Taxes and Investing

The Master Archive!

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Recovering From Financial Mistakes Like the Wealthy

By Keith Taxguy / March 17, 2019 / 9 Comments

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.

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Medicare for All and a Tax Cut Too

By Keith Taxguy / March 3, 2019 / 29 Comments

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. 

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A Non-Political Look at Income Inequality and the Wealth Gap

By Keith Taxguy / February 24, 2019 / 17 Comments

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.

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Mr. Money Mustache Fired His Accountant

By Keith Taxguy / February 17, 2019 / 23 Comments

It was late May of 2015 when a wayward accountant from the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin traveled to Cascadia. Tucked away in the Washington State foothills stood the Rainbow Lodge where a nondescript gathering of devoted followers of the emerging Mustachian movement were preparing for Camp Mustache II. This was our hero’s destination.

The goal of our accountant was to meet the Great One, Mr. Money Mustache himself, Pete Adeney, and present him with a business offer. 

The wayward accountant had a game plan. Since Pete had no idea who this crazy guy was he needed to build rapport before springing his devious plan on the unsuspecting celebrity. He had four days to build this rapport, present his offer and seal the deal. The pressure was on!

Since our hero was already attending the event he figured he could volunteer to give a short tax presentation. And wouldn’t you know it, the Big Guy attended the session and sat right in front of him, no more than five feet away!

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The Coming Collapse of China

By Keith Taxguy / February 10, 2019 / 18 Comments

When the Western economic world collapsed in 2008 there was only one beacon of light: China.

For decades China has grown at nose-bleed speeds and looked like an unstoppable economic miracle. Now the foundations of that miracle are exposed and the house of cards is in peril. Shadow banks and ghost cities are only the tip of the ice berg.

Speculation over the years of fudged official economic numbers coming out of Beijing is starting to haunt the government there. As 2018 came to a close the government reported the slowest growth in 28 years. This was still a bit north of 6%.

Unfortunately, these slower growth numbers are probably a wildly exaggerated lie. Recently, a former chief economist for the Agricultural Bank of China mentioned a report that two recent studies show China’s economy growing at a mere 1.67% and another showing the economy actually declined.

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Final 199A Regulations

By Keith Taxguy / February 4, 2019 / 4 Comments

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.

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The Anatomy of Wealth

By Keith Taxguy / January 7, 2019 / 6 Comments

My grandfather always had a saying that has stuck with me: Never take off the pile. Granddad was an old farm boy living the dream in the backwoods of Nowhere, Wisconsin. He lost the farm in the farm crisis of the early 1980s and then rebuilt his fortune doing nothing more than saving a serious portion of all his income. Most money was only deposited in bank accounts. And he still managed to re-grow his liquid net worth well into the seven figures starting over from an old age.

The corpus of your investments, that original seed money, is sacred. If you never touch the sacred you will always be safe! The income stream keeps growing larger with time. Dividends reinvest to earn more dividends. You don’t need a pension when you have one far safer.

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Deducting Gambling Losses with the New Tax Bill

By Keith Taxguy / December 18, 2018 / 23 Comments

The Tax Code doesn’t treat casual gamblers very well. On the one hand the odds are stacked against you winning (those fancy casinos were built on losers, not winners). And on the other hand winning can be worse than losing when the taxman gets a hold on you.

Recent tax law changes turned a bad situation worse. The higher standard deduction means fewer people will benefit from deducting gambling losses since you need enough itemized deductions to exceed the standard deduction before the gambling losses reduce your tax liability.

Then we have issues with state tax returns. If the federal tax return doesn’t treat casual gamblers with respect, state tax returns can be down right rude. Wisconsin, for example, doesn’t allow any gambling losses against wins as an itemized deduction: if you lose, you lose; if you win, you lose.

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