Archive for December, 2008

Can I Take Dead People As Tax Deductions?

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

  A goofy question from a reader to wrap up 2008 in is as follows: “Can I take dead people as tax deductions?”

 

 baddeduction1

 

My answer, smart guy, is that in some situations, yes, you can claim dead people as tax deductions.  By the way, if, like in the photo you are considered “undead”, for tax purposes you are considered alive and your question is moot. 

If you or your spouse died in 2008, you actually would be filing as Married Filing Jointly one last time for your Federal (and probably respective state) tax returns.  Then, if there were children in the relationship, the surviving spouse could take the Qualified Widow or Widower tax status for the next two years (barring any super changes in tax law from Congress).

The purpose of this is to allow continuity and some relief to the surviving spouse and their family.

Now, if you had wanted to start getting social security numbers from dead people you would be in for a nasty surprise because contrary to what you might think (or maybe you already thought this), the IRS does track dead people.  If a social security number is “retired” or already used in filing, it will kick out the next return that comes in trying to use it.  Electronically it will state that the social security number has already been used.  I don’t remember if there is a deceased code specifically but there very well may be.  As a financial fashion tip, one of the first things that the IRS looks at also is the social security number and they have a very good system for cross-checking if something has already been filed or not as I stated previously.  Trying to file tax returns with zombies (or vampires since the dead are coming back to life) isn’t a great idea and it may result in the IRS or local state authorities chasing you down like villagers with pitchforks and torches.

 villagerspo

Speaking of tax fraud….

People have tried forever trying to claim dead relatives, goldfish, cats, their neighbor’s cats, their neighbor’s dead relatives and of course, for Earned Income Tax Credit fraud, your neighbor’s kids.  The IRS is cracking down hard – and I mean h-a-r-d hard on abuses in EITC and in fraud in general.  My suggestion is to plan on starting the new year right by not trying any shenanigans that you won’t get away with anyways.    Use all that creative criminal energy to start up a manufacturing business and let me help you manage it.  If you can think up methods to try and defraud people you should be able to come up with some awesome business ideas and implementations as well.

Just a reminder if you have any tax questions or want me to do your taxes for you – drop me an email or post in my comments section a phone number and/or email address.

Have  Happy New Year.  Be safe, sane, and my usual blessing of be healthy, wealthy, wise and happy for the upcoming New Year!

Interested in any of my books?  You may want to make a stop over  here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale. If you like poker, Heroes (the TV series), comic books, Watchmen, etc, there may be some fast links to get you to what you are looking for.

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

  

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Can I take dead people as tax deductions?

Middle East, Pakistan, India, War and Economy

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Question from a reader:”In your opinion, how will the situation in the Middle East affect the economy?”

 

mideast

 

My answer is that so far, there has been a tremendous amount of money spent on fighting.  There will always be a budget for national defense in America, as well as other nations.  There are companies that end up benefiting from military build-up and from de-militarization.  Right now, I don’t see a drop down in money being spent in defense.  Some people argue that war spending drains an economy and can help create a depression.  Some people argue that war spending helps keep people employed.    Both topics can be argued and talked about for days so let me get back on track to your original question and try to keep the answer a little shorter than a week.

There will be short term drops and freak-outs and horrible analogies as events happen like the actions that are happening in the Middle East right now.  Pundits will say “Oil is shooting up in price because of long term fears that there will be major war, etc”.  Oil prices are reacting to a certain degree to fear and the kick-in is from news already previously released that there would be cut backs in oil production around the world as part of the supply destruction that we are seeing.  This is still holiday time and I have not seen any spike in volume of stock trades so honestly I don’t think it will amount to anything for the short term other than some drops in prices as normal knee jerk responses to international situations.  We’ve had worse situations and in fact, the situation in India and Pakistan is more of a concern for the markets (or it should have been) than the media has been saying but it is jazzier to complain and be afraid of the tensions in the Middle East.   Personally, I would be scared that Pakistan or India accidentally launch a tactical nuke at one another rather than anyplace else in the Middle East at this point in time.  Hopefully all the tension and conflict is getting resolved over there as well.

Over the long haul, I have to cop the answer that it is hard to say.  You are asking me to make a decision about something that I don’t have a lot of input in and I am not a fortune teller, even though I do, from time to time, can accurately forecast a few things – but, hey, anybody can do that if they are honest and have all the available information in front of them.  Since I don’t know how President Elect Obama will react to the Middle East (and India and Pakistan), I don’t know how the other nations in the Middle East will respond, I can only say that any changes are reactions and over-reactions as expectations to how the future will be.   If you are scared about investing, stay in cash.  If you are scared about the nature of cash and inflation, run to gold or silver.  I think the truth is that it is somewhere in between for right now.  It would be smart to not over react because you might miss an opportunity to make some money.

If companies you are investing in have good fundamentals, remember that wars and fighting don’t last forever, even though they seem like it.  There are always moments of peace and commerce.  I am not making this up, just look at history.  England, Japan and Germany were at one time or another our enemy and now our friends.  We have great trade relations with them.   In India and Pakistan, relatives are separated by a border and they cross it to visit one another on holidays while their countries may be fussing about.  In the long run, it makes good business sense to have peace because it is great for mutual commerce.  Everybody can make money in business that way.

You will see and hear a lot of horrible doom and gloom news articles because they will get your attention.  War is a horrible situation but the cold reality is that when you are thousands of miles away and watching it on a wide screen 1080p screen while cooking your dinner in a microwave and talking on your cellphone, it really doesn’t affect you as much as getting clobbered in the middle of the fighting.  Since wars these days tend to be localized relatively speaking, overall sales of goods and services aren’t affected unless the countries involved in the conflict clearly are major consumers of whatever it is we are talking about (say bananas) and they decide they don’t want to buy bananas anymore.  The banana market dries up, etc.  That is just one example.  I like bananas and want to keep the banana market going. 

There is also the fact that news stories about peace don’t get clicks or people to stop and read what you are writing.  Whenever any good news or resolutions come to pass they are brushed over or sent over to the back pages of the web article.  I still am old-fashioned and think that peace is great.  People generally have more things in common than they realize than things that can drive them apart from my experience, regardless of race, creed, color or religion.

 

1230prayer

 

Let’s all pray for a peaceful New Year.

Interested in any of my books?  You may want to make a stop over  here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale. If you like poker, Heroes (the TV series), comic books, Watchmen, etc, there may be some fast links to get you to what you are looking for.

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

  

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

 Middle East, Pakistan, India,  War and Economy

Five New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make and Keep

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Happy Holidays and New Year, gang!  Here are five New Year’s Resolutions That You Should Make and Keep:

 

1.    Resolve to try and cut back spending 5-10%.  

This resolution is to help put some post-holiday jingle back into your jeans.  In case you have a lot of holiday (or pre-holiday) credit card debt, the best thing to do is start tackling issues at the source.  Cut back spending at least 5-10%.  Make a list, and check it twice.  Find out which expenses are naughty or nice and try to chop some realistic expenses down, even just 5-10%.

 

cuttingback

 

2.    Take the money that you are saving and use it to draw down your debt.

Every little bit will help in the coming months, maybe years.  If you can take that $5-10 and use it to pay off your debt even a little bit at a time, it will give you a sense of motion that you are moving forward.  If you are in debt you want to break the spiral as best as you can.

 

holdcash

 

 3.     If you are out of work or even working, take a day or a week to think about what you really want to do for a living.

Yes, we are in a recession.  Yes, it has turned into a Depression, business is bad, it isn’t a good time to make money, blah blah blah.  The truth is that if you have financial problems no matter what resolutions you are making, if you are unhappy it doesn’t matter what kind of financial environment the rest of the world is in.  So, ask yourself, what is it that I really want to do for a living that I can make money at?

Take the opportunity for change for revisiting your life expectations and think about gearing what you are doing now – and for Heaven’s sake don’t quit your dayjob if you can help it!-and start moving towards what really floats your boat.

 brownlee_lawrence

 

 

4.    Make a resolution to not get as pissed off as you use to.  It will add years to your life.

Anger isn’t a good think and if you are in a day-to-day grind job that you don’t like, you need to work on not letting it get to you.  Try breathing slowly and count to 25 if you are in an angry state before opening your mouth and letting some of the heat dissipate.  Anger makes it hard to make clear business decisions as well.  A lot of lousy business results have happened because people made poor choices while in the state of anger.

angry

 

 

5.   Make time for friends and family.  They will help keep you alive.  If your family is driving you nuts, stick with your friends.  If your friends are driving you nuts, make new friends.

Studies have shown that a good support group emotionally will help you with your business decisions as well.  You don’t have to listen to advice from friends or family but sometimes they will be a great sounding board, if nothing else just to give you the incentive to get better advice outside of your social circle.  

 

yourfamily

 

Brief business observation:

Stock market should be more of the same this week barring anything happening internationally that will change the socio-economic climate (like a war or meteor hitting somewhere). 

 Interested in any of my books?  You may want to make a stop over  here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale. If you like poker, Heroes (the TV series), comic books, Watchmen, etc, there may be some fast links to get you to what you are looking for.

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

  

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

 

Five New Year’s Resolutions You Should Make and Keep

Pets Can Be Lousy Holiday Gifts

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Question from a reader:”I run a pet store and business has been pretty good.  People seem to have money for their pets.  Didn’t you say they didn’t?

 

1228woof

 

My answer is thanks for being a loyal longtime reader because that particular question is just slightly off.  I said in an older blog entry  that stores that make goods or services that cater to pets would actually do well.  I am assuming that you are doing a decent sales in pet food for dogs, cats, fish, snakes etc but I wonder if you are doing well in animal sales.

The problem with the holidays is that it is great for getting pets but by New Year’s there are sometimes children and parents who don’t have a clue how to take care of them or they’ve gotten a skittish pet that likes children alright – they like them raw.

Kids see dogs like dalmatians or greyhounds, and whatever the latest dog craze is and they want the pooch (or cat or snake or moose).  The problem is that the critter may have a personality that doesn’t lend itself to socializing, especially with kids trying to hug it or kiss it.  That usualy leads to bites, scratching and other problems.

The net result is the animal is returned to the store with the pet owner demanding a refund and being indignant that they weren’t told that their pet eats children.  Sheesh.

Please don’t get me wrong.  We have a dog.  We use to have cats, a hamster and fish.  As animals went to kitty lake in the sky or Goldfish Heaven, we decided that we would stop getting more pets (at least for awhile) because we didn’t have the time to care for them and give them the love and attention they’d need.  Animals can be like kids.  You need to spend time and money on them.  Kids demand a lot of energy and attention as well.

If you have a pet and don’t love them, they are a drain on your wallet/purse and emotions.

It is a good idea to remember that if you get an animal you will be helping the economy because you will have to buy food for the critter, get the animal shots and medical check-ups and whatever other animal things (bed, clothes, subscription to magazines or cable, etc) that they might like.  The providers of these businesses and services will be extremely grateful.

Animals can be great companions and provide love and joy if you are lonely.  Unless they are excessively yarky or meowily, the don’t talk back and hopefully they don’t cause too much damage around the house.

Just make sure you have the emotional availability, time, money and energy to invest in your pet.  Otherwise, like the goldfish that dies after you win it at the county fair (or that illegal alligator you bought that is getting a bit to big for Mom’s taste), your dreams and cash might be flushed away.

1228sewer

 

Interested in any of my books?  You may want to make a stop over  here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale. If you like poker, Heroes (the TV series), comic books, Watchmen, etc, there may be some fast links to get you to what you are looking for.

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

 

Pets Can Be Lousy Holiday Gifts

Another Creative Without Spending Money Post

Saturday, December 27th, 2008

Happy Holidays, gang.  So the holidays are almost over, well New Year’s is coming up and you are wondering what to do with the kids at home or where to take your date without spending a lot of money.  If you are bored and wondering what is up, here are some creative suggestions to save money and entertain yourself for the holidays and beyond:

 1.  Hit the museums, local art shows and any free exhibitions.  If there is a minimum cost, pay it and make sure where you need to have reservations that you get them.

2.  Parks, if not wet and snowed in, are nice places to hang out.  If you have ice skates and your region allows it, look for free or inexpensive places to go skating.  Dress warmly.

3.  Look for inexpensive or free dance clubs.  I am talking about anything from square dancing, contra dancing, international, folk dancing, disco, ballroom -whatever it is you want to try.  The hard part for this is trying to see if there are any classes opening up for what you want to do.  If you are single, don’t worry about it.  Most clubs, if you check with them post if they are accepting singles, couples or just anybody who has a pulse.  It is a great way to meet people and socialize.

 

sqdance

 

4.  Look for free tax preparation classes from retired businessmen at your local trade schools or universities.  You can learn how to do taxes and then help others at tax time.

5.   If you are old enough and healthy enough, offer to babysit somebody’s kids if you like children.  It will get you out of the house and you can get paid for being entertaine with other people’s kids.

6.   Start a web page or blog about things that you like.  There are plenty of free hosting places (you can check out WordPress or Blogger-they host for free) and you can get to express yourself and even post pictures.  While you are at it, post pictures on Youtube. 

7.  Volunteer for some of the charities that need help still.  The holidays may be over but people are still hungry, need services performed for them, things like that.  Maybe you can pick up groceries for a shut-in person who lives in your apartment.  How about offering to shovel snow off of a driveway for people who can’t do it themselves?  If they pay you, great, if not, you are doing them and yourself a blessing.

 

shovel

 

8.  Spend time with loved ones doing things that they want to do.  If there is something that you hate to do (play a particular board game for example) but your friend/spouse/kids want to play it, go ahead and play it.

9.   Pick up the trash in and around your house or apartment.  If it is a mess and you are bored, do something like this while you have the downtime between visiting relatives or friends.

 

If you have any other suggestions, please go ahead and post them!  Happy holidays and be safe!

 

Interested in any of my books?  You may want to make a stop over  here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale. If you like poker, Heroes (the TV series), comic books, Watchmen, etc, there may be some fast links to get you to what you are looking for.

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

 

Another creative without spending money post

Day After Christmas Sales Continue

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Hope you are having a happy holiday. Today there will be a lot of day after Christmas sales. A lot of stores that have a web presence have already started running their items on the Internet to get a heads up on their holiday sales.

 

runshoppersrun

 

I can’t blame them. With the economy in flux, retailers are doing whatever they can to make money. Your best way to profit from this is to look at all the sales and actually see if there is a bargain in what you are buying. One example from Game Stop, for Friday, was a Guitar Hero World Tour for $189. Prior to Christmas you would see that it is the exact same price. Obviously, if you are reading this blog entry six months to several years later you will see the system discounted because there will be a new “latest and greatest” but the interesting thing to note is that there is NO sale price on this item.

Hot selling items aren’t being treated as loss leaders this year or if they are, the items are few and far between because retailers just can’t afford it. A loss leader is something that a retailer sells that will not generate a profit and they may in fact lose money on but they advertise and sell the item because it drives customers into their store.  There are a lot of people who just love to shop and they don’t mind waiting in lines for saving a few dollars.  I’ve tried that for a few sales and depending on what you are trying to buy (a Sony PSP, back a few years ago), there is a fun feeling about getting the item at a sale price but after awhile, especially if you are watching you pennies and your health waiting outdoors for sometimes hours in bad weather, you have to ask yourself if it is worth your time, health and energy. 

But that is the power of a good loss leader.  It will draw customers out for whatever the hot thing of the year happens to be.

 

shopque

 

The stock market will be open and even though there will be light training there may some opportunity to pick up not so much as a loss leader but an undervalued leader. Yes, folks, I am still talking about looking for bargains in premium stocks. If the balance sheets look good and even if their sales are down, the company may be a good investment.

Just like a day after Christmas sale, the stock market has been hammered down like shoppers tearing through the shelves and store racks looking for bargains. Because people are gun shy and there are so many companies oversold, I think there are more bargains to be had in the stock market than in the stores this year.

You may want to do your own due diligence and be the judge yourself on that.

Watch whatever it is that you are buying and add to your positions slowly.  There may be a lot more downside to the stock markets and you may want to consider just jumping in and out of a stock though if you have the element of time and can afford to wait, you’ve picked some good companies, that is where you make money.  Eventually there will be some sort of recovery.  As to what it will be or when are the million dollar (make that trillion dollar) questions.

On personal notes:

If you are driving and going out in the cold, dress warmly. Be careful for snow and rain. For those of you fortunate enough to be in warmer climates, be cautious just the same. A lot of people may be recovering from too much booze or worse, they are still drinking. Don’t drink and drive, gang-I know you already knew that but just a reminder.

I’ve also started up a book sales page here. Please click through to purchase my books and some other interesting items that actually ARE on sale. If you like poker, Heroes (the TV series), comic books, Watchmen, etc, there may be some fast links to get you to what you are looking for.

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

In any event, hope you are having a safe, happy holiday and are healthy.

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

 

Day After Christmas Sales Continue

Santa Effect In Play

Thursday, December 25th, 2008

The stock market is relatively flat in keeping with the holiday slowdown.  Companies are letting people go home early to save money (which is infinitely better than letting people go period).

We’ll know in the next seven days if the market pops but so far, every indication is that there isn’t going to be a tremendous amount of excitement over the next few weeks.  So, with the Santa Effect in play for the stock market, maybe you can use the holidays to start looking at companies that are making money, will continue to make cash and were hammered along with everything else when the hedge funds had to liquidate cash.

Speaking of liquidity – check out a nice, soothing image of liquid assets to help with the peace and yuletide cheer for the season.

 

 liquidassets

 

Look for earnings in early January in the tech sector as well as other areas where you will hear the current doom and gloom news.  It is bad, folks, but some companies still will make money.  They may only make millions instead of tens of millions and that is always better than companies that are losing money.

Check the quarterly earnings, the annual reports and if you don’t know how to read a balance sheet, read between the lines of a balance sheet and learn what footnotes REALLY mean, drop me a line.  I may do an article on the nuts and bolts of stock analysis and if pressed, maybe do an article on charting.

Rules of the sleigh ride for the upcoming year will be to try to stay employed, if unemployed, get some income stream, save money and yes, try to invest some money now.  I am bullish for the upcoming year, albeit I have no idea what may happen in short term bursts. 

If you want to try and get presents all year round, do what some of the larger institutions and hedge funds might be doing with their cash.  Research and invest carefully in options.  I talk about a relatively safe option vehicle, covered calls, in my book.  The problem with even “safe” options is that there still is a lot of downside risk unless you “collar” it with a put but that is something you have to decide you want to do.  Do you want to lose some of your profit to prevent unlimited (or limited) losses.  I think it depends on each stock and what the range of trading is as to what to do.  

 

Be safe, be healthy, be happy and start doing some research.

 

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

 

Santa Effect In Play

Uncle Sam Christmas Eve Reminders

Wednesday, December 24th, 2008

I spoke with Santa, Hanukkah Charlie, Kwanzaa Dan and they all agreed that you might want to hear from Uncle Sam one more time before you start your yuletide celebrations.  Uncle, can you take it from here for us?  Also, can you explain why you are pointing at us?

uncsam

Thanks, Kim.  I am sorry for pointing at you, I just do it instictively.  I really don’t like to point.  I just wanted to take a couple minutes and remind your readers and the folks on your “Internet” some things that might help them at tax time since that is around the corner:
I know times are rough and I know that some of you are buying homes for the first time.  There is something now called the First-Time Homebuyers Tax Credit.  First-time homebuyers should begin planning now to take advantage of a new tax credit available for a limited time. The credit applies to primary home purchases between April 9, 2008, and June 30, 2009.  I know Kim yakked about it in an earlier blog.  I am just going to touch on it briefly again. 

Normally, this tax credit must be paid back in equal payments over 15 years. The credit is 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $7,500 for either a single taxpayer or a married couple filing jointly. First-time homebuyers are those who have not owned a home in the three years prior to a purchase.

Here is something for all of you homeowners out there:

You are familiar with the Real Estate Tax Deduction, aren’t you?  There is an additional standard deduction for those who don’t itemize their deductions, but pay real estate taxes. The additional deduction amount is equal to the amount of real estate taxes paid up to $500 for single filers or up to $1,000 for joint filers. This deduction is available for the 2008 and 2009 tax years and increases your standard deduction.

Got any kids in college?  Perhaps this may be of use:

Tuition and Fees Deduction — You may be able to deduct qualified tuition and required enrollment fees up to $4,000 that you pay for yourself, your spouse or a dependent. You do not have to itemize to take this deduction. However, a taxpayer cannot take both the tuition and fees deduction and education credits (Hope & Lifetime Learning Credits) for the same student in the same year. Income limits and other special rules apply to each of these provisions. To determine whether your expenses are qualified, refer to IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education. The 2008 edition is available soon online. This publication also describes other education-related tax benefits.

Are you a teacher?  Check this out:

Educators’ Out of Pocket Expense Deduction — The educator expense deduction allows teachers and other educators to deduct the cost of books, supplies, equipment and software used in the classroom. Eligible educators include those who work at least 900 hours during a school year as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide in a public or private elementary or secondary school. Worth up to $250, the educator expense deduction is available whether or not the educator itemizes deductions on Schedule A.

Remember that recovery stimulus rebate that I sent you earlier in the year?  What?  You don’t?  You may want to double check your checkbooks and look for the letter I sent you as well.  If you didn’t get the rebate (or did) this section may help:

Recovery Rebate Credit — If you did not qualify or did not receive the maximum amount for the 2008 economic stimulus payment you may be entitled to a recovery rebate credit when you file your 2008 tax return. Review the tax return filing instructions including the recovery rebate credit worksheet. You need to know the amount of the payment you received in 2008, which can be found on your Economic Stimulus Payment Notice (Notice 1378). Two online tools on IRS.gov will be available soon — the Recovery Rebate Credit Calculator will help taxpayers figure the amount they should claim on their 2008 tax return, and How Much Was My 2008 Stimulus Payment? helps you determine what your stimulus payment was.

Regarding any cash charitable contributions, please remember that since tax year 2007, to deduct any charitable donation of money, you must have a bank record, credit card statement or a written communication from the recipient showing the name of the organization and the date and amount of the contribution. In determining what may be deducted as a charitable contribution, see IRS Publication 526 for 2008 to be released in the near future.

As long as you don’t abuse this credit, Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), you might be eligible for this.
This particular credit is offered by the federal government to working families and individuals. You may qualify for the earned income tax credit, or EITC, if you worked, but did not earn a lot of money. EITC is a refundable tax credit meaning you could qualify for a tax refund even if you did not have federal income tax withheld. If you qualify, the amount of your EITC will depend on whether you have children, the number of children you have, and the amount of your wages and income. For more information, go to www.irs.gov/eitc or see IRS Publication 596 for 2008.

If you have any other tax questions, please ask my good friend, Kim.  Happy Holidays everybody!

Uncle Sam

 

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

 

 

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Santa Claus Effect and the Stock Market

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

In keeping with the holiday tradition of looking at investing at year end, today we will take a peek at the Santa Claus Effect.  This phenomena occurs generally in the last five business days of the year and possibly into the first two days of next year.  It breaks down basically into the stock market will have a small rally of about 1-2% and the year generally ends or starts on a happy note.

Why is this the case?  One theory is that it is due to the re-allocating of funds and stocks for the large investment houses, their mutual funds, their 401Ks, etc.  As I’ve talked about before, fund managers sometimes adjust at year end to give the impression that they were in great stocks instead of Consolidated Home Debt Incorporated.  Fund managers only give snapshots of what is in their portfolios at different times of the year and sometimes they turn around and sell whatever it is they bought right after the New Year.

How can we turn this into a profitable stock transaction?  First, I need to remind you that I am not a financial expert.  The advice I am suggesting is for you to take, do your own due diligence (that means do your own legwork please in research) and come to your own conclusions.

 

sclaus

 

If there is a stock, bond or sector that you have been watching and it has been particularly hammered of late (and honestly, you can throw a dart on a wall with company names and probably pick one that would fit but do your own research anyways just in case), you might see it get a little bit of a pop in the next few days.  Remember that the operative word in the sentence that Kim just wrote is “might”.  Past performance, as the pundits say, does not guarantee future results when it comes to investing.

There may be a lot of lousy news coming out that supersedes the generating of the Santa Claus Effect.  There may be some sort of international act of terrorism or a natural disaster and that may turn your best laid plans into best laid losses.  If that happens, if you have picked something that you don’t mind either holding onto or are ready to cut and take your loss, you are okay.  If not, I would not suggest you try this as a short play.

For something like this, you take your pop of anywhere from 1-2% and close out your position.  You will have made, if it works, 1-2% for maybe a week’s worth of time.  Not bad in ANY market, is it?

The important thing to note to is don’t be a hog.  My motto is “Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.”  You will notice that this particular strategy may not work and it may not even be applicable due to the current state of the economy.

If you try and stick around after you’ve made your pop, be prepared for sticking around a long time.  Earnings will continue to come out and most of them are what you would expect – lower profits, lower expectations and like in the case of Toyota in their future estimates, no idea of what kind of money they will make next quarter leave alone next year.

My personal take too is that with everybody screaming how much further we have to fall, that generally tells me that we might be near a bottom or at least a level of resistance, at least till we have the inauguration.  Who knows.  Like I said, I am not an expert and I won’t hide behind charts or graphs that sometimes can be interpreted to mean entirely different things to two different readers.  Remember that some Santa Clause Effects have different results than others as well.

 

santayuck

 

Have a great holiday everybody and when in doubt, stay in cash!!

 If you are looking for a day job, part time work, suggestions for saving money or investing, please check out my book listed below.  Part of all the proceeds from the sales of that book  go  to Rett Syndrome research.  One girl is born with Rett Syndrome worldwide every fifteen minutes.   My daughter Arianna has Rett Syndrome and we are working to do all we can to make her life easier and find a cure in her lifetime.  Boys born with the Rett gene generally die at birth.

  Practical Money Making-Surviving Recession, Layoffs, Credit Problems, Generating Passive Income Streams, Working Full Time or Part Time and Retirement

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

Santa Claus Effect and the Stock Market

Happy Winter Solstice 2008 and Business For Dec 22 week

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

We’ve just had our Winter Solstice for 2008 – hooray for us.  The solstice is where the when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is most oriented toward or away from the Sun,  causing the Sun to reach its northernmost or southernmost extreme.  We have two solstices a year and this is the winter one.  It also is the longest day of the year when we have the least amount of sunlight and from this day going forward, the days start to get longer.

 

wsolstice

In ancient times, people use to attribute all sorts of mystical events to the solstice and the equinox.  I think we’ve had enough mystical events with the collapse of the home industry and banking system so there isn’t anything that the ancients could bring forth – including the ridiculous end of the universe Mayan prophecies – that would scare people at this time of year.  It should be a time for reflection, peace and good thoughts and actions to all men and women!

How does this affect business for the week of Dec 22?  Well, most people should have already done the bulk of their holiday shopping.  The few stragglers may get some sensational bargains because I doubt that retailers are doing great this particular year. 

A lot of people are either laid off or were asked to take time off to help keep their companies afloat.  There may be a lot of people with time on their hands and they may actually decide to buy something at the last minute.

The stock market tends to shut down volume-wise for this week with the exception of any programmed trading to adjust portfolios for the end of the year.  I am not aware of any earth shattering news coming out to drive the stock prices up or down so expect things to hover for the next week.

It probably will be that way the week after with events leading into the New Year.  Earnings from firms will start to trickle in and hopefully some of the banks out there will have let loose money to customers to get them spending and juicing up the economy.

Start gathering your receipts and organizing your files, spreadsheets and documentation for tax time.  Starting in a few weeks, the W-2s will be going out (well, probably later on than the beginning of Jan) but if you are anticipating a refund, get ready to file after making sure you get all and I mean ALL your paperwork.  That means wait till the bank sends you all your year end statements and 1099 documents.  Check to see if they update your account on the web to see if you can get the info earlier.  Make sure they are FINAL documents!  If not, they will not match what the institution sends the Federal government.

 Taking a tip from the Solstice, remember that it is dark outside depending on where you live and remember that eventually it will get light again.  That silly little analogy is meant to apply to business and our world economy.  Things will get better though like the changing of the seasons, we will have to wait patiently.

In the meantime, stay flush with cash and start doing research for investing as things are fluctuating. 

And don’t party too hard!  You don’t want to start the New Year feeling like you were in a train wreck…

 

partied2hard

 

Hang in there everybody and have a great week ahead!

Kim Isaac Greenblatt

 

Happy Winter Solstice 2008 and Business for Dec 22 week