tax return filed on October 16th or later is subject to 25% penalties of the amount owed, interest expense from May 15th, and a non-filing penalty. From both the Feds and Franchise Tax Board. And they backdate the interest on the penalties to the first filing date without the extension.
Finally, I invite you to check my author website at http://www.phillipbchute.com
Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/PhillipBChuteAuthor
Instagram link https://www.instagram.com/PhillipBChuteAuthor
And for our tax website: http://www.temeculataxservice.net
Best wishes to all and hope to see you again in a few months.
God Bless America
Phil Chute EA & Staff.
August 2021 Newsletter
Good news from the IRS: Because of the coronavirus, all the amounts shown for meals as ordinary and necessary business expenses will be deductible this year. In the past and future, because this is a temporary measure, only half of the meal expenses were deductible.
Bad news from the economy: Most of the family restaurants that were closed, off and on, this year and last, have gone out of business. Good news from the U.S. Department of Agriculture: The Food Stamp's Food Basket has increased to $835 monthly for a family of four. This compares to only $537 average four-person household expenditures last year. Work requirements for recipients have been waived until the public health emergency is over, which may be never.
California housing costs: Los Angeles reached a new high for individual homeless shelters, An 8'X 8' storage shed B4 square feet about the size of most laundry or bathrooms, has fetched a cost of $130,000 when installed with plumbing. This is a great price for sheds without lawns or garages, However, it is still a bargain, as the LA Times reported last year that it cost $531,000 on average to build a single unit of housing for a homeless person. One project cost $746,000 per unit after installing underground parking lots to satisfy zoning restrictions.
Estate and death taxes are facing reviews: The Federal estate tax exclusion is currently $1 1,580,000 and very few people pay the 40% tax beyond that figure. The proposed new $3-5 triilion spending package has offered a drop on the exemption to $3-5 million per person. An additional tax increase would also tax stepped-up unrealized capital gains with a million-dollar exclusion upon death. This means that the family home, business, farm, or portfolio would need to be sold to pay the huge tax bill. A study by Texas A&M Agricultural Center found that 98% of farms in their 30-state database would be impacted with average additional tax liabilities of $726,000 per farm. This proves you can,t take it with you, and maybe your family as well.
Death taxes are another matter: Instead of taxing the estate, the death tax extracts funds from the beneficiaries. So, Uncle Ahab passes and leaves his estate to his only heir, Young Ahab. Maybe there is no estate taxes due to the small size of the estate, but in Ahab's state, there is a new death tax which taxes recipient heirs based on age, relationship, and amount. This has been kicked around the halls of statehouses recently as a back door estate tax. These people are most creative when backed against the big spending wall.
National oil prices are rising: The While house national Security advisor Jake Sullivan, recently prodded the Arab Oil OPEC Cartel to increase production to keep world prices in line with increasing demand for oil. That is a strange note from the U.S. because we were the largest producer of oil in the World before the last election and the new government crushed oil production. OPEC now controls world production and prices as a result of being the new [old] swing producer. Both U.S, crude and Brent benchmarks are up 40% in 2021.
Black Lives Matter: This national movement had meaningful origins because of the deadly treatment of black prisoners by police officers. Now it appears to be a political crutch for anti-nationalistic radicals. The only reason I mention it here is that the White House State Department advised all our embassies and consulates overseas to fly the BLM flag at their posts. There is only one flag to be flown for this country and people who don't honor it or debase it should leave, in my opinion. Recently the BLM Marxist organization supported the Cuban repression of protests erupting across Cuba and that the US was to blame. Shame.
Medicare benefits expansion: current proposals are floating around Congress to increase the benefits paid to Medicare recipients to include dental, eyes, and hearing. As we grow older, we all need assistance and these items have always been a personal expense. The proposals also include lowering the age of Medicare recipients below 65 for benefits. As you probably know, many people need good care including the above items and everybody usually puts off the expense as long as possible. There is a problem, however. The Medicare program, which most of us paid into all our lives, is slated to be bankrupt within the next five years and probably sooner after the Covid virus. lf the benefits are expanded or the eligibility age lowered for this program, the impending BK will be greatly shortened, Eventually, going to medical school will not be the fastest road to become a professional millionaire. According to today's Wall Street Journal, Sept 2nd, Social security is now expected to be illiquid alter 2033.
Chinese position as a world power: The Chinese have remarkably provided material goods and services to the rest of the world these past years. That has placed them in a formidable position as a World power as they have recently discarded their defensive military posture with the addition of a new ICBM offensive complex under construction. The use of slave labor is also controversial but not new to many countries who used political and military prisoners to do the dirty work in mines and factories during the Second World War by the Germans, Russians, Japanese, and other parties. China and North Korea presently use people in this manner.
Recall election: This month we will have a chance to eliminate a Governor who appears to be from another planet, There are many choices for his replacement. I will not tell you who I voted for, but it was for a change. We should keep in mind that as a European newspaper stated, "the future of our country depends not on the actions of the elected Prince of fools, but the supporting electing fools", He was referring to the debacle in Afghanistan where another fool presides.
Our tax practice: We have been busy scanning and shredding our old records; over a million copies handled, to the Cloud somewhere in a "computer room in the sky", We have finished the transition and are now ready for the many extension clients who have delayed or procrastinated their way to the end of the extension period of October 15th for personal returns. There is a month to go and please, if you are one of these, do not wait until October.
China Long, our neighboring paralegal: she is still available for many legal form filings, she is also a notary, and this may be the time to review your legal documents. Her number is 951-694-4460 and her fees are very reasonable, She can meet with you in our office.
Please visit or call if you have any tax questions or wish to buy a book, we still handle insurance annuities for those conservative folks who need them.
Best wishes, Phil Chute, EA & Staff.
July 2021 Newsletter
Good news from the Social Security Administration: The Govt, unofficially announced that based on recent July economic data showing 5.4% inflation in consumer prices over the past year, that the year-end benefit payments will probably reflect that huge increase. They have also stated publicly that the current inflation is temporary. Just remember that the next time you gas up your car or truck.
Bad news about Social Security Taxation: The proposed American Family's Plan will increase taxable Social Security benefits from the current 85% taxable to 100% taxable. That means double taxation because the involuntary contributions to the plan were already taxed in payroll or self-employment. Other normal pensions are taxed only on earnings as distributed with the employee contributions exempt from taxes.
The Family Plan would also double the Federal capital gains rates to 39.6% plus the current California rate to 37.1% would equal 56.7%. Doesn't leave much for sales tax on the new electric car.
At least we are still higher than the New York state tax by 2.4%.
Proposed increases in Social Security/Medicare taxes will subject Subchapter 1120-S passive earnings to active income and cancel the exemption, Two other related deductions for an offset
deduction for self-Employed Social Security contributions and the Medical Insurance deduction for Self-Employed people are also endangered.
Good education news from California: The California Board of Education voted to postpone a new mathematics framework that incorporates ethnic and social justice. This would replace current match curriculum which replaced failed New Math blend of algebra and arithmetic that was impractical to use.
Bad news on the Gross National Product: The June financial data on the sum of economic activity for the Nation was $22.3 trillion. The National Debt at that time was $27.5 trillion. That is now more than a year's total economic activity which still would not pay the debt which will hit over $32 trillion by year-end with proposed spending. And the axiom is that increased taxes slow investment and the economy.
Bad tax increase from California: This year we saw a new tax locally which is not fair at all. A $1,500 levy was added to the tax returns for people who didn't have Obamacare or other medical insurance. A penalty which has replaced the federal penalty which was dropped last year. A disgrace from a state which is boasting about great budget surpluses.
IRS Audits: The Administration is proposing an $80,000,000,000 [billions] to increase the IRS audit budget over the next ten years. The story goes that a lack of audits allows businesses to leave a trillion dollars annually on the table each year. This is told as an investment, not a tax increase.
Another issue is the proposed link between your business bank account and the IRS. Yes, they want your bank statements online so they can pick out the data for your next audit. That act will also present a financial challenge to the banks and savings institutions for programming and people expenses.
Bad news from Chicago: lt is hard to resist an inclusion from our favorite City where cosmetic surgery is a fringe benefit for most Govt. workers. To aid their underfunded pensions the city planners proposed a megaresort with all kinds of amenities to include hotels, casinos, and whatever Las Vegas had or still has going for it. The multi-billion-dollar expansion would have an effective tax rate of 70% if funded. That includes state fees of $30,000 for each and every slot machine and seat at a table game. An additional revenue fee would yield M80,000,000 over the first three years as well. lt appears that nobody in the gambling industry was interested in the deal, and it folded.
California and other major cities shoplifting problems: ln 2014 a ballot was passed here to make stealing items valued at less than $950 a misdemeanor instead of a felony. This was to keep petty thieves out of jail. lt worked so well that convenience and drug stores have been invaded by people taking advantage of it by raiding stores with duffel bags and all kinds of containers to exit without incident. An example of the results is that Walgreens Drugs in San Francisco have closed 17 stores since the Act passed.
Debt economics at the Federal level: There are new economic theories abounding that the economy thrives on debt. The more debt you have, the better the economy works. lt is a simplistic justification of buying votes by handing out more money to everybody and throwing it around like a drunken sailor. Complete unaccountability. I disagree and believe that nobody is too big to stay out of Bankruptcy Court, sooner or later the debt and accompanying interest must be paid. Remember Russia, Argentina, Venezuela, and Bernie Madoff.
Files, paper, and otherwise: Much has been said about, "how long do I need to keep records? The truth is that the longer the better. But we must all be practical so start with the longest such as birth certificates, real estate purchases, all legal documents such as wills, trusts. Others include tax returns, especially if there is a capital loss or net operating loss which can carry forward many years. save the
first year the loss was incurred and all the intervening years until used up. Rental income tax returns must all be saved because the depreciation values, improvements, and unused losses carry forward.
ln our little practice my garage was filling with filing cabinets. This year we decided to put the practice on the "cloud." For a whole month, we have been ripping tax return hard copies apart, scanning and shredding them. of course, they are on the computer the whole time and we keep ten years there. But the workpapers, notes, copies of client documents needed to be saved with the extra copy. Audits are only three years, and we were saving four years in files, so we cut it back to four years on the cloud, oldest 2017 tax year no-shows shredded, and our whole filing system revised and shrunken, Another reason for the Cloud is the liability of keeping all those records available where they could be burned, stolen or damaged. Besides, I didn't want to be the only guy in the business who hasn't done the cloud yet.
Last but not least: Your business returns are due in a month, the middle of September presuming you or we filed an extension. The individual return extensions are good to October 15tn. Time is running out and please don't rush us with these complicate returns in the last month due.
lnsurance annuities: Are a very conservative investment with cash sign-up bonuses, guaranteed principal, and many other great features. Hard for us to sell lately with the runaway stock market. One day everything will change, and we will still be here to help you.
Paralegal China long: is available for most simple legal matters at reasonable fees with serious long-time experience working for the lawyers. Give her a call at 951-694-0608.
IRS or FTB correspondence: requires immediate attention. Please send us a copy asap and we will review it for you.
Phil Chute, EA & staff
June 2021 Newsletter
Federal good news for parents with Child Care Credit [CTC]: The child tax credit advance payments are scheduled to begin on July 15th and will continue through the end of the year. Payments will be paid through direct deposit, paper check or debit cards. Since the monthly payments will provide only half the year’s credit, taxpayers can claim the remaining amount on their 2021 tax return when they file in 2022. Please keep records of all credits received as they will need to be reported on your 2021 tax return. No action is required if you want to receive the advance credits, they will be sent automatically. However, if you prefer to receive the entire tax credit on your 2021 tax return, you must OPT OUT using the portal on the IRS website. For additional information, or to OPT OUT of advance payments, please visit the IRS website: https://www.irs.gov/.../advance-child-tax-credit-payments...
Investment news: A recent WSJ article noted that non-taxable municipal bond yields have fallen from 4% this year to 1% as many investors have left the securities markets for safety, at the cost of below inflation yield. In other words, it is better to lose money on earnings than lose more money on principal. Since advisory fees are always over 1%, these investments will lose money both ways.
Washington issues: The gigantic American Family Plan will be on hold as Congress fights over the rubbish connected to increasing the national debt by another two or three trillion. It is currently connected to the trillion-dollar Infrastructure Plan which is in limbo because of the problems with the initial Plan. The Infrastructure Plan would be financed by increased funding to the IRS for massive increases in audits. The audits are expected to fund the entire Plan without further tax increases.
IRS audits: We had two IRS audits this past year. One was to justify the homeowner exemption from taxation of real estate property sales. The client had been renting out most of her home to roomers but fortunately also lived there the whole time. If she had rented the whole house out, she would have had a taxable gain on the property as a commercial capital gain. As it was, because she had lived there while renting most of it, she was able to qualify the property as her residence. That voided the tax bill of over $100,000 for a no change audit.
The other audit was for a person who drove a delivery car night and day for over 50,000 business miles during the year audited. It was a mail audit, like all of them these days, and we responded to the audit letter with a USPO Priority Mail package of documents weighing over 1 ½ pounds. A week later, our client looked up the delivery on his computer and printed out the confirmation that it was delivered and signed by an IRS employee. Three months passed without a response from the auditors and the client was shocked to find a notice in the mail one day that the IRS “decided against him because he had not responded to their documentation request”. In other words, they never received his mail. Our response was to re-mail copies of our audit response documents with a letter and USPO confirmed delivery receipt copyback to the auditor. That was a month ago, so I expect we will be off to Tax Court because of the internal IRS delivery problem.
Future IRS Activities: It should be noted that the IRS is being instructed (with billions of additional appropriations) to increase audits to offset the trillions of increased Federal debts shoveled out by Congress these past and future years. The politicians do not consider this a tax increase to recover “Trillions of dollars in tax fraud.” Their idea of tax fraud, as presented publicly, is millionaire citizens hiding wealth from taxes which affects all of us. Yet it is the ordinary people, as in the examples above, who are being audited. The IRS will also be given better control over ghost preparers who do not sign returns and unregulated preparers who are not Enrolled Agents, Attorneys, or CPAs. That is really good news, but it means that the regulated preparers, like me, will be inundated with audits and tax work from the interaction of more audits and less people preparing returns.
Recent IRS interactions: This past month I spent three days calling the IRS to settle an installment agreement and when I finally got through, they trashed my power of attorney form and hung up on me. I cannot imagine over 100,000 new auditors on those phone lines, if you can get through. It appears that their job only covers answering the phone, not resolving tax issues.
California Secretary of State vs Franchise Tax Board: We had a client who organized a church of his strong religious belief. We handled the documentation, and he was to find a storefront or other suitable location, then people would come to his meeting place. After two years of paperwork and lost Sundays the client decided this was not his calling and it closed. Now, after two years we have finalized the closing of the tax exempt 501-C3. It appears that there is an estranged relationship between the tax collector (Franchise Tax Board) and the formal organization agency the (Secretary of State). We had been sending letters to one or another and they, four to six months later, would refer us to the other agency. At last, we have settlement papers from the SOS and can close the case for the client.
Our insurance annuities: Many clients have happily found security and reasonable earnings with some of our insurance products. If you believe the bank interest rates are too low and that the stock market will not peak out forever, then please call us for more information or a proposal.
California in the news: A recent article from Epoch Times reported that the current administration has restored the Bullet Train $1 Billion grant that was revoked by the prior administration. Maybe some long day in the future you will be able to zip from Bakersfield to the IRS Regional office in Fresno at Bullet speed.
Good news! After a very long tax season we have adjusted our hours to fit the needs of the business from July through year-end. We will maintain business hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday for the regular staff. They will have many long weekends while Nett and I plan a few for us, as well. Meanwhile, I will be here as usual to answer phones and mail and schedule an appointment or two. My lawn needs mowing in the back too!
We are here for you all year: Be sure to call for advice or drop us an email. We have sent dozens of digital tax returns to mortgage brokers and do not charge for this extra service.
Best wishes for a happy and safe Independence Day!
Phil, Nett, Leslie, Erin, Sarah
April-May 2021 Newsletter
First, the good California news: Governor Newsome has declared that by the middle of next month we will be mostly free from Covid-19 mask and spacing requirements. This follows the recent federal government declaration that people who have had their Covid vaccinations no longer need to wear masks in public places. Since most people have been vaccinated by now, it is safe to say that the Covid Coronavirus has moved on to manageable levels. Surviving restaurants and other businesses will rejoin the land of the living to the joy of all of us remaining.
Other California news: Governor Newsome announced that the state of California is expected to go from a ($50,000,000,000) [billions] deficit this year-end to a massive surplus of $75.7 Billion. That is a huge shift of $125 Billion in income. This was partly due to the great increase in property taxes from hot real estate sales. The other part was from the Biden American Rescue Plan which allocated $500+ Billion of the $1.9 Trillion additional debt to the states for educational and other purposes. The other purposes are a California stimulus check for $600 to $1,200 for low-income individuals including illegal immigrants, homeless living quarters (at over a million each for two-car garage-sized spaces), electric busses and other electric state vehicles, and especially the wonderful Bullet Train from Fresno to Bakersfield. The train from nowhere to nowhere has failed to generate any construction bond sales from public or bankers due to phony ridership and income data provided by the state agencies.
IRS news: The IRS is a great user of office supplies due to their massive size and function. The Covid virus, this past year, caused the IRS great delays and closed offices which resulted in a very backlogged tax season for all. They also had budgetary and severe personnel shortages in most categories or departments. The IRS has an increased workload, handling Stimulus checks and retroactive software changes to exclude $10,000 of unemployment benefits from 2020 taxation.
An example of their plight is a recent report released this month which stated, “The contract for supplies and service of our printers ended in September 2020. 69% of our 164 devices used by the submission processing functions were not usable as of March 30, 2021.” They were out of printer ink.
Stimulus payment reporting: This year we were required to report all stimulus checks received for both the past Winter and this Spring. Upon receiving your tax return, the IRS matches the amounts reported with their disbursements data and will change the 2020 net tax to issue a refund or to note a liability if overpaid. Some clients have already received letters notifying them of these adjustments.
California EDD Unemployment: Recent headlines stated $31 BILLION dollars wasted on frivolous and felonious UI claims. This was easy to do by allowing 1,700 claims paid to one address, $45,000 payments paid to prison inmates, and a Northern California woman who collected over $200,000 in unemployment benefits, $21,000 of it was from using Senator Diane Feinstein’s name and social security number. There are thousands of claims filed and paid without examination adding to the huge tally. This is borrowed federal money, although California has a huge surplus this year. The remaining employers in this Golden State will pay it all back from increased payroll tax levies. This info was from the Epoch Times News.
Meanwhile, we have the privilege of being audited by the famous EDD this month. Our huge firm of 2 ½ employees is being audited. They would rather harass a small seasonal firm than go after the big bucks. This is their comfort zone. Several years ago, they audited our business with two employees, wasting our time perusing the past three years, to arrive with a $10,000 bill. Three months later the bill was beaten down to $1,000 because of one person who worked out of her house for a big fraud audit on her own time and direction. The billing went through my firm, so they reclassified her as an employee, instead as a 1099 person even though she had a professional bachelor's degree in accounting. I figured that with their audit time and re-audit time lost on our two appeals the EDD lost $5,000 to $10,000 for wasted effort.
Insurance Annuities vary in complexity but the annuities we handle guarantee the investment principal and interest earnings or an alternate investment index tied to Standard & Poor. They also allow all funds to be withdrawn as needed and are backed by considerable reserves required by California’s strict standards. A 6% bonus is credited with the initial application. Annuities are the preferred safe conservative pension investment available in these turbulent times. A free investment review is offered to all our clients. I am a retired Stockbroker-Registered Principal-Investment Advisor.
Paralegal China Long has returned from an extended vacation and is available to provide legal assistance with many legal necessities from trusts to adoption. She will meet with you in the privacy of my office. Her fees are reasonable and her phone number is 951-694-0608 for appointments. She has many years of experience working with attorneys, on the same matters, and if a simple matter becomes complicated, she can arrange a meeting with a proper attorney.
Illegal immigrant children, at the rate of thousands weekly, are being delivered to cities and towns all over the country for resettlement by Foster Care Agencies. Only the Feds and immigrants benefit from this action which shifts total financial liability to local taxpayers. According to the article in the Epoch Times, there is a backlog of 30,000 American Children already in the LA County foster system waiting and hoping for placement. This makes no sense at all.
More California legislation: The California Unsafe Handgun Act enacted in 1999, and updated in 2007, has been refined again. This law requires a firing pin on automatic weapons to micro-stamp a mark on the cartridge primer by July 1, 2022. This is intended to leave an audit trail at crime scenes. Since no device has been invented to implement the Act, no compliant handguns have been sold in California to date. And certainly, none will ever be sold after that deadline.
Child Care Credits were increased from $2,000 per child under 17 to $3,000 per child ages 6-17 and $3,600 for children under the age of six. There are income phaseouts similar to the Stimulus payment restriction. There was a big change on the payment of the credit whereas instead of waiting to file a tax return to get the credit, a periodic monthly payment equal to 1/12 of the total per family will be mailed on the 15th of every month thru December with the other half to be refunded with the 2021 tax return afterward. Please keep track of all monthly payments you receive, as the advance credit will need to be reported on your 2021 taxes.
IRS Audits in the future: Due to declining appropriations amid increasing workload, the IRS literally quit auditing in recent years. I remember one year when we had ten corporate audits. It was a corporate audit training year, and they got every corporate client we had. Then, there was the year we had three gambling winning-loss audits and it was another example of IRS training and gathering statistics on these clients who had big winnings (one client won an auto) which we successfully offset with losses. This resulted in three no-change audits that year.
Now, we have a government hurling towards bankruptcy. One of the questions emerging is how to handle the increasing debt interest as well as increasing debt? Will the investors back off buying Treasuries and force the interest rates even higher to unsustainable levels? How much debt is saleable? Only a few months ago the interest rates on Treasuries doubled when the new issue stumbled at auction.
New tax increases are in the works, all over the place. But that will not be enough to keep up or reduce (you’re kidding) the debt. Accordingly, along with a huge increase in funding for the IRS is a plan to avoid some tax increases. The Government simply will fund the IRS to get caught up and be the tax collector it used to be. They calculated that an auditor costs only 25% of the increased taxes he generates from his work, with an auxiliary benefit of people becoming more careful about what they put in their returns after the word is out.
This will, in addition to the planned tax increases, have a crushing impact on the economy. The proposed legislation also includes regulations of tax preparers and penalties for ghost preparers who do not sign returns for pay. That will be good news from unfortunate but necessary legislation.
Memorial Day is the day I finished this newsletter, and I am greeted with three new events which will shape our future:
The first is that the Federal mortgage agencies, which buy most of the real estate mortgages, have notified all the mortgage brokers and originators that they have severely tightened income proofing and disclosures to restrict self-employed applications. Almost all mortgage applications are based on their ultimate acceptance, so this is a far-reaching negative change on the people who survived the Covid. This is also the first indicator of a recession and will help it happen.
The second item is data of 4.2% inflation over the prior year. That is twice the prior April figure, and the year is still young. I predict a minimum of 5% to 10% inflation before this calendar year is over. This is the most mismanaged economy I have ever experienced, and it is still developing.
The third is the article I discovered in the Epoch Times about Second World War Navajo Indians. There was a picture of President Trump with three elderly Navajo Code Talkers. Thomas H. Begay, who was wearing a special Congressional Silver Medal awarded to the man, among others, uniquely contributed to successfully apply their native language skills to the Marine Corps. This beautiful medal outshines all the challenge coins I have. One of my clients was a Code Talker. He was Harry Gus, my only client with two first names. A peaceful gentle man, he would visit my office in the slow times and play his guitar to sing a song to me. At his military funeral many years later, I learned that he practiced his language skill during combat in the Aleutian combat as a Marine, a cold, fearful God forsaken place. He had never mentioned his military duty although he attended college through the GI Bill afterward to become a teacher at the Riverside Indian School. His son, Larry, another person with two first names, is a professional photographer, a very free-spirited man.
God bless all my clients this Memorial Day!
Phil, Nett, Leslie, Sarah, Erin
March 2021 Newsletter
1. The new stimulus checks are in the mail. There was a report that all of the Social Security records of people still alive had been sourced for the first wave of stimulus checks. The amounts are greater than before and will help bring our national debt to $30 TRILLION.
2. The IRS has completed a computer program to check all the tax returns filed which reported unemployment payments. Because these payments were taxable income, a Presidential Executive Act created a $10,200 exclusion retroactive to tax year 2020 which caused great confusion but helped correct a real problem for the unemployed to receive a tax bill after losing work.
3. At this time, the IRS is six months behind reviewing amended returns and other information on paper-filed documents. Automation has helped with the current filing system, but the rest of the system is in shambles.
4. Dealing with the IRS over the phone or dealing with correspondence in any way has become a nightmare. They are dysfunctional and have procedures to dump the callers who wait hours to get through, which cause the callers to…guess what… call again and again afterward. The employees must be reimbursed per call, not for doing their job which is to resolve the caller’s problems.
5. Audits are scarce because of a shortage of auditors. We have seen two audits this past year, one was a tax return correction which resulted in no taxes due or owed. The other was a completed audit from a new client which required days of wasted time trying to deal with the IRS, not to question the audit but to arrange an installment agreement [see item 4 above]. It took three days of calling the IRS before we could speak to someone capable of resolving the issue over the phone.
6. The IRS recently approved an extension for individual tax returns until May 17th this year. This automatic extension requires no application submission. It extends the tax payment due date but does not extend the first quarterly estimate due April 15, 2021.
National News: The American Rescue Plan, a Covid-19 blowout of $1.9 trillion includes a proposed child tax credit of $3,000 (ages 6 to 17) to $3,500 (age 5 and under) per child, payable beginning July (or later) this year based on filed 2020 returns by May 17th, the new extended filing deadline. This additional stimulus benefit will be made by monthly $250-$300 payments. There is an income phaseout beginning at $75,000 for single earnings and $150,000 for married couples. The huge spending bill includes $100 million to help fund a new subway system link for San Franciscans traveling to the Silicon Valley. A welcome relief for rush hour vehicular traffic from navigating around the thousands of homeless, their shelters, and people doo everywhere.
Tax Increases: Massive tax increases are on the way. Proposals include increases in corporate taxes (from 21% to 28%), raising the income tax rate on individuals earning more than $400,000, expanding estate taxes, and a higher capital-gains tax for individuals earning at least $1 million annually.
Legal Assistance: China Long, our local paralegal and notary, has been visiting clients at our office. She arranges her own appointments and has been involved in creating living trusts and real estate trust deeds. Our clients are very pleased with her work, which is typically 1/3 to 1/2 the prices charged by the attorneys where she works on a per diem basis. If she gets involved in something unusually complicated such as a by-pass or complex trust, she has attorneys to complete the task. She also handles other routine legal matters but don’t expect to see her in court [alone]. If you would like to schedule a meeting with China, please call our office.
Residential Matters: Mortgage interest rates have bottomed out at 3% and are edging upwards. On a bigger scale Federal Treasuries moved from a historic low rate almost a full point higher to just less than 2% last month. Last week, the Wall Street Journal noted that there were more active real estate agents than houses for sale. Yes, the housing shortage is so dire that some houses locally have sold on the first day out of the gate. Affordability does not appear to restrain price increases, but rising interest rates will have a telling effect this summer if they keep climbing. I expect prices to level with the dearth of resale and new housing costs will continue holding prices up.
Life Settlement Insurance Policies: Policy owners frequently outgrow the usefulness of their life insurance. Many believe the only options are to let the policy lapse or surrender the policy to the insurance company. You can actually turn your policy into cash with a life settlement. You can also retain a portion of your policy coverage without further premium payments. Please contact us to see if your policy qualifies or for additional information.
Insurance Annuities: If you have changed occupations or been unemployed you should do something with your pension portfolio. We can review your IRA, pension, or 401-K to explain how your investment portfolio is working or to answer related questions. I spent 20 years as a Registered Stockbroker, Registered Principal, OSJ, and Registered Investment Advisor before I retired from the business. There is no charge for a consultation appointment.
We currently sell an insurance annuity for a large company with billions in portfolios. This highly rated firm offers a 6% sign up bonus, no advisory fees ever charged, no income taxes on non-qualified plan earnings until withdrawn, and guaranteed principal. They are highly rated for conservative pension plan investments. If you fear the stock market is in a bubble, as I do, this is a good place to take advantage of the market peak to park your savings in a safe place with reasonable earnings for the future.
Medicare Taxes: There is another congressional proposal to lower the age threshold for Medicare benefits. These benefits are part of the Social Security System and a person needs to be age 65 to participate. It is a good plan and has been paid by employers and workers over the years. The new proposals are to lower the age by five years to age 60 to initiate benefits. This would certainly benefit many people who would appreciate coverage for a small monthly payment of about $150 monthly. Only problem is that even if the age was left at 65, the plan will be bankrupt in a few years from people living longer and medical cost escalation. People simply live much longer than before, and many great medical procedures simply didn’t exist many years ago. A change of this five-year magnitude would be suicide for the plan which would cut benefits for all.
The National Debt Need Never Be Paid: This is the prevalent philosophy in Congress. We are now at $30 trillion with another five or more Trill in the works with pending legislation. The interest rate on the debt was 5% only five years ago. Now it is less than 2%. Excess spending will cause inflation (we already have increasing housing prices, fuel, lumber, and many other items we buy or need). Inflation goes hand in hand with interest rates which must be more than inflation. The ultimate consequence is for the government to appropriate your property when the taxes don’t cover the shortages of cash after people don’t buy Treasuries, national securities, or bond debt anymore. The word is default, renegotiate terms, or bankruptcy.
Business As Usual: Thanks for visiting this year; it is truly the highlight of the year for all of us to visit together.
Phil, Nett, Leslie, Sarah, and Erin
2020 Tax Season update
IRS AND FRANCHISE TAX BOARD TO EXTEND FILING SEASON
The Internal Revenue Service and the Franchise Tax Board have announced that the federal and state income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021.
Individual taxpayers can also postpone federal income tax payments for the 2020 tax year due on April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021, without penalties and interest, regardless of the amount owed. This postponement applies to individual taxpayers, including individuals who pay self-employment tax. Penalties, interest, and additions to tax will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of May 17, 2021. Individual taxpayers will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by May 17.
You do not need to file any forms or call the IRS to qualify for this automatic federal tax filing and payment relief. If you need additional time to file beyond the May 17 deadline you can call our office to request a filing extension until Oct. 15. We will file a Form 4868, which will give you until October 15 to file your 2020 tax return but does not grant an extension of time to pay taxes due. Taxpayers should pay their federal income tax due by May 17, 2021, to avoid interest and penalties.
The IRS urges taxpayers who are due a refund to file as soon as possible. Most tax refunds associated with e-filed returns are issued within 21 days.
This relief does not apply to quarterly 2021 estimated tax payments that are due on April 15, 2021. These payments are still due on April 15.
NEW EXCLUSION OF UP TO $10,200 UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION
If your modified adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $150,000, The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 excludes from income up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation paid in 2020, which means you don’t have to pay tax on unemployment compensation of up to $10,200. If you are married, each spouse receiving unemployment compensation doesn’t have to pay tax on unemployment compensation of up to $10,200. Amounts over $10,200 for each individual are still taxable.
We are holding all 2020 returns that have unemployment benefits until we receive our software updates.
For returns that have been filed with these items, we advise that you hold off on filing amended returns until the IRS provides official guidance. As soon as we receive information on how to proceed, we will contact you.
NOTE: Please verify the amount of employment benefits received on your 1099-G. Scammers took advantage of the pandemic by filing fraudulent claims for unemployment compensation using stolen personal information. If you receive an incorrect Form 1099-G for unemployment benefits you did not receive you should contact the EDD to request a revised Form 1099-G showing you did not receive these benefits.
Please contact our office if you have any questions.
Phil, Nett, Leslie, Erin, Sarah
February 2021 Newsletter
Local news: Our new book Stocks, Bonds & Taxes has won three awards this year. The Book Authority named it Best Tax Law Book, it received a N. N. Light Book Award for Best Nonfiction book, and it won the Feathered Quill Informational Book Award for 2021.
China has accepted our application to sell the Stocks book there. The official directory shows it as “DF 432.2 Regulations for the Implementation of the Income Tax Law of the People’s Republic of China for Enterprises with Foreign Investment; F83 financial, banks.” No Chinese language copies are planned or intended. We have had scattered sales internationally.
Northern California News: A recent announcement provided information that San Francisco had solved part of their homeless problem by building low-income affordable units and taking people off the streets, especially in Pershing Square. The 450 sq. ft. single family units only cost $1,200,000 each to build including land costs. Their local School Board has disowned most of our former Presidents, Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Webster, and Paul Revere. They are currently renaming the 44 schools, which remain closed indefinitely. They have a new City wealthy executive income tax rate to cover costs.
Sacramento State News: The latest in increased taxes, fostered by the outflux of people moving out of state, was a proposal called Hotel California. This proposal would tax people who stay in the state for 60 days in a year for that year and elsewhere for the next decade. You can check out anytime but stay here for taxes. A new bill calls for hiking the top rate to 16.8% for wealthy residents. We have lost many clients these past years, but they are rarely millionaires. Just ordinary people who need affordable living. I do believe that Texas, once a high-tech destination, will no longer be on the list after the electricity shortage that brings memories of the Enron fiasco locally some years back.
Environmental News: Our new government has shut down the Keystone pipeline again and stopped oil/gas drilling on Federal lands which is half of the energy producing land. Now, the oil from Canada will continue to arrive by tanker train, trucks, and barges. Coincidentally, with the election results Saudi Arabia curtailed oil production and is again the dominant world producer of crude oil. Gasoline prices this year have risen from $3 per gallon to over four and will continue to $5 by summer’s end.
World Paris Climate Accord: This year we have rejoined the WPCA to eliminate global warming.
Unfortunately, the US has already reduced fossil fuel emissions with the substitution of gas for coal and oil and now windmills and solar. China was awarded a waiver and has been increasing coal burning electrical generating plants at a rate exceeding two new plants per week. If everybody else completed the proposed reduction of emissions, there would be no overall change because of China.
Now, Tax Season: This year was off to a slow start in February. The IRS has had people problems because they were home avoiding COVID-19, short staffed because of Stimulus reprogramming, with mail stuck in truck trailers from lack of people to handle them. After shutting-down facilities [entire offices closed] and Congress cutting back funding after the politization of the non-profit sections near Washington, they have had problems in every administration from compliance, processing, and audits.
At this time, they are now processing old returns and problem filers from the 2019 tax year. The 2020 electronically filed returns are flawlessly handled but anything else such as amended returns, problems with matched data, and fraudulent returns require human intervention. Many of the senior auditors have retired and I will miss them because they knew what they were doing. Many new auditors are in training now and will be difficult to work with for years to come.
We had a fraudulent 1099 G for last year Unemployment Insurance payments. A $40,000 form was received by a client who was not unemployed and didn’t receive any UI benefits at all. There is a huge billion-dollar California nightmare unfolding which will affect many people. Please check any forms you receive to be sure the amounts are really yours because it is taxable income.
A client received a phone call from his prior tax preparer who had just been released from prison. Some years back this preparer took his client’s tax returns, created tax credits, changed the deposit address to his bank and filed away. IRS audits large refunds and sends their CID people out to arrest him. He was smart enough to manipulate tax returns but not smart enough to know not to call the same people back to do their taxes.
Our returns are taking longer to prepare, and we also have a checklist for signature. The stimulus payments are part of this form because the IRS is matching payments to income. The first stimulus was based on old 2019 filed data. The turn of the year second stimulus will be matched to the 2020 returns. People who didn’t receive one or the other distributions will have a second chance when the returns are matched in the IRS’s computer system. Other items are Obamacare health insurance, foreign bank accounts, and cybercurrency. All of these items have penalties for preparers and clients if ignored or not prepared correctly. We have raised many of our fees accordingly.
California has a new Obamacare penalty [political word for tax] for people who should have been covered. IRS did away with the unpopular tax several years ago, but California didn’t get the word. The IRS wouldn’t accept returns until February 12th this year, but California took until the end of the month to complete their software revisions.
We are very busy and hope for an extension to mid-year but if not, please make your appointment ASAP so we can tackle the work. It is truly wonderful to meet with my clients and friends again at this time.
Phil, Nett, Leslie, Erin, George, Sarah
January 2021 Newsletter
LOCAL NEWS: I found the solution to why we have two Route 79 state highways. One, as you know, is Winchester Blvd. in Temecula which winds and doglegs from the I-15 freeway to Beaumont I-10 freeway. The other is Temecula Parkway, which begins at the I-15 and gets lost in the desert near Mexico after Warner Springs. I used to wonder, what fool would create two roads with the same name and number and get away with it? Well, it’s really the same road. Once upon a time the famed Route 79 wound around Southern California from San Jacinto to Warner Springs. During the journey, it passes through Temecula from NE to SW. Then came the new Route 15 on the same Temecula path truncating old 79 at Winchester in the North and Temecula Pkwy in the South side. So, Route 15 replaced part of the old 79 and can be located with little 79 signs along the sides of the I-15 freeway in between. Now you can quit worrying.
TAX NEWS: Our tax software has some new questions this year relating to Stimulus payments, foreign income, virtual currency, and California health care. To streamline our procedures, we have attached a simple questionnaire for everybody to complete and return, either at their appointment or when they mail/email/drop off their tax documents. This will keep us from asking the same questions and hopefully prevent unnecessary delays while you gather the information.
MORE FROM THE RON PAUL FESTIVUS REPORT: $3,452,234 was spent by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to ascertain if social media messages will get mothers to stop young daughters from using indoor tanning salons. No results were ever published but the 10% Obamacare tax resulted in closing half of the salons in the country.
Another article from the Agency for International Development (USAID) which spent $37,500,000 to deal with truant Filipino youth. Questions were raised about supporting the huge school truant dropout of children in America instead of in foreign countries.
Lastly, $896,994 was spent by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at Brown University to test adolescent reactions to various levels of cigarette nicotine. This was accomplished by studying smoking habits of kids assigned cigarettes on a daily basis. When I was a kid, we called cigarettes addictive cancer sticks. They were just proving the point before Vaping became popular and the wheel began to turn all over again. Kids have always rebelliously smoked, and it was illegal to sell them to children before this study.
THE GOOD NEWS: We have established complementary relations with a local paralegal, China Long, to update our clients with their wills, trusts, and other paralegal matters. This will benefit everybody because she charges only half of attorney fees when she does the same work for their clients. She has 26 years of experience working independently, as well as assisting attorneys. She will come to our office to meet with you and we have attached a list of her activities and fee schedules. I have searched for years to find someone qualified to work with my clients and we will all be very pleased with her many years’ experience, and work. Ms. Long is a member of the California Association of Legal Document Assistants.
MORE GOOD NEWS: We are happy to announce we are now accepting payment for your tax preparation fees by MasterCard, Discover, or Visa. As always, we also accept cash or checks.
INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Our Chinese Military friends have exposed a new level of combat discipline. At this time, some of their frontline troops stationed in Tibet are wearing a new helmet with a self-destruct control terminal worn on the soldier’s arm. In a tight situation, instead of surrendering to the enemy, the soldier just pushes a button, and his head is blown off and away. I am not inventing this; it was published in a national newspaper. They are also equipped with a radio headset so they can talk to their commander. In a compromised situation, the commander can push the self-destruct button himself. This is so much easier than the old method of harassing soldiers until they go AWOL.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE NEWS: The last time we had an audit the auditor advised us that most of the experienced auditors, like him, were retiring which would result in very few business audits. They had held up a $40,000 refund on my realtor’s tax filing. After the field audit in my office, my client received the full refund plus interest.
This winter, the IRS has been hiring many new people for business auditor training. The elimination of Schedule A Miscellaneous expense deductions has already cut audits way down. This was the section where job expenses, moving expenses, gambling losses, travel, tax, and legal fees, and other items were deductible subject to a 2% haircut. Now, there has been a dearth of audits altogether, with business Schedule C and corporations not being audited at all. Well, that will be corrected when Spring comes, and the new auditors have finished their training. They have traditionally audited a year back and will probably begin auditing 2019 Schedule C business tax returns this Summer. Those are easier than the corporate audits, which require BS degrees in accounting for auditors, so that will come later. I expect to see face to face audits again when they are reinstated. These are the best audits because it is hard to argue or compromise by mail to the local IRS office in Ogden, Utah.
ABOUT OUR PRACTICE: We still offer investment and financial planning without charge after tax season but will limit the meetings to one session. We still offer insurance annuities which pay from 4% to 7% income depending on investment options. They are ideal for pensions and lifetime income. No taxes are paid on earnings until withdrawn. No investment losses will affect the guaranteed principal in any case.
Free 2021 Calendars are available to all clients until supplies run out.
We had no IRS audits last year although there were some SC 2000 letters which needed responses. We are here all year to answer your questions or fire off tax return copies to mortgage brokers. Call now for early appointments but note that the IRS is not accepting e-filed returns before February 12th.
No new books this year after the superhuman effort on Stocks, Bonds, and Taxes with the textbook edition. My initial book, American Independent Business, sold in 1985, is in 66 libraries nationwide.
Five of my books are available when you visit for your taxes.
Take care and keep in touch.
Phil, Nenita, Les, Sarah
End of the year 2020 Newsletter
Local news from California: The Wall Street Journal just reported that California legislators, in addition to banning sales of new gasoline or diesel cars in 2035, will be adding the caveat that these new cars, “must cease to be visually interchangeable.” They want them to change their aerodynamic shape and form to all be distinguishably different from model to model. This must mean back to finned cars again. Or maybe paint flames or decorations on them so they can be identified easier. Like fighter aircraft and bombers of old. They will be known as California Models and easy to spot on the freeways, especially when they leave the state.
Recently Governor Newsome signed bill AB 979 which requires publicly held corporations to employ at least one director from an “unrepresented community” on its board this year and up to three “underrepresented-community board members by the end of 2022. The bill further lists these new directors as racially or sexually defined individuals. This is illegal because businesses are not supposed to become racist. Also, no mention that these people have anything to offer the business world besides their political affiliation. The matter is in the courts now where it belongs.
For those folks who are employed by small businesses, there is a new CalSavers retirement savings program. This state managed program provides an exemption if the firm has less than five employees. The mandatory plan was designed to provide retirement savings for people who could not afford to buy IRA plans on their own.
More local news from the Franchise Tax Board: Applications will be accepted for grants from the California Competes Tax Credit program. This program helps new businesses get started. Need tax credits for the new restaurant you planned for your early retirement? January and March are the next months to apply for the $80 million of credits.
National news from Washington: The Festivus Report for the 2020 year is now published. The detailed contents are found at Dr. Ron Paul’s website Paul.senate.gov. This report outlines the wasteful projects the Federal Government has spent for us for this past year. It totals $55 Billion dollars, which is an additional $10,006 per taxpayer added to the National Debt of almost $28 Trillion.
Some juicy details: The Cares Act sent $1.4 Billion on stimulus checks via the IRS to dead people. An Act was passed afterward called the, “Stopping Improper Payments to Deceased People Act,” which will take effect three years from now.
A federal district judge has now ruled that the $1,200 stimulus checks should have also gone to members of the penal society. Accordingly, $2.6 billion of unallocated money will be sent to those people in state and federal jails and prisons. Since their room and board is taken care of, it is assumed the money will help fund the black market, which specializes in drugs, within the penitentiary system.
Grants totaling $1.3 million were issued to Colorado State U, Wisconsin U, and Michigan U to test 20 healthy adults on muffins and shake with and without ground-up crickets. The students were not advised what they were eating. These environmental purveyors stressed Green New Deal issues to include flatulent cow extinctions. The results were not favorable. Meanwhile, the public was already eating protein substitutes for meat at McDonalds, Carl’s Junior, and other restaurants and paying for it.
Fifty lucky participants at the Oregon U helped spend $2 million for a study to determine if spending time in a hot tub for three times weekly relieves stress. What do you think?
The National Science Foundation spent $1.3 million to subsidize an insect ranching company’s operation. The company dubbed itself as, “Insect Entrepreneurs” and used the money to study Maximum yield of mealworms for protein feed and to figure out what causes them to die.
The best one had a picture of Cheech and Chong with the spending of $3.1 million in a San Francisco Baby Boomer study about edible cannabis use. They found that the users drank coffee to combat a high that becomes too much. No wonder there are so many street people there.
Last but not least is the military one which shows a real Abrams desert camouflage tank flying an ISIS flag. This is where some of the $715 Billion of lost equipment showed up in Syria. A complete paper trail of equipment turned over to Friendly Syrian and Afghan forces created a vacuum for the military black market in our best equipment.
This stuff goes on and on for 200 pages of waste and graft. Now I know why we need a bigger government, so we can spend more. I cannot continue the list because I am an accountant and need facts, not to know about more college students, PhD candidates, bureaucrats, or military people doing these things with our public money or debt.
On a local matter: Real estate property values have moved upward inversely to interest rates, so this is a great time to refi the mortgage or buy a house with cheap money. The rates vary today at between 2½% to 3% and a 30-year mortgage will last a lifetime.
Now, about taxes: A new $300 deduction is allowed on the federal returns. It allows you to deduct this maximum paid to charities without itemizing. Works the same as the $250 deduction for credentialled school teacher/educator expenses.
If you’re self-employed, an independent contractor or a freelancer, in prior years you received Form 1099-MISC from businesses to which you provided more than $600 in services. Starting with the 2020 tax filing season, you’ll be receiving Form 1099-NEC instead. The Form 1099-NEC is used exclusively to report nonemployee compensation. You may still receive a 1099-MISC if your income is derived from rents, royalties, fishing boat proceeds, health care payments, payments in lieu of dividends or interest, crop insurance proceeds or gross proceeds paid to an attorney.
If you have been newly divorced since 2018 and are paying alimony, the rules have changed. Before then, the party paying the alimony was allowed a deduction, same as spousal support, for amounts paid. The receiving spouse or ex-spouse would report the amount as income. Now, no deduction or reporting is allowed. Since these matters last many years until the receiving party remarries or dies, the old rules are still in place for divorces adjudicated before the 2018 date.
There is a check box for Cryptocurrency this year. If you have bought or sold Bitcoin or any other cybermoney we need to check the box for you. If you have sold or exchanged any cybercurrency during the last year, you need to determine and report any profit from the transaction with appreciated cyber coin values.
There is another checklist for foreign bank accounts or money in trusts. If you had $10,000 in foreign accounts at any time last year, we need to file a FBAR report to the Gov. This is how they know what you are up to under the guise of terrorism financing and money laundering. I have seen fines as big as $20,000 for not reporting.
Many businesses have received Federal funding under the Paycheck Protection Program PPP this past year because of the economic pandemic shock. The IRS has ruled that if the loan is forgiven, the expenses paid with the loan [now a grant-refund of tax monies] are not deductible.
Minimum Required Distribution (MRD) withdrawals has been changed from age 70 1/2 to 72 years beginning with last year (SECURE Act). Your pension administrator should notify you when this affects your account.
Gift taxes are exempted on the first $15,000 paid out each year per person, same as before.
The federal estate tax exemption per person (X 2 with spouse) has been raised from $11.58 million last year to $11.7 million this year. At this time there is no California estate tax. Beware however, the discussions on estate taxes are that the big exclusions may vanish with the new administration.
Mortgage interest deduction is limited by initial financing loan balance of not more than $750,000 maximum value. Refinancing and second trust deed equity loans can affect deductions. Remodeling expenses can be used for additional financing, not to exceed the $750,000 limit. Second homes must be included in the $750K. Best to see what is on the 1099 forms from mortgage companies this year and do some good guesswork.
New exceptions apply for pension withdrawals (up to $100,000) normally subject to underage withdrawal penalties, if the owner had COVID virus infection.
New IRS collection guidelines are eased for COVID virus-affected tax liabilities and installments.
Security wash sales (selling a security and replacing it for tax purposes) are a year-end phenomenon whereas people sell their portfolio in December to take advantage of tax losses and replace it in January. The rule is that it is a wash sale (loss not applicable) unless the replacement securities must have been purchased at least 61 days afterward.
The SECURE ACT also allows retired people to continue to fund IRAs as long as there is earned income to offset it. The old age of 70 ½ limit on contributions is now history.
Good news about inflation: the official inflation rate for last year was only 1.4% thanks to oil prices and the pandemic. An increase is on the way for Social Security patrons, less a larger Medicare deduction.
Final 2020 tax estimates are due by the 15th this month.
If you are considering an insurance annuity see us and we will find one that suits your needs.
Last but not least. Betty Chute, my prior spouse passed away in May 2020. She was 82 years old. Many of my older clients will remember her as the little lady helping us put the tax returns together or on the phone during our Riverside years. May she RIP.
Happy New Year! We hope you had a great holiday season. We appreciate your business and look forward to assisting you during the upcoming tax season.
Phil Chute, EA & Staff
November 2020 Newsletter
We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It is important for us to remember that there is much to be thankful for, even in these turbulent times.
November was the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth on November 9, 1620, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Their course was the Virginia Colony, but storms blew the Mayflower off course with only 102 passengers including their companion craftsmen. After a terrible cold Winter, only half survived. (That was 12 years before my ancestor, Lionel Chute, landed at Boston to settle in Ipswich, Mass.) Massasoit and Squanto Indian tribes helped them to grow food, find game and to fish, otherwise none might have survived. Thanksgiving was a day proclaimed the following year to celebrate survival with their Gods, friends and saviors, the Indians, in attendance.
Another Historic event preceded the landing near Plymouth. The settlers had escaped a brutal English Society to establish a new country, a New Israel, as they hopefully called it. A land of freedom and hope for the individual. They gathered one day on the stormy seas to agree for a compact to settle disagreements between the Pilgrims and the other passengers. The agreement became the Mayflower Compact which was in writing, a promise to each other to form a government of consent. Its laws would bind them all without religious or political discrimination. They were all bound by one and subservience to the government. At the conclusion of signing this compact, which they were not compelled to sign, they elected their first Governor. They had created the first experiment in consensual government in Western history between individuals with one another and not with a monarch (such as the Magna Carter in 1215). This was the first step away from English governance and the giant step towards the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.
A second historic event taking place in November was the prophetic vision of George Washington, during the desolate winter at Valley Forge of 1777-78 with the Revolutionary War going very badly. He was alone at his quarters when a beautiful angelic luminous being appeared. As he gazed at her, Washington felt as though he was dying or dissolving. Her voice said, “son of the Republic, look and learn.” Washington then saw a shadowy angel and visions of war and heard the groans and cries of his countrymen. (Josiah Chute was there and later wounded at the Battle of Monmouth.) Then the clouds disappeared, and towns and cities sprung up all across America. This was the Revolutionary War.
Again, the mysterious voice spoke, “Son of the Republic, the end of the century cometh, look and learn.” The dark angel appeared again and a specter from Africa approached and the people armed themselves and battled against each other. (William Chute was in the Southern Union Army with General Sherman and in the Grand Review in Washington afterward.) As the fighting raged a bright angel appeared, carrying the American flag, and wearing a crown of light that bore the words, Union”. She planted the flag and said, “Remember ye are brethren.” And instantly the fighting stopped. This was the Civil War.
Again, the voice spoke: “Son of the Republic, look and learn.” Washington saw the shadowy angel blow three blasts on a trumpet and storm clouds formed over Europe, Asia, and Africa. Hordes of armed men, who moved with the cloud, marched by land, and sailed by sea to America. The armies devastated the land. Then the voice again said, “Son of the Republic, look and learn,” and the dark angel blew the trumpet. “Instantly a light as of a thousand suns shone down from above me and pierced and broke into fragments the dark cloud which enveloped America,” and the bright angel with crown and flag descended with “Legions of white spirits” who joined the nearly defeated Americans, giving them new strength to fight. The shadowy angel sprinkled more ocean water on America, and the dark clouds carried away the invading armies. This is the coming war.
The mysterious voice told Washington: “Son of the Republic, what you have seen is thus interpreted: Three great perils will come on the Republic. The most fearful is the third, but in this greatest conflict the whole world united shall not prevail against her. Let every child of the Republic learn to live for his God, his land and the Union.”
We must all look beyond the internal political stresses tearing our country asunder to remember the greatness of the American Union must be saved. It has always been fought for and many people have died to save our country. “Children of the Republic, look and learn.”
May God bless all of us, the people of America who would fight to preserve it and the Constitution.
The December Client Newsletter will cover tax events and changes for the new year.
Phil Chute, EA, Nett, Leslie, and Sarah
October 2020 Newsletter
OCTOBER 2020 CLIENT NEWSLETTER
SOCIAL SECURITY: There is some good news to report. Social Security will post a modified CPI increase of 1.3% for all beneficiaries effective for January 2021. The bad news is that the real inflation this year will be closer to 5%, especially with housing and food costs going up. Fuel costs are down as an offset but most Senior Citizens do not usually drive to work and tend to stay home more. The increased Medicare fee will offset more than half of the average increase, to net less than $10 per month.
FEDERAL STIMULUS PAYMENTS: $1.8 billion will now be paid to 85,000 State and Federal prisoners who were not budgeted into the Cares Act. How the money is used is debatable. How the $30,000,000,000 federal deficit will be repaid is also debatable.
CALIFORNIA INCOME TAXES: The Golden Grizzly Bear State has proposed bill AB 1253 to increase the top 13.3% tax rate to 16.8% RETROACTIVELY to January 1 this year. This new rate would affect only millionaire’s taxes and would be inflation adjusted annually. The worse news is that State taxes are not deductible on the Federal returns if over $10,000. U Haul and moving services are absolutely overwhelmed from moving people out of state now.
NEW CALIFORNIA EXCISE TAXES: Cannabis excise taxes are now based on 15% of the mark-up (retail sales price) rate. This is determined every six months and paid by the distributors, same as liquor, beer, and wine. It is worth noting (client rumors) that illegal marijuana may now be cheaper.
FEDERAL TAXABLE FIND: In ancient times everything belonged to the King. He would dispense forests and estates to the loyal and political supporters with an occasional bequest to war heroes. In our country, a democracy, the Federal government will allow people to profit from their efforts as long as they pay taxes on it. Even if it is minerals from Federal or State lands and the Spanish treasure ships.
About 100 years ago a volcanic diamond-bearing site was discovered in Arkansas. The De Beers people who owned and operated the South African mines cartel found out and tried to take it over. They were repulsed because it was on State land. They lobbied that if they couldn’t have it, the output would destroy the value of diamonds everywhere and a compromise was reached whereas the location would become the Crater of Diamonds State Park and it would not be commercially mined. Visitors to the park have been allowed to dig around and keep any diamonds they find.
Recently, a 9 carat diamond was found and the stone is currently being appraised. It might be a surprise to all that the value, when determined, will be taxable under the Cesarini vs. US tax case that ruled that all TREASURE TROVES found are taxable income. Unfortunately, the finder will probably have to sell the beauty to pay the taxes. Noteworthy, is that a 16 carat diamond was found there in 1975.
CALIFORNIA PROPOSED REAL ESTATE PROPERTY TAXES: The coming election will probably toss out Proposition 15 which limited property taxes to a cost basis when purchased and a 2% annual increase until it is sold or inherited. This will affect commercial properties and will bring in another $12 billion annually to pay for the huge costs of pensions and administration. These taxes will be paid by consumers and businesses through triple net leases and increased prices. I am sure it will pass because the Temecula citizens passed an increased sales tax increase a few years ago (no SWAT team here) and a majority of Californians passed the huge fuel and transportation tax increase recently. Californians love spending and taxing.
I once had a medical doctor client who lived very high. He would spend exactly twice whatever he earned, which was very substantial. Eventually he lost his contract to provide medical services with the State for overbilling, and went downhill forever afterwards. Reminds me of California State and municipalities with no limits on spending and none on new taxes.
FEDERAL FOREIGN ACCOUNTS AND ASSETS: An FBAR report must be filed annually when the tax returns are filed. Please inform us if you or your spouse had an aggregate value of foreign accounts of at least $10,000 at any point during the tax year. It is a question on the tax returns. I once represented a client on a FBAR penalty case involving a Canadian investor who actually filed the reports and I had to deal with a SOB IRS lawyer who thought his job was to read instruction manuals, not to look up the case on his computer.
REAL ESTATE: Although real estate values have increased 6% in the past year there are problems looming. Federal mandates for landlords forbidding evicting non-renting tenants, and forbearing mortgage payments have pushed a $15 trillion dollar liability into the next year. Some people will be capable of negotiating rent or mortgage repayments into the next year when everything must be resolved. The others will move because of unemployment or inability to pay. This will induce a crash of foreclosures and a glut of houses for sale. Beware, it could affect your finances or ability to move. Best to complete refinancing now before interest rates or prices affect your deal. This is the best of times.
ANNUITIES: We still offer an insurance annuity which features a 6% sign-up bonus, averaged 6% earnings for the past ten years, guaranteed principal with no loss years ever, and no fees. We believe it will outperform most portfolios based on the current economy and the near future. If you are interested and would like to discuss your investment portfolio, please email me or call to schedule an appointment.
Best wishes for the coming Holidays. We hope to see you again next year and pray that the COVID-19 virus is whipped forever.
Phil Chute, EA, Nett, Leslie, and Sarah
September 2020 Newsletter
SEPTEMBER 2020 CLIENT NEWSLETTER
With barely a fortnight left to the election, I would like to pray only for an honest election. Everybody knows the opponents for the Presidency by now so let the true wishes of the real voters be known. If it is connived, duplexed, or rigged then we will have a Constitutional crises which could result in bloodshed before it is decided. Whatever you do, try to vote for the future of the country and flag, not short-term personal gain, and do your best to insure it is done honestly.
STIMULUS GRANTS, & LOANS
There have been government loans, grants, one-time stimulus payments extra unemployment benefits, and deferred payment mortgage plans like never before to offset the tragic effects of the pandemic and a shutdown economy. The tax effects on these plans are all different. On a deferred mortgage loan, the principal and accrued interest on missed payments are added back to the loan and will be repaid from the longer term which is not a taxable event. Grants are not taxable because they are a return of taxes gifted by the federal government. Loans for business performance and hiring are not taxable if the conditions are compiled with. One-time stimulus payments to most all taxpayers are grants and not taxable. There will be no audits except for sparse reviews of multi-million dollar loans and grants.
When analyzing client’s portfolios I have noticed that many clients are invested in High Yield mutual funds. Unknowingly or simply unadvised, the brokers should be telling them, especially senior citizens, that they have been investing in High-Risk Bond funds. They usually pay very high dividends and earnings [interest and capital gains] but the risk is always there. The risk equation is that higher risk equals the higher interest rates. There is a huge amount of foreign debt in some of them and foreign stocks or bonds in this case are not audited and vetted/certified as they are in America. Sometimes sovereign foreign bonds, such as with Russia in the 1990s, were greatly discounted. A $10,000 bond would be sold for $7,500 with the mutual fund buyer showing it at full value and receiving full interest payments. Upon maturity the bonds would be cashed in and the investors would make a huge profit. Problem was that the Russian bonds went south and became insolvent with the crash of the Empire during the 1990s. One of my clients, who was retired, lost 1/3 of her portfolio from one day to the next. I never sold high Yield funds again. They are also not recommended risk-wise for senior citizens unless they have a very large portfolio.
Also, Enron bonds were in play for some time until they took everybody out. It was like a roller coaster with everybody climbing on board for a great ride uphill until the thing spun out of control to insolvency. Beware of risks which are in direct relation to gain or loss.
Noticeably are the high interest rates paid for California Municipal Bonds. The average interest rate was 5% which would have an after tax equivalent of 8% compared to ordinary taxable interest bonds. The broker had paid a premium to buy the bonds with the extra-high coupons. Accordingly, a $10,000 bond with a higher than usual interest rate would command a sales premium depending on the life left on the bond. The broker for this portfolio had paid premiums of thousands to buy many bonds. Accordingly, the client would see he had received the 5% dividends but not notice the other line of the distribution that showed it was offset with amortized expense charges for the premium paid.
And then there were the high advisor fees cleverly hidden in the back of the statements. These range from 1.5% to 2% of the portfolio value and are charged quarterly.
Lastly, one of the portfolios was heavy in energy stocks ranging from utilities to oil and gas. These are falling out of favor with the California/New York initiatives to ban gas and oil in the future while forest fires are raising the utility rates like crazy. Just because lack of maintenance by the utility company high-tension lines helped start fires in the Northwest this past year, they shouldn’t be responsible for all of the magnitude of unmaintained public forests which burned out of control.
Overall, the portfolios I saw had earned less than 2% year-to-date and the year is closing. This year I expect to see 5% inflation and I expect many portfolios to actually lose principal due to inflation and poor earnings. Next year could be a repeat.
CHINESE INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENTS
One other item written in the financial news recently is the invasion of foreign securities in our Stock Exchanges and other agencies. Especially China with their long-term goals of world domination militarily and economically. First, our greedy International firms traded their technology transfers and trade secrets to do business in China. Woe to them to find themselves facing their products in international markets afterward with Chinese names on them.
Then comes the Chinese Belt and Road initiative to place huge segments of the world under China’s influence. They loan infrastructure loans to Asian and African countries and build airfields and highways to them. They now enslave one to two million Uighur Muslims laborers in Xinjiang concentration camps. This is the Communist Chinese equivalent of the Russian Communist Gulag.
Their Capitalistic trend is to go public with many of their quasi-public entities. I have read that up to 1/3 of Public retirement pension accounts are now invested in foreign accounts, mostly Chinese. Many of them are merely shells of government subsidized companies formed to attract American dollars for trade and expansion.
Speaking of funding our state and municipal pension accounts; the Public pensions nationally earned only 3.2% this past year ending June 30, 2020. Low interest rates invite high risk in other hedge funds and securities. Most public pension accounts are greatly underfunded from paying higher benefits than earnings. One fund in Chicago was only 23% funded and they had already sold off future sales tax receipts. We should expect to see some Chapter 9 Municipal bankruptcies before the year is over. Most cities have a municipally built and funded sports stadium which operates in the red every year. More so this year though with the Coved virus keeping fans away.
On to the good news: We have access to hundreds of insurance annuities which have a large range of very low interest rates for the most conservative investor but have averaged around 6% in the indexed options. No taxes on earnings are paid until withdrawn from the account. EquiTrust offers a 6% up front bonus so if you worry about early withdrawal fees, then that would take care of them. Long term investments are what annuities are all about and this is perfectly safe for pensions and IRAs. There is also a no loss clause in case the insurance company takes a crash on investments because of uncontrollable economic situations, the owner of the insurance annuity does not suffer any loss against his/her principal investment balance. He/she merely has no earnings for the bad year. In our proposals of actual earnings, the 2008 year was the only year without earnings. No fees are charged against your earnings or portfolio, ever. This is the safest and best investment I know of, and I have seen them all from my 40 years in tax practice and 20 years as a securities broker-principal executive.
Last but not least is the political trend to shut down normal energy sources such as fracking and transporting gas/oil by pipeline. This ties in with the Green initiatives and mandates to close the 20 electricity generating peaker plants and all nuclear power plants in California which resulted in blackouts and brownouts this past year for the first time since the Enron fiasco. They have resumed buying power from out of state, just like when Enron was involved. The State Government recently announced the mandate for only all new electric vehicle sales from 2035 [autos] to 2045 [trucks]. The substitute for gas/oil fuels will be electricity. Electric power from where? The latest proposed solution was to use the electric car [batteries] as a reverse plug-in mode to feed power BACK into the grid during peak periods. I can see it now, “Honey, don’t go shopping after dinner because the State is draining our Tesla batteries. But we can recharge them after midnight tonight from the windmills.” During the power cutoff this summer, Governor Newsome of California told us the solution was to use less electricity. Reminds me of the Express Train from Nowhere to Nowhere.
Best wishes for a less stressful remainder of the year. Call or notify us if you should receive any IRS or California notices or communication on your taxes. We are also available for free investment portfolio reviews and estate planning.
Phil Chute, EA, Nett, Leslie, and Sarah in the publishing background
August 2020 Newsletter
AUGUST 2020 CLIENT NEWSLETTER
First the good news.
The Corona Chinese virus appears to have made a pass and slowed down to a manageable level. This highly contagious virus has affected everybody in many ways. Now, our many clients who were afraid to leave their home may begin to go on with their lives. Social activities will be restricted and masks with social distancing will be the norm at least until the year is over. This is the new norm.
Good news from Congress.
A recent bill has passed to allow deductions for up to $300 for charitable contributions without itemizing. It will be treated the same as the school teacher credits for 2020 returns.
Good news from the California Secretary of State.
For our senior citizen drivers over 70. You now have an extra year from the expiration date (if from March to December 2020) to get your CDL license renewed. The SOS mentioned Covid-19 but I think it takes an extra year to find parking and get through the line in Temecula.
The IRS is in trouble again.
The IRS recently admitted that they have trailers full of unopened mail which contain payments relating to tax returns which were timely electronically filed. The process that recorded the tax return data has already been sending past due notices for the missing payments, most of which are in these trailers. At this time the 12 million pieces of unopened mail have resulted in millions of past due notices with attendant penalties which the IRS will need to reconcile by going back to the post date on the envelopes, after opening them. Let’s hope they are post dated.
California is now a third world country.
According to the Wall Street Journal article titled “California’s Green Blackouts.” This month there have been recurring electric energy brownouts and shutdowns of air conditioners because of continuous hot weather, after decommissioning the two nuclear power plants at San Onofre and some fairly new gas powered peaker plants throughout the state. The nuclear plants could have operated safely for many years at half-power but the State Energy Commission decided they didn’t like nuclear power, while the gas plants are also supposedly environmentally unfriendly because they aren’t clean renewable energy produced by windmills or solar. Governor Newsom said he remains “committed to radically changing the way we produce and consume energy.” True statement. Especially when the Governor waived the emission standards for privately held gasoline, natural gas, and diesel electricity generators to power up to replace some of the missing energy. “The solution,” as officially stated, “is to reduce electrical usage.”
Now the bad news from California.
Prop 15 is on the ballet for the fall and will destroy the original proposition 13 which limited property taxes. If you think the taxes on your house or property are not high enough, then go for it. Although it appears to affect only commercial real estate, the door will open and guess who ends paying for real estate taxes, the public users for everything we do. There is a companion Prop 19 which appears to lower taxes. Sadly, the attached financial economic report showed the opposite effect. Like the old switcheroo of the last election for a massive tax increase which had people voting no to become a yes vote by structuring the proposition to read backwards. The Attorney General had denied his wording is biased.
Because we have a proposed budget deficit of over $60,000,000,000 [billions] for the year in California, the land of the bear, there will be many new tax proposals in the fire. The first is a 25% increase in the maximum State income tax, which is now the highest in the Nation. Others will crawl out of the darkness of Sacramento political chambers after the coming
election. When I was a stockbroker I sold California Tobacco Bond securitized future settlements as interest tax-free bonds.
This was the money allotted for 20 years due to the collective lawsuit loss of the tobacco companies to the States. Now it has been spent and we are paying interest on it as it amortizes.
Some tax info you might not be aware of: Because fees are not taxes requiring voter approval, there has been steady fee increases appearing in California over the past years. The nature of the fees are usually a twist in the law such as sales taxing a person on the full price of an item purchased in Costco, before applying the sale discount. Note that it is not priced net but shown at full price for tax purposes and the discount is shown separately. Then there are the other little sneaky taxes such as the 1% tax on lumber and wood products in addition to the sales taxes when you leave Home Depot. And when you buy a new car there is the tire fee-tax for “disposal” of all tires including the donut spare and a separate fee-tax on the lead balancing weight used because lead is bad for you. And there is the additional fee-tax when the garage takes the worn tire off the car, which is another disposal tax, in addition to the tax on the new replacement tire. But don’t forget the sales tax on shipping [postage] and handling of taxable items bought on line. Meanwhile, the new one dollar tax the State added to my business license fee has now increased to three dollars this year. And so it goes on and on.
More bad news from California
On July 30th, the California Senate voted 33-3 to create a commission to study the impact of Confederate States slavery before the Civil War affecting Californians and to award reparations for descendants. Since there is a Democratic Supermajority and Governor, whatever they decide may become law without a public vote.
Now the National bad news.
The shutdowns of businesses, all schools, low economic activity, and accompanying disruption of everyday life in America has wrought a terrible toll on the economy. Our national debt has gone from $21 trillion to over $30 and the numbers are still rolling. All the big states want the Feds to borrow money to bail their losses out by digging into the pockets of the small states that better manage their economies. This is to avoid borrowing more money to cure their own problems. This is simply redistribution of wealth on a national scale. No matter who wins the next election, there is a monster national debt, worse than at the end of WW II, to be paid with interest when due. To increase it any further after the recession would be a crime because it forces the debt on future generations. Tax increase proposals from both political parties is a certainty.
Yes, we still have insurance annuities. Our favorite has a 6% sign-up bonus and historically has averaged 6% as an indexed investment. Guaranteed earnings are less. No losses or fees ever. Proposals on request.
We still offer a free financial review of all your pensions, investments and taxes, free of charge.
About Stocks, Bonds, & Taxes
Because most of our clients purchased our new book, attached is our first official review by a national reviewer. There have been two additional 5-star reviews but they didn’t comment in detail.
Thanks for the privilege of working with you this past year. As always, contact us immediately if you have any questions about your returns, receive a California correspondence form or a SC2000 inquiry letter from the IRS.
Best wishes to all.
Phil Chute, EA and Staff
July 2020 Newsletter
This newsletter is to inform you of current events that can affect you economically.
The new stimulus bill is being refined in the Senate and it appears 90% likely that it will include the following provisions:
First, it will include another round of direct $1,200 payments to many Americans with AGI under $75,000
if single and twice that if married, plus $500 for each dependent regardless of their age.
Second: An extended stimulus unemployment benefit will be enacted at a lower rate of $200 per week
instead of $600.
Third: The ban on evictions from Federal backed mortgaged properties will be extended.
Fourth: More testing funds will be available for senior facilities, schools, and child care centers.
Fifth: The proposed bill will restrict lawsuits in coronavirus related cases.
Sixth: There will be additional aid to schools and universities.
The bill will be finalized and publicly announced in the final form Monday next week.
We have offered free financial planning for our clients included in our tax fees. I have been, or am currently, licensed in securities as a Registered Principal, taxes as an Enrolled Agent, and fire, casualty, life & disability insurance agent.
This past week we reviewed the finances of a client and found, although he had good investments, that
his ex-spouse was still the beneficiary of his huge pension. The client was notified and is very grateful. Another client had property above the tree line of the San Gabriel Mountains where it is nice and cool.
The recent fires in Northern California in the past year resulted in a huge increase of mountain residential property casualty rates. The client left his policy information with me. I noticed that he had a good rider to cover the increased costs of replacement construction from damages but the property values were wrong. His property, with a FMV of $350,000, was insured for almost twice the amount. The client saved half of his renewal premium by realistically adjusting the amount of the property of his policy, resulting in no real loss of coverage.
A widowed client was worried about the roller coaster effect of the stock market on her pension. She agreed to buy an insurance annuity through us which will protect her investment.
Another client showed us his considerable inherited investment portfolio which was 100% invested in California tax-free bonds. The wealthy relative had bought them to avoid taxes while she lived in California. The problem was that the client had moved to another state and now all the interest income would be taxable. His broker never advised him. An additional problem is that the bonds are paying high-risk interest dividends because they were rated lower than in the past. This was before California announced a current deficit of over $60 PLUS Billion for this fiscal year (before the new shut-down).
Now the bad news which most financial professionals have been expecting. The following information was gleaned from the Wall Street Journal and my personal client interactions and expectations.
After a market shock earlier in the year when the DJIA dropped over 2,000 points in a single day, the market has responded magically. Tesla Motors and gold both hit $1,900 per share and troy ounce setting new records. Equities are up 25% in five months, setting a new record. Silver rose unexpectedly to $23 per troy ounce. NASDAQ and S&P Indexes are up 40% from February. New records break again. Wonderful performances, as the DJIA rallied about a thousand points monthly since the first quarter corporate earnings were announced earlier.
The perfect storm is coming. Economists now estimate the GNP has contracted by 32%, about one third, in the second quarter this year. The virus lockdown continues with the worst contraction on record. While 60% of all closed restaurants will never recover, the financial markets and real estate sales have been defying gravity. Interest rates have been held at artificial lows by the Federal Reserve Bank. Thursday,this week, the Federal Economic Agencies will release their official data.
One other issue on the way in the next two months will be the results of corporate second-quarter earnings. They will reflect the continued exposure to the economic nightmare we have all experienced. The results should be much worse than the news that dropped the Dow from $27,000 to $20,000 earlier this year. We will learn if the recent market contradiction of exuberance versus reality will sustain.
We offer insurance annuities which are guaranteed to never lose principal, offer a 6% sign-up bonus, and honest earnings.
Best wishes and good health to all. Call for financial planning appointments or to buy my new book,Stocks, Bonds, & Taxes, which is all about financial information and estate planning.
Phil Chute, EA & Staff
Second Quarter Newsletter 2020
This has been a tumultuous year with the Coronavirus and widespread social disruptions of lives, work, and business. Many of us have been affected in various ways and we hope that as Americans, we will endure and look back in prosperous years ahead to review these times. Our hearts go out to those folks who have contacted the virus or been otherwise affected by it. Like the 1918 virus which helped stop the carnage of WWI, it is worldwide and caught the entire world unprepared.
Meanwhile, back at the big home-office, we improved our breathing environment early in the year to protect our family, employees, and clients. We installed an IQ Perfect MERV-16 filter with ultraviolet treatment for the main air conditioner/heater unit. This huge box of filters and electronics constantly wipes the air clean of all particles and viruses. It also helps people with allergies to anything airborne. Our tax season has been very mild with more returns sent by post or email. I am sure that the July 15th extension of the filing deadline gave everybody twice the time to prepare and complete the complex task of our annual filing obligations.
My new book, Stocks, Bonds, and Taxes, a huge prolonged affair, has been finalized with a second edition; a college textbook. We continually edited and reformatted the previous edition and now have an improved third printing of the original book which matches the textbook except for the 330 problems and answers in that text. We sent 200 review copies to different California colleges that offer business courses for the fall semester.
You must have read about the Rapid train from nowhere to nowhere [Bakersfield to Fresno] that has become a dinosaur living in Sacramento. A real high-speed train is in the works between Las Vegas and Apple Valley with extensions proposed to Rancho Cucamonga. This is privately funded and construction will begin next year.
We have insurance annuities for our conservative clients. Some offer a sign-up bonus up front to 6%, lower penalty terms for early termination, guaranteed earnings, exposure to the equity market through the insurance company investments with a no-loss guarantee, no advisory fees, and finally, very secure high reserve ratings required for California approval.
As always, we are here year-around for questions, interviews over tax situations, investment choices, and estate planning. If you should receive any tax communications by mail please fax or email a copy (both sides) to us and we will respond to you immediately.
We hope you liked the 2020 Calendar we put together for your use.
Wishing you the best of the remaining months of the year. Let us all stay safe and healthy.
Phillip Bruce Chute, EA, Nenita, Leslie