Regardless how experienced or educated you are you will still make financial mistakes, some of them humdingers. Personal finance blogs and media outlets frequently share basis financial mistakes to avoid: spend less than you earn, invest in index funds, avoid debt and so forth. All this is good advice, but it goes a lot deeper than this.Read More
Healthcare is taking center stage once again as the political arena heats up. This will not be a political treatise. Instead, we will focus on the long-term problems in the U.S. healthcare system and potential solution to be found in the tax code.Medicare for all is something that appeals to me. When the politics are stripped there is a lot to like in the idea of expanding Medicare to everyone. Currently about half the people get some form of Medicare benefit. The old, very young and poor qualify for the Medicare program. Unfortunately, the Medicare system is set up backwards. The people who pay for it are not the people receiving benefits and the people receiving benefits don’t pay for it (with the exception of people age 65 and older).Even the elderly who pay a Medicare premium for some parts of the program are still subsidized by those earning a wage or salary, the very people who don’t qualify for benefits. The inefficiency of the U.S medical system has created the most expensive healthcare system in the world by far with sub-par results. For most illnesses it is better to travel for treatment if you want better odds at living.Read More
Frequently we look for political solutions to income inequality and the wealth gap. While the issues can be improved slightly from political action, there are two additional ways to close the wealth gap and level income.
Politics is the messiest way to fix these problems and history offers ample warning for those who seek answers from this source. One need not look further than Mao’s China or Stalin’s Russia to see how abysmal political leveling can be. North Korea is a modern example of how not to level the playing field.
Let’s turn our attention to the second way income inequality can be reduced. Walter Scheidel in his book The Great Leveler provides what he calls the “Four Horsemen” of leveling: war, revolution, collapse and plague. Historically these four horsemen have been the leading cause of leveling income and wealth.
Once again this is not a comforting thought. You can read Scheidel’s work for an in-depth review of his research. The record is clear, however; it takes great dislocation, pain, suffering and death for income and wealth to level naturally.Read More
The IRS released final regulations on 199A. The Kiplinger Tax Letter said it best: “Final regulations provide limited guidance, but IRS gives a safe harbor.”
In this post we will discuss the safe harbor as it relates to “trade or business” with special emphasis on application with rental properties. The safe harbor doesn’t apply to all taxpayers and the trade or business designation is still possible without meeting the safe harbor parameters.
The final regulations run 248 pages. I will follow this post with a detailed post on 199A tiers with several decision trees. Due to the length and complexity of the regulations we are forced to remain focused on one aspect of 199A. Taxpayers with a sole proprietorship, partnership, S corporation or investment property may wish to seek the services of a competent tax professional until more clarification is reached through more regulations or from the Tax Court.
Links are provided at the end of this post to the entire 248 pages of regulations released and Notice 2019-07 (only 10 pages!) dealing with the trade or business safe harbor for real estate issues for your further research.Read More
Blogging is a business. Sometimes it’s hard to believe, but it is true. Along with podcasting, speaking and every other form of training and education, blogging is a business. Sometimes a really big business. And businesses take work to manage and grow.
It is easy to forget that those friendly bloggers you communicate with work some serious hours to bring you information and perhaps a laugh or two. Most people don’t realize bloggers are sweating it out at the keyboard in the wee hours of the morning to get a post out on schedule.
And then there is the invisible work. It seems like blogging is about the cheapest hobby going until you realize that every part of the platform demands a fee and usually loads of time. And that is where this blogger enters.
I originally planned a detailed post of the coming collapse of China when the IRS released another 249 pages of regulations on Section 199A. The ink wasn’t dry before the calls flooded in for a brief post on the IRS release. The good news is we finally have a definition for a trade or business as it applies to 199A. The bad news is those 249 pages contained a lot of material and one simple post wasn’t going to cut it. A series was in process before the next hammer fell.Read More
“Start a side hustle or small business” is a common refrain when working to reduce debt or retirement planning is involved. It all sounds easy on paper until you realize most businesses fail within a year or so.
The problems with starting a business are myriad. Most businesses fail because they either have too little or too much business and the problems begin with the price or fee charged the customer.
Yes, some businesses fail over financing and other financial issues, but price frequently is the destroyer of small businesses. Charge too little and you end up with too much work with no profits to show for the effort; charge too much and nobody will even waste their time kicking the tires to see how good you really are.Read More
Most of the time the stock market is climbing north. Interspersed between bull markets are those times when rookie investors act as if the sky is falling.
Long bull markets turn normally intelligent investors into casino gamblers; they even use gambling terminology: we’re due for a bear market or as they say at the casino, “Red is due after 8 black spins” at the roulette wheel; as if the ball has a memory. The odds of it coming up red are the same as it was last spin, in case you were wondering.
Of course, long moves in the stock market sets off our sixth sense that this can’t last forever. Before long you’re not fully invested (a religious mantra of many investing circles) which smacks of market timing.
This brings up a good question: Should you always be 100% invested in the market?
If only it were as simple as a yes or no answer.
The truth is many people should NOT be fully invested in the market and some people SHOULD be and it has nothing to do with market timing. The trick is to know when to be fully invested and if not, by how much.
It boils down to your personal situation: where you are on your journey to financial independence, how close to retirement you are (or if you are in retirement), spending habits and viable alternative investments.Read More
The reason for starting a side business are legion. Maybe early retirement left you with more free time than you know what to do with. Maybe you took early retirement a bit early with the intentions of earning some side income. Or, personal or family issues limit the hours available for gainful activities.
Micro businesses are a great way to earn more money without a massive expenditure of time. You can enjoy the best of both worlds: reasonable income and freedom.
But there is one factor that causes more headaches than any other: taxes. Micro businesses/side gigs have special tax rules that can cause serious problems, or, if done correctly, virtually eliminate your tax bill.
I’ve published on this in the past, but new tax rules require I provide an entirely new guide. Several notable changes require your attention. A misstep will cost you hard-earned tax dollars; a well thought out plan allows you to keep most or all of your side gig income.Read More