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

July 16, 2019

IRS Phone 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 Phone scams


Know this information so that you do not become a victim of an IRS Impersonation Phone Scam.
  • The IRS does not leave pre-recorded, urgent or threatening messages.
  • In many versions of phone scams, potential victims are told if they do not call back, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. Other verbal threats include law-enforcement agency intervention, deportation and revocation of licenses.
  • Criminals can fake or “spoof” caller ID numbers to appear to be anywhere in the country. Scammers can even spoof an IRS office phone number, or the numbers of various local, state, federal or tribal government agencies.

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 13, 2019

One Year Ago Today ... Almost, Anyway! Sid and Lexi

Sid the Dog.  Lexi the Dog.


My Faithful Canine Companions just enjoyin' the day about 1 year ago today.  This is a cool feature of Google Photos, when the Photo Assistant compiles past year(s) photos for you.  Great and fun memories.


Oh, the large broken cactus paddles fell off the large Prickly Pear Cactus on the edge of the patio.  It got top heavy last year during the drought, and I lost a bunch of paddles.  But no worries, new growth is replacing what was lost.  That cactus is very healthy and happy in its location!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax services, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who typically have technical or complex concerns.  She lives in beautiful Pleasant Hill, California with best-husband-in-the-world Jim and Faithful Canine Companions Sid and Lexi.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 10, 2019

Easy Ground Beef Recipes that are Anything but Boring!

Ground Beef.


It's an American Meal Staple that is anything but boring.  Getting burned out on burgers?  Click here to get 14 easy ... and delicious! ... Ground Beef Recipes from Betty Crocker.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  She loves to cook and bake, and has a preference for Grass Fed Ground Beef.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 7, 2019

Sourdough Rolls ... One of my favorite things to bake!

Sourdough Rolls.


My homemade Sourdough Rolls are one of my favorite things to bake.  Tender, light, and flaky with a delicious buttery taste.  Sourdough Baking never ceases to amaze me; how a simple mixture of flour and spring water can make and raise such beautiful, delicious bread.  Here is my latest roll batch; these have a few black sesame seeds in the dough.



Want some?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  She is an avid Sourdough Baker using her about 6-years old Sourdough Starter.   For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 4, 2019

Recreational Marijuana in California: The Prop 64 Promoted $1 Billion in New Tax Revenue is Just a Bunch of Smoke

This post, originally published about a hear and a half ago, continues to be one of the most visited posts on my blog.  And ya know what?!  You guessed it!  The topic still is pertinent and holds true today.

In May of this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom sharply scaled back fiscal year marijuana tax revenues that he had forecasted only 4 months prior in January.  From $355 million forecasted in January, to a much reduced $288 million forecasted in May.  Yep, that's it!  And that's nowhere near the $1 billion annual marijuana tax revenue projections that was used to sell this fake bill of goods to California voters.

Just more California Politics at Its Finest!

~~  Originally Posted February 22, 2018  ~~

Legalized Recreational Marijuana in California.


Just how is that all working out for the Golden State?

When California voters approved Prop 64 in November 2016, legalizing recreational marijuana sales in California, the pro-pot pushers used increased tax revenue as a huge marketing tool.

Just how much new tax revenue?

Well, the pro-pot promoters typically touted that taxes and licensing fees from the sale of recreational pot were expected to generate an additional $1 billion in annual  revenue for California state and local governments.

$ 1 Billion Bucks Baby 

Heck, here is a political mailer from the Pro Prop 64 Pot Industry promoting an extra $1 billion in revenue a year:

California Pot Promoter's Political Mailer Promising $1 Billion Annually in New (Tax and Licensing) Revenue from Prop 64, Which Legalized Recreational Marijuana Sales in California.


Sounds like a financial windfall, right?  Na, I didn't buy this expected revenue windfall back in 2016, and I don't by it now.  As I believed in 2016 and continue to believe today, the estimated $1 billion in annual revenue from taxes and licensing fees from legalized recreational marijuana sales in California was ... and is ... just a bunch of smoke.  No pun intended.

And why?  So many reasons why; take your pick from a sample.


  • The cost of testing, licensing, and taxes is estimated to triple ... triple ... the cost of marijuana purchased at a licensed brick and mortar store, compared to today's street in California.  Why is a pot smoker/user going to pay a 300% premium to purchase their weed at a licensed store, when the person can get their fix for 1/3 the price down the steet from their buddy the black market marijuana seller?
  • Most chemicals and pesticides will be banned from use in California's legal and licensed recreational marijuana.  This will make marijuana more difficult to grow; plants will take longer to grow and will likely not bare as much weed as is common in today's chemical and pesticide-laced weed grows.  Why would marijuana growers change their growing habits to make their business far less profitable, or perhaps unprofitable?
  • Marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.  Most banks will therefore not provide services to marijuana-related businesses, including those deemed legal under California Prop 64.
  • While recreational marijuana sales became legal in California on January 1, 2018, the licensing process is lengthy and complex.  Moreover, county and local municipalities do not have to follow Prop 64, and can ban legalized recreational marijuana sales, or otherwise greatly restrict pot grows and legal sales.  And this is exactly what has happened.
  • And uh, does anyone ... anyone ... think the large cartel grows, most hidden on public lands, are going to comply with any new marijuana laws?  Or that the smaller growers using stolen electricity and stolen water for their indoor grows are going to become legit and comply with said new laws?

So where are we today?  Glad you asked! Not even a drop in the bucket toward the touted grand $1 billion in new tax and licensing revenue.  According to a report recently published by the California marijuana group California Growers Association, fewer than 1% of California's estimated 68,120 marijuana growers were now legally licensed under California's recreational marijuana Prop 64 law.

More specifically, as of February 7, 2018, only 534 of the 68,120 marijuana growers were legally licensed.  That's a paltry 0.68%.  You can download the report here.

Using Current Statistics, Here is What California can Realistically Expect for New Annual Revenue from Legal Recreational Marijuana Sales

And Just What is the Estimated State Budget for Overseeing Legal Recreational Marijuana Activities, Anyway?


As I said, any dream of $1 billion in extra tax and licensing revenue from this statewide marijuana experiment in nothing but smoke.  No pun intended.  If we use the 0.68% to arrive at expected new tax and licensing revenue, that equates to $6,800,000 in new annual revenue.

And just how does this teeny tiny bit of new revenue compare to the annual cost of the state regulating legalized marijuana through the newly formed California Bureau of Cannabis Control?

Glad you asked!  The Governor’s May 2017 Budgte Revision included 201 state employee positions and a $43.2 million budget in fiscal 2017‑18 from various funds to conduct cannabis regulation-related activities.  These resources are provided across seven state departments.

So you see, the realistic $6,8000,000 in new annual revenue won't even begin to cover the current estimated $43,200,000 annual state regulatory budget.  And the monetary figures are even worse than what I have provided, as the estimated $6,800,000 revenue does not all go to the State, but rather is share with State and Local taxing authorities in California.

Granted, I don't smoke ... anything.  Never have, never will.  But that's not the point.  The point is that California voters are consistently mislead by proponents of ballot measures; and California elections are nearly always loaded with ballot measures.  Don't simply believe what you hear, or read on the Internet or in proponent propaganda.  Do your own research (which often takes very little time) before forming your decisions on voting issues.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts


Tip Income? It's a Frequent Audit Target for the IRS. Here are a Few Things You Should Know ...

Got Tip Income?


Tip Income is a frequent audit target for the IRS.  Here are some pointers from the IRS about handling tip income records, and properly reporting tip income on your individual income tax returns.

IRS Tax Tip 2019-71:  Tip Income


Aside from regular wages, many taxpayers have jobs where they get tips from their clients or customers. Generally, income received as a tip is taxable. Here’s some information to help taxpayers correctly report the income they receive as a tip:

Use the Interactive Tax Assistant.

This tool on IRS.gov asks taxpayers a series of questions. After the taxpayer answers the questions, the tool gives responses based on the answers. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant to find out if their tip income is taxable.

Show all tips on a tax return.

Taxpayers use Form 4137, Social Security and Medicare Tax on Unreported Tip Income, to report the amount of any unreported tip income. This form allows the taxpayer to include it as additional wages. This includes the value of non-cash things someone receives as a tip, such as tickets or passes to an event.

Report all types of tips.


Taxpayers must pay tax on all tips received during the year, including those:
Directly from customers.
Added to credit cards.
From a tip-splitting agreement with other employees.

Report tips to an employer.


Employees who receive $20 or more in tips in any month must report their tips for that month to their employer. They must do so by the 10th day of the next month. When reporting tips, the employee should include cash, check and credit card tips they received. The employer must withhold federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes on these reported tips.

Keep a daily log of tips.

Taxpayers use Publication 1244, Employee's Daily Record of Tips and Report to Employer (PDF), to record tips. This will help report the correct amount of tips on their tax return.

Tax Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

July 1, 2019

Canine Heart Disease: FDA Study Links Canine Heart Disease to Certain Brands of Dog Food, Mostly Labeled as Grain Free

Canine Heart Disease Linked to Grain Free Dog Food.


If you are feeding your dog grain free dog food, you could be placing your dog at significant risk of developing life threatening Canine Heart Disease.

The FDA study (read it here) shows a link between Canine Heart Disease and 16 brands of dry dog food, most labeled as “grain free”.  (FYI, I cook for my dogs, see picture in post.  Sid and Lexi eat no commercial dog food.)  The dog food brands linked with the most instances of Canine Heart Disease, in descending order, are:

Acana
Zignature
Taste of the Wild
4Health
Earthborn Holistic
Blue Buffalo
Nature’s Domain
Fromm
Merrick
California Natural
Natural Balance
Orijen
Nature’s Variety
NutriSource
Nutro
Rachael Ray Nutrish.

The most reported breed was the Golden Retriever, but researchers think that could possibly be skewed by a greater general awareness of canine cancer among Golden owners.


No Commercial Dog Food for Sid and Lexi.  I cook for them.
Here is Lexi's Breakfast:  Steamed organic rice, including brown basmati and other rices;
roast organic chicken; steamed peas and carrots; crumbled hard boiled egg;
canned pumpkin; cottage cheese; full fat plain yogurt.
Delicious and Nutritious!

Sid gets almost the same food, a bit larger portion.
He does not get cottage cheese as it doesn't agree with his bowels.
"Grain Free" dog food has been a trendy type of dog food for several years now.  Unless your dog truly as a grain allergy, I don't believe in grain free food.  Sid and Lexi get nutritious and delicious steamed organic brown basmati rice with their meals.

Please contact your veterinarian if you have questions about this critical matter.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax services, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  She enjoys life with her Faithful Canine Companions Sid and Lexi.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 28, 2019

Harriet Tubman $20 Bill ... Take a Look at the Preliminary Design. Yuck!

The Harriet Tubman $20 Bill.


Recently, there's been talk and evolving conspiracy theories as to why the Harriet Tubman $20 bill has been delay.

I'm not participating in that discussion, and have no opinion.  Not interested, quite frankly.

But what I am interested in is how downright ugly the preliminary design of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill is.  Harriet Tubman looks out of proportion - too wide - and looks more like a man than a woman.

True, by most accounts, Ms. Tubman wasn't the most attractive woman.  But for goodness gracious sake, the Bureau surely can do better than this sorry design:


Crazy!  Looks like the Bureau needs a new crew of designers and engravers.  Geesh!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 25, 2019

Heard in Public! New blog topic featuring something overhead in public. Enjoy!

Here is what my husband Jim and I overheard on a weekend in June as we walked our dogs Sid and Lexi along the Contra Costa Canal Trail.
Said by one man to another man while riding bicycles past us: 
"When they handed out brains, my brother got them all."
Not a clue as to what the overall conversation was about, but that much is pretty funny, huh?!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  She enjoys long morning walks with her best-husband-in-the-world-Jim and dogs Sid and Lexi.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 22, 2019

Just Enjoying the Day ...

Gorgeous Weather.


Peace and Quiet.


These photos were taken earlier this month.  Just enjoyin' a late spring day in Pleasant Hill, California.  No idea why anyone would ever want to live here, do you? 😉









About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  Mary lives in beautiful Pleasant Hill, California with her best-husband-in-the-world Jim and Faithful Canine Companions Sid and Lexi.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 19, 2019

Quiz Time - Updated Quiz! How Many STATES Have an Annual Budget Smaller Than SAN FRANCISCO'S Proposed $12.3 BILLION Annual Budget?

Quiz Answer:  How many STATES have an annual budget smaller than SAN FRANCISCO'S proposed $12.3 BILLION annual budget? 


Thanks to everyone who took a crack at this latest quiz!  No one got the answer correct, but there were some good guesses!

Based on currently available data, the answer is .... drum roll ....

16 States have an annual budget smaller than the City/County of San Francisco's proposed $12.3 billion annual budget.  They are:

Alaska
Delaware
Idaho
Iowa
Maine
Mississippi
Montana
Nebraska
New Hampshire
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Vermont
West Virginia
Wyoming

And, since someone commented that the United States Territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have smaller budgets than San Francisco, I'll add this:  Guam has an annual budget smaller than San Francisco.  Way, way, smaller.  Guam's annual budget is about $966 million, or only about 7 1/2 % of San Francisco's bloated $12.3 billion annual budget.  On the other hand, Puerto Rico, as well as Washington, DC, both have annual budgets larger than that of San Francisco.

Thanks to everyone who participated!  MRF

~~ Originally published June 8, 2019  ~~

San Francisco has proposed a humongous $12.3 billion annual budget for upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019.


Updated June 8, 2019:  Well, I need to update the last quiz (haven't posted the correct answers yet), because good old San Francisco has outdone itself.  Yes Siree.  San Francisco Mayor London Breed is proposing a new, even bigger ... aka bloated ... budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1:  $12.3 billion (that's a cool $12,300,000,000), an amazing 10.8% increase from the city's current $11.1 billion annual budget.  Now that's a lot of coin!

So, we need to revisit this quiz with the new $12.3 billion budget.  Go ahead and guess again if you'd like, as the answer has changed, as in the number of states has gone up, hint hint.

Updated Quiz Question:  How many STATES in the United States currently have an annual budget smaller than the CITY of  SAN FRANCISCO'S $12.3 billion proposed annual budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2019?  And, if you you care to name them, what are these STATES?

~~ Originally published May 27, 2019  ~~

San Francisco has a humongous $11.1 billion annual budget.


Yep, the City of San Francisco - which covers a mere 46.87 square miles and has a population of 883.305 people - currently has a jaw dropping annual budget of $11.1 billion.

That's $11,100,000,000 for the current fiscal year.  Of that amount, a San Francisco will spend more than $300 million (yes, $300,000,000) just to 'address' the City's homeless problem.  Which, if you frequent San Francisco, you know is getting worse by the month, with homeless people camping out on San Francisco sidewalks, trash strewn everywhere, and homeless people using the sidewalk for their bathroom and a place to openly shoot up heroin and smoke meth in public.

San Francisco even has a number to call, and an app to use, to report piles of human poop on city sidewalks.

Yummy.  Makes you really want to visit San Francisco, doesn't it?

And by the say, the city of San Francisco and the County of San Francisco are one and the same.  (Unlike Los Angeles, where the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles are distinct entities.)  But that makes no difference for this quiz.

And with San Francisco's bloated budget and remove-human-feces-from-the-sidewalk app in mind, it's time for a Quiz Question.

And no cheating!

Quiz Question:  How many STATES in the United States currently have an annual budget smaller than the CITY of  SAN FRANCISCO?  And, if you you care to name them, what are these STATES?

You are allowed to look at a map of the United States to help you answer, but no looking up current  state budgets.   I'll give you one correct answer:

ALASKA.  Alaska's annual state budget is $10.1 billion.  Alaska is also the largest state, covering 663,268 square miles.

Put your answer in the comments section.  I'll provide the correct answer in a future post.

Oh, and when I answered the question, I was not correct.   This has happened more times than I initially thought, with some very interesting history I'll share with you when I post the answer.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 17, 2019

Camping this Summer? Here are 36 Easy Recipes Ready for the Campfire! Delicious Made at Home, too.

Campfire Cooking.


Going camping this summer?  Truthfully, I'm not.  I've never liked camping.  In fact, my version of camping is staying in a nice B&B where the kitchen shuts down at 10 PM.

But, for all you campers out there, check out this compilation of 36 Easy Campfire Cooking Recipes  from Taste of Home.  They really look delicious.  Plus, you can just as easily modify the recipes and prepare them in your home kitchen this summer.

Happy Almost Summer, everyone, and Happy Summer Cooking and Baking!

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  Mary doesn't care to camp, but she does love to cook and bake, including delicious no recipe and easy recipe dishes.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts


June 14, 2019

Taxes: Tips for Safeguarding Your Tax Information in the Event of a Natural Disaster

Natural Disaster and Taxes.


Both can ... and do ... happen.  Well, and death, too, but that's another topic.

If a natural disaster were to strike your community, how safe would your tax information be?  For many people and business, the current answer is likely  "well, not very".

Let's change that!

Here are some tips from the IRS to help individuals and businesses safeguard their tax information in the event of a natural disaster.  Don't procrastinate, be prepared!

IRS Tax Reform Tax Tip 2019-67

Safeguarding Your Tax Information in the Event of a Natural Disaster


Floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tornados and other natural disasters happen quickly and often with little warning. No one can prevent these disasters from happening, but people can prepare for them.

Here are some things taxpayers can do to help protect their financial safety should a disaster occur. Taxpayers should:

Update emergency plans. A disaster can strike any time.  Personal and business situations are constantly evolving, so taxpayers should review their emergency plans annually.

Create electronic copies of documents. Taxpayers should keep documents in a safe place . This includes bank statements, tax returns and insurance policies.  This is especially easy now since many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically. If original documents are available only on paper, taxpayers should scan them.  They should save them on a DVD or CD, or store them in the cloud.

Document valuables. It’s a good idea to photograph or videotape the contents of any home.  This is especially true when it comes to items of value. Documenting these items ahead of time makes it easier to claim insurance and tax benefits if a disaster strikes. The IRS has a disaster loss workbook. Using this can help taxpayers compile a room-by-room list of belongings.

In the case of a federally declared disaster, affected taxpayers can call the IRS at 866-562-5227.  The taxpayer can speak with an IRS specialist trained to handle disaster-related issues. Taxpayers can request copies of previously filed tax returns and attachments by filing Form 4506.  They can also order transcripts showing most line items through Get Transcript on IRS.gov.  They can also call 800-908-9946 for transcripts.

Know what tax relief is available in disaster situations. Taxpayers should be aware that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act modified the itemized deduction for casualty and theft losses.  After Dec. 31, 2017, net personal casualty and theft losses are deductible only to the extent they’re attributable to a federally declared disaster.  Claims must include the FEMA code assigned to the disaster.

Additional IRS Resources:
Publication 584-B, Business Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook
Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts
Publication 5307, Tax Reform: Basics for Individuals and Families (PDF)
Publication 583, Starting a Business and Keeping Records
National Weather Service website
Tax Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 11, 2019

Lexi the Dog: Life is Just Better with a Faithful Canine Companion!

Lexi the Dog.


My Faithful Canine Companion and Loyal Chow-Chow Pomeranian mix Princess.

Such a special soul mate.  So proud of how she has overcome her abusive, neglected past since we adopted her in October 2014.  Brightens my heart ... every day ... to see what a happy, content, alert, beautiful, and healthy dog Lexi has become, and continues to become.  Our Husky-Malamute mix Sid has been an integral part of Lexi's transformation.  He has served as a confident and gregarious canine teacher, helping Lexi learn how to ... well ... simply be a dog.  Lexi is an excellent alert watchdog and ... well ... can be stubborn and aloof as any other Chow Chow!


Unconditional Love is as close as your nearest animal shelter.  Please adopt, don't shop.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

June 5, 2019

Trupanion Pet Insurance: Good Luck Canceling This Worthless Pet Insurance

Blog Post Flashback:  I originally posted this entry in April 2016, about Trupanion Pet Insurance and its jaw grinding hassel when you attempt to cancel your pet's Trupanion Insurance.

This Trupanion entry has been one of the most visited entries on my blog.  Unfortunately, from complaints that pop up on current internet searches, Trupanions' abusive denial of claims and cancellation request hassels continue to this day.  Here's what I had to say in April 2016 about my mind numbing experience with Trupanion.  Feel free to comment if you have Trupanion experiences and complaints you'd like to share.

~ Originally posted April 23, 2016 ~

Trupanion Pet Insurance Complaints.

Trupanion Pet Insurance:  Only Hassels When You Try To Cancel Your Policy.


I recently posted about my extremely negative experience with Trupanion Pet Insurance.  Namely, that Trupanion trumps up bogus reasons to deny valid claims, based on my experiences and those of many other current and former policyholders.  I advised readers not to waste their money on this worthless pet insurance.

Trupanion won't pay valid claims, but they will gladly take your premium money each month.


But wait, there's more!

I initiated cancellation of my Trupanion Pet Insurance on April 12 with a phone call to their 24 hour customer service number.  The customer service person I spoke with stated she did not have authority to cancel the policy.  I checked my policy, which stated coverage could be cancelled by written notification via email, fax, or postal mail.  Over the course of the next 8 days, I submitted 4 separate requests in writing (3 via email and 1 via fax).

Trupanion is very good at silence
when it comes 
to responding to
cancellation requests.


Or should I say, failing to respond.
And Trupanion's response?  You know, Trupanion, the pet insurance company who responds via email within a couple hours of filing a claim to tell you they have denied the claim?


Silence.  As in silence like crickets chirping.

My 4th and final request stated that I would (1) dispute any future premium charges with American Express, and (2) file a complaint with the California Department of Insurance the following week if I did not receive immediate notice of cancellation and unearned premium refunded.  I finally got a response on April 21, a phone call from Trupanion's customer service department telling me they needed to verify all of my information before processing the cancellation.

Yep, that's right.  Yet another hassle from good ol' Trupanion Pet Insurance.

Well, the company picked the wrong person to mess with.  I promptly informed the caller that the company had all of my information, I did not need to verify it in order to cancel the policy, and that they were once again failing to honor the terms of their policy.  I told her to provide confirmation of cancellation that day, or I would file a complaint the following day with the California Department of Insurance.

And then I hung up the phone.  About 2 hours later I received an email from Trupanion confirming cancellation of the policy.  Now let's see how long it takes for my unearned premium to be refunded.

How many other policyholders have gotten bamboozled by Trupanion?

What bothers me is that while I knew what to do with Trupanion's mess - As of January 2016, I've worked in the insurance industry for 28 years, including working as an Expert Witness for arbitration and litigation insurance disputes - I realize that Trupanion's typical policyholder is not an insurance expert.  How many Trupanion policyholders ... good people trying to do the best for their companion pets ... get the same denied claims that I received, and get the same run around attempting to cancel a policy?  How many people simply continue to pay monthly premiums thinking they have a value medical insurance policy for their pet, when the coverage has been proven to be worthless ... annual premium increases, denial of valid claims, money down the train into Trupanion's pockets ... for so many people?

Insurance consumers deserve much better than what Trupanion provides.  Perhaps a future Insurance Department Market Conduct Examination will help provide more publicity about Trupanion's deceptive pet insurance practices.

In the meantime, don't waste your money on Trupanion's worthless pet insurance coverage.


About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts