October 12, 2019

I am Currently Assisting Tax Clients Only Until October 17, 2019. 2018 Individual Income Tax Returns on Extension Are Due Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

2018 Individual Income Tax Returns on Extension.

Assisting Current Tax Clients Only Through Wednesday, October 16.

(Updated October 14, 2019 1:00 PM)

If you filed extensions for your 2018 Individual Income Taxes, the returns must be filed no later than Tuesday, October 15, 2019.

FEDERAL TAXES:  As of Saturday morning, October 12, the IRS had not yet extended the October 15 tax deadline for taxpayers affected by PG&E's power shut off in California that began at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, October 9, and is expected to last 7 days or more in some areas.  If the IRS does grant an extended extension filing for California taxpayers affected by the power outage (2.5 million people were impacted, including yours truly), it will be posted on the IRS website:  www.irs.gov.

CALIFORNIA STATE TAXES:  The California Franchise Tax Board IS PROVIDING RELIEF FOR THE OCTOBER 15 TAX DUE DATE for California Taxpayers impacted by the recent Public Safety Outage.   Information about this program is on the FTB website here.

My home and home office were significantly impacted by PG&E's self-imposed power (electricity) outage that began on Wednesday, October 9 at 12:01 AM.  Due to the lack of electricity in my home and home office, my office was forced to close for several days.  Given the tax work I was unable to complete during this forced closure, and the resultant backlog of Client tax work, I will be assisting current tax clients only from today, Saturday October 12 through the end of the day on Wednesday, October 16.  Phone calls, emails, and texts regarding insurance, annuity, expert witness services, and other issues received during this time will be addressed beginning Thursday, October 17.    

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


October 10, 2019

Trupanion Pet Insurance Update: Good Luck Cancelling 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.

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

October 7, 2019

Sourdough Baking: A Peak at Recent Sourdough Baking From my Kitchen.

Sourdough.


I love to cook and bake, particularly Sourdough items.  I bake all of our breads, buns, and rolls.  Sandwich Loaf Sourdough Bread, Sourdough Pizza Focaccia Bread, Sourdough Dinner/Sandwich Rolls, and Sourdough Pizza.  Oh, and don't forget other Sourdough goodies including Cinnamon Rolls, Carrot Cake, and Chocolate Cake.

My Sourdough Starter is made of King Arthur Flour Unbleached All Purpose Flour and Bottled Spring Water.  It ge's is rising power from natural wild yeast that is present in the air around us.  My Sourdough Starter's flavor changes a bit throughout the year, as the makeup of my local airborne wild yeast changes.

Here are a few items from recent Sourdough Bakes in my kitchen.  Happy cooking and baking, everyone!

Sourdough Pizza:  Red Sauce, Pepperoni, Red Bell Pepper, Pineapple, Mozzarella Cheese.

MultiGrain Sourdough Sandwich Loaf Bread.

Four Loves of Multigrain Sourdough Sandwich Bread Just Out of The Oven.

Multigrain Sourdough Focaccia Bread with Pizza Seasonings.  Yum!


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

October 4, 2019

Alberto Salazar: Doper and Drug Cheater Banned From Track and Field for 4 Years. Should be Banned for Life!

Alberto Salazar

Former Track and Field Great

Now a Doper and Drug Cheater


(Note:  Post updated to clarify Salazar was banned following a 6-year investigation and an arbitration hearing.  mrf 10/5/2019.)

Very little press has been given to the recent revelation of former track and field great Albert Salazar's ban from all Track and Field activities for 4 years.  Sponsored by Nike and a long time coach of world class track and marathon running athletes, Salazar was unceremoniously banned after a 6-year (6 years!!)  investigation into his activities, followed by an arbitration hearing.  The arbitration panel found that Salazar had:  had (1) trafficked in banned substances, (2) administered banned substances to his athletes, and (3) tampered with his athletes' drug testing samples.

Salazar has stated he will appeal the ruling.

These activities have likely gone on for decades.  In fact, emails from some 10 years ago show that Nike was aware Salazar was investigating procedures for masking banned substances in (urine and blood) drug testing samples.

And why the Doper and Drug Cheat Alberto Salazar was not banned for life is beyond me.  And Nike should be banned from sponsoring athletes, too.

Alberto Salazar
Something Tells Me He's Not Smiling Like This Today!

Which brings me back to my post from August 2016, in which I questioned if the Olympic Games were even relevant anymore.  Alberto Salazar's actions only bolster my point on this matter.  And yet again, Salazar reminds us that the ingrained cesspool culture of doping in professional athletics continues.

And that's downright pathetic.

~~ Originally posted August 23 2016 ~~


The Olympics


Are they even relevant anymore?


I didn't watch any of the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.  The TV production and event announcers are put-to-sleep boring.  Plus, who knows who is doping, and who is not?  Sometimes doping cheats are not found out for years, resulting in ongoing changes to past Olympic results.

Heck, according to an analysis by the New York Times, at least 120 athletes at the Rio Games were previously suspended for doping.  And of the 974 Olympic medals awarded, 35 went to athletes who previously served doping suspensions.  That's beyond sad.

And don't get me started on the women's 800 meter race. How can it possibly be fair to other competitors when a person who is a hyperandrogenic female is allowed to run as a female in the woman's 800 meter event?  I'm talking about Caster Semenya, of course, who crushed the field to win gold.  According to the The Daily Telegraph of Australia, Semenya has internal testes and three times the testosterone level of a typical woman.  However, the Daily Telegraph's claim has never been verified.  A claim that Semenya has no uterus or ovaries also has not been verified.

Caster Semenya has dominated women's middle-distance running since a ruling which previously forced her to take drugs to cut her testosterone was overturned.  Here Semenya is winning a semi-final heat at the Rio Olympics, and another photo from a 2009 race in Berlin.  Don't they speaks volumes?


Photo Credit:  Unknown
Plus, that the International Association of Athletics Federations allows Caster Semenya to compete in women's track events via an unpublished gender-verification process adds more controversy and questions to this highly-debated matter.

Are the Olympic Games Even Relevant Anymore?

The days of Jim McKay, a field of amateur athletes, and figure skating compulsory figures are gone from the Olympics.  Heck, the US Men's Basketball Team is stacked with NBA pros.  The US beat Serbia 96 to 66 to win the Olympic gold medal.  That level of dominance is not an Olympic event to be glorified, it's a superhuman joke.


Video:  Figure Skating Compulsory Figures Through the Years
Video Credit:  floskate 

I'm beginning to  think the Olympic Games are no longer relevant.  At least in their current state.  Perhaps creating permanent Summer and Winter Olympic Venues with rotating host countries would at least add consistency and financial stability to the games.

Yes, perhaps I'm a sap for yearning for Olympic events such the gutsy yet charming Olga Korbut, the challenge of the figure skating compulsory figures, and all-smiles Dorothy Hamill telling Jim McKay that she had a hot fudge sundae for dessert after winning her Olympic gold medal in the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics.

But I can still wish.

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

October 1, 2019

Equity-Indexed Annuities: Are You Certain of What You Purchased in the Past, or May Purchase Now?

This post was published in March 2016, but it's content remains very relevant today.

Annuity Contracts.Equity-Indexed Annuity Contracts.

Back when I started working in the insurance industry some 31 plus years ago, deferred Fixed Annuity Contracts were fairly simple insurance products.  But all that changed when the deferred annuity on steroids, Equity-Indexed Annuities, also known as Indexed Annuities, entered the insurance and financial services marketplaces.


Generally speaking, a deferred fixed annuity is a contract between an individual and an insurance company that promises to pay a minimum guaranteed payout stream at a future date.  Before the annuity payout commences, contract growth accumulates at a fixed rated during what is called the tax-deferred deferral period.  Indexed Annuities were designed to fall within fixed annuity regulations and salesperson licensing requirements (meaning a securities license is not required to sell Indexed Annuities, only an insurance license), with the caveat that the fixed rate returns were tired to stock market index returns, such as the S&P 500 index.

Indexed Annuities are often marketed with phrases such as participate in the stock market and you can’t lose your money.  But are those phrases true?  Index Annuities are very complex insurance products, including terms such as “participation rate”, “cap rate”, “annual reset”, and “high water mark” to name just a few.  This Equity-Indexed Annuity alert from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a good quick reference tool.  Insurance agents received commission payments for the sale of Indexed Annuities.

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

September 28, 2019

Weather: It Can be Crazy in Pleasant Hill And The San Francisco Bay Area! (Updated)

Weather.


Update on Sunday, September 29:  It hit a chilly and crispy 43* this morning on my backyard weather station.  That makes for updated high and low temperatures over the past 7 days from a high of 99.9* to a low of 43*.  That's a temperature swing of 56.9*!  And in just one week.  Crazy!

Here is an updated screenshot of my backyard weather station temperature readings, taken today at 1:15 PM.  Pretty amazing, huh?

Pleasant Hill, CA Backyard Weather Station Readings.  September 29, 2019 at 1:15 PM.


~  Original post from Saturday, September 28, 2019. ~

One thing for sure about weather in the San Francisco Bay Area is that it can be crazy, particularly in summer and early autumn.  The area is full of micro climates; communities can have weather and temperatures that vary widely.  As in crazy wide!  And as Mark Twain famously said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."

True.  And I never put clothes in storage, as you never know what type of clothing you'll need, given the wild gyrations in my local weather.

And lately, our late summer and early autumn weather has been beyond wild in Pleasant Hill where I live.  First a heat wave followed by below normal temperatures.

Right now, at 10:00 AM, my backyard weather station reads 62.8*.  But take a look at the wild swing in temperatures over the past week (last 7 days):

Pleasant Hill, CA Backyard Weather Station Readings.  September 28, 2019 at 10:00 AM.

Yes, during the last 7 days, temperatures in my backyard have ranged from a low of 51.6* to a high of 99.9*.  That's a swing of 48.3*!  Crazy!

The last month (past 30 days) have even been crazier for weather fluctuations.  During this time, temperatures in my backyard have ranged from a low of 49.5* to a high of 100.4*.  That's a swing of 50.9*!  Again, crazy!

Just goes to show that Mother Nature is in charge, and there's no foolin' Her.

And by the way, if you enjoy following the weather at all, do install a weather station in your yard.  If you have a yard, that is.  Following your backyard weather is great fun and very, very interesting.  Current personal weather stations are very sophisticated and no expensive.

Have a glorious end of September, everyone!

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

September 26, 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 2018 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.  Approximately 85 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.

Insurance Concerns?  About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides insurance policy reviews, coverage recommendations, and other insurance consulting services and expert witness services for clients with a broad range of insurance concerns.  She has 31 years of experience in the insurance industry, and is one of the select few Life and Disability Insurance Analysts licensed by the California Department of Insurance.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

September 23, 2019

Monarch Butterfly: How You Can Help Save This Struggling Species.

The Monarch Butterfly. 


It's worth a look back at this post, originally published 2 years ago on August 25, 2017 ...

A stunning diminutive creature weighing a 0.0026 ounce or less, yet with the ability to migrate an amazing 3,000 miles to winter living areas in Mexico and California, including my San Francisco Bay Area. 

The Monarch Butterfly is in serious trouble, with loss of habitat, and loss of essential milkweed and other nectar plants Monarchs rely on for food sources.  The food source loss is greatly impacted by big agriculture's reliance on herbicides (weed killers) such as Roundup, which have wiped out vast areas of milkweed and nectar plant food sources.

But you can help.

Plant a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

The garden does not have to be large; you can help even if you only have room for a few pots on your deck.  Plant a variety of butterfly and bee-friendly plants that will provide food and nectar throughout yearly growing seasons.

Also, don’t be in a rush to dead head your flowers and herbs.  Birds rely on flower and herb seeds for food.  Also, some annual and perennial flowering plants easily reseed, helping create a naturalized garden effect and a new supply of free plants.  And what's not to love about free gardening!

A few of my gardens' pollinator-friendly flowers.

And Don’t Forget to Plant Milkweed

One must-have plant for your garden:  Milkweed.
  
 In the butterfly stage of life, the Monarch Butterfly obtains food (nectar) from a variety of flowering plants.  However, the Monarch lays its eggs on milkweed plants.   In fact, as explained in this Natural Geographic article
“Monarch butterflies begin life as eggs and hatch as larvae that eat their eggshells and, subsequently, the milkweed plants on which they were placed. (Monarchs are dependent on milkweed plants, which larvae eat nearly exclusively.)”
Many types of milkweed plants exist.  When possible, look for varieties native to your area.  Milkweed can be started with either seeds or plants obtained from your local garden center.

Here is a Monarch Butterfly this month checking out some of my gardens’ milkweed plants.  Beautiful, huh?


Lastly, when planning and taking care of your garden, garden organically to the extent possible.  Do not use pesticides (bug killers) or herbicides (weed killers) in your gardens.  Both can harm the Monarch Butterflies (and other pollinators) as well as their plant-based food sources.  You can read more about pollinator-friendly gardening at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

Happy gardening, everyone, and thank you for helping the Monarch Butterfly and other pollinators! 

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

September 20, 2019

Fast Food Fried Chicken Wars Rage On!

Fast Food Fried Chicken Wars.


They're not just about Popeyes' Fried Chicken Sandwich that has taken the Fried Chicken Sandwich World by storm, or the related social media feud between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A.

Oh, and by the way, propps to Popeyes for a BRILLIANT marketing and social media sales promotion!

But now we have another participant in the Fast Food Fried Chicken Wars:  KFC.

KFC recently market tested a new plant-based fried "chicken" nugget and boneless wings product at an Atlanta location.  Line was out the door to purchase the new product.  The restaurant sold out of the plant-based "chicken" in a day!  Here's a pic:



KFC labeled the fried "chicken" introduction a "Kentucky Fried Miracle".  Crazy!  You can read more about the plant-based "chicken" and "meat fast food phenomenon in this New York Times article.

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

September 17, 2019

Annuity Litigation: Are You Looking For an Annuity Expert Witness? Meet Mary Rae Fouts, EA.

Annuity Litigation.
Annuity Arbitration.
Elder Financial Abuse.
Annuity Expert Witness.


Are you looking for an Annuity Expert Witness to address Annuity Litigation or Arbitration Matters, or related Elder Financial Abuse Matters?

Mary Rae Fouts, EA has 31 years of experience addressing annuity concerns for clients throughout the United States.  She provides Annuity Consulting Services, in addition to Expert Witness Services for Annuity Litigation and Arbitration Matters, including Elder Financial Abuse Matters. 

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues throughout the United States.  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

September 16, 2019

Sid the Dog: Happy 8th Birthday Sid!

Sid the Dog


Sid, my goofy Faithful Canine Companion.  About 75 pounds of food obsessed Husky-Malamute mix.  And very bonded with his fur sister, Chow Chow-Pomeranian mix Lexi.

Sid half asleep in the backyard yesterday (Sunday, September 15),
getting ready to take a nap.

Today is Sid's 8th birthday.  😀  🎂  He was found as a stray by animal control 5 years ago today, so September 16 is Sid's estimated birth date.  We adopted Sid from the county animal shelter in Pinole as soon as he became available following his stray hold.

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

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

September 14, 2019

The Democratic Presidential Debate: What in The Heck is Joe Biden Looking at?

The Democratic Presidential Debate on September 12, 2019.


I didn't watch any of it, but did have a chuckle reading newspaper and AM radio reporting of the debate.  Do the candidates not realize they are doing themselves and the party no favor by bickering amongst themselves during the debate?  From the reporting, the candidates appeared to often act like toddlers fighting over toys in a sandbox.  One AM radio report said the audience even booed the group once.

Oh, and the Los Angeles Times is now calling the Democratic Presidential Race a three person race between Joe Biden,  Bernie Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  The three have have pulled away from the pack in most national and early-state polls  taken during the last month.

Ok, two things for all of you ...

  1. Can anyone ... anyone ... tell me what in the heck Joe Biden is staring at in this photo?  Kinda creepy, huh?
  2. And when Bernie Sanders is standing but not talking, why does he so often have an expression on his face making his look like he's either really constipated or badly needs to go #2?

Democratic presidential hopefuls Cory Booker (left), Pete Buttigieg, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris take the state for the campaign’s third Democratic debate.  Credits:  sfchronicle.com and Photo:  Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images.

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.  She has voted in nearly every election since being able to vote at age 18; just missed a couple during college.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

September 11, 2019

Travel: Who in The World Would Want to Travel by Commercial Airlines Anymore?

Airline Travel.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
British Airways.


Decades ago, airline travel used to be an experience one looked forward to.  Then air travel began to  remarkably changed following the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001:  ongoing security measures, extreme airline cutbacks in comfort and on-board services, and a new culture of cutting the base price of a ticket while charging extra for most other things, including checked luggage.



But new miseries have now only add to the dreaded airline travel factor.  Take San Francisco International Airport.  It's busiest runway is currently shut down for some 3 weeks of repairs.  In the first 4 days of the shutdown (which began last Saturday), more than 1200 flights in and out of SFO were cancelled or delayed.  And often delayed for a number of hours.  Travelers are stranded at the airport, with a particular onus on those attempting to fly home or make connecting flights.  For added misery, airlines are not paying for any overnight hotel rooms for stranded passengers, because the cancellations are the fault of SFO, and not the airlines. How's that for a way to treat your customers?  Someone ... either the airlines or SFO itself ... should pay for rooms and meal vouchers for air travelers that are stranded overnight.  And the problem is not expected to get any better during the runway shutdown.  Yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle article labeled SFO a "massive mess".

And then there is British Airways.  Their pilots went on strike this week Monday and Tuesday.  This forced British Airways to cancel nearly all of its 1700 or so flights over these two days, affecting some 197,000 ticketed customers.  And more cancellations were expected throughout the week.

So I'd say we have not one, but two Massive Air Travel Messes.

Ugh.  More misery for air travelers.

I will travel by air if I have to, but that's only for business purposes.  As far as my leisure travel, our lovely 3 night car-driven getaways to beautiful Carmel-by-the-Sea, with dogs Sid and Lexi in tow, are the perfect getaway for me.

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

September 8, 2019

Health Insurance: Don't be Like Senator Kamala Harris. Know Your Policy so You Know What is Covered. And What Isn't.

Health Insurance.


Not the most exciting topic to blog about, but an important topic nonetheless.

And speaking of Health Insurance, much is being said about the topic from the larger-than-a-chicken-coop-can-hold flock of politicians running for the Democratic nomination for President.  As I've read up on the varying positions and plans the candidates have for Health Insurance, it's been headshaking to discover how little some candidates know about Health Insurance, what it covers, and why Health Insurance and health care is so expensive in the United States.

Senator Kamala Harris
Clueless on What Health Insurance Covers


Take Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, for example.  Shortly before the 2nd Democratic Debate (of which I watched zilcho of), Senator Harris came out with her own proposal for Universal Health Care.  Part of her proposal is a provision that people would be able to purchase a private Supplemental Health Insurance Policy.  A Health Insurance Policy, she said, to cover things her Universal Health Care program would not cover ... like cosmetic surgery.

Cosmetic surgery??!! Give me a break!  Cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure.  Elective.  Health Insurance does not cover elective ... also known as medically unnecessary ... medical procedures.  Never has, never will.

Wanna Look Like Nancy Pelosi?
Sorry, But Health Insurance Won't Cover Your Face Lift.

So no, Senator Harris.  The Supplemental Health Insurance Policies you envision will not cover botox injections for wrinkle control.  Also won't cover breast implants and breast augmentation.  Oh, and the policies won't cover Nancy Pelosi-like face lifts, either.

Yet another and all too common example of a politician who speaks about a very important topic he/she knows little about.

Don't be like Senator Kamala Harris.  Review your Health Insurance Policy so you know what is covered.  And what isn't.   

Health Insurance Concerns?

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

September 5, 2019

San Francisco City Second Loan Program: A Ripoff to The Home Buying Consumer

San Francisco City Second Loan Program


What a Ripoff to the Home Buying Consumer!

I recently read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about housing aid provided by the City of San Francisco.  One program mentioned in the article - although not by name - was a city program that provided loans of up to $375,000 for the purchase of a home in San Francisco.

So I got to wondering just how this program works, and I looked it up.  Yikes!  Does anyone who uses the program actually read the legal documents they sign?  Because Holy Cow, the San Francisco City Second Loan Program is an absolute ripoff to the home buying consumer!  Here's a description of the program and why I think it's an absolute ripoff to the consumer.   This is going to be a longer post than normal, but I assure you it's worth the read.

The Home Purchaser/Borrower:  First off, the borrower's income musts be no more than 120% of the median income for the San Francisco Metropolitan Area.  The borrower must also be a first time home buyer, defined as not having purchased a property within the past 3 years.  The borrower must contribute a minimum of 3% towards the down payment on the property.  Of this amount,  1.5% must come from the borrower's own funds; the remainder from gifts or grants. 

Not with the San Francisco
City Second Loan Program!
Property Purchased:  Regarding the home purchased, only certain properties, in certain area of San Francisco, can be used with the program.  The program refers to the homes as "units", so I assume they are all condominiums, no single family homes.  None of the units has more than 3 bedrooms.  Oh, and get this:

The size of a household must be compatible with the size of the unit being purchased.
A minimum of one person per bedroom is required.

So if you are a single individual, the largest unit you can purchase is a 1 bedroom.  You're screwed if you want a 2nd bedroom to use a guest room, or home office.  If you are a couple, you can purchase a 2 bedroom.  But want to purchase a 3 bedroom to accommodate 2 children planned for the future?  No can do.  You're screwed once again.

Loan Terms.  Here's the real kicker.  And the real ripoff.  The San Francisco City Second Loan Program currently provides a maximum loan of $375,000.  Nothing bad or wrong about that.  The remaining mortgage would come from a traditional mortgage lender.  The City Second Loan is secured by the property, and sets in 2nd place on the property behind the traditional mortgage lender.

Loan Repayment, when the borrower really gets it in the rear end!  Now here's the real ripoff:  The Second City Loan Terms.   The City Second Loan is a 30-year loan with no interest and no monthly payments.  The loan become due ... in full, more on that ripoff next ...  upon the (1) sale of the property, (2) rent of the property, so no roommates or airBNB business for the property owner,  (3) title transfer of the property, or (4) at the end of the 30 year loan term.  And what is the "full" amount of the loan repayment?

 The borrower must immediately repay - in full, no payment plan - an amount equal to:

The original amount of the loan plus a share of the appreciation of the property, calculated at the appraised value at the property at the end of the 30-year term, or when the borrower sells, rents, or transfers title on the property.

And just how much appreciation value is added to the original loan amount to determine what the borrower must repay to the City of San Francisco?  Get this:  After the appreciation on the property is determined, the appreciation value amount that must be paid to the City of San Francisco is same percentage the City Second Loan was to the property's original purchase price!

Example:  A borrower receives City Second loan in the amount of $375,000, and purchases a property for $950,000.  The City Second loan amounts to 39% of the original purchase price.  So the City of San Francisco must be paid back both $375,000 (the original City Second loan amount) PLUS 39% of the property's appreciation at the time the City Second loan becomes due.  If the loan comes due after 30 years and the homeowner wants to remain in the property, how is the homeowner going to immediately come up that that huge amount of money, in one lump sum, to pay of the City Second loan?  I mean, how many people are going to have access to that amount of cash?  Almost none, right?!  The homeowner likely will be forced to sell to get funds to pay off the City Second loan, or foreclosed upon by the City of San Francisco.

What a ripoff!  Yet another example that if something appears too good to be true, it likely is.

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

September 2, 2019

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

Disability Insurance Litigation.
Disability Insurance Expert Witness.


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

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

Mary has provided Expert Witness Services in federal courts, state courts, and arbitration venues throughout the United States.  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 30, 2019

Bernie Sanders: An Environmental Hypocrite

Bernie Sanders.
Single Use Plastic Bottles.
Single Use Styrofoam Cups.
Bernie Sander's Green New Deal.


Surely you've heard of Bernie Sander's recently announced Environmental Plan, his Green New Deal.  With a eye popping $16.3 TRILLION price tag.  As in $16,300,000,000,000.  But heck, it's just a number with a few ... uh, 11 zeros in it, right?

/Sarcasm off./  Ugh.

What really gets under my skin about Bernie's political stance is that Bernie - like nearly all federal politicians, it seems - talks the talk, but doesn't walk the walk.

Take plastics, for instance.  Most of us will likely agree that plastics are a world wide environmental concern.  Particularly single use plastic items, such as plastic drink bottles and flimsy plastic bags.  Same goes for single use Styrofoam items, including Styrofoam food take out containers and Styrofoam cups.

But it seems that Bernie doesn't personally feel that way, in spite of his radical $16.3 trillion environmental plan.  Just take a look at this photo of Bernie at a political event in March.  It was taken after he fell in the shower and busted his forehead open.

Bernie Sanders in March 2019.
With no fewer than THREE single use plastic bottles
 and Styrofoam cups in front of him.
Shame on you, Bernie!


What annoyed me beyond belief in this photo is Bernie's outrageous use of one-use-plastic and one-use-Styrofoam items.  You know, the items that all the rest of us human folks are told not to use, and which are banned in some jurisdictions, including where I live in the Golden State.

But not for Bernie, no sirree.  Here he's using not one ... not two ... but THREE single use items:  2 plastic bottles, and a Styrofoam cup.

Memo to Bernie:  Shame on you!  Buy yourself a few reusable drinking bottles and use them to consume your beverages.  They come in a variety of materials and sizes, including reusable bottles that can be used for either hot or cold beverages.  Here's my reusable bottle sitting on my work area next to me right now, filled with lemonade.

Politicians.  From all political parties.  Do as I say, not as I do.  A culture of hypocrites at their finest. 

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 27, 2019

Sid the Dog. Lexi the Dog. And Boe the Cat!

Sid the Dog.  Lexi the Dog.


And Boe the Neighborhood Cat!

Boe is a semi-feral cat the roams the neighborhood, primarily hanging around near my neighbor's home across the lane.  Boe really knows how to torment Sid and Lexi!  Boe will sit at the end of my neighbor's driveway, and stare across the lane toward my front window.  He also uses the utility pole nearest the driveway as a scratching post!

As shown in the video below, when Sid and Lexi see Boe out the front window, they get very excited.  Especially Lexi!  Here is one Boe Sighting Event on a recent morning ...



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

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 24, 2019

Personal and Financial Privacy: Just How Do Businesses and Professionals You Work With Use Your Sensitive and Confidential Information?

Client Privacy.


At Fouts Financial Group, I recognize the critical importance of protecting the privacy of sensitive and confidential Client information, data, and documents.  You can read the Fouts Financial Group Client Policy here.

But just how is your sensitive and confidential information used by other businesses and professionals you work with?  You may be surprised ... And not in a good way.  Unlike Fouts Financial Group, many businesses and professionals use your sensitive and what-should-be confidential information in just about any way they want to.  And for some businesses and professionals who maintain such operations, there is no way for the consumer or client to opt out of such practices.  Practices which, in my opinion, are unethical at best, and sometimes potentially illegal.

One example - On behalf of a client, I recently read the Privacy Policy of a Walnut Creek, CA Property Management Company, which I'll leave nameless for this blog.  The Company's accounting department had broadly asked for my Clients "insurance information" before paying and invoice for professional services my Client had performed for a Homeowners Association managed by the Property Management Company.

That raised a red flag for me, given that the (1) the Property Management Company had not contractual relationship with my Client, and (2) there is absolutely no reason an accounting clerk needs someone's insurance information before paying an invoice, and (3) the Property Management Company and their accounting department had no need to know and obtain my Client's insurance information and documents.

Then I read the Property Management Company's Privacy Policy.  And was absolutely astounded, and not in a good wayThe Privacy Policy essentially stated that the Property Management Company could do, and did do, just about anything it wanted for any information it received, including using the information for promotional and marketing purposes, and combining information with "other" information received .  You can bet this unethical Property Management Company got none of my Client's insurance documents.

And to add to it, the Property Manager I communicated with called my reaction "terse" and stated I was the only "vendor" of hundreds they cut checks to each month that refused comply with this "routine" request.

Hogwash, I say!  Keep your private personal and information just that way ... private and safe.  If someone, or a business, doesn't need to know it or have it, or otherwise cannot provide absolute assurance that private and perhaps confidential information will be used only for the intended purpose, don't hand your information over.

Oh, and the Property Management Company's Yelp reviews?  The company has a paltry 2 stars (out of 5 stars) rating with 40 published reviews.  So looks like I have plenty of company giving this company a big thumbs down.   

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 21, 2019

Sourdough Pizza: Best Pizza Ever!

Sourdough Pizza.


Homemade Sourdough Pizza with a New York Style Crust (not too thin, and not too thick) is simply the best pizza ever!  I always keep sourdough pizza dough in the refrigerator.  The longer is is in the fridge for flavors to mingle, the better the pizza is!

I bake the pizza in a 350* F convection oven, equivalent to about a 375* F regular oven.  That way the pizza bakes nicely without becoming all burned on top and around the edges.  This gives a chewy crust with just a bit of crisp around the edge, but nothing burned or charred.

Here is a recent bake on my 14 inch Lodge cast iron pizza pan.  Want some?!

Pizza before baking.  The dough includes chopped dried basil,
and has chopped red bell peppers on top.

Par baked pizza crust, ready to top!

Finished Sourdough Pizza.  Red bell peppers, pizza sauce,
pepperoni, pineapple, Monterey Jack cheese.  Crust is chewy
with a bit of crisp on the edges.  Best Pizza ever!


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.   Mary loves to cook and bake.  Don't believe her husband Jim if he tells you there are splatters of Sourdough Starter and Dough all over the house!  😉 For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

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, 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 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, 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.  Mary loves to cook and bake, with an emphasis on simple recipes and fresh produce.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts