Sunday, December 16, 2018


I will be taking a "hiatus" from posting THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING for a while.  As the new year begins my time is devoted to getting ready for the tax filing season.  And when the deluge begins in February I will not have time to post at any of my blogs.

If I do decide to return to THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING it will not be until the end of April 2019. 

But before I go – one final, appropriately Christmas-themed, THINGS NO ONE EVER TELLS YOU for 2018.



We all know and love the 1947 film MIRACLE ON 34th STREET with Maureen O'Hara, John Payne, a very young Natalie Wood, and Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle, written and directed by George Seaton and based on a story by Valentine Davies.  It is on everyone’s list of Top 5 Christmas movies, along with IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and WHITE CHRISTMAS.

Of course, 34th Street in the title refers to Macy’s Department Store, located on 34th Street at Herald Square in New York City.

It was remade in 1994 with Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, Mara Wilson, and Richard Attenborough as KK, written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Les Mayfield.  There were two major differences in the remake - Macy's department store declined involvement with the remake, so the fictitious "Cole's" was used instead of Macy’s, and the final court decision in the remake is based on a different reasoning than in the original film.

I remember the 1973 television version with Jane Alexander, David Hartman, Susan Davidson, and Sebastian Cabot.  The store was still Macy’s and the basis of the court decision was the same as the original movie.

There had been two previous tv versions.  A 1955 one-hour television adaptation, originally aired as an episode of “The 20th Century Fox Hour”, starred Teresa Wright, Macdonald Carey (who starred as Dr Tom Horton for almost three decades on tv soap “Days of Our Lives”), Sandy Descher, and Thomas Mitchell.  Ed Wynn played Kris in a 1959 adaptation broadcast live and in color on NBC the day after Thanksgiving.  It also featured Orson Bean.

But did you know that there was a Broadway musical version?     HERE’S LOVE, with book, music, and lyrics by Meredith Willson, best known for writing the book, music and lyrics for THE MUSIC MAN (the first Broadway musical I saw as a child – at age 5), opened on October 3, 1963 at the Shubert Theatre, and closed on July 25, 1964 after 334 performances and 2 previews.  I was in the audience for one of the 334 performances.  

HERE’S LOVE was directed by Stuart Ostrow and choreographed by Michael Kidd.  The cast included Janis Paige, Craig Stevens (aka tv’s Peter Gunn), Valerie Lee, and Laurence Naismith as Kris.  The classic song "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" written by Willson in the early 1950s, was used in the show.

BTW – according to Wikepedia - “Lux Radio Theater broadcast an adaptation in 1947 which starred the original cast including Natalie Wood. In 1948 it was done again on Lux, without Natalie Wood's participation, and it was adapted as a half-hour radio play on two broadcasts of Screen Director's Playhouse, all featuring Edmund Gwenn in his screen role.”  



Sunday, December 2, 2018


R.I.P George H.W. Bush

Sadly, this is something we have truly forgotten.
This statement is the antithesis of Trump's America.

With the passing of George H W Bush and John McCain there aren't many, if any, Republicans with honor and integrity left.


Lucy saw the television show as a great opportunity to work with Desi and perhaps save their shaky marriage.  To prove the network wrong Lucy and Desi developed a vaudeville act that they took on the road with Desi's orchestra. The act was a hit and convinced CBS executives that a Ball-Arnaz tv pairing would work.

In 1950 CBS had asked Ball to take her successful radio comedy MY FAVORITE HUSBAND to television with co-star Richard Denning.  The radio program was written by Bob Caroll Jr and Madeline Pugh, who would go on to write for I LOVE LUCY, and co-starred Bea Benaderet and Gale Gordon as their neighbors.  This is the show that eventually became I LOVE LUCY.

Bea Benaderet and Gale Gordon were Lucy and Desi's first choice to play the Mertzes, but the actors were unavailable.  When they came across William Frawley, Desi Arnaz wanted him, but he was told that Frawley would be a poor choice because he was a womanizer, a gambler, and a drunk. Arnaz said, "He's perfect!".  Gale Gordon went on to play the principal on OUR MISS BROOKS    Bea Benederet was unavailable for I LOVE LUCY because she was already cast at George Burns and Gracie Allen’s neighbor Blanche Morton on their tv show.   

Lucy first met Desi when she appeared as his love interest in the 1940 RKO movie adaptation of the successful Rodgers and Hart Broadway musical TOO MANY GIRLS.  Desi reprised his Broadway role in the movie.  The movie was the film debut of co-star Eddie Bracken, also reprising his Broadway role, and Van Johnson as a member of the chorus, and introduced the standard “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”.

And one more thing no one ever told you about I LOVE LUCY.  The famous "valentine" opening credits we know from syndication were not the original opening credits.  It was added when CBS began rerunning the series in 1958. Originally the credits featured animated stick figures of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz along with the sponsor's product, for example Phillip Morris cigarettes.


From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary –

ex-cre-ment noun \ ek-skrə-mənt\

Definition of EXCREMENT

(1) waste matter discharged from the body; especially: feces

(2) reality tv

— ex•cre•men•tal\ˌek-skrə-ˈmen-təl\ adjective
— ex•cre•men•ti•tious\-ˌmen-ˈti-shəs, -mən-\ adjective

Examples of EXCREMENT

(1) an ordinance that requires dog walkers to remove their animal's excrement from city streets

(2) MTV’s The Jersey Shore is a steaming pile of excrement

Reality sucks!  Reality tv, that is.

I wish someone would explain to me why the great unwashed masses are so fascinated by watching people with limited intelligence and no self-respect behave badly on a deserted island, in courtrooms, on the runway or at a photo shoot, in a boardroom sucking up to an over-exposed and self-absorbed millionaire, losing weight, in restaurant kitchens, in tattoo parlors and beauty salons, or supposedly looking for a mate.

Once upon a time television, while not always succeeding, at least attempted to entertain, enlighten and educate. 

Watching self-absorbed trophy wives - neither “real” nor “housewives” - bitch and moan, drink like fishes, and engage in catfights certainly does not deserve a “bravo”.

Watching a family of ignorant and bigoted hillbillies hunt ducks is neither art nor entertainment.

Watching the brain-dead living together in close quarters is not entertaining, enlightening or educational.

Watching a bevvy or women throw themselves at a potential mate, who is only in it for the sex, is nothing more than bad soft-core pornography.

Watching children being abused and paraded around in inappropriately mature costumes in dance class or “beauty pageants” is porn for pedophiles. 

The above all represent examples of the genre incorrectly referred to as “reality tv” (the only true reality tv is the evening news).  I remember coming across the last scene in the tv movie about arrogant idiot Donald Trump while channel surfing several years back.  Mark Burnett is pitching the idea for THE APPRENTICE to Trump.  “It’s not reality,” Burnett tells him.  “It’s reality tv”.

There is more expression of true human emotion and “reality” in the main characters of BONES remembering a fallen comrade or android Data trying to learn to be “human” in STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION than in an entire season of any reality tv garbage.

While the motto of the father of reality programs is “Outwit, Outplay and Outlast”, the real motto of the reality tv genre is “Embarrass, Humiliate and Abuse”.

Just to be clear, when I refer to “reality tv” I am not talking about legitimate talent contests or home improvement shows likes those on HGTV or DIY.  You know what shows I am talking about.

In my younger days the criteria for determining if a book or movie was pornography was the lack of any “socially redeeming value”. I dare anyone to show me any socially redeeming value in any reality tv program.

Back in 2008 USA TODAY did a cover story on reality tv with interviews panels of “stars” from various shows of the genre.  When a panel from cable channel VH1 was asked about the most memorable moments from their shows, Flavor Flav said, “One of the most memorable moments in the history of reality TV was when that girl shit on my floor.”  Someone else responded, “No, I’d say it’s Mini-Me pissing on the carpet” from THE SURREAL LIFE.  Need I say more?

One of the programs in this heinous genre was a show called THE BIGGEST LOSER. Just who is the biggest loser when it comes to “reality tv”?

It goes without saying that those who participate as hosts and contestants on a reality program, and those who actually watch the garbage, are indeed losers, in every sense of the word. Also on the list of losers are the multitude of actors, writers, directors, and other creative personnel who are unemployed as a result of the proliferation of these programs.

But the biggest losers are those of us who recognize the genre for the crap that it truly is, and therefore avoid it like the plague. For every hour of “reality” programming that pollutes the airwaves we are deprived of an hour of real television drama, comedy, documentary or news programming. By putting shows like THE BACHELOR and THE BACHELORETTE on its prime-time schedule, ABC has denied us what may have been the next ALL IN THE FAMILY, M*A*S*H, THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR, THIS IS US, or 60 MINUTES.  The only winners in “realty tv” are the networks and the shows’ producers, who are laughing all the way to the bank!

Reality tv is a result of, and a major contributor to, the “dumbing down of America”.  A result of this vile genre is the creation of a new breed of “celebrities” – self-important narcissistic buffoons with no talent who are merely “famous for being famous”.

One of the best descriptions ever of so-called “reality tv” and the making of its pathetic “stars” into “celebrities” appeared in an episode of the BBC tv show JUDGE JOHN DEED, starring Martin Shaw as the judge, a decade ago.  In “Popular Appeal” an angry contestant in a British reality tv show called “The Dungeon” kills another competitor on camera, and the show's producers face charges of manslaughter in Deed's court. The prosecution contends that they acted recklessly and engineered conflict in order to get higher ratings.  A psychiatrist working for the station that airs the show testifies that the producers purposely look for psychologically flawed “contestants” who can be easily manipulated and angered, which clearly represents what reality tv producers do in “real life”.  

Judge Deed, speaking to the producer of a reality TV show after the jury has returned its verdict, correctly observes –

Celebrity: the pursuit of the talentless by the mindless. It's a common disease of the twenty-first century. It pollutes our society, and diminishes all who seek it and all who worship it, and you must bear part of the responsibility for foisting this empty nonsense onto a gullible public.”

Reality tv is dangerous.  It teaches bad lessons to young viewers –

* Greed is good.

* Money is more important than self-respect or human dignity.

* It is acceptable to publicly humiliate people.

* A cat fight is an appropriate form of conflict resolution. 

* You don’t need education or even intelligence to be a success in America – any brain-dead idiot can become wealthy by appearing in reality tv nonsense.

A news item from 2012 reported –

The Girls Scouts are warning of the dangers of reality tv after a study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute concluded that reality shows are having a negative effect on young women.

The study found that reality television ‘more frequently portrays girls and women in competition with one another rather than in support or collaboration. This perpetuates a 'mean-girl' stereotype and normalizes this behavior among girls.”

The study concluded: ‘Teen girls who regularly view reality tv accept and expect a higher level of drama, aggression, and bullying in their own lives, and measure their worth primarily by their physical appearance.’"

Television can change the world.  Pioneers like Norman Lear and the creative staff behind M*A*S*H changed the world for the better in the early 1970s.  And same-sex marriage would not have become legally accepted without Ellen DeGeneres and shows like WILL AND GRACE and MODERN FAMILY.  Today “reality tv” garbage is resulting in the decline and deterioration of our society.

Reality tv is responsible for the death of the Republican Party and the dire mess that America and the world is in today – by giving undeserved credibility and “fame” to a mentally unstable narcissistic sociopath and cartoon clown who is completely unfit to lead the free world.


If you love to make things, if you constantly have a project going, and you watch all the do-it-yourself shows on the tube then this site is for you.  It will show you how to make stuff.  A good timely site for those who want to give homemade Christmas gifts or ornaments this year.

It has great ideas for all kinds of crafts and projects for any holiday or season, recipes and cooking tips, easy art, crafts and cooking projects for your kids, formulas for homemade insect repellent, fertilizers, lotions, potions, etc, knitting, crochet, quilting and sewing projects, gardening tips for people who love to grow things, recycling ideas, and a Resource Center.

What do we know for sure?

Russia, and Vladimir Putin, wanted Donald Trump to be elected President. It was obvious that, being (a) the ultimate narcissist and (b) interested only in personal financial gain, Trump could be easily played.

Russia did whatever it could to influence the election in favor of Donald Trump, including manipulating social media and hacking and releasing private emails.

The Trump campaign was willing to get help from anywhere or anyone, regardless of the source. Like Trump’s business enterprises, the campaign was not concerned about ethical or even legal practices.

Donald Trump actually lost the election by 3 million votes, even with Russia’s interference.

If Russia had not interfered in favor of Trump, Trump would not be the President today.

Trump lies every time he opens his mouth.  


 Listening to the remembrances of Bush 41 this week-end and John McCain earlier this year I'm reminded that there have been men who truly devoted their life to patriotism and public service in Washington - and how totally different, worthless, despicable, and deplorable Trump is.

Let us get one thing perfectly clear. Donald T Rump the man is a clear and present danger to the future of America, American values and democracy, and the world. The main goal of all patriotic Americans of all political parties should be to remove Trump from office as soon as possible.

This is not about partisan politics. As I have been saying over and over again, this is truly about patriotism.

Yes, Donald T Rump, people are out to get you. Not because you are a Republican or a conservative – you are neither. Not because you are a Christian – you are most certainly not. And not because they are jealous of your “greatness” - you are a true loser. People are out to get you because it is vital for our future that you are “got”.


Nobody wants to hear from the Internal Revenue Service – except to receive a refund check.  Here are five things to do to avoid problems with your “Uncle Sam”.

1.  First and foremost – file a complete and accurate tax return.  The absolute best way to do this is by going to a qualified, competent tax professional.  It will not necessarily cost you a lot of money – actually doing so will probably save you more in federal and state taxes than you will pay for the service.

Whatever you do – do not rely on a “box” (i.e. tax software) to prepare a complete and accurate return if you do not know the tax law.  Remember – garbage-in garbage-out.  And the IRS or the Tax Court will not accept the “Turbo-Tax Defense” if you screw up.

And, in my considered opinion, do not use the services of a “fast food” tax preparation chain.

2. Report all your income.  The IRS matches information reported on your tax return to that reported on such information documents as 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, 1099-MISC and the Form K-1 from partnerships, Sub-Chapter S corporations and estates and trusts.

Just because you have not received a Form 1099 for income earned or received does not mean that one was not sent to the IRS.  Your copy could have been lost in the mail, or sent to an old or incorrect address.  If a 1099 information return should have been filed then assume it was.

Compare information reported on 1099 returns to your own records for accuracy, and do the same thing with your Form W-2s.  A while back a client received a 1099-INT  with someone else’s account, which earned $300+ interest, included in the listing! Had he not carefully checked the form he would have paid close to $100 in unnecessary federal and state income tax.

When you get a Form 1099 you believe is incorrect the first thing you should do is contact the issuer (bank, mutual fund, brokerage firm) and request a corrected return or an explanation.  If they will not reissue the form correctly, or do not explain to your satisfaction the difference, claim the gross amount reported on your tax return (Schedule B for interest and dividends, Schedule C for non-employee compensation, or Schedule E for rental income) and deduct any corrections elsewhere on the Schedule so the correct amount is reflected in the “bottom line”.

You want to make sure that (a) the gross amount of income reported on your return matches exactly the amounts reported to the IRS on information returns, and that (b) the net income on which you are ultimately taxed is the correct amount.

If you have received a Form 1099-INT reported under your Social Security number for bank interest on a joint account, and you want to claim your half of the interest and have the co-owner report his/her half, you should enter the name of the bank and the total amount of the interest on your Schedule B and on the next line write “less amount reported by co-owner XXX-XX-XXXX (indicate co-owner’s Social Security number)” and deduct out half of the total interest.

If you receive a Form 1099 for interest or dividends from the account of your dependent child that also has your name on it as co-owner or custodian – an investment that truly belongs to the child but is reported under your Social Security number – do the same thing.  Enter the total amount of income on your Schedule B, write “less amount reported by XXX-XX-XXXX”, and deduct out the full amount of the interest.  On the Schedule B of your dependent child you would write the name of the bank or stock and next to it write “reported under XXX-XX-XXXX”.

3. Make sure that all the names and Social Security numbers reported on your Form 1040 match exactly the names and Social Security numbers as they appear in the records of the Social Security Administration (i.e. – they are the same as they appear on the individual’s Social Security card).

If when your son was born his last name was recorded with SSA as hyphenated (i.e. father = Smith and mother = Jones, so son = John Smith-Jones) and it appears that way on his SS card, but over the years the hyphenation was dropped and he is referred to now as John Smith, make sure to report the name as John Smith-Jones when identifying dependents on the Form 1040 – unless you have officially changed the name with SSA by requesting a new Social Security card.  I have had this very problem with a client a few years ago.

Similarly, if in a marriage the wife took her new husband’s last name (i.e. Jane Jones now becomes Jane Smith), but never changed her name with the Social Security Administration, make sure to report her name as Jane Jones on the 1040.  If a wife chooses to take her husband’s last name as her married name the first thing she should do, after returning from the honeymoon and mailing out all the thank you notes, is to officially change her name with SSA by requesting a new Social Security card.  This can be done at the SSA website.

4. Do not accept tax advice from anyone other than a qualified, competent professional tax preparer.   Don’t listen to a broker, a banker, an insurance salesman, or your Uncle Charlie!  You wouldn’t ask your auto mechanic for a medical opinion, so why would you listen to tax advice from your MD?

Over the years clients have come to me wanting to claim the strangest things – telling me “my neighbor” or “a guy I ride in to work with on the train” said it was deductible.  And it seems that just about every workplace has a resident self-proclaimed “tax pro”.

If you are given any tax information by a non-tax person make sure to check it out with your own tax professional first before taking any action. You may have to pay your tax pro a few bucks for the consultation – but it is money well spent and far more preferable to losing thousands of dollars by following bad advice.

5. If you do receive correspondence from the IRS do not ignore it.  If you receive a CP-2000 or other notice from the IRS, or a state tax authority, indicating that income was omitted from your tax return, or asking for clarification on an item reported on your return, or for any other reason, give it to your tax professional immediately so that he/she can respond accordingly.

If you prepared your own return review the notice carefully and respond promptly.  If you do not understand the notice, or are not sure what to do, consult a qualified and competent tax professional.

In my 40+ years of experience I have found that about 75% of the notices received from the IRS or a state tax agency are incorrect.  You should not just automatically assume the notice is correct and pay the amount requested without verification. 

However, do not ignore IRS correspondence. You must respond to all notices you receive – even if only to point out the errors.  By ignoring such correspondence, the problem will not go away – it will only get worse.


Donald Trump, the current President of the United States, lies.  To everyone.  About everything.  If his lips are moving, he is lying.

Streisand sings.  DeNiro acts.  Trump lies.  It is what they do.

It is impossible to believe a word Trump says.  If Trump publicly announced that the earth was round, I would promptly join the Flat Earth Society.

Whenever Trump speaks in public, he must be accompanied by a fireman, whose job is to minimize the damage from Trump’s flaming pants.

When Trump gets caught lying, he lies about lying.  When there’s proof Trump lied about lying, he says someone else lied.

As Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017, has said - “Trump lies, surrounds himself with liars, and then lies about the liars.”

The Washington Post has reported –

In the first nine months of his presidency, Trump made 1,318 false or misleading claims, an average of five a day. But in the seven weeks leading up the midterm elections, the president made 1,419 false or misleading claims — an average of 30 a day.

Combined with the rest of his presidency, that adds up to a total of 6,420 claims through Oct. 30, the 649th day of his term in office, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.”

Much of Trump’s lies revolve around his narcissism and delusions of grandeur.  I expect Trump actually believes the constant lies about his abilities, intelligence and accomplishments.

Trump, as President, is not the “Commander-In-Chief”, but truly the “Liar-In-Chief”.

- - - - - -

Your thoughts and comments on THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING are always welcomed.  You can post a comment below or email me at LAKE REGION SOMETHING COMMENT in the subject line).


Friday, November 16, 2018



November 7th was truly a day of great celebration. The Democrats now control the House!

I certainly felt much, much better on the morning of November 7, 2018 than I did on the morning of November 9th of 2016!

It was a day to celebrate not because the programs and policies of the Democratic Party are superior to those of the Republican Party – although in most cases, since today’s Republican Party has truly become the Party of Trump, this is true - or that liberalism is superior to conservatism - although Trump, and the Party he now dominates, is certainly not conservative.

It was a day to celebrate because it is, hopefully, the beginning of the end of worthless piece of garbage Donald T Rump and our national nightmare. The arrogant idiot will finally begin to be properly investigated and held accountable for his unacceptable, indefensible, unethical, illegal and un-American actions and behavior.

Trump himself said, correctly for once in his life, that this election was about him (of course he did, because everything with Trump MUST be about him). Trump lost!

It is disappointing that the Democrats lost some ground in the Senate. But there were gains in Democratic governors. And the Democratic victories resulted in more diversity.

A message has been sent to the Republicans in Washington that their despicable and deplorable acceptance and defense of Trump and his behavior has consequences.

It is proof that there are more intelligent Americans with a conscience than there are ignorant and racist Americans like Trump himself.  

And now we work toward the day when America finally says to Trump, "You're fired"!

However, while the overall results of the midterm election were good for the country, it also indicated some disturbing news. Despite my celebration of the results, I am still concerned.

Exit polls indicated that 31% of voters strongly support arrogant asshole Donald T Rump. This is not a surprise, it represents his core cult of deplorable racists. What is disturbing is that 14% of voters “somewhat support” Trump. This number must include some otherwise intelligent people – and it is still inconceivable to me that anyone with intelligence could even “somewhat” support Trump as President. About 46% of voters choose Republican candidates.  Clearly to these people the Republican and perceived, often wrongly, conservative policies that Trump allegedly supports are more important than the real danger that Trump is, and that Party is truly more important than Country.

What is also disturbing is that only 54% thought America is going in the wrong direction – following the same line as support of Trump.

While the election results prove that there is true hope for the future of America, it also proves that much more work needs to be done to get rid of the worst and most dangerous President in the history of the United States. We must show America, especially true conservatives and Republicans, that Donald Trump’s continuation as President, and his continued control of the Republican Party, is truly worse than ANY other alternative. America will never be great again with Trump in the White House.

There has been a long-standing tradition of making successful television shows out of popular Broadway plays and theatrical movies, from THE NAKED CITY, TOPPER and MR LUCKY to MASH, THE ODD COUPLE, and ALICE.   

The first tv series based on a play and/or movie was MAMA, based on the 1944 play and 1948 movie I REMEMBER MAMA.  The show ran on CBS from July 1, 1949 to July 27, 1956.  The cast included a young Dick Van Patten of EIGHT IS ENOUGH.

The second series taken from a play and/or movie was THE FRONT PAGE, starring real life journalist John Daly (who would later become famous at the host of WHAT’S MY LINE) as newspaper editor Walter Burns.  It had a brief run from September 29, 1949, to January 26, 1950.

The third movie turned into a television series was THE LIFE OF RILEY, a successful radio comedy that was made into a movie in 1948.  Both the radio show and the movie starred William Bendix as Chester A Riley. 

While most of my generation will always think of William Bendix as Chester A Riley, television’s first Mr. Riley was actually Jackie Gleason.  William Bendix was supposed to have starred in the initial television version, but Bendix's RKO Radio Pictures movie contract prevented him from appearing. 

The first series was telecast from October 4, 1949 to March 28, 1950.  It won television's first Emmy, for "Best Film Made For and Shown on Television".  It came to an end because the producer and the sponsor, Pabst Brewing Company, reached an impasse on extending the series for a full 39-week season.

The show returned on January 2, 1953, with a totally new cast that now included William Bendix as Chester A and Marjorie Reynolds as Mrs. Riley, and lasted for 6 seasons.  I remember watching it as a child.


Well at least I do.   

Question:  When should you use your debit card to make an online purchase? 

Answer:  NEVER.

A debit card allows you access to the available cash in your checking account to make purchases.  A credit card allows you to borrow money to make purchases.  With a debit card you cannot spend more than you have.

There is an important difference between debit and credit cards, which is why it is important to have credit cards.   

Whenever I had a problem with a credit card charge, I would notify the card provider and, on my say-so, alone the charge would be automatically removed from my account.  On the other side of the aisle, I have heard horror stories from business clients regarding credit card payments for their goods and services being reversed by clients and customers “after the fact”. 

A client who provided escorted rail travel told me about one of his customers who charged a trip to her credit card.  The customer went on the trip and received everything promised in the trip itinerary.  However, for some reason the customer did not enjoy the trip as much as expected and told her credit card company to reverse the charge for the fee, which it did.  My client was out his fee for the trip after laying out all the costs of travel and accommodations for the unhappy customer.  He had to fight long and hard with the credit card company to get his money back.

I had a problem with a debit card charge years ago and my bank was not as accommodating as credit card providers had been.  It would not automatically remove the debit to my account.  I was told I had to resolve the matter with the vendor.  I had to fight long and hard with the bank to get my money back.

In the case of a credit card charge the customer receives the benefit of the doubt and the merchant or vendor must prove that the charge was valid, as it should be.  With a debit card charge the merchant or vendor receives the benefit of the doubt and the bank customer who was cheated or shorted must prove the charge was invalid.

The bottom line - it is much easier to dispute a charge on a credit card than on a debit card.  A credit card issuer will remove the charge until a resolution is made, but a debit card charge will not be removed without dealing directly with the merchant.

The reason for the different treatment is because credit card charges are covered under federal and state consumer protection laws, while debit card charges, like ATM activity, are covered under banking laws that pertain to the electronic transfer of funds.

A debit card, which is basically a cash card, should only be used in lieu of cash – at restaurants, local supermarkets, stores and theatres, and hotels and motels - in instances where you are actually receiving the product or service “in hand” at the point of purchase. A credit card should be used in all cases when you are making a payment in advance, both online and offline, for products or services to be delivered in the future.  This way if the product or service is not received as promised it will be much easier to get your money back.

Another consideration is identity theft and fraud.  Here it is also easier to fix a problem arising from a credit card than one from a debit card.  And if someone steals your debit card number your entire bank account balance is vulnerable.

So now, when should you use your debit card to make an online purchase?


Enter your date of birth, or any other date from 1800 to 2002, and receive an “On This Day In History…” time capsule report with the top headlines of the week, top songs for the year. Academy Award winners, other people born on November 18th. favorite tv shows, toys and books of the year, prices for such items as bread, milk, eggs and gas, the average annual income, minimum wage, and the Dow Jones average. 

On the day I was born – November 18, 1953, gas was 29 cents per gallon, a stamp was 3 cents, the average annual income was $4,706, and the Dow Jones average was 281.  The hot new toy for 1953 was plastic army men.  And others born on November 18th, before me, included actresses Brenda Vaccaro and Linda Evans. 

I was truly saddened to hear of the passing of Stan “The Man” Lee.  He was truly a big part of my youth, and the youth of millions of others of my generation, and his creations continue to fascinate new generations today.

Few people in the history of the world have created as many culturally iconic and enduring fictional characters as Stan Lee.

The Marvel Universe, along with the DC and Star Trek Universes, are truly the mythology of the modern world.

Stan turned comic books into literature, making them intelligent and educational.  And he used his platform and his comics to speak out via “Stan’s Soapbox”.  Here is one example from 1968 - 

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater — one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen — people he’s never known — with equal intensity — with equal venom.
“Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race — to despise an entire nation — to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God ― a God who calls us ALL ― His children.
“Pax et Justitia, Stan.

I have found an excellent way to teach children how to become good, decent and honorable human beings.

All you have to do is teach them about the words, actions and lives of two Americans:

John McCain – to learn what to do, and

Donald Trump – to learn what NOT to do.

Sunday Today with Willie Geist, which I watch most Sunday mornings, began its weekly "Highs and Lows" feature when the show first appeared with actual news stories.

But it had to change the focus when NBC realized that EVERY low of EVERY week would be about Donald T Rump.


Does this sound like anyone we all know?

"A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends."

- US VP Henry Wallace


A belated message for all the veterans reading this – thank you for your service and NEVER FORGET!


No, this column is not about Donald T Rump.

Over the years I have heard and read the strangest things said and written about taxes, from a multitude of sources.  Here are a dozen true “urban tax myths” -

1. Receiving a Form 1099 increases your audit risk.

The mere receipt of a Form 1099 does not in any way affect your audit profile.  However, if you don’t report the income from a Form 1099 on your 1040 you will eventually receive a bill from Uncle Sam for additional tax and accrued penalties and interest.

2. You only have to claim the income for which you receive a Form 1099.

All income from self-employment, and most interest and dividends, is taxable — whether or not you receive a Form 1099.

3. Filing late means you're less likely to be audited.

Just because you file late in the season, near the April 15th deadline, does not mean you have decreased your audit risk. Also requesting an extension, and filing your return close to Oct. 15, doesn't decrease your audit risk either. You get audited based on what is on your return, not when you filed it.

4. If the IRS didn't audit your returns, the deduction you’ve been taking all these years must be legal. 

It just means you weren’t caught ... yet.

5. Claiming a home office deduction automatically triggers an audit.

Before the rules were clarified in the '90s, the home office deduction was considered an audit “red flag.” Not anymore. In my 40+ tax seasons of preparing 1040s, none of my clients have ever been questioned or audited by the IRS for claiming a home office deduction.

6. Working taxpayers older than 65 don't have to pay Social Security tax.

Salaries and wages are subject to FICA (Social Security and Medicare) Tax, whether you’re 3 or 101 years old, and regardless of whether or not you are already collecting Social Security. I actually had an employee at one of my business clients tell me decades ago that since she was 70 I do not have to withhold Social Security tax from her paycheck anymore. Of course, she was wrong. This myth stems from the fact that at one time retirees 72 or older did not have to reduce or repay Social Security benefits due to excess earned income.

7. You can deduct the cost of your car and all its operating expenses, or mileage, as a business expense if you put advertising on the car.

IRS Publication 463 states the facts: “Putting display material that advertises your business on your car does not change the use of your car from personal use to business use.”

8. You can claim a tax deduction for making a gift of up to $15,000 to your son or daughter.

You can never deduct a gift to an individual on your income tax return. This applies only to the federal “Gift Tax” — you can currently make a gift of $15,000 per person per year without having to pay Gift Tax (this number is adjusted periodically for inflation).

9. The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is only for high-income taxpayers.

The AMT was originally intended to make sure high-income individuals did not use tax shelters and loopholes to avoid paying their share of federal income tax.  But that is no longer the case under current law. My millionaire clients never pay AMT — but many in the middle and upper-middle class have become victims of this dreaded alternate tax system.

Thankfully, as a result of the GOP Tax Act, the dreaded AMT is no longer an issue for most taxpayers.

10. "What do you mean it's wrong? I used Turbo Tax!"

The Tax Court has on several occasions rejected the "Turbo Tax Defense" when a taxpayer attempted to blame tax preparation software for errors made on a tax return.  If you rely on a “box” to prepare your tax returns remember – garbage in, garbage out. 

11. You can settle your outstanding IRS tax debt for "pennies on the dollar”.

Don’t believe the ads for companies that make such a claim. It sounds too good to be true, and it is! These ads are referring to an IRS program known as “Offer In Compromise,” but no matter what they say, the IRS isn’t going to let you pay $100 to settle a $50,000 tax debt.  If you use one of these companies you will pay a sizable fee — after all, how do you think they afford to advertise on TV? Several of the companies promising to settle IRS debt for “pennies on the dollar” have gotten into legal trouble for taking advantage of their customers and have been shut down.

12. CPAs are 1040 tax experts.

The initials “CPA” have nothing whatsoever to do with one’s knowledge of, experience with, or ability to prepare 1040s. All they mean is that the person can certify financial statements. A CPA passed a very difficult test on accounting issues, perhaps dozens of years ago, with minimal, if any, questions on 1040 taxation. CPAs must maintain minimal annual continuing professional education (CPE) credits — but there is nothing that says any of their CPE must be in 1040 taxation. There are many CPAs who are also 1040 tax experts, but it has absolutely nothing to do with their “initials.”  The only “initials” that have any bearing on a person’s competence and currency with federal individual income tax law is “EA”, for Enrolled Agent, “ATP”, for Accredited Tax Preparer, and “ATA”, for Accredited Tax Advisor.

- - - - - -

Your thoughts and comments on THE LAKE REGION SOMETHING are always welcomed.  You can post a comment below or email me at LAKE REGION SOMETHING COMMENT in the subject line).