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