July 31, 2016

Stella the Dog from Walnut Creek, California: Are you ready for cuteness overload?

Are you ready for some Sunday Cuteness?

A couple that lives in Walnut Creek along one of our dog walking routes is having a garage sale this weekend.

Oh, and they happen to have the cutest .... did I say the cutest! ... tiny Pomeranian named Stella.  My dogs Husky-mix Sid and Chow-mix (actually, likely Chow-Pomeranian-mix) Lexi really enjoy meeting Stella.  Stella may be almost 14 years old, but she is full of playful spunk and gets up on her back legs to flail her front legs, bark, and play with Sid and Lexi.

To advertise the garage sale, the husband created this photo for an online ad.

Yes, that is Stella driving the Ferrari, it is not a toy stuffed animal dog.

And yes, that is Stella's Ferrari, a kid's electric car modified so Stella can sit and ride in it.

See her name on the side of the Ferrari?  Mighty fine wheels!

Is that cuteness overload, or what?!

Pomeranian Stella:  Not For Sale

We stopped by the garage sale yesterday; Stella bounded with happiness to see all of us.  She was extra cute with a tag attached to her collar that said "Not For Sale".  And yes, the husband was contacted through his online ad asking just that, if Stella and the Ferrari were for sale at the garage sale, too.

Oh, the pampered lives of our Faithful Canine Companions!

Looking good, Stella!  We always enjoy seeing you, Sweetheart.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 30, 2016

Hillary Clinton: Is Bill falling asleep during her acceptance speech Hillary's true 'Moment of Reckoning'?

The New York Times article about Hillary Clinton's presidential nomination acceptance speech refers to her warning of a 'Moment of Reckoning'.

Well, I think Hillary's true 'Moment of Reckoning' during her presidential nomination speech was when her husband and former President Bill Clinton fell asleep.

Check out the video below!


Can this presidential election cycle get any more bizarre?  Yep, I think it will, with the likelihood of more hacked democratic emails being released and God knows what will transpire during the Clinton-Trump debates.  A skit writer for Saturday Night Live couldn't think this stuff up!

Thanks to an anonymous commenter who mentioned this video in yesterday's post about my dogs Sid and Lexi napping.

PS - As I've stated in prior posts, I am not supporting either Clinton or Trump, nor did I support any other candidate who formerly ran for a 2016 presidential nomination.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 29, 2016

Nap Time, Sid and Lexi Style!

Another thing my Faithful Canine Companions have taught me:

Sometimes nothing beats a summertime nap!

Sid:  "Thanks for the comfy size 13 EEEE foot pillow, Daddy!"
 "Love you, Daddy, and thanks for not moving!"

Lexi oh so peacefully snoozes at the base of the stairs.
Sid never lays here, only Lexi.  It's one of her "special" spots!
Interestingly, our late Chow-mix Titus used to lay here, too.

I am so thankful for the joy and love received from our Wonderful Canine Companions Sid and Lexi.

Question:  What have you learned from your Faithful Canine Companions or other Companion Animals?  You can post in the Comments section below.

Have a great Friday, everyone!

Mary Rae Fouts

July 28, 2016

Colored Deviled Eggs: Would you eat these?

I came across these photos of colored deviled eggs recently while doing some research for a recipe.

Question:  would you eat colored deviled eggs?

I like deviled eggs.  But the sight of colored devied eggs, even the thought of colored deviled eggs, is purely revolting to me.  Why treat a perfectly good hard boiled egg in such an egregious (or perhaps egg-regious!) fashion.

So I'm voting no and will add:  Poor eggies!

Mary Rae Fouts

Know a suspected Tax Cheat? Yes, you can report the person to the IRS. Here's how.

A person recently commented on a tax-related post that his employer was paying him in cash, with no social security or other payroll deductions taken out.  Where should he report this?

How to Report Suspected Tax Fraud to the IRS

Answer:  You can report suspected tax fraud to the IRS by filing out a form and mailing it to the Internal Revenue Service in Fresno, California.  And no, you do not have to provide your name and contact information, although the IRS does invite you to do so, primarily so they can contact you if they have questions.  If you do provide your personal information, the IRS does not share it with the person, business, or organization you are reporting.

Examples of suspected tax fraud  reported to the IRS include failure to pay tax, failure to withhold, unreported income, organized crime, and suspected fraudulent activity by a tax return preparer.

Please visit the IRS' Reporting Tax Fraud Activity webpage for more information, and to download the proper form.  Please note that suspected tax fraud cannot be reported via telephone, the proper form must be completed and mailed to the IRS.
Questions about Tax Matters?

I am an Enrolled Agent licensed by the Department of the Treasury which allows me to provide tax services to taxpayers in all 50 states and US territories.  I provide tax services to individual income, business, estate, and trust clients.  Please contact me if you have questions about tax preparation, tax planning, or taxpayer representation (audit and collection) matters.

For information about my nationwide Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 26, 2016

Make the World a Better Place: Your Thoughts? Here's What Sid the Dog Thinks ...

From Mary Rae Fouts:

Every day I enjoy taking time to (hopefully!) make this world a little bit better.

For the world, her people, her critters, and the environment.  

Even a simple smile and "Good Morning!" or wave can bring a smile to another person's face.

As I recently posted, the world is a really screwed up place right now.  We can't control what happens in the world, but we can all do our part to make it a better place.  And truly, it is the small stuff that counts!

What does Sid the Dog think?

My goofy and lovable Husky-mix Sid thinks the world would be a better place if everyone slept in deep relaxation, Sid style!

Sid also thinks we should de-stress by taking time each day to stick a wet nose into the air and let out a Happy Husky Howl!

What are your thoughts for making the world a better place?  Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Have a Great Day! 

Mary Rae Fouts

July 25, 2016

Soberanes Fire: Dangerous wildfire in Monterey County, California. Here is the latest and links for more info.

Are you traveling to the Big Sur, Carmel, or Montery, California area soon?  Before doing so, please check on the status of the dangerous Soberanes wildfire, currently burning between Big Sur and Carmel.

Photo Credit:  David Royal, Monterey Herald

The Monterey Herald reported this morning that the Soberanes fire has burned 15,000 acres and destroyed 20 homes and is only 5% contained.  The rugged terrain makes fighting this fire exceptionally difficult.

For the Latest on the Soberanes wildfire in Monterey County, California

Information line: 831-204-0446

Local Newspaper, including fire photo gallery:  Monterey Herald

Photo Credit:  Cypress Inn website
I've posted before about our love of dog-friendly Carmel, and the wonderful times we (humans and dogs alike!) have there when we vacation with our dogs at Doris Day's beautiful Cypress Inn.  My thoughts will be with the wonderful people who live in this area, and the firefighters and emergency personnel, as this devastating wildfire rages on.

Stay safe, everyone.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 22, 2016

Contacted by an IRS impersonator scam? Complaint about an IRS employee? Contact TIGTA.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, or "TIGTA" is responsible for audits, inspections, and investigations into matters related to the United States' federal tax system and the Internal Revenue Service.   TIGTA may sound like a rather funny name (or acronym, I guess), but the efforts of this typically-behind-the-scenes agency are critical for identifying problems within the IRS and related tax administration issues.  I've had the pleasure of hearing TIGTA employees speak at IRS Nationwide Tax Forums, and have visited with them at their convention hall booth.  Bright, hard working people.

Earlier this year I posted about the prevalence of IRS impersonator scams, and how to notify TIGTA if you have been contacted by one of these scams, or are a victim of a scam.  As a followup, TIGTA just published a new brochure detailing it's mission and what the agency does to protect the federal tax system and taxpayers.  It's a good read and provides important contact information for reporting IRS fraud, waste, and abuse; and IRS impersonator scams.

Questions about Tax Matters?

I am an Enrolled Agent licensed by the Department of the Treasury which allows me to provide tax services to taxpayers in all 50 states and US territories.  I provide tax services to individual income, business, estate, and trust clients.  Please contact me if you have questions about tax preparation, tax planning, or taxpayer representation (audit and collection) matters.

For information about my nationwide Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 21, 2016

3-year-old Marvelena Rady dies following dental procedures done under anesthesia. But were the dental procedures truly "normal"?

Marvalena Rady, age 3
Photo credit:  www.eastbaytimes.com
Very sad news about the 3-year-old girl, Marvelena Rady, who recently died following dental procedures done under anesthesia at a San Ramon, California dental office.

Her father stated (to People magazine, of all things) that his daughter "was put under anesthesia for normal dental work, including cavities, crowns and a couple of extractions."

Can someone please tell me: When would cavities, crowns, and a couple of teeth extractions be considered NORMAL dental work for a THREE-YEAR-OLD CHILD?

Clearly the investigative process needs to run its course, but in the meantime I'm shaking my head as to how this toddler apparently developed a mouthful of rotten teeth at only 3 years of age.  And, I hope the dentist and any anesthesiologist have professional liability insurance.  They are likely going to need it for defense purposes, regardless of blame.  Don't think this sweet girl has even been laid to rest yet, and the family is already working with a malpractice attorney.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 20, 2016

Sid the Dog: Blowing his Husky Coat Once Again!

Huskies and some other double-coated Northern Breed Dogs blow their dense undercoats once or twice each year.  For our Husky-mix Sid, it's twice a year, starting in December or January and then again in June or July.  The entire process goes in patches around his body takes about 6 weeks!  Sid can be a bit itchy during this time, so he gets extra TLC.

Sid is blowing his coat now, here is the 3-foot long 1-foot wide pile of fur I brushed out of him this morning as he laid in the back yard.  He was such a good boy; must feel so much better!

I'm saving Sid's blow coat to be spun into yarn (perhaps mixed with merino or other wool) for knitting.  Another fun adventure in my Canine inspired life!

Goofy Sid, sound asleep in the backyard last week.
He is quite the contortionist.  And clearly not modest.
Mary Rae Fouts

July 19, 2016

IRS Audit Resulting in Tax Return Changes and Tax Due? Don't Forget to Amend any State and Local Tax Returns, too!

Have you been audited by the IRS, and the audit resulted in changes to your tax return(s) and tax due?

Don't forget to promptly amend any associated state tax and local tax returns to comply with the IRS audit results, and pay any state and local tax due.


Because if you don't, the state taxing authority will almost certainly send you a notice of tax due based on the IRS audit results, or may even open up an audit on your state tax return(s).  Its' all due to the State Information Sharing Program between the Internal Revenue Service and most states.  In fact, the agreement is in place with 48 states and the territories of Guam, and American Samoa.  The 2 states that do not participate are Nevada and Texas.

What tax information is shared?
  • Audit results;
  • Individual income tax return information;
  • Business tax return information; and
  • Employment tax information.
And it's not just one way sharing.  The IRS shares information with state and local taxing authorities, and the state and local taxing authorities likewise share information with the IRS.  So if you've undergone a tax audit on the state or local level that resulted in changes to your state or local tax return(s) and tax due, don't forget to promptly amend your associated federal tax returns and pay any tax due.  Waiting for the state or local taxing authorities to notify you will only result in greater penalties and interest, and may also result in another tax audit.  Yuck.

Questions about Tax Matters?

I am an Enrolled Agent licensed by the Department of the Treasury which allows me to provide tax services to taxpayers in all 50 states and US territories.  I provide tax services to individual income, business, estate, and trust clients.  Please contact me if you have questions about tax preparation, tax planning, or taxpayer representation (audit and collection) matters.

For information about my nationwide Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 16, 2016

Stressed? You won't be if you live your life like a dog. Don't worry, be happy!

True, the world is one screwed up place right now.

Stressed?  Depressed?  Anxious?  I'm not, as there nothing I can do to control world events.

I stay optimistic.

Enjoy each day.

I live in the present, as each day is truly a gift.

I don't worry, as worrying isn't going to help anything.

I grow with my gardens, surrounded by an array of fresh flowers, herbs, and vegetables.  Fruit trees, too.

A simple bouquet of roses from my gardens.

For me, every day is truly a great day.  Heck, I woke up this morning to the morning sun, right?

Hey, just take it from my Faithful Canine Companions Sid and Lexi.  As you can see below, every day for them is a GREAT day!

Make your days great, too!

Sid:  "I hear the squirrel somewhere along the back fence line!"
"Another great day, Mommy!  Can I please have a treat?"

Lexi: "I'm extra playful today, Mommy!"
"It's another great day today.  Mommy, I love you and Daddy!"

Mary Rae Fouts

July 15, 2016

Pleasant Hill, CA: Serial Retail Theft Ring Busted! Just how???

Memo to Criminals:

If you are going to commit a slew of retail thefts, make sure your get away vehicle is maintained ...

Photo Credit:  Susan Trip Pollard/Bay Are News Group

Or, perhaps that was just your dad's Buick?  Or maybe karma bit you because you have poor taste in ladies' handbags?

Seriously, great job once again Pleasant Hill Police Department!

Mary Rae Fouts

July 14, 2016

Insurance concerns? Make certain you are 100% accurate - and truthful - when completing insurance applications.

I spend a considerable amount of time advising clients on insurance matters, including identifying insurance risks, reviewing current insurance policies for suitability purposes, and reviewing insurance applications and offers of coverage for both new and renewal insurance policies.

When I review insurance applications and offers of coverage for new and renewal insurance policies, I'm sometimes faced with reluctance from clients regarding full disclosure and accuracy on the insurance applications.  Yes, for some insurance coverage, including professional and general liability insurance, applications can be VERY long and tedious, and the information requested in addition to the completed application can be time consuming to compile.  Clients sometimes feel the insurance company's application questions, as well as additional requested information, are invasive.  Clients sometimes believe the additional information requested is intrusive and not necessary, resulting in a reluctance from clients to provide the information.

My response?  All insurance applications must be completed fully, accurately, and truthfully, and all additional requested information provided.  Otherwise, any such insurance coverage is in jeopardy, now or at the time of any future claims.

Take, for example, the ongoing mess with Penn State Football's Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse issues.  (Yes, this disturbing, sordid matter seems to have taken on a life of its own.  Sandusky is currently serving a 30-60 year prison sentence.)  The current chapter involves a pending lawsuit brought against Penn State by Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance, one of the insurance companies that provided liability insurance coverage to the university. Contrary to the late Joe Paterno's assertion that he only learned of accusation of Sandusky's sexual molestation of victims in 2001, documents have been submitted to court asserting that Paterno knew of allegations that Sandusky was sexually abusing individuals as early as 1976.

Jerry Sandusky's Prison Inmate Details
Penn State settled with Sandusky's molestation victims, and in doing so paid out nearly $100 million to the victims. Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance is arguing that had it known about the 1976 episode, as well as other allegations of sexual molesation by Jerry Sandusky in the late 1980s, it would have declined to insure the university against sexual abuse lawsuits. The company is asking the court to void the insurance coverage, thus canceling the tens of millions of dollars in settlement reimbursements it currently owes Penn State under the liability insurance coverage.


So yes, it is essential to be accurate, complete, and truthful when completing insurance applications.  Otherwise the insurance you thought would protect you may rightly be taken away.

Questions or concerns about insurance matters?

As a licensed Life and Disability Insurance Analyst, Life Agent, and a Fire and Casualty Broker-Agent, I provide consulting services and expert witness services to clients  for a wide array of insurance matters, including professional liability, general liability, and commercial insurance matters.

For information about my Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 13, 2016

Self-Employed with 2015 individual income tax return extension(s)? You can still make your SEP-IRA contribution for 2015!

If you are Self-Employed and timely extended your 2015 individual tax return (Federal Form 1040 and any necessary State income tax returns), there is still time to make a SEP-IRA retirement plan contribution for 2015.

Extended 2015 individual income tax returns must be filed by Monday, October 17, 2016.

If you are Self-Employed and timely filed the appropriate extension(s) for your 2015 individual income taxes, you have until Monday, October 17, 2016 to make your 2015 SEP-IRA contributions.

If you are self-employed and do not have a retirement plan, please consider a SEP-IRA.  Easy to open with a low cost brokerage account and very little administration.  For more information about self-employed tax matters, visit the Internal Revenue Services' Self-Employed Individual Tax Center.

Questions about Financial Planning, Tax, or Insurance Related Business Issues?

Please contact me if you have questions or concerns about financial planning, tax, or insurance related business matters.  I provide Insurance Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services to clients (including Self-Employed Individuals and Corporations) throughout the United States.

For information about my Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 11, 2016

Wag Hotels: Its all gone to the dogs, and with luxury at that!

Fido and Fluffy just found THE posh hangout for boarding and doggie day care.

I've posted about how much we enjoy our vacation get-aways to dog friendly Carmel, California and Doris Day's wonderful Cypress Inn.  So many wonderful memories created each visit!

The latest addition to pooch pampering in Northern California?  Wag Hotels, the luxury companion pet hotels.  Where four paws meets pampering and panache.

Wag's newest location recently opened in Oakland, California, in a former warehouse near Jack London Square.  Warehouse no more, this posh location includes 140 rooms ranging from $50 to $150 a night.  Need a bit of extra pampering for your four legged best friend?  How about a doggie-safe ice cream sundae with cookie crumbs, or perhaps a spa grooming visit including a fur mask treatment?

And a play area with a bacon flavored edible bubble machine?  Sweet!

Credit:  www.waghotels.com
Want to put a smile on your face?  Check out their play area webcams, available to the public daily from 10 AM - 6 PM.

Just another reason to live in the San Francisco Bay area.  And by the way, cats are welcomed at Wag Hotels, too!

"Woof!  Woof!"

Mary Rae Fouts

July 8, 2016

California Board of Equalization: If you make tax payments to the BOE via automatic EFT payments, immediate changes are needed to your account set-up!

Are you a business operating in California that makes sales tax or other tax payments to the California Board of Equalization using automatic EFT payments from a checking account?

Well, if you have not already done so, you need to make changes to your EFT account set-up before your next required tax payment, or your tax payments will bounce back to you.  And you may then also be sacked with penalty and interest charges.


So what's a changin' at the California Board of Equalization?

As of July 1, 2016, the bank that processes electronic fund transfer (EFT) payments made to the Board of Equalization was changed from Citibank to Union Bank.  Business taxpayers using this method need to update their automatic payment routing information so that their tax payments are sent to the correct account at Union Bank.

Affected taxpayers should have received prior notice about this, either by postal mail or email.  But just in case you didn't, read the BOE's news release about this change here.  More questions?  Visit the BOE's FAQ page about EFT tax payments here.

Questions about Tax Matters?

I am an Enrolled Agent licensed by the Department of the Treasury which allows me to provide tax services to taxpayers in all 50 states and US territories.  I provide tax services to individual income, business, estate, and trust clients.  Please contact me if you have questions about tax preparation, tax planning, or taxpayer representation (audit and collection) matters.

For information about my nationwide Consulting, Expert Witness, and Tax Services visit Fouts Financial Group.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 7, 2016

San Francisco Weather: What US city bested San Francisco yesterday? You may not believe it!

Last month I posted about the micro-climates and wild temperatures swings in the San Francisco Bay area's wacky summer weather.

Well, what happened yesterday, July 6, 2016?

Something so wacky you may not believe it!

High temperature yesterday in San Francisco?  59 degrees.  (Yes, people are running their furnaces in San Francisco.)

High temperature yesterday in Fairbanks, Alaska?  72 degrees!

Yep.  Fairbanks, Alaska, 2,955-ish miles northwest of San Francisco, recorded a high temperature 13 degrees warmer than San Francisco yesterday.

That's crazy!

Perhaps those of you who plan to vacation in San Francisco in the near future might rethink your travel plans and head up to Fairbanks instead?  Granted, Alaska doesn't have the San Francisco Giants, the Monterey Bay Coast, or San Francisco's cable cars.  But, you can visit the Alaska State Fair later this summer and check out their giant, mutant-like vegetables grown in Alaska's midnight sun!  How's this for some giant fruit and vegetable records?

Coleslaw, anyone?
Mark Twain's  reminiscence that "the coldest weather I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" is proven true once again.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 5, 2016

Gardening: What's Going on in my Gardens? Take a Peek!

Here are a few photos from June 26 of what's happening in my gardens ...

Curly Leaf Parsley and Several Types of Basil
The fencing is around the pot so that my dog Sid can't dig in it.
Yes, even Sid likes to "garden"!

Sweet Italian Basil and Flat Leaf Parsley

This year's Thai Basil is sooooo flavorful and aromatic!

Recently planted flowers.  The pot is a galvanized wash tub with a few holes drilled in it for drainage.
Galvanized wash tubs make excellent planters!

A planter box with various herbs; strawberries, peppers, and flowers in the background.

A raised planter box with strawberries, flat leave parsley, and a few volunteer tomato plants.
The volunteer tomato plants are from tomato seeds in my compost.


Flowers.  The purple pincushion flowers self seed and have naturalized in area throughout the back yard.

A front yard potted flower arrangement on the edge of the driveway.
And yes, all watered with free recycled water!  More on that later.

I try to maintain bee, bird, and butterfly friendly gardens.
The bright yellow-orange flowers are butterfly and bee friendly milkweed.

Potted flowers and a jade plant along the front yard walkway.

Veggies, herbs, and strawberries freshly picked from my gardens.  Yum!

Happy Gardening, everyone!

Mary Rae Fouts