March 31, 2019

Quiz Time! The Electoral College: Do You Know How Many Times a U.S. President Has Lost The Popular Vote?

The Electoral College


With recent talk of changing how the Electoral College works (and by the way, I think it's all talk, nothing is going to change, nor should it), it's time for a Quiz Question.

An no cheating!

Quiz Question:  Do you know how many times a United States President has won the electoral college, but lost the popular vote?

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

March 28, 2019

Sid the Dog: Be Happy With A Husky Howl!

Sid


My lovable, goofy, Husky-Malamute mix, food obsessed dog.

And Forever Faithful Companion.

One thing I try to do is to live in the present as my dogs Sid and Lexi do.  After all, the past is the past, and no one can control the future.

One thing I can't do, however, is stick my nose up in the air like Sid and belt out a magnificent Husky howl.  But I can enjoy Sid's rendition!

Sid the Dog
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.  She enjoys a wonderful life with her husband Jim and dogs Sid and Lexi.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

March 25, 2019

Owe Taxes On Your 2018 Individual Income Tax Return? You May Be Eligible For Relief Of Penalties For Tax Underpayment.

2018 Individual Income Taxes


If you pay any attention to national news, you've heard about the grumbling of people who did not correctly adjust the income tax withholding or estimated tax payments, and are finding they owe federal taxes on their 2018 tax returns.

Well, the IRS has noticed these grumblings, and has decided to give some taxpayers a bit of relief.

How so?  Well, if you owe taxes on your 2018 Form 1040 Individual Income Tax Return, you're still going to owe the taxes.  But you may get a break on any penalty for underpayment of taxes.  Generally, the IRS waives this underpayment penalty if you have paid at least 90 percent of your total tax liability for the year.  For 2018 taxes, the IRS has decreased this threshold to 80 percent.  So, if you've paid at least 80 percent of your total tax liability for the year, the IRS will generally waive any associated underpayment penalty.

The IRS has not stated if this new 80 percent threshold will be a permanent change.  At this time, it is slated to apply only to 2018 individual income tax returns.

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

March 24, 2019

Lexi: My Canine Princess Fights Off Sleep At The Front Door 😴

Lexi the Dog.


My Faithful Canine Companion and Furball Little Lioness. 

Ready for some cuteness?

One of Lexi's special spots for lounging and sleeping is at the front door.   Oh, and the draft dodger at the bottom of the front door?  If it's in Lexi's way, she will move it!  Take a peek at Lexi's masterful draft dodger relocation skills!


Lexi has learned where to lie down near the front door so the door can be opened and she doesn't need to move.  Here was Lexi this morning after breakfast in her special front door spot, in her "don't need to move" location.  Trying so very hard not to go to sleep!  😊  I kinda think Lexi likes her Forever Home, don't you?


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.  She enjoys a wonderful life with husband Jim and Faithful Canine Companions Sid and Lexi.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

March 22, 2019

Alzheimer's Disease: Keeping Your Skin Moisturized May Reduce Your Risk Of Developing Dementia

Alzheimer's Disease


In the United States, 10 percent of adults age 65 and older has Alzheimer's disease, yet we still don't know what causes this devastating disease.  Nor is there a cure for Alzheimer's disease.

However, one new study shines some hope on preventing dementia, including Alzheimer's Disease.  And it's a very simple procedure:  Keep your skin moisturized.

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body?  Alzheimer's researchers think inflammation and immune cells called cytokines may contribute to dementia-causing brain damage.

As we age, our skin becomes drier and may become inflamed.  Even minor skin inflammation attracts high levels of cytokines, but aged skin doesn't retain enough moisture to let inflammation-reducing cytokines do their job.  As a result, some of the overly abundant cytokines can enter the bloodstream and settle in the brain.  Researchers  think these brain-settled cytokines may then be responsible for increasing production of the brain-damaging amyloid beta plaques.

These brain plaques are one of the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.  In addition, people with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia typically have above normal levels of cytokines in their blood.

While more research needs to be done on this topic, initial findings are positive.  So keep your facial moisturizer, hand lotion, and body lotion handy, and moisturize on!

For more information about Alzheimer's disease, visit the Alzheimer's Association.

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

March 19, 2019

Bernie Sanders' Health Care Plan: A Look Back at his 2016 Presidential Election Campaign.

Bernie Saners' Health Care Plan.


I originally published this post over 3 years ago, on February 9, 2016.  With a herd of way-to-the-left-leaning candidates in the current Democratic Presidential Campaign, the post is just as relevant today as it was 3 years ago.

~~  Originally published February 9, 2016  ~~ 

Josh Barro's "The Upshot" segment in today's New York Times is an absolute must read.  Both technically well written and objective, Mr. Barro examines Bernie Sanders' income tax plan and its relationship with his proposed single-payer health care plan.

End result?  Disaster.

I shook my head in utter disbelief upon reading that Mr. Sanders' health care plan is dependent upon tax receipts from high income taxpayers, yet he bases his funding strategy on the false premise that these same taxpayers will not change their behavior when burdened with a 73% or more tax rate.

Sanders and his naive team of advisors are flat out wrong.  

As an federally licensed Enrolled Agent with high income tax clients, I can assure you these high income taxpayers will undeniably adjust their behavior to counteract this drastically increased tax burden.  Mr. Sanders' health care plan is doomed from the start.
Sorry, Bernie.  I am not currently supporting any presidential candidate, but I emphatically am not feelin' The Bern with your unachievable proposals.
Tax Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA is an Enrolled Agent licensed by the Department of the Treasury.  This license  allows Mary to provide tax preparation, planning, and audit representation to taxpayers in all 50 states and US territories.  For more information visit Fouts Financial Group.

March 16, 2019

Sid and Lexi: My Faithful Canine Companions

Sid the Dog
Lexi the Dog


My Forever Faithful Canine Companions.  Both former "pound" dogs.  A very, very bonded canine pair.

I am so proud of our Husky-Malamute mix Sid, who has been essential in helping Chow Chow-Pomeranian mix Lexi learn how to be, well, a dog.  With Sid's canine guidance, Lexi has grown into a happy, confident, and fiercely loyal dog.  Her true alpha dog personality shines.  Lexi's coat has grown and thickened into that of a little lioness.  She is certainly no longer the abused and neglected, very skinny, thin furred, and (as my husband Jim has said many times) afraid-of-everything including-her shadow dog we adopted from the Antioch Animal Shelter in late October 2014.  You will never be abused or neglected again, Sweetheart.

Lexi and Sid now ...


And Lexi when we adopted her in late October 2014 ...  😢


No kidding, same dog!  Lexi's transformation has been nothing short of amazing.  Good Girl, Lexi

Unconditional love is as close as you 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.  She enjoys a wonderful life with husband Jim and dogs Sid and Lexi.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

March 14, 2019

No Duh! Breast Size Affects How Women Exercise.

Breast size affects how women exercise.


To me, that's a "No Duh!" statement.  But apparently not to others.

How so?  Glad you asked!

The York Times recently devoted 940 words to this subject, in a lengthy article in this Tuesday's Science section titled "How Breast Size Affects Exercise".  I would think it would be very simple to surmise that large breasted woman can experience difficulties exercising due to, well, their large breasts.  But apparently I am mistaken.

Large Scale Study Required To Determine That Breast Size Can Affect How Women Exercise


Upon reading the article, I learned that a "large-scale" study was required to determine that "Breast size can affect how women exercise and whether they decide to work out at all."  This large-scale study was actually part of a doctoral dissertation.  As a result of this what-I-would-think-would-be-obvious-without-a-large-scale-study study, the study's author, Dr. Celeste Coltman, suggests that large breasted women consider water-based activities such as water aerobics.  Why?  Because water buoyancy helps support large breasts.

No Duh!  for the second time.  Crazy!

(Edit:  Dr. Coltman is not a medical doctor.  She has a PhD in Biomechanics, with an emphasis in Breast Biomechanics, from the University of Wollongong in Australia.)

If you would like to read this No Duh! article, click here.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  She happens to be on the very opposite end of the spectrum from large breasted women.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts

March 13, 2019

Blog Post Flashback: Travel in style with your Faithful Canine Companions on the NYC Subway

I published this blog posting last year.  As it always brings a smile to my face, it's worth a repeat!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Once again, New Yorkers show their resourcefulness when complying with New York City Subway regulations.

Specifically, regulations regarding traveling on the subway with a dog.

New York City Subway Regulations


Need to take the subway with your Faithful Canine Companion?  With a bit of ingenuity .... and perhaps a bit of New York City style ... no problem.

You see, NYC Subway regulations state that a dog may ride the subway provided the dog is “enclosed in a container.”

But the regulation does not define "container".
Nor does it define "enclosed".
And that's when things get interesting.
And well, simply downright cute.

Photo credit:  Pinterest at https://goo.gl/images/ujgRC1

Check out these sure-to-put-a-smile-on-your-face picture-filled articles (here and here) that capture New York City's subway-riding dogs.  And prepare to smile.  A lot.

Another life lesson learned with help from our Faithful Canine Companions!

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.

March 9, 2019

California State Income Taxes: Will the one-percenters flee California’s high taxes?

California State Income Taxes and the Top 1% of Taxpayers.

Last month, CALmatters columnist Dan Walters wrote a very informative column about the current shortfall of tax receipts in the high tax states states of New York and California.  (Read the column here:  Will the one-percenters flee California’s high taxes? .)

I researched this matter in May  2016, when one of Bernie Sanders' campaign talking points was that the top 1% should pay their fair share of taxes.  What did I find?
At that time in California, the top 1% of state income tax payers - just 150,000 taxpayers in a state with a population of 39.3 million people - paid 48% of state income taxes.

You can read my original posts below.  I said it then, and I'll say it now:  Placing this much fiscal dependency on a very small group of taxpayers is simply reckless, and plain stupid, fiscal policy.

~~ Originally posted May 3, 2016  ~~

One of Bernie Sanders' campaign talking points is that the top 1% should pay their fair share of taxes.

Well, let's take a look at California and state income taxes. 
How is this for "fair"?

One of my favorite newspaper columnists, straight-shooting George Skelton with the Los Angeles Times, published a column yesterday about California State Income Taxes and Bernie Sanders' ongoing reference to the top 1%.  Can you guess who pays what percentage?

Top 1% = 48% of California State Income Taxes.  

Yes, The top 1% of Californians paid nearly half - 48% - of California state income taxes in 2014, while making about 24% of the state's income.  Yes again, the top 1% (about 150,000 taxpayers) make 24% of the state's income, but pay 48% of California state income taxes.  How's that for an eye opener?

Credit:  George Skelton and the Los Angeles Times
While I realize the only thing that is truly fair in life is a baseball hit between 1st and 3rd bases, the above statistic begs the question:

Is it fair to make a group of people pay 48% of California's state income taxes when that group of people makes only 24% of the state's income?

And what happens when this small group of people doesn't make as much money, or members moves out of state?  Simple:  Potential devastation to California's economy.  Placing so much dependency on a very small group of people is simply irresponsible ... and plain stupid ... fiscal planning.

As an Enrolled Agent with high income tax clients, I can attest that California's "1%ers"  are tax conscious and are keenly eyeing the upcoming presidential election as they consider tax planning strategies.

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

March 5, 2019

Lil' Bunny Sue Roux: Kitty Born Without Both Front Legs Lives Life To The Fullest

Lil' Bunny Sue Roux
Photo credit:  Roux's Instagram Account

Lil' Bunny Sue Roux


Ready for some cuteness?!

Meet Lil' Bunny Sue Roux, a Siamese mix cat who was born without her two front legs and only has a little bob tail but that doesn't slow her down one bit. She has overcome all of her mobility obstacles and is an Internet sensation, with over 100,000 followers on Instagram.  Wow!

Watch this cute little kitty in the video below. Go Lil' Bunny Sue Roux Go!


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

March 2, 2019

Tesla to Shutter Most Showrooms. Why?

Tesla to Shutter Most Showrooms and Rely on Online Sales for their Electric Vehicles.


When I read about this recently in my morning newspaper, I nearly choked on my homemade sourdough toast topped with sliced low sodium chicken.  The Tesla story only continues to get more convoluted.  Now the company states it is going to shutter most Tesla Showrooms, relying on online Internet sales for its electric vehicles.

Reason?  Tesla states that, with the availability of the $35,000 Model 3, it is not financially feasible for the company to maintain showrooms.

But wait minute.  Or two.  I think there's a more probable reason behind this decision.  A reason Tesla is conveniently not talking about.

What's that?

Just one pesky little detail:  Sales.

January Tesla Model 3 Sales Decreased by a Whopping 74% Compared to Prior Month


As reported by the electric vehicle publication InsideEVs, Tesla's sales drastically plunged in January compared to December.  January sales were 74% lower compared to December  One reporter from the New York Times wrote about visiting a Florida Tesla Showroom only to find salespeople standing around, waiting for perspective Tesla buyers to walk in.

Tesla seems to blame much of the sales drop off on the reduction in the federal tax credit for electric vehicle purchases.  A tax credit I've been against from day 1.  Why should my tax dollars subsidize a wealthy person's purchase of an electric vehicle?

Question:  Can Tesla even survive without federal and/or state tax subsidies for the purchase of their vehicles?  Time will tell.

Never a dull moment in the life of Tesla, that's for certain.

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

March 1, 2019

Veterans: Are You Applying For Needs Based VA Programs?

Department of Veterans Affairs:  Eligibility for Needs Based Programs


Are you a United States Veteran who is considering applying for a needs based program through the Department of Veterans Affairs?  If so, you should be aware of recent changes to the VA's procedures for determining eligibility requirements.


Effective October 18, 2018, the VA enacted new regulations on eligibility requirements for need based programs, including the Veterans Aid and Attendance Program.  These new regulations are specifically designed to prohibit transfer of financial assets to decrease an applicant's net worth prior to applying for the programs.

3 Year Lookback
And Beware of Insurance Agents Who Try To Sell You An Annuity

The new regulations  impose a three-year look-back period when considering the applicant's finances and net worth.   If the applicant placed money into an Annuity Contract during this three-year look-back period, and the applicant’s net worth would have exceeded the
permitted net worth amount without the Annuity Contract purchase, a penalty period of up to five years may be imposed.

Ouch!  Don't become a victim of an unsuitable Annuity Contract sale.

Annuity Concerns?
About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting (including consulting for annuity contract matters), and expert witness services to clients throughout the United States.  For more information visit FoutsFinancialGroup.com.

Mary Rae Fouts