Friday, November 28, 2014

Will you get the same tax breaks as these tax avoiders

Will you get the same tax breaks as GE, Intel, Boeing, Merck, etc etc etc?
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew called a potential agreement to revive and extend lapsed tax breaks “fiscally irresponsible,” casting uncertainty over year-end negotiations in Congress. Lawmakers are discussing a package that could increase the U.S. budget deficit by more than $400 billion over a decade. The precise contours of a deal haven’t been set, and staff members from both parties are negotiating the deal. Companies including General Electric and Intel have huge tax breaks at stake in the talks.
You can eliminate your taxes on future income too:

The BIG Wall Street Lie
We pay approximately $600 billion in fees each year to active fund managers who claim the ability to "beat the markets." To put that number into perspective, it's a little less than the gross domestic product of Switzerland. The "best of the best" fund managers are supposedly those who run hedge funds. In the aggregate, these funds have underperformed the Standard & Poor's 500 index by 97 percentage points since the end of 2008. Yet, we continue to pay high fees of 1-3%--Such madness!
The future is not bright for active managers, even with more degrees and faster computers, because it is mathematically impossible for all of them to be above average.
Avoid the fees; go with Vanguard’s Top Ten:

Cost is everything
You can buy the Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund ETF for no cost beyond annual expenses of 0.05 percent of your assets in the fund. At Schwab, you can buy the Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF for an annual expense of 0.04 percent. That 0.01 percentage point difference is negligible.
But, compare that low-cost index fund with an actively managed fund carrying 1.3 percent in expenses, like many 401k funds. Invest $50,000 at the long-term stock market average return of 10 percent and you'll end up with $859,477 after 30 years of having that 0.05 percent deducted annually. Pay 1.3 percent a year in expenses instead (not unusual for a high-profile actively managed mutual fund) and you'll end up with $589,203
Low-cost beat high-cost funds in unbiased Morningstar study:

GOP crazies are costing US real money!
John Boehner announced his plan to sue the president back in June. A month later, the Speaker’s office formally unveiled the legislation to authorize the litigation. A month after that, House Republicans agreed to pay a D.C. law firm $500 an hour, in taxpayer money, to handle the case. Republicans hired a law firm to oversee the litigation, but the firm changed its mind in September and dropped the case. GOP leaders then hired a second firm, only to learn a month later that it dropped the case, too. This week, Republicans hired a new lawyer, George Washington University legal scholar Jonathan Turley, who filed today at $500/hour. It will take 3 years to get a court decision and will cost $500 million total.
To get into court, the House would have to prove that it was damaged by the way the administration carried out the ACA, and courts have consistently rejected that idea. Constitution gives the Congress ultimate legal authority, not the courts. This makes America a democracy not a 3rd world country ruled by Junta—bunch of old white guys.

AIG launches annuity for 401k accounts despite lack of answers
The first deferred-income annuity that meets the Treasury's guidelines for a qualified-longevity-annuity contract is out, and broker-dealer execs have plenty of questions.
AIG launched the so-called QLAC version of its American Pathway deferred-income annuity at the start of November, a response to the the guidance released in July by the Treasury Department that made it easier to use qualified plan dollars to buy a DIA. The 401k money that goes into the QLAC isn't subject to required minimum distribution rules that would require them to take money from their qualified retirement plans at age 70½. 401k participants up to 83 can buy the contract and defer receipt of their income for anywhere between 12 months to 40 years. Should the participant die before the stream of income begins, the QLAC has an optional return-of-premium death benefit for an extra fee. They can choose not to make a death benefit payable if they use the lifetime-income-only annuity payment option. In that case the annuity value is zero for heirs. Costs have not been disclosed yet but annuities are expensive products that have simpler/cheaper alternatives:

Rockefellers moving—rent too high at Rocky Plaza—sign of the times
Descendants of John D. Rockefeller Jr. will vacate office space at 30 Rockefeller Plaza that the family has occupied for more than 80 years. The Rockefeller family will leave Room 5600, the full-floor space on the tower’s 56th Floor. The Rockefellers have been occupants of Room 5600 since 1933, spokesman said. “They got a good, reasonable deal,” Seitel said.

SCAMS           Why are we still paying $700 Billion a year for WWII deployments?
We are paying for 164,253 of our active-duty armed personnel to be in 150 countries around the world. We have about 50,000 in Japan and 50,000 in Germany.
Are we preparing for WWII again? There are 1,208,083[1] armed personnel in the United States. Our taxes pay for about HALF of the WORLD’s military expenditures every year. We have wasted $398.6 billion so far on the F-35 program—they can’t fly safely.
We just can’t afford to pay for everyone else’s defenses anymore. Japan, Germany and S. Korea can pay for their own defenses.
The War on Terror requires SEALS’ attacks on top terrorists at their homes. Iraq proved converting a nation to Western-style republic doesn’t work.

Keeping 10,000 in Afghanistan for what?
The United States is preparing to increase the number of troops it keeps in Afghanistan in 2015 to fill a gap left in the NATO mission by other contributing nations, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

GM chose profits over our lives
General Motors pressured a supplier to continue producing a substandard ignition switch a decade ago, a newly disclosed email shows. The switch is linked to at least 33 deaths and dozens of injuries. In the email, part of internal Delphi correspondence in 2005, a Delphi official said the company was pressured by G.M. to make the faulty switch work even though it did not meet G.M.’s own standard and continued to fail in testing. GM has said that in 2005, company engineers proposed solutions to the switch problem, but the automaker concluded that none represented "an acceptable business case."
The part would have cost $0.57 but the dealer labor would be about $100 million, according to Barra.  "I think we in the past had more of a cost culture," she said.
GM has repaired about 1.3 million vehicles (out of 2.6 million) in the recall.
Kim Atkins, a 24-year-old media specialist in Austin, Texas, ignored calls and letters for months urging her to bring in her 2007 Chevy Cobalt. When she finally brought it to the dealership last month, she learned there were four other recalls on it.

Job opportunity scams

41 Watchung Plaza, B242
Montclair, NJ 07042

Friday, November 21, 2014

Money scams 2014

Money scams, 2014
Hot funds:
You are the victim when you use hot funds. Big paychecks come out of your account and your investments suffer. Take the most recent example: Bill Gross got a BONUS of $290 million in 2013—just as his Total Return Fund trailed a majority of peers and he was thinking of leaving. His co-manager, Mohamed El-Erian, received a 2013 bonus of about $230 million. By comparison, Laurence D. Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world's biggest money manager, received $22.9 million in 2013 compensation, and Michael Diekmann, CEO of Pimco's parent Allianz SE, was paid 7.2 million euros ($8.99 million), regulatory filings show. See how you can win this game:

Why should you start investing TODAY?
I am asked, “Is this is a good time to invest” almost every week. Since no one knows what the stock market will do tomorrow, let’s assume the best US companies will continue to earn 10-12% for the future. We start investing $250 a month TODAY. If we keep it up for 35 years, we have about $1.6 million. If we wait, say 5 years, we end up with about HALF $0.88 million. That is why you don’t want to wait!

ObamaCare site got ½ million hits 1st day—Americans need health care
ObamaCare had at least 100,000 people submit applications for health insurance coverage this weekend.  “I think the vast majority of people coming to the site were able to get on and do what they were intending to do,” Burwell told Chuck Todd in an interview on NBC’s "Meet the Press," noting that a total of 500,000 people had logged onto on Saturday.  

Is a donor-advised fund right for you?
Donor advised funds are charitable foundations that follow your wishes in distributing your money to charities. Benefits include managing, accounting and maintaining your legacy. Your gifts are deductible. You can involve your kids in regular giving programs. You can be an anonymous giver. Foundations are costly but can relieve you of a big tax bill if you have stock with large capital gains. Most large mutual fund firms offer plans. Make them part of your Retirement Spending Plan:

GOP crazies—35 jobs that may cost us $ billions in cleanup and loss of watershed
Republicans in the U.S. House approved the Keystone XL oil pipeline the ninth time. 35 permanent jobs and we don’t even need the oil. We export oil now. Gas prices went down. There are about 8 oil spills per year in America. BP has still not paid all the Gulf fishing and tourist businesses yet. Senate rejects Keystone votes to fix bridges.
Boehner files suit against ObamaCare. It will cost US $1/2 billion. Two law firms had already turned down the case. Our suit will take 3 years to get through the courts.  

Who deports more—Bush or Obama?
This is a trick question because no one defines the terms deport and return. Since Reagan and Bush gave some relief to both groups before Obama, you have to study the issue to know who is doing who a favor—Obama or Bush.

Which company stocks does Congress own?
Now you can own the corps that Congress people own. Half of them are millionaires so this may be a great investment idea for you. Congress must disclose what they own when they run and one group, MapLight, is keeping track of them. Of course, you will not find out what the Congress scoops in committee or in lobbyists’ luncheons so that you know when to sell or buy more shares.
Perhaps you are better off just buying the Vanguard Top Ten:

Waltons, getting by on $150 billions, keep workers on food stamps paid by US
The fortune of Christy Walton, the world’s wealthiest woman, topped $40 billion Thursday as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hit an all-time high. Walton, 65, inherited a piece of the world’s largest retailer in 2005, after the homemade airplane of her husband, John T. Walton, crashed in Wyoming. The Walton family, which includes Christy Walton’s siblings-in-law Rob, Jim and Alice Walton, oversee a combined fortune of more than $150 billion. Wal-Mart value jumped more than 4 percent today. Workers scraping barrel with part-time work and food stamps that cost US $300 million a year. Come-on Christy!

Celebrities do NOT use financial products they sell
Just because you recognize the face or voice doesn’t mean they are familiar with the product. Fred Thompson does not know anything about reverse mortgages nor the company who is paying him. This was set up by his agent and they did no due diligence on the seller, American Advisors Group: Reverse Mortgages. 

Kevin James, 58, a financial advisor and insurance agent, convinced his elderly clients to cash out their annuities and insurance policies and invest $1 million in a fake security. He got 10 years in jail. Clients are out $ millions.

Junk insurance plans—the pitch
“This fixed annuity with guaranteed interest rates as high as 3.50% will be ending soon. The last day to lock-in the currently available interest rates is Tuesday, December 2nd.”
“This full coverage health plan is guaranteed by an A+ insurance company and is available only through ABC agency. You may never see this complete plan at this price again. Call now to meet the Feb 15 deadline.”

“Cancer insurance pays you a lump-sum if you are diagnosed with a covered cancer.”

“Stock Tips Delivered to your Inbox! Stock Tips is the #1 stock alert service...As always membership is 100% FREE! Sign up now!”

“These abandoned dogs need loving homes. [picture of sad pup] Send cash for vet bills, crating, shipping and inspection costs.” The pet never comes.

Telephone scams:  Government grants—9000 and you don’t have to pay them back—just the cost of processing. College degree loans. Lower electric rates. Computer fix. Telephone number look up at FTC does nothing about these scammers with long list of complaints.

Are annuities in your retirement plan right for you?
Deferred-income annuities — also known as longevity insurance — permit purchasers to buy an income stream for the future. Treasury has agreed that annuities may help workers have an income in retirement. However, annuities are expensive and the rules of use are complicated. Your money is NOT available for emergencies. It is not clear what your family receives if you die early, how much you can buy, what interest rates are used for the benefit and what you have to take out of an IRA starting at age 70.5. So far, Treasury has not made mandatory disclosure of all the questions about annuities. In the past, buyers have been misled about the annuity terms and conditions by sellers.

Is your pet uninsurable on your homeowner’s policy?
There are some dogs that insurers refuse to include in your coverage because of their losses. Know where you stand. There are insurers that will cover you.

SCAMS           Why are we still paying $700 Billion a year for WWII deployments?
We are paying for 164,253 of our active-duty armed personnel to be in 150 countries around the world. We have about 50,000 in Japan and 50,000 in Germany.
Are we preparing for WWII again? There are 1,208,083[1] armed personnel in the United States. Our taxes pay for about HALF of the WORLD’s military expenditures every year. We have wasted $398.6 billion so far on the F-35 program—they can’t fly safely.
We just can’t afford to pay for everyone else’s defenses anymore. Japan, Germany and S. Korea can pay for their own defenses.
The War on Terror requires SEALS’ attacks on top terrorists at their homes. Iraq proved converting a nation to Western-style republic doesn’t work.

US spy planes over our cities now listening to your smartphone
US Marshals fly planes with cell tower devices to capture our voice/data. The scope of the program is pretty vast, with aircraft operating from at least five metropolitan airports with a “flying range covering most of the U.S. population.” Spying in US used to be illegal without warrant.

41 Watchung Plaza, B242
Montclair, NJ 07042

Friday, November 14, 2014

Banks get us to pay their fines--no jail time

Corporate “criminals” don’t even have to pay back their ill-gotten gains let alone go to jail
Since 2002, only 6 executives have had to give back their extra pay from legally cooking their own books. The laws are not enforced. If you steal big-time you don’t go to jail and you can keep the money you stole. There is little accountability unless they make a stupid mistake like boasting or sending an email saying “I really screwed shareholders.” It is hard to sue as a shareholder now thanks the Supremes recent decision. Read how JP Morgan did it during the mortgage mess. And we pay part of the $9 billion fine since bank fines are deductible. The criminals just get a bigger bonus!!
Isn’t capitalism great!!
Just don’t steal food when you are hungry: maximum sentence is 20 years.

Soldiers say banks helped Iran give $ billions to enemy to kill fellow soldiers
Barclays Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc and four other banks were accused in a lawsuit by U.S. soldiers of helping Iran process billions of dollars to Hezbollah and other terrorist groups, allowing them to carry out dozens of roadside bombings and other attacks against the U.S. military. Lenders including Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse Group AG and Royal Bank of Scotland NV conspired with Iran and its banks to withhold certain data from transactions, enabling them to circumvent monitoring by U.S. regulators.
Time to move your money to a credit union or USAA that supports soldiers:

Reduce your 2014 tax bill NOW pay less in 2015
To raise deductions, prepay your 2015 property and state income taxes in December, max out contributions to your 401(k) plan and individual retirement account, prepay your January mortgage payment in December and bundle out-of-pocket medical expenses into this year or next. You must fund your 401(k) by Dec. 31 to count as a 2014 deduction, but you can make 2014 contributions to your IRA on April 15, 2015 when you know what you owe. Roth IRAs, which are funded with after-tax dollars, do not provide a tax deduction, but your earnings grow tax-free. You will never pay income tax on earnings ever again. Go for tax-FREE retirement:

New survey says ObamaCare exchanges are just OK
Respondents expressed confidence in the Obamacare marketplace, with 53% saying they are either very or somewhat confident that the exchanges will operate properly this time around, versus those who are less confident (45%). Furthermore, just over half of participants (52%) report that they had a positive experience with the previous enrollment, compared to respondents having a bad experience (43%). Many Americans are still without health care and not by choice. GOP states have ignored KY success in covering ½ million new users and increasing employment. KY voters love their health care but hate ObamaCare. Go figure?

My premium did NOT go up!!!
My ObamaCare plan with the same doctors, insurer and premium are on the preliminary list for NJ. I have a subsidy of over $200 a month so I can afford the Gold plan with full coverage and max out of pocket I can afford. HealthPocket conducted a study in June 2014 which compared metal plans sold on-exchange with metal plans sold by four major off-exchange insurers. The study examined the lowest available premiums for gold plans in the most populous cities in 39 states, and the results indicated that in 35 out of 39 cities (90%) the gold plan with the lowest premium was found on-exchange.  See yours:
I can continue my doctor visits and meds as I did all this year. It is affordable too.

GOP crazies
Do you ever wonder why GOP hates ObamaCare?
Despite all the false claims about hurting America, conservatives hate spending money on programs that help the poor. Many middle-income and working people have care from their employer at reduced rates already. So we are really talking about another government transfer program like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. GOP does not like any of these either. We are talking about human values. Society controls the price of water because all of us need clean water or we will die (like we did before in 1908).
Do we help our fellow Americans or let them die as suggested in the GOP debates?

GOP celebrates with billionaires—Christie in tow—visions of the future?
The midterm election, estimated to be the most expensive ever in the U.S., bolsters Christie’s standing after he helped raise a record $102 million as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. He said on one of five national television appearances yesterday morning that he was working on two hours of sleep and wanted a nap. As one observer said, “Their pockets are getting so full they don’t know where to put their money.” Now they can buy elections as well as Manhattan real estate.

Are you over age 70? You must take out your annual IRA distribution or pay 50% more 
The IRS sets a schedule of required minimum distributions, or RMDs, to keep savers from deferring taxes indefinitely. After reaching age 70 1/2, IRA owners must begin to take money out of their account each year and pay income tax on the amount. Failure to pull money out triggers a hefty penalty equal to 50% of the amount you were supposed to take out of the account. Among 750,000 IRA accounts where distributions are required, 68% have yet to take the full amount and 56% have yet to take anything at all, Fidelity found. These IRA owners should begin the process now to avoid end-of-year distractions and potential mistakes like using the wrong form or providing the wrong mailing address, which can take weeks to find and correct.
Mutual fund firms will send you the right amount each year automatically. Set it up:

New study shows most people DO NOT need long-term care insurance
Contrary to all the sales pitches from sales people, most seniors will never need this insurance. It is expensive and may not cover your real costs. The study explains why most Americans don’t buy the cover despite all the dire warnings from the industry. With the largest seller, GE, losing more money, your policy may not be around when you need it. There are other options:

Supremes decide if you get your benefits despite your legal “contract”
The Supreme Court is set to decide the question of whether plan sponsors bound by a collective bargaining agreement have to provide medical benefits for the duration of a retiree’s lifetime, even after the collective bargaining agreement expires.
So don’t count on employers’ promises. We are on our own:

Largest mutual fund attracted $163 billion with low-cost high-return promise
Vanguard’s mutual funds charge an asset-weighted average of 15 cents for every $100 invested, compared with 70 cents for the mutual-fund industry, Morningstar data show. The firm was founded by John Bogle in 1975 on the idea that most professionals can’t beat the market. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett gave the company an endorsement in March in his annual letter to shareholders. Buffett said he told the trustee managing his affairs that after his death he wanted 90 percent of the cash he leaves for his wife put into very low-cost funds at Vanguard. Read which ones:

IRS says we get only 1 rollover per year—any rollover counts
Beginning next year, the limit of 1 per year will apply by aggregating all an individual’s IRAs, effectively treating them as if they were one IRA for purposes of applying the limit, the IRS explains.
The IRS says that the new interpretation will apply beginning Jan. 1, 2015, and that a distribution from an IRA received during 2014 and properly rolled over (normally within 60 days) to another IRA will have no impact on any distributions and rollovers during 2015 involving any other IRAs owned by the same individual.
Move your IRA by Dec 2014 so you can move 1 more in 2015. You get only 1 per year.
Excluded from the one-year limit, however, are Roth conversions (rollovers from traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs), rollovers between qualified plans and IRAs, and trustee-to-trustee transfers--direct transfers of assets from one IRA trustee to another.
Trustee-to-trustee transfers are safer and there are no limits, so don’t worry!
Not every broker is an expert:

SCAMS           Why are we still paying $700 Billion a year for WWII deployments?
We are paying for 164,253 of our active-duty armed personnel to be in 150 countries around the world. We have about 50,000 in Japan and 50,000 in Germany.
Are we preparing for WWII again? There are 1,208,083[1] armed personnel in the United States. Our taxes pay for about HALF of the WORLD’s military expenditures every year. We have wasted $398.6 billion so far on the F-35 program—they can’t fly safely.
We just can’t afford to pay for everyone else’s defenses anymore. Japan, Germany and S. Korea can pay for their own defenses.
The War on Terror requires SEALS’ attacks on top terrorists at their homes. Iraq proved converting a nation to Western-style republic doesn’t work.

GM tried to evade ignition recall and suits 
Confidential emails between General Motors and the company that manufactured its ignition switches appear to show that GM decided to replace the defective parts before alerting customers. The emails, according to a lawyer representing the victims, contain evidence of "a criminal cover-up that cost lives and caused severe injuries." "They covered this up for 10 years. As a result, vehicles are gone, accident records cannot be restored, and no one remembers what car it was that ran that stop light and caused someone's death. As a result, a large victim population will never see justice."

Regulators fine (NOT stop) brokers for selling junk muni bonds to consumers
The SEC cracks down on financial firms, including Schwab, J.P. Morgan Securities, Lebenthal, Oppenheimer, TD Ameritrade, UBS and Wedbush for selling risky debt beneath the minimum allotment of $100,000 for a single transaction. The SEC investigation focused on the trading of securities from a $3.5 billion Puerto Rico general-obligation deal in March, the largest speculative-grade tax-exempt sale ever. None of them admitted to wrongdoing. There are NO refunds.

Are you a victim of the living trust scam?
Investors often sign up for revocable living trusts because they want to avoid probate costs. In senior seminars, victims are told they will incur probate costs and estate taxes and won’t benefit from the 50 percent discount of setting up the trust unless they sign TODAY. Problems arise because assets may already be protected in a will or pension account. If there is no dispute among heirs, probate is often much cheaper than paying to manage a long-term trust. According to AARP in a posting titled “The Truth About Living Trusts,” salespeople exaggerate the costs to make the sale. Congress says it has proposed tougher laws but no one expects passage given the financial lobby.
See a genuine estate lawyer first.

41 Watchung Plaza, B242
MontclairNJ 07042

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Obama gives insurers BIG bonus

US government gives insurer CEOs a HUGE bonus!
Our Treasury is encouraging retirees to buy annuities, the cash cow of the insurance industry. Annuities have very high fees which rob savers of long-term gains while promising them that they can’t outlive their lowered savings. The department will let target-date retirement funds that are a default option in retirement plans offer long-term deferred annuities. The trouble comes when you retire. When you subtract the fees (2-5% a year) from your earnings over time, you may give up 63% of your nest egg. Instead of having $30-40,000 a year retirement income, you have about $15,000. Annuities have no refund. 
Look at the alternatives before you leap:

Is a low-cost advisor right for you?
Recently, all the major mutual fund firms are beginning to offer a low-cost equivalent to the traditional (expensive) planning advisor. Low-cost providers like Vanguard offer to create a financial plan to match your goals. If you have most of your retirement money with them, the cost is reasonable. Another low-cost alternative is the plan for a fee advisor. Most famous is the Garrett Planners.
If you feel comfortable with your own decisions, use the best low-cost funds:

Regulators vow to punish fraud by brokers/advisors
SEC commissioner said fraud committed by an individual broker or advisor is more likely to cause investors to lose all of their investments than fraud by a large company, which will cause individual investors to lose only some of their assets because they are held in a diversified portfolio. In hearings earlier this year, Senate lawmakers explored ways to help seniors identify scams and fraud. Federal Trade Commission data show an estimated 25.6 million Americans — or 10.8 percent of the U.S. adult population — fell victim to some kind of fraud in 2011. Weight-loss products, billing services, credit repair, debt relief, credit card insurance and mortgage relief were in the top 10 categories. Last year, 429 individuals were barred from working in the financial industry and another 670 were suspended, FINRA said.
Most large mutual fund firms have salaried advisors to help you:

Is the Saver’s Credit right for you?
For 2014, you can qualify for the retirement saver's credit up to $2,000 if your adjusted gross income is $60,000 or less if married filing jointly, $45,000 or less if filing as head of household, or $30,000 or less if you’re a single filer. The lower your income, the larger the credit you can take. And you don’t need to max out your IRA to get the maximum credit. Contributions to a traditional or Roth IRA, 401(k), 457, 403(b) or other retirement-savings plan qualify. Credits are worth more than deductions and can pay HALF your retirement contributions each year. Contribute $4,000—receive $2,000—become a millionaire:

10 million more Americans have health care—a good thing for all!
Nov 15 begins re-enroll for ObamaCare.
Despite their denials, GOP states like NM, KY, WV and TX now have health care available for more voters. See the map of the HAVES and HAVE NOTs.

GOP crazies
Voters voted against Obama as GOP had campaigned and now own Congress. Some vow to take away our health care plans, cut taxes on wealthy/corporations, send our soldiers back to Iraq/Syria/etc, let oil companies export more oil via pipelines, frack all over the place, end regulations on water, air, everything you can think of.
On the bright side, more states want pot and minimum wage. 
We get what we deserve, they say. But I need my health care.

DEMS crazies
Federal Government Made $20 Billion in Secret Purchases in Recent Months
The purchases, known among federal employees as “micropurchases,” are made by some of the thousands of agency employees who are issued taxpayer-funded purchase cards. The purchases, in most cases, remain confidential and are not publicly disclosed by the agencies. A sampling of those purchases, obtained by the I-Team via the Freedom of Information Act, reveals at least one agency used those cards to buy $30,000 in Starbucks Coffee drinks and products in one year without having to disclose or detail the purchases to the public.
“When you have $10,000 being spent at one Starbucks by DHS employees in one city in six months, someone is abusing the purchasing permission that we have given them."
Don’t employees have to declare this as income on their taxes?

Is retirement in another state to save money right for you?
In 2015, four states are lowering their tax on your estate. Tennessee's estate tax exemption will jump to $5 million from $2 million, Maryland's exemption will increase to $1.5 million from $1 million, and Minnesota's exemption will rise to $1.4 million from $1.2 million. On April 1, 2015New York's estate tax exemption will increase to $3.125 million from $2.062 million. Tennessee's estate tax will disappear in 2016. Maryland and New York will increase their thresholds every year until 2019, when they'll match the federal exemption (currently $5.34 million). Minnesota's exemption will rise in $200,000 annual increments until it reaches $2 million in 2018.
Moving to save your heirs taxes seems extreme. Better to transfer assets now:

Reliable new cars
Consumer reports made their tests to made suggestions to buy and avoid. You are going to save big when you buy a 3-year old model of one on the winning list. You may save 40% off MSRP since cars lose value as soon as you sign the paperwork. Leasing makes sense for your business not personal. Find your car on the list (red check) then shop for your insurance with our list of 14 discounts:

Long-term care insurance is expensive; Medicaid right for you?
The person receiving care must generally have less than $2,000 in "countable" assets, which include savings, retirement accounts, investments and life insurance. Your car, primary residence and money in certain kinds of trusts don't count. See or Most states have home-equity limits. If you're married, the spouse living at home (called the community spouse) can generally keep up to $117,240 in countable assets in 2014. You generally must receive less than $2,163 per month in countable income to qualify for Medicaid. That includes Social Security benefits and pension, dividend and interest income. See for your state's rules. 
LTC insurance alternatives:

SCAMS           Why are we still paying $700 Billion a year for WWII deployments?
We are paying for 164,253 of our active-duty armed personnel to be in 150 countries around the world. We have about 50,000 in Japan and 50,000 in Germany.
Are we preparing for WWII again? There are 1,208,083[1] armed personnel in the United States. Our taxes pay for about HALF of the WORLD’s military expenditures every year. We have wasted $398.6 billion so far on the F-35 program—they can’t fly safely.
We just can’t afford to pay for everyone else’s defenses anymore. Japan, Germany and S. Korea can pay for their own defenses.
The War on Terror requires SEALS’ attacks on top terrorists at their homes. Iraq proved converting a nation to Western-style republic doesn’t work.

Uncle Sam has your data—you can’t hide anymore
Facebook is one of the prime feeding grounds for data -- and inevitably requests from federal agencies for said data. According to Facebook's latest transparency report published on Tuesday, the company received 34,946 requests for data during the first six months of 2014. That translates to a 24 percent uptick from the second half of 2013, nearly matched by a 19 percent increase in the amount of content restricted due to local laws where Facebook operates. Facebook's deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby promised in the report that the company pushes "back hard" against any and all requests before forking over data -- if at all. In the United States, for example, Facebook received 15,433 total requests during the first half of 2014, pertaining to data about 23,667 accounts. Facebook responded with data to 80.15 percent of these requests.

The NEW Iraq—same but with a new party
“Wealthy government officials and military officers are buying houses in cash, tearing them down and building mansions,” said Abu Rana al-Zubaidy, a realtor who has witnessed the neighborhood’s transition from backwater to power center. With Sunni jihadists seizing territory less than an hour’s drive from the city, “there’s caution, but everyone still has plenty of money,” he said by phone. The conspicuous displays of Shiite affluence in Zayouna are testament to the shift in political power since U.S. forces ended decades of Sunni dominance under Saddam Hussein, according to Andrew Bowen, Middle East scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston. “Sunnis complain that they are being excluded from power,” said Bowen, adding that the reversal in fortunes is fueling resentment and blocking efforts to unite the nation against the Islamist militants. “There is a strong perception that the new Shiite elite is using the state for their own ends.”

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