A TIME TO CELEBRATE – BUT THERE IS STILL WORK TO BE DONE.
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.
EVERYBODY SAYS DON’T
Well at least I do.
Question: When should you use your debit card to make an online purchase?
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.
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!
THE JOY OF AVOIDING TAXES:
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.
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