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.

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