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July 2006

June 2006

June budget buster: Insurance policy renewals

Section targeting I must respectfully disagree with T.S. Eliot. For me, June is the cruelest month, at least financially. This month we had the summer heat kick in, meaning more air conditioning and higher electric bills. We also had increased watering of the spring-planted marigolds, nudging up that utility bill a notch. Until the city of Austin enlists its own law enforcement officers or the state of Texas pulls National Guard troops off the border to enforce voluntary H2O restrictions, the hubby will not forsake his annuals. Then there was the already documented laptop purchased in the wake of my... Read more →

And the market went up ...

OK. I posted earlier today that rising interest rates are bad for investors and what does the stock market do? It goes up in the wake of the Federal Open Market Committee's decision to bump rates up a quarter point. Huh? Here's another truism about the market: Wall Street hates surprises. So when Chairman Ben Bernanke and his boys did what was expected, boosting the the federal-funds rate to 5.25 percent, its highest level since March 2001, the Street cheered. Investors were particularly happy because they see the FOMC language accompanying the hike as less hawkish toward inflation than some... Read more →

Stock market rate reactions

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Ever wonder why the stock market does what it does? One factor that affects the market is interest rates. I always thought that when rates went up, stocks went down because more people are tempted to put their money into safer interest-bearing accounts rather than equities. That may indeed be true, since as rates climb, such safer investments have bit more appeal. But the interest rates on savings never quite go up as much, or as quickly, as rates that are applied to money you owe, such as credit card balances. Plus, people who are primarily interested in... Read more →

The IRS could soon make it harder out there for pimps

A key piece of business facing the Senate Finance Committee today is a proposal by its chairman to tax certain sex crimes. Yep, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), wants the IRS to make it harder out there for pimps. Grassley says he's using the tax collector's most famous criminal take-down as a model: He wants the IRS to go after pimps and sex traffickers with the same fervor it employed in arresting gangster Al Capone for tax evasion. "The thugs who run these trafficking rings are exploiting society's poorest girls and women for personal gain," Grassley told the Associated Press. "The... Read more →

Carnival's a-coming!

Just a quick, friendly reminder: The second Carnival of Taxes will be posted on July 3. I know many of you will be taking a long break for the Fourth of July holiday, but before you head out, please take a few minutes to submit an item. The easiest way is to fill out our Blog Carnival form. You can read about the genesis of the carnival and submission guidelines here. And don't forget to check out our debut Tax Carnival. Finally, to those who've already dropped something in the hopper, thanks! See you all back here on the 3rd! Read more →

Ford forging on with hybrids

Toyota hybrid vehicle buyers who dally this summer are likely to miss out on the maximum Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit (discussed in this earlier post), but Ford fans still have plenty of time, and a couple more automotive choices, to get the full tax break. The IRS says that Ford's 2007 Escape hybrids (front and four-wheel drive models) and its new Mercury Mariner four-wheel drive now qualify for the credit. Below is the complete list, to date, of vehicles by manufacturer and the maximum available credit that purchasers can claim on their tax returns next year: Ford/Mercury 2007 Ford Escape... Read more →

Uncle Sam's flood insurance status

The old adage about he (or she) who controls the weather, controls the world, came to mind as I read about flooding problems in the northeast, particularly in the nation's capital. Last night before turning off the TV, I watched video of the inundation of parts of Maryland. Then this morning, CNN reports that flooding from a weekend of heavy rain in the Washington, D.C., area has shut down, among other government offices, the Internal Revenue Service headquarters. My first thought: Does the agency have a flood insurance policy? (Do you? If not, you might want to read this earlier... Read more →

Carnival of Business #10

Consumer-Driven Opportunity has posted the 10th Carnival of Business. In addition to my post on crashing computers and the need to regularly back up your system, you'll find links to stories on working from home and a new search engine (Sphere) if your new enterprise includes a blog. And English football/soccer fans emboldened by their club's latest World Cup victory might want to check out the item on buying a British pub. That's just a small sample of this latest Business Carnival, so head on over for the full array of business-related blog links. Read more →

Beckham bent it

Being only a cursory soccer/football fan, I admit I watched the England-Ecuador World Cup match today primarily to see David Beckham. It isn't as shallow as it sounds. I already knew his hair was in a relatively normal phase right now, especially compared to some other players (see for yourself here). You can check out Becks' earlier 'do's here. And I had already caught glimpses of Mrs. Becks (aka Posh Spice) at earlier matches (like at this one). No, today I wanted to see the guy play, especially since he was grist for the pre-game analyst mill. Love him. Hate... Read more →

Taking down the tents: Blog Carnival Archive

The Blog Carnival Archive was transferred to a new blog page on Jan. 9, 2000. Please go there for the most current information on the various blog carnivals in which Don't Mess With Taxes participated. The midway was getting a little crowded on the old home page, so we're going to strike some of the tents and put a few rides in storage in this Blog Carnival Archive. This is the complete listing of the various carnivals, festivals and cavalcades that included a Don't Mess With Taxes entry. This listing does not, however, include the Carnival of Taxes. Access to... Read more →

For the record: Poll Archive

Want to know what readers were thinking? This is the place. All Don't Mess With Taxes polls will eventually end up here. Poll #18: How are you dealing with the stock market meltdown? (question posted 10/10/08; results posted 10/20/08) 44% said: I have a regular investment program and I'm sticking with it. 12% said: I'm leaving current holdings alone, but not investing new money. 24% said: I'm buying bargains. 9% said: I bailed out and put my money into FDIC-insured instruments. 9% said: I'm ignoring it, hoping the market will eventually work itself out. 2% said: I'm taking other approaches.... Read more →

U.S. World Cup hopes: Going, Going, Ghana

Just how different the United States is from many other nations is exceedingly clear as World Cup competition progresses. We've always known that we do things much differently here in the states. Heck, we do them differently from state to state! In most cases, it's neither good nor bad; it just is. But we've also felt like that for all our differences, we could find a way to connect with the rest of the world. Except on the soccer field. Not only do U.S. spectators not give a flip about soccer, but our national team (or coach, depending on who... Read more →

Day of the Death Tax

I don't know the first thing about George Romero's politics, but I gotta believe he's proud that Congress keeps paying unintended homage to his living dead movie franchise. Yes, the estate tax -- "death tax" to its ardent opponents -- is back, stalking the floor of the House of Representatives as I type. Lawmakers are trying yet another legislative maneuver to repeal this part of the tax code. And the Washington, D.C., machinations are scarier than any of the flesh-eating zombies that roamed Pennsylvania fields and suburban shopping malls. Does this latest legislative effort have enough life to kill the... Read more →

Movin' on

No, I'm not going anywhere. I just went through this hassle last year (twice!) and I'm staying put for a while. But lots of people do move during the summer. With the kids out of school, you don't have to worry about them missing classes. Plus, you can put those little hands to work packing boxes! Maybe I can borrow your kids to help unpack the containers I still have untouched in my dining room. Yes, you've heard this lament before here. I've accepted the fact that I'll miss my previously set goal of having all stuff out of all... Read more →

From tax collectors to trash collectors

My, what a busy tax morning. Tax and trash collectors, scofflaws racing against the tax man and Members of Congress just dying to change the estate taxes. So here's all today's tax news that's fit to print online: 1. The Government Accountability Office has denied the protests filed against the IRS in connection with contracts it awarded in March to to three private debt collectors, according to Tax Analysts' Taxwire service. This now means the agency can immediately resume its controversial program to outsource overdue IRS bill collection. That might be as far as the effort will get though, as... Read more →

Hot fun in the summertime

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Happy Summer Solstice! Welcome to the longest day of the year. Just what we need to get us in the mood for some hot fun in the summertime. You are about to hit the road for your annual vacation, aren't you? Well, you're at least planning it, right? Nah, me neither. We're not alone. Just last week I got an e-mail from my friend John, bemoaning the fact that he's giving back too much vacation time to his company each year: "I should be taking more time off so I don't keep giving the company back two or... Read more →

The new kiddie tax costly complications

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A friend wrote regarding the recent changes in the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act (TIPRA) to the so-called kiddie tax. The provision in question concerns the age of young investors and how it affects the tax rate applied to their earnings. The applicable age used to be 14. Now, thanks to TIPRA, the 2006 age is 18. My friend read a Wall Street Journal item that suggested parents with children who might be affected by the kiddie tax consider investments that generate little or no current taxable income, such as U.S. savings bonds. Owners of Series EE... Read more →

The PF Carnival is growing up

To celebrate the first birthday of the Carnival of Personal Finance, this week's host, Flexo at Consumerism Commentary, offers a double-dose from the carnival participants. Flexo presents a recent financial post and then one of the blogger's favorites from the last year. My recent notice about the fast-selling Toyota hybrids is joined by a tax-code Valentine posted in, when else, February. At this double-stuffed financial carnival you'll also find, among many other items, how to play the zero-interest credit card transfer game or lower your homeowner's insurance policy rates. There's even info on Amazon's new grocery shopping service. Books and... Read more →

Baby got backup

Actually, baby (AKA moi) only had partial backup … for my computer, that is. And that was, staying on the slightly dated musical reference point here, a real pain in the backside when, a couple of weeks ago, my computer decided it had had enough. Yep, on June 2, after running its weekly system virus scan, my machine crashed. I knew it was coming. Even though the thing is only about 18 months old, it had been making a disturbing noise for the last month or so. The sound was bad enough that only the week before I had mentioned... Read more →

New Carnival Showcase

As the blogosphere grows, carnival tents are cropping up virtually everywhere. The New Carnival Showcase is there, though, to help keep track of them. The Showcase's 6th edition includes a nice mention of The Carnival of Taxes, which, by the way, is coming up again in just a little over two weeks (July 3). If you missed our debut carnival "filing," check it out here. And don't forget to send in your suggestions for Tax Carnival #2. Read more →