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February 2006

January 2006

The Prez's plans

Tonight's regular programming will be preempted for Article II, Sec. 3, of the United States Constitution: "The President shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Last year, the president used his State of the Union address to float privatization of Social Security. This year, the big issue was supposed to be tax reform. The president’s own advisory panel, however, surprised him with the scope of its proposals. What’s all this talk about taking away deductions for homeowners?... Read more →


Sign right up

Today is National Handwriting Day. I know. You’re freaking out because you didn’t get your Happy Handwriting Day cards in the mail. You’re not alone. Not many people know about National Handwriting Day. Aside from a mention of it today by John Aielli, host of Eklektikos on KUT 90.5, the only other 2006 reference I could find was at the Crayola crayon Web site. Its obscurity is due in large part to the fact the “holiday” was created as a marketing tool by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association. Sure, the group says the day spotlights “the lost art of handwriting”... Read more →


Gimme shelter

The Internal Revenue Service is offering a wide-ranging tax shelter amnesty and the deadline to get in on the deal is Monday. Tax shelter. Just the name conjures up shady accountants and hidden bank accounts on tiny tropical islands. But tax shelters aren’t inherently illegal. A tax shelter is anything that provides a tax benefit. Purchasing a home is a great tax shelter, since you get the tax benefit of deducting mortgage interest and real estate taxes. But abusive tax shelters, well that’s different and, shall we say, problematic. In these cases, the whole idea is to evade tax. I... Read more →


The Dream, 43 years later

Today is the 20th national celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Perhaps it’s a testament to how far we’ve come that the holiday is now accepted enough to become a commercial peg. In the days leading up to the holiday, local retailers ran TV and print ads touting MLK Day sale specials. That’s not exactly the equality that Dr. King sought, but it puts his day on par with Presidents Day in February. Many cities will host events today in honor of Dr. King. And most will probably include at least a mention of his address to the crowd... Read more →


Paraskevidekatriaphobia*

Friday the 13th. I can hear Count Floyd now: “Oooohhhh. Scary.” It certainly is scary for some celebrities who are facing some potentially costly tax issues. Jury selection began this week for Richard Hatch, the first winner of CBS’s “Survivor.” The IRS contends that he didn’t pay taxes on his $1 million winnings from the popular show. But that’s not the only charge. The jury also will hear government evidence that Hatch spent money designated for a charity he created, filed false tax returns and committed bank, wire and mail fraud. TaxProf has links to some stories detailing the early... Read more →


11,000+

That's been the stock market's magic number for the last couple of days, the highest it's been since June 2001. Jerry Knight, stock watcher for the Washington Post, notes in this article that by holding above the 11,000 mark for two days, the market defied cynics who predicted the spike would be a one-day wonder. The recovery of stocks (NASDAQ also has been on a run upwards) is a good sign for investors, especially those who've got most of their retirement funds in equities. But there still are people for whom cash is king. They won't go near the market,... Read more →


Let Uncle Sam help with your resolutions

Bet you thought that since it's the second week of January, you'd escaped that old chestnut, New Year's Resolutions. Well, think again. I'm a traditionalist. I like the comfort of rituals and nothing is as ritualized as the annual pledges we make to do or become better at something. The process is so stylized, it's almost Kabuki-like. New Year's Resolutions: You make 'em, you break 'em. Admit it. That's you. It's me, too. And my husband. And my extended family. And my friends. And ... . But we go through the process, year after year, just the same. It's somehow... Read more →