August 18, 2019

IRS Impersonator Scams: Here are a Few Things You Should Know so You do not Become a Victim of an IRS Impersonator Scam.

IRS Scams.


IRS Impersonation Scams are ongoing, with new scams popping up on an ongoing basis.  Here are a few tips from the IRS Tax Tip 2019-87 to help prevent you from becoming the victim of an IRS Scam.


Tips to Help Taxpayers Recognize Tax Scams


New versions of well-known tax-related scams appear every year…and 2019 is no different. No matter what time of year, taxpayers should be on the lookout for scams. Here are some things taxpayers should remember to help them spot scams and avoid becoming a victim.


Telltale Signs of an IRS Impersonator Scam


Taxpayers should remember that the IRS generally first mails a bill to a taxpayer who owes taxes. The IRS and its  authorized private collection agencies will never:
  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. The IRS does not use these methods for tax payments.
  • Ask for checks to third parties. The IRS has specific instructions on how to pay taxes. All tax payments should only be made payable to the U.S. Treasury.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have the taxpayer arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer the opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed.
If a taxpayer receives a phone call, but doesn’t owe taxes and has no reason to think they do, they should:
If a taxpayer owes tax or thinks they do, they should:

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 15, 2019

Healthier Eating and Living: Easy One-Dish Meals That Are Both Healthy And Good!

Simple Cooking.


So often, simple cooking = the best cooking.  And you know what?  Many simple recipes can also part of Healthier Eating and Living in your life.

I love salads and casserole-type dishes.  Heck, often leftover casserole tastes better the next day! 

Neither has to be boring or difficult to prepare.  Ready to put some easy one-dish meals into your dinner rotation?  (Or supper rotation, as some areas of the country call the 3rd meal of the day.)  Check out these 10 Easy One-Dish Meals from Betty Crocker.  Sure to provide some yummy, nutritious, and easy meals for your dinner (or supper) table.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  Mary loves to cook and bake, with an emphasis on simple recipes and fresh produce.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 13, 2019

Homeowners Insurance: Know Your Policy so You Know What is Covered. And What Isn't.

Homeowners Insurance.


Homeowners Insurance is required if you have a mortgage on your property.  But truly, folks, Homeowners Insurance is simply essential to carry if you own a home.  True, you may never make a claim on the policy ... And that would be a good thing!  But if you incur a significant - or perhaps catastrophic - loss such as a fire in your home, the financial burden of the loss may simply be too much for you to bear.

But do you know what is ... and is not ... covered for loss or liability on your Homeowners Insurance policy?  To help you with that question, this post is the first of an occasional post devoted to just that:  Identifying events, losses, and liabilities that are ... or are not ... generally covered under an insurance policy.

Pest Damage
Is Pest Damage Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?


Just discovered you have a termite problem in your home and garage?  Or perhap you've discovered roof rats in your attic, and areas in your home the rodents have chewed through to gain entrance.

If you think your Homeowners Insurance will pay for the termite abatement, or that your insurance will pay for trapping the rodents and repairing the rodent-induced damage to your home, you're out of luck.  Damage from small pests - such as mice, rats, squirrels, and termites - is generally not a covered loss under Homeowners Insurance.  Policies typically define these small pests as "vermin" in the coverage exclusion.


On the other hand, damage from large pests is generally a covered event.  So if a bear smashes its way into your home and consumes the 2 cartons of mint chip ice cream in your freezer and the  pounds of cheese in fridge, the damage to your home, including the is cream and cheese, is generally a covered loss.

Concerned About Homeowners Insurance Matters?
Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 12, 2019

Life Insurance Litigation: Are You Looking For a Life Insurance Expert Witness? Meet Mary Rae Fouts, EA.

Life Insurance Litigation.
Life Insurance Expert Witness.


Are you looking for a Life Insurance Expert Witness to address Life Insurance Litigation or Arbitration Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 31 years of experience addressing life insurance concerns for clients throughout the United States.  She provides Life Insurance Consulting Services, in addition to Expert Witness Services for Life Insurance Litigation Matters. 

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues.  She welcomes your call at (510) 421-5457 or email to Mary@FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Concerned About Tax, Insurance, Annuity, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, Annuity Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 9, 2019

Your Odds of Becoming Disabled? That's a Question Nearly Impossible to Answer.

Disability Insurance.

Healthier Eating and Living.


As a Life and Disability Insurance Analyst licensed by the California Department of Insurance, one of the questions posed by clients with Disability Insurance concerns is:  "What are the odds that I will become disabled during my working years?"

And my answer?  Not one I would prefer to give ... but ... "That question is unfortunately nearly impossible to specifically answer."

Why so?  Well, there are so many variables, and so many data sources (some of which are most certainly not objective, unfortunately) that all I can typically tell clients is a very general answer:  low risk, middle-of-the-road risk, high risk, or such a very high risk that your occupation is considered uninsurable for insurance company issued Long Term Disability Insurance.

Oh, and one more thing:  Lifestyle choices can greatly improve your odds of not becoming disabled.  Eating well, exercising, avoiding excessive stress and risky activities, and getting adequate sleep all work in your favor for better odds of leading a non-disabled life.

For another take on the "odds of becoming disabled" question, read this New York Times Column "The Odds of a Disability Are Themselves Odd".  The column was written some 9 years ago, but it's still relevant today. 

Disability Insurance Concerns?

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 6, 2019

Backyard Summer Fun with Sid and Lexi!

Sid and Lex.


My Faithful Canine Companions who provide me with Unconditional Love each and every day.

I don't know what I would do without a dog or two to share my life with!

Here are Sid and Lexi enjoying some Backyard Summer Fun.  And once again I'm reminded to Live in the Present as Sid and Lexi do.  After all, each day is a gift, and there are so many, many things in your life you truly cannot control.


Unconditional love is as close as your nearest Animal Shelter.  Please adopt, don't shop.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

August 3, 2019

Data Security: Do Your Tax Preparer and Insurance Agents Have Adequate Data Security Plans?

Data Security Plans.


Do you know that financial service providers are required, by various federal and state laws, to create and implement data security plans to protect the privacy of client information?  Professionals subject to these laws cover a very broad area, including not just stockbrokers, bankers, and investment advisors, but also tax preparers, insurance agents, and similar consultants.  The Data Security Plan must cover all forms of client communication and documents, including both electronic and paper data.

This Data Security Plan is in addition to Client Privacy Policies, which must be provided to new clients, and then made available to existing clients on at least an annual basis.

Hackers and Identity Thieves abound.  Everyone should be concerned about the safety of their private information.  Don't hesitate to ask your financial services professionals about their Data Security Plans.  Data safety is no laughing matter, for sure.

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 31, 2019

A $50 Hamburger. Yet Another Only in California Crazy Moment.

The $50 Hamburger.


The $50 Black Label Burger at Selby's restaurant in ultra wealthy Atherton,  California.
Does it look gross, or what?!

Well, I got some more Burger News for you. And this Burger News is truly a Crazy in California story .

The posh restaurant Selby's recently opened in Atherton, California.   Atherton is a tony, high-falutin town on the San Francisco Peninsula, population 7,238 people.  It takes the prize of likely being the wealthiest community in the country, with an average household income of $450,000.

Yep.  Nearly a Half Million Buckaroos a year.

In other words, Athertonites live in another world much different that you and I.

And now their hamburgers are from another world, too.

Take the Black Label Burger on the menu at the newly-opened Selby's restaurant.  It supposedly took the chef six months to develop.  It is made with a custom blended ground beef mixture (surprisingly NOT identified as grass fed beef), and lightly grilled ... the chef recommends a rare or medium rare burger.   (Food poisoning from undercooked meat, anyone?)  Served on only the best fine china and with what, according to the burger's photo,  looks like one slice each of old, rotten and getting moldy tomato and onion, and what appears to be a solitary 4-inch or so piece of butter lettuce. Oh, and don't forget the side of French fries, too.

And gee, you would think for a $50 burger that the chef would at least use Grass Fed Ground Beef!

The burger is topped with a stingy 2-ounces of Epoisses cheese, which is a soft French cheese that melts and runs down the burger.   I mean good Lord, give me some cheese!  Finally, the burger is topped with what one commenter on a San Francisco Chronicle newspaper story about the Black Label Burger said "resembles sweepings from the kitchen floor."  I agree, but alas those floor sweepings are said to be roughly 5-ounces of shaved Australian black truffles.  Not a clue as to why the chef is using truffles from Australia, rather than truffles from France to match his French cheese.  Seems like a misguided cooking contradiction to me.

As for ketchup on the side?  Well, Selby's has not disclosed whether or not a side of ketchup is also available for the burger.  Could be that  Selby's restaurant and the ultra wealthy Athertonians shun the simple All American condiment ketchup.   Heck, ketchup might even be banned in Atherton  (Disclosure: I do not like ketchup.  Neither does my husband Jim.  Hopefully that does not make us Un-American.)

Regardless ... or perhaps Irregardless ... to me, Selby's Black Label Burger just looks plain gross.   I wouldn't touch it if one was given to me.  Would you?

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 28, 2019

IRS Email Scams: Here are a Few Things You Should Know so that You do Not Become a Victim of an IRS Impersonation Scam.

IRS Scams.


IRS Impersonation Scams are ongoing, with new scams popping up on an ongoing basis.  Here are a few tips from the IRS Tax Tip 2019-87 to help prevent you from becoming the victim of an IRS Scam.


Tips to Help Taxpayers Recognize Tax Scams


New versions of well-known tax-related scams appear every year…and 2019 is no different. No matter what time of year, taxpayers should be on the lookout for scams. Here are some things taxpayers should remember to help them spot scams and avoid becoming a victim.


IRS Email Scams


Know this information so that you do not become a victim of an IRS Impersonation Email Scam.
  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information.
  • The IRS initiates most contacts through regular mail delivered by the United States Postal Service.
  • There are special circumstances when the IRS will call or come to a home or business. These visits include times when a taxpayer has an overdue tax bill, a delinquent tax return, or a delinquent employment tax payment.
  • If a taxpayer receives an unsolicited email that appears to be a scam, they should report it to the IRS. They can forward the email message to phishing@irs.gov. They should not open any attachments, click on any links, reply to the sender, or take any other actions that could put them at risk.


Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 25, 2019

Impossible Burger: Why Would Anyone Eat Genetically Modified (GMO) Fake Food?

Impossible Burger.


A vegan, plant based patty that supposedly tastes and looks like beef.  As in a hamburger patty.

Oh, and did you know the Impossible Burger is based on Genetically Modified (GMO) Soybeans?

The Impossible Burger
Yep.  So with every mouthful of Impossible Burger, you're getting a mouthful of GMO food.  Who would want to do that?  Not me, that's for sure.

Soybeans are the most genetically modified food in the world.  Nearly 100% of soybeans grown in the United States are grown from genetically modified soybean seeds.  Oh, and GMO is short for Genetically Modified Organism.

Impossible Foods, the company that makes the Impossible Burger, has been downright sneaky in its description of the current Impossible Burger Fake "Meat", also known as the Impossible Burger 2.0.  Impossible Foods has referred to the Impossible Burger "Meat" as being made with bio-engineered soybeans, rather than genetically modified soybeans.  A rather deceptive description, don't you think?

When Imposible Foods announced last year that it was going to completely retool its Impossible Burger recipe create the Impossible Burger 2.0, they publicly stated the reason for doing so was to give the fake vegan meat a more beef-like "bloody" appearance.  But I think the key reason for the recipe retool were simply profit driven.  You see, last year Impossible Foods announced a nationwide U.S. distribution of its patty to Burger King restaurants.  The problem was, however, that the original Impossible Burger was made with a wheat-based recipe.  And that recipe wouldn't stand up to Burger King's burger grilling over an open flame; the patty actually crumbled!  The 2.0 GMO Fake Meat recipe solved that problem.

I always take care to be aware of what I eat.  True, it's impossible to rid your diet of all GMO products.  I realize the regular and dark bottles of soy sauce in my kitchen are almost certainly made with GMO soybeans.  But for a company - in this case, Impossible Foods, to deceptively market a fake meet product as "bio-engineered" when in fact it is genetically modified ... Well, I find that unethical and just flat out wrong.  Same for chefs who charge $$$ for an Impossible Burger.  Take one restaurant in San Francisco, Violet's Tavern, that has an Impossible Burger on its menu.  It is served on a potato bun with a chipotle aioli, cheddar and caramelized onions; served with French fries.  And heck, you get your daily dose of GMO Food to boot!  All for a tidy $19!  No thanks.

I've never been into Fake Food.  It'll be interesting to see how popular the Impossible Burger remains when ... or perhaps I should say if ... people eating this GMO Fake Meat actually realize they are eating Genetically Modified Food.  And I'll bet you $1 that the majority of people who are eating the Impossible Burger GMO Fake Meat today would say they are against GMO Foods and believe that GMOs are harmful.

What do you think?

Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 22, 2019

Insurance: When is the Last Time You Reviewed Your Insurance Policies?

Adequate Property Insurance Coverage


Yes, I know ... insurance is not the most exciting topic to discuss.

But nevertheless, it's a critical one.

The November Camp Fire in the Paradise, California area was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California's history.  Nearly 19,000 structures were destroyed, with an estimated damage total thus far of nearly $17 billion.  88 people perished in this inferno.  The community of Paradise, home to about 29,000 residents, was almost entirely destroyed by the blaze.

And unfortunately, many of the homeowners and property owners in Paradise had inadequate homeowners insurance, or no insurance at all.

Adequate property insurance is crucial.  This coverage is a must, even if the property owner is not required to have such insurance coverage.  Avoiding becoming underinsured ... whether it be for homeowners, business property, liability, of an other type of insurance is easy to avoid with annual reviews of your insurance coverage.  Also, your insurance coverage should be immediately reviewed and, if necessary, adjusted if you incur significant changes in your life, including home remodeling and additions.


Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 19, 2019

Books and the Joy of Reading for Children

Books and Reading.


I love to read.  When we designed the addition of our home 20 years ago, one must have was a library with a rolling ladder.  And yes, it is filled with books!  I also subscribe to two daily newspaper, and read them both every day:  The New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

And speaking of books ... Here is a wonderful program that supplies children's books to places such as barber shops and laundromats, so that the children can read while their parents go about their business.  Children are encouraged to read out loud to help develop confidence and communication skills.  What a marvelous literacy program!  Read about it here.


Concerned about Tax, Insurance, or Related Financial Matters?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA


Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides Tax Services, Insurance Consulting Services, and Expert Witness Services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts