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Friday, March 13, 2015

Interest Free Loans To The IRS

Most respondents to a poll by Bankrate say they would rather get a tax refund as opposed to breaking even or owing money to the government.

A consequence of that is individuals extending interest free loans (refund amount) to the IRS.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Peter Diamandis' Top 10 Tech Picks for 2015

Peter Diamandis via 

1:21 PM (2 hours ago)
to me
If you thought 2014 was thrilling, here's a look at what I'm most excited about for 2015…
With CES happening next week, Abundance 360 at the end of January, and A360-digital kicking off in March, here are 11 of the most exciting new technologies moving from deceptive to disruptive this year.
  1. Virtual Reality: Expect a lot more action on the virtual and augmented reality front. 2014 saw the $2B acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook. In 2015, we’ll see action from companies like Phillip Rosedale’s High Fidelity (the successor to Second Life), immersive 3D 360-degree cameras from companies like Immersive Media (the company behind Google’s Streetview), Jaunt, and Giroptic. Then there are game changers like Magic Leap (in which Google just invested over $500 million) that are developing technology to “generate images indistinguishable from real objects and then being able to place those images seamlessly into the real world." Oculus, the darling of CES for the past few years, will be showing its latest Crescent Bay prototype and hopefully providing a taste of how its headset will interact with Nimble VR’s hand- and finger-tracking inputs. Nine new VR experiences will be premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this year, spanning from artistic, powerful journalistic experiences like Project Syria to full “flying” simulations where you get to “feel” what it would be like for a human to fly.
  2. Mass-market robots: 2014 saw the acquisition by Google of eight robotics companies. 2015 is going to see the introduction of consumer-friendly robots in a store near you. Companies like SU’s Fellow Robots are creating autonomous “employees” called Oshbots that are roaming the floors of Lowe’s and helping you find and order items in their store. We’ll also see Softbank’s Pepper robot make the leap from Japan to enter U.S. retail stores. Pepper uses an emotion engine and computer vision, to detect smiles, frowns, and surprise, and it uses speech recognition to sense the tone of voice and to detect certain words indicative of strong feelings, like “love” and “hate.” The engine then computes a numeric score that quantifies the person’s overall emotion as positive or negative to help the store make a sale. At CES, Paris-based start-up Keecker will show off a robot that doubles as a movie projector after raising more than $250,000 for the idea on Kickstarter.Fellow Robot autonomous employee

    Fellow Robot autonomous employee
  3. Autonomous vehicles: In 2015, we will see incredible developments in autonomous vehicle technology. Beyond Google, many major car brands are working on autonomous solutions. At CES, Volkswagen will bring the number of car brands on display into double figures for the first time this year. Companies like Mercedes say they will show off a new self-driving concept car that allows its passengers to face each other. BMW plans to show how one of its cars can be set to park itself via a smartwatch app. And, Tesla, of course, has already demonstrated “autopilot” on its Model D.
  4. Drones everywhere: 2015 will be a big year for drones. They are getting cheaper, easier to use, more automated, and are now finding more useful and lucrative applications. These “drones” include everything from the $20 toys you can buy at RadioShack to the high-powered $1000+ drones from companies like DJI and the super-simple and powerful Q500 Typhoon. These consumer drones equipped with high quality cameras and autopilot software are military-grade surveillance units now finding application in agriculture, construction and energy applications. Drones get their own section of CES in 2015 with a new "unmanned systems" zone. Wales' Torquing Group could provide one of its highlights with Zano, a Kickstarter-backed quadcopter small enough to fit in your hand but still capable of high-definition video capture.Zano, a Kickstarter-backed quadcopter

    Zano, a Kickstarter-backed quadcopter
  5. Wireless power: “Remember when we had to use wires to charge our devices? Man, that was so 2014.” Companies like uBeam, Ossia and others are developing solutions to charge your phones, laptops, wearables, etc. wirelessly as you go about your business. And this isn’t a “charging mat” that requires you to set your phone down… imagine having your phone in your pocket, purse, or backpack, and it will be charging as you walk around the room. Companies are taking different approaches as they develop this technology (uBeam uses ultrasound to transfer energy to piezoelectric receivers, while Ossia has a product called Cota that uses an ISM radio band, similar to Wifi, to transfer energy and data). Look out for a key “interface moment” in 2015 that will take wireless power mainstream.
  6. Data & machine learning: 2014 saw data and algorithm driven companies like Uber and AirBnb skyrocket. There is gold in your data. And data-driven companies are the most successful exponential organizations around. In 2015, data collection and mining that data will become more turn-key. Platforms like Experfy, for example, allow you to find data scientist who will develop algorithms or machine learning solutions for your business/project. Larger companies can explore partnering with IBM’s Watson Ecosystem, which is creating a community of everyone from developers to content providers to collaborate and create the next generation of cognitive apps. Companies built around algorithms, like Enlitic (a company that uses machine learning to detect tumors and make medical imaging diagnostics faster and cheaper), will become much more prevalent and common in 2015.
  7. Large-scale genome sequencing and data mining: We are at the knee of the curve of human genome sequencing. In 2015, we will see explosive, exponential growth in genomics and longevity research. As the cost of sequencing a single human genome plummets by orders of magnitude (now around $1,000) and the amount of useful information we glean from mining all that data skyrockets. At Human Longevity Inc (HLI), a company I co-founded, we are aiming to sequence 1 million to 5 million full human genomes, microbiomes, metabalomes, proteomes, MRI scans, and more by 2020. We’re proud to have Franz Och, formerly the head of Google Translate, as the head of our machine learning team to mine the massive amount of data so that we can learn the secrets to extending the healthy human lifespan by 30-40 years.
  8. Sensor explosion: In 2015, expect “everything” to be “smart”. The combination of sensors and wearables, increased connectivity, new manufacturing methods (like 3D printing), and improved data mining capabilities will create a smart, connected world – where our objects, clothes, appliances, homes, streets, cars, etc., etc. will be constantly communicating with one and other. Soon, there will be trillions of sensors throughout the world. These sensors won't just power smart ovens and sweatshirts -- the same technology will allow companies like Miroculus to create “microRNA detection platform that will constantly diagnose and monitor diseases at the molecular level.” Sensors are going to be taking over CES this year. Among the many applications: a shirt that can read your heart-rate by Cityzen Sciences, a device from HealBe that can automatically log how many calories you consume, a garden sprinkler system from Blossom that can decide when to switch on based on weather forecasts, pads for the pantry from SmartQSine that allow you to keep track of how much of your favorite foods are left, a pacifier from Pacifi that sends the baby’s temperature to the parent's smartphone, and a new home security system from Myfox with tags you can attach to a door or window that trigger alarms before a break-in is attempted.
  9. Voice-control and “language-independent” interaction:Using our fingers to operate smartphones/technology was “so 2014”. In 2015, we will see significant advances in voice-controlled systems and wider mass market adoption. Think the first steps towards a Jarvis-like interface. Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and other voice control systems are continuing to get better and better – so much so that they are being almost seamlessly integrated into our technology, across platforms. Soon, almost all connected devices will have voice-control capabilities. Companies like are creating their own open-source natural language interfaces for the Internet of Things and for developers to incorporate into their apps, hardware, and platforms. Jarvis-like systems like the Ubi and Jibo, plus IBM’s Watson and XBOX One Kinect, already allow natural language interactions and question/answer like commands. Then, Google Translate, Skype Translate, and others are creating software that allows real-time translation between languages, further eliminating cultural and geographic barriers – the Star Trek universal translator is just around the corner!
  10. 3D Printing: 3-D printing will continue to grow rapidly in 2015 as the number of applications increase and as printers, scanners, and CAD modeling software become more accessible, cheaper, and easier to use. 2014 saw the first 3D printed object in space, by SU company, Made-in-Space. 3DSystems continues to innovate around the clock and is releasing a plethora of exciting things in 2015, including 3D printed food and customized chocolates. Three years ago there were just two 3D printing firms at CES. This year there promises to be more than 24.
  11. Bitcoin: While 2014 was a rough year for bitcoin (it was ranked the “worst performing currency”), I am optimistic that 2015 will be a better year for the cryptocurrency. Weak currencies and uncertainty in the global economy, emerging smartphone markets in developing countries (billions coming online for the first time), better “interfaces”, and more commercial adopters who accept bitcoin as a form of payment will all play a role in a brighter bitcoin future. Finally it’s worth noting that Apple Pay will ultimately teach an entire generation how to navigate life without cash… making the transition to bitcoin natural and easy.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Peter Diamandis on Current Megatrend

Four billion people are buying new smartphones every two years, massively outpacing the PC industry (where we buy 1.6 billion PCs every five years).
Our desire for the most powerful, newest tech in our pocket is the beginning of a symbiotic merger of between human and machine.
This blog is about this metatrend.
Check out the explosive growth curves below. They demonstrate why tech will infiltrate you, your business, your family, and every aspect of your life.
How many of us don't let our mobile phones get out of our sight? How often are they more than a meter or two from our grasp?
The data comes from a fantastic presentation by Benedict Evans from Andreesen-Horowitz called "Mobile is Eating the World."
Growth of smartphones vs. PCs

Graph Above: Growth of smartphones vs. PCs
Smartphones and tablets now take up half of the consumer electronics industry.
Growth of mobile as a percent of consumer electronics

Graph Above: Growth of mobile as a percent of consumer electronics

Infinite Computing & Sensing

The power of smartphones comes from the unique mix of connectivity, computing and sensors it brings into our lives. Let's take a look.
With a glimpse of what's to come, Sprint has already demonstrated an over-the-air speed of 1 gigabit per second at their Silicon Valley lab.
  1. Connectivity: As I discuss in my next book BOLD (February 2015), consider that in 1991, early 2G networks clocked in at a hundred kilobits per second.A decade later, 3G networks hit one megabit per second, while today's 4G networks sport up to eight megabits per second.
    But in February 2014, Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse (now retired) announced plans for Sprint Spark, a super-high-speed network capability able to deliver 50 to 60 megabits per second to your mobile phone.
  2. Computing: Just three or four decades ago, if you wanted to access a thousand core processors, you'd need to be the chairman of MIT's computer science department or the secretary of the U.S. Defense Department.Today the average chip in your cell phone can perform about a billion calculations per second.
    Yet today has nothing on tomorrow.
    As MIT Technology review points out, "Generations of chip-making technology are known by the size of the smallest structure they can write into a chip. The current best is 14 nanometers, and by 2020, in order to keep up with Moore's Law, the industry will need to be down to five nanometers.
    This is the point where IBM hopes nanotubes can step in. The most recent report from the microchip industry group the ITRS says the so-called five-nanometer 'node' is due in 2019."
    Beyond the processing power in your phone (a super computer by all standards), your smartphone has access to truly infinite computational power on the cloud over its multi-megabit linkage.
  3. Sensors: Sensors are the real magic. The growing suite of sensors in our phones is extending our abilities, slowly making us superhuman.The smartphone is our future JARVIS, making us future Tony Starks.
    For example, in an iPhone, the basics include a proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, accelerometer (senses the orientation of the phone), magnetometer (measures the strength and/or direction of the magnetic field), and a gyroscope.
    Of course we also have an incredible 8-megapixel camera and microphone to look and listen.
    Beyond what's packed into the phone, your device can connect to the Internet of Everything surrounding you, extending its "sensing capabilities" by orders of magnitude.
    What's next? Sensors that measure your blood chemistries, the quality of the air your breathing, the nutrient content of the food you're eating, the even the DNA of the food you're eating (is it shark or swordfish?).

Every new sensor creates a new business.

The Android app store has 1.3 million apps.
Apple's app store has 1.2 million.
While a significant portion of these apps are useless, more and more truly powerful apps are being developed that take advantage of the sensing and computing capabilities of smartphones.
And these apps are sticky.
We spend a lot of time on them.
Heck, today there's more time is spent on mobile apps than on the entire Web.
Time spent on Mobile Web vs. Apps vs. Desktop

Chart Above: Time spent on Mobile Web vs. Apps vs. Desktop

Small teams can leverage this platform in big ways

I often talk about exponential organizations – small teams of people leveraging exponential technologies and resources to scale quickly and disrupt slow-moving incumbent businesses.
Mobile and infinite computing are one of the core drivers allowing this to happen.
Instagram was acquired for a $1 billion with a team of 13 employees.
There are 1.5 trillion SMS messages sent between smartphones globally every year.
WhatsApp, an app that was built by a team of 30 people and acquired by Facebook for $19 billion, processes 7.2 trillion messages a year.
In 2000, a business with 100 employees would need to raise $10 million to reach 1 million people.
Today, we see many examples of teams of around 10 people raising $1 million and reaching 10 million people.
Or, in the case of the silly app "YO," one person raises $0 and reaches 1 million people in months.
How are you leveraging these platforms?
The opportunity these technologies present to solve the world's grand challenges are incredible.
Don't build dumb apps.
Build problem-solving apps.
At XPRIZE, we've launched a $15M Global Learning XPRIZE to incentivize teams to create a piece of software on a tablet that can teach any child anywhere in the world how to read, write, and do basic math.
Today teams are competing to win the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE to build a mobile device that can diagnose you better than a board-certified doctor.
This is really just the beginning.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

IRS Standard Mileage Rate for 2015

IRS Raises Standard Mileage Rate for Businesses

The Internal Revenue Service issued the 2015 optional standard mileage rates that are used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven, up from 56 cents in 2014.
The rate will be 23 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, down half a cent from 2014, and 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.
The charitable rate is set by law. Taxpayers always have the option of claiming deductions based on the actual costs of using a vehicle rather than the standard mileage rates, the IRS noted.The IRS noted that the standard mileage rate for business is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile, including depreciation, insurance, repairs, tires, maintenance, gas and oil. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs, such as gas and oil.
A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after claiming accelerated depreciation, including the Section 179 expense deduction, on that vehicle, the IRS pointed out. Likewise, the standard rate is not available to fleet owners (more than four vehicles used simultaneously). Details on these and other special rules are in Revenue Procedure 2010-51, the instructions to Form 1040 and various online IRS publications including Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax.
Besides the standard mileage rates, Notice 2014-79, posted Wednesday on, also includes the basis reduction amounts for those choosing the business standard mileage rate, as well as the maximum standard automobile cost   that may be used in computing an allowance under  a fixed and variable rate plan. The rules for using the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the amount of a deductible business, moving, medical, or charitable expense are in Rev. Proc. 2010-51. 

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Notions of Peter H. Diamandis

4 Converging (Enabling) Technologies

Four converging tech areas enable the revolution. I write about this in detail (both the technologies and business opportunities) in my next book BOLD (coming out February 2015). See if this makes sense…
  1. Sensors: The sensors that cost you $10 today would have been military secrets costing you tens of thousands of dollars 20 years ago. Sensors that listen, look, feel and navigate are plummeting in cost, size, weight and power consumption, thanks to the smartphone revolution.
  2. Infinite Computing: Your mobile phone processor is a supercomputer from 20 years ago. Better yet, it’s connected to the cloud and enables near-infinite computing. Combined with sensors, this allows robots to have situational awareness and "comprehend" contextual information in real time.
  3. 3D Printed Parts: Smart design software and 3D printing technologies are allowing entrepreneurs to rapidly design, prototype and build novel robots and test them in the market before committing to production.
  4. Open-Source Movement: There is a massive online open-source movement sharing designs, posting software updates, answering questions and more. Whatever expertise you need you can find online, 24x7, for free. Post a question, get it answered.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Reconciling May Yield Unwanted Surprise!

For the 8 million-plus taxpayers who purchased health insurance on the Exchange (now called Marketplace) there may be an unwelcome surprise awaiting them when they file their 2014 income tax returns.  The amount they paid for insurance was reduced by an “Advanced Premium Tax Credit”.  That credit was based on some assumptions.  For many (receiving a raise; a new job; getting married; getting divorced, etc.) factors resulting in those assumptions have changed.  Their eligibility for the credit gets reconciled on their 2014 income tax returns.  The result can be in a reduced refund or increase in balance due.

Additionally, the reconciling process is complicated.  So for many who have been self-filing, they may now require professional help for a fee.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Treasury moves to curb tax inversions

Treasury moves to curb tax inversions

Scott Grannis opines there is a better option:

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Many databases containing credit card numbers compromised

The most relevant point is that the owners of the compromised servers were not aware.

Copy/paste above into your browser.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Double Login Increases Security

Recently several people on my FaceBook friends list have had their login hi-jacked followed by some inappropriate messaging. It appears that a common source may be responsible for all of the mischief. One way to ratchet up the difficulty for someone to hi-jack a login is to initiate a double login routine. One of these, by Google, sends a 6 digit code to your device at the moment of login attempt. Entering the code completes the routine. A little more logistically, but increasingly necessary.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Individual Income Tax Review Items

Link is to AICPA Tax Adviser article that is good review of items affecting individual income tax:

Friday, February 07, 2014

DropBox Observations

DropBox (the free, individual version) has many useful, and a growing number, of functions. The latest function I have utilized is uploading smartphone documents, pictures, and videos. I have routinely used it to store various documents, both personal and professionally. I selectively share documents with appropriate audiences.

One feature that currently cannot be accomplished, according to DropBox support, is logging the number of times a document or message category has been clicked on. The DropBox support person, while offering no indication this feature might be added, gave me a useful work around.

Routinely, I include the URL of a document as a link in an email or other type of message. By utilizing an URL shorterner (I used Google URL Shorterner) a by-product is that the shorterner screen displays the number of clicks.

Often it can be important, when communicating with a group via email or messaging, to be aware of how many have seen the information. And, approximately when they saw it. While the intent of URL shorterner is simplify long, complicated URLs, it is useful in other ways also.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Apple Lisa was a 'business machine' that few knew about.

For me the Apple 'Lisa' was a Fuji .... better than Macintosh.

While the graphical Apple interface was interesting (and significant), a version of Unix (Xenix) would run on the Lisa. As such it would run business basic and support 3 dumb terminals. So, for less than $15K a small business system (Open Systems application software) would run smoothly. Alternative at that time (IBM, DEC, etc) was over $35k.

Friday, August 02, 2013

George Gilder blends Wealth and Poverty with Knowledge and Power

In this August 5, 2013, article, George Gilder presents his pathway from when he authored Wealth and Poverty (over 30 years ago) to this years' book, Knowledge and Power.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

ADP Reports 200K Private Sector Jobs In July

In addition, ADP revised its job gains in June upward from 188,000 to 198,000 (see ADP Finds Private Sector Added 188,000 Jobs in June).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Disk Storage Technology

We have become used to disk storage becoming more dense (more data on smaller surface) and residing on various kinds of media. Here is something to challenge our thinking: href=""

Monday, July 08, 2013

Reynolds Law

In what is becoming known as 'Reynolds Law', here is a qoute from Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds:

Reynolds’ Law was based on this remark by Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds:

The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle-class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle-class people. But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay, in the middle class. Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

ADP Finds Private Sector Added 135,000 Jobs in May

Employers in the private sector added 135,000 jobs from April to May, according to payroll giant ADP, which represented an increase over the previous month, but still indicated some softening of the employment picture.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Statistical Apples and Oranges Yield Strange Fruit

The first link, below, is to May 29, 2013, report of by Congressional Budget Office addressing the Distribution of Major Tax Expenditures across 5 levels of tax payers. It is 31 pages, fairly complex reading, and certainly proves that the current Individual Tax System is not simple:

The second link, below, is to May 30, 2013, Accounting Today article on the report. It makes extensive quotes by congressional folk. It is shorter and seemingly 'cherry-picks' the report to make points supporting existing biases.

The two graphs on the cover page of the CBO report show clear distinction between presenting in total dollars and presenting in percentages of income. I didn't discover any reference to the second graph in the Accounting Today article. It does point out that preferential tax rates on capital gains and dividends benefit high income folk, while the earned income credit benefits lower income folk.

Those two 'tax expenditures' are apples and oranges. Deductions and exclusions from a graduated tax rate system is necessarily going to impact more dollars for those who pay the most taxes.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Global Understanding

Link is to a SkyDrive directory that has 3 PDF files and a Web Word file that contains a link to a relevant TED presentation by Hans Rosling.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Google's Vint Cerf On Interplanetary Internet

Working with NASA and JPL, Cerf has helped develop a new set of protocols that can stand up to the unique environment of space, where orbital mechanics and the speed of light make traditional networking extremely difficult. Though this space-based network is still in its early stages and has few nodes, he said that we are now at “the front end of what could be an evolving and expanding interplanetary backbone.”

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Pew Research on Preparing 1040s

According to the national survey, which was conducted April 4 to 7 among 1,003 adults, about
one-third of respondents (34 percent) say they either like (29 percent) or love (5 percent) doing
their taxes. A majority of Americans (56 percent) have a negative reaction to doing their income
taxes, with 26 percent of respondents saying they hate doing them.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

ADP Finds Private Sector Hiring Slowed in April with 119,000 Jobs Added

ROSELAND, N.J. (MAY 1, 2013)
Private sector employers added only 119,000 jobs in April, according to payroll giant ADP, indicating a slowdown in employment perhaps caused by the increase in payroll taxes and effects from the budget sequester in Washington.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Donor Controlled Charitable Donations

Recently I have been researching, using the Internet, the issue of charitable contributions received by a church for a church-approved designated purpose, but sub-earmarked by the donor for a named individual’s costs of participation (in this case a medical mission trip abroad). Before retirement in 2007, I had access to one or more of the major tax services for such research. Most of the cites I’ve discovered are individual organization’s (often churches) websites citing their policy. Different groups reach different conclusions.

I did discover the Supreme Court case relative to Mormon Church mission endeavors being funded by the parents of the participants. In that case the funds were being spent directly, though the mission was under the auspices of the church.

Of the organizations concluding the such a specific designation fails as to the issue of ‘control’ and refers to that issue as the IRS position, I didn’t discover IRS wording to that effect in Publication 526.

I seem to recall, from researching the issue in years’ past, that there were a plethora of cases on point.

Does anybody have access to litigated documentation of the issue, or to Publications other than 526 that are on point?

Monday, April 08, 2013

Tax Reform per Wall Street Journal article on today

From near end of article:
There are skeptics who question the prospects for bipartisan tax reform. We know we face some fierce headwinds. People from across the spectrum are trying to turn tax reform into a political weapon, which could end up killing any chance at success.

We can't let that happen. Tax reform can't be about politics. It has to be about the people we serve, about boosting the economy, about creating jobs in Montana, Michigan and across America. It has to be about restoring some trust in the process of government.

C. Eugene Prescott observation: I suppose I am among the skeptics as actual 'reform' has not happened since I entered tax practice in 1960.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

5 Steps to Cutting Costs Through Open Source: DIY Drones

Peter H. DiamandisFeb 14, 2013 -

In this blog, I'm continuing my exploration of what Chris Anderson's company DIY Drones has done in using open-source methods to create products that are exponentially less expensive to make.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

ADP Reports 158K Private Sector Jobs For March 2013

ADP also revised its job numbers for January and February on Wednesday, with February’s gain of 198,000 jobs revised up by 39,000 to 237,000, and January’s 215,000 gain revised down nearly an equal amount by 38,000 to 177,000.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note II

In the latter part of February, 2013, I acquired my first ‘smartphone’, a Samsung Galaxy Notes II. In this process I changed providers from Sprint to US Cellular. A primary reason for the provider change was that US Cellular has a 3G tower in Bath, NC (4G in Greenville and much of NC). Thus I can reach the Internet routinely from Bath, both directly on the smartphone and using the phone as a modem to tether my notebook to the Internet.

Features of subscribed plan are:

Unlimited Mobile-to-Mobile Minutes (have 1 additional phone)
7pm Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes
Free Incoming Call
Pictures and Video Messages
Unlimited Messaging
Voice Mail
Call Waiting
Caller ID
Call Forwarding
Three-Way Calling
Voice Overage Protection
Daily Data
5GB Data and Tethering

Most of the ‘features’ just happened to be in the most appropriate plan; but a number of them are important to my use pattern.

I’m still exploring, and hopefully learning, about many of the capabilities of using the phone directly. The tethering is very important to me. The inbuilt way of connecting is a multiple-step process, both to connect and disconnect. So I have installed a product named “EasyTether” ($9.95) that automatically connects whenever the USB is plugged into the phone.

Over time I plan to address the most usable (for me) features as comments to this post. To date, I am statisfied.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How Much Does A CPA Cost?

Posted by Guest Blogger on Mar 18, 2013 in Guest Blogger, Tax Often when people find out I’m a tax accountant, I get asked, “How much does a CPA cost?” It’s like me asking “How much does a home cost?” We all understand that a 1,000 square-foot home in Kansas has a different cost than a 1,000 square-foot penthouse condo in New York City. The same concept applies to CPAs. The answer to both questions is the same: it depends. For example, my uncle has a simple tax return and pays $250 in preparation fees. On the other hand, I had a client whose return took over a week to prepare when I worked in a large firm, which cost the client around $100,000.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

ADP February 2013 Jobs Report

By KATHLEEN MADIGAN Private businesses added new employees in February at a faster pace than economists expected, according to a tally of private-sector hiring released Wednesday.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Beware of Bogus IRS E-Mails

WASHINGTON, D.C. (FEBRUARY 23, 2013) BY JEFF STIMPSON The IRS has issued a warning to taxpayers who receive emails claiming to be from the agency.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

15 Tax Moves for Right Now

The following link is to a PDF file of article dated February 5, 2013, by Financial Planning that is timely. Though most of the items are most applicable to high income taxpayers, generally considered $200,000 or more, the article is well written and should be read by all:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

2012 Most Visited Post

The most visited post made during 2012:

ADP Sees 192,000 Private Sector Jobs Added in January

ROSELAND, N.J. (JANUARY 30, 2013) BY MICHAEL COHN Employers added 192,000 jobs in the private sector this month, according to payroll giant ADP, with small businesses showing the largest job gains.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What 'Permanent' Means When Talking Tax

One aspect of The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, signed by President Obama on October 3, 2013, is the frequency that specific items were made 'permanent.' While being 'permanent' is better than 'temporary' or 'sunsetting' as it relates to tax planning, what 'permanent' means is .... this is the rule until Congress changes it. Congress can, and often does, change any tax rule anytime it can agree. Also, the IRS itself can change how a rule is interpreted by the issuance of Publications and Rulings. Consequently 'permanent' changes frequently.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

IRS further delays acceptance of returns claiming Form 8863 education credits

BY SALLY P. SCHREIBER, J.D. JANUARY 28, 2013 On Monday, two days before the delayed Jan. 30 start of the 2013 filing season, the IRS announced a further delay in processing returns that contain Form 8863, Education Credits, which must be filed by people claiming the American opportunity and the lifetime learning tax credits (IR-2013-10). During testing, the IRS discovered that programming modifications must be made before the form can be processed correctly so returns that include the form cannot be filed until mid-February. The IRS emphasized that returns claiming other education-related items, such as the student loan interest deduction and the deduction for higher education tuition or fees, can be filed beginning Wednesday, Jan. 30. The IRS also noted that its website contains a list of 30 other forms that cannot be filed yet because the forms must be updated and systems for processing them tested. A date will be announced when returns containing these forms will be accepted, but that date will probably be late February or sometime in March. —Sally P. Schreiber ( is a JofA senior editor.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Android is 3 to 1 vs Iphone

Together, the two shipped just under 200 million smartphones around the world last quarter to grab a record market share, says Strategy Analytics. href=""

Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) under Relief Act of 2012

One aspect of the complexity of the tax law has been how the AMT, which was originally enacted to 'alternatively tax high income taxpayers' was potentially and unintentionally applicable to middle income taxpayers. It was estimated that before the act and additional 28 million taxpayers would be subject to the AMT. For tax years beginning after 2011, personal credits that had been excluded for offset, are now usable for 2012 and future years. Capital Gain and Dividend rates for regular tax continue applying for AMT for 2012 and future years. 'Future years' merely means there is no built-in sunset date. Congress still has discretion to change tax law any time they can agree. Additionally, for upper income taxpayers, the title 'Tax Relief Act of 2012' is an illusion.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

IRS Offers Advice for Coping with Delayed Return Filing

WASHINGTON, D.C. (JANUARY 23, 2013) BY MICHAEL COHN The Internal Revenue Service provided advice to taxpayers Wednesday on dealing with the late opening of tax season on January 30 that could also prove helpful to tax preparers.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Child and Dependent Care Credit

The child and dependent care tax credit were permanently extended for taxable years beginning in 2013. A dependent (defined as being under age 13 at the end of the tax year OR incapable of self-care) that requires paid care in order for you to work (or look for work), may qualify for a credit up to $1,050 or 35% of $3,000 of eligible expenses. For two, or more, qualifying dependents, you can claim up to 35% of $6,000 (or $2,100) of eligible expenses. With higher income earners the credit % is reduced, but not below 20%, regardless of amount of adjusted gross income.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

IRS Offers Guidance on Reporting Mortgage Interest Premiums after Fiscal Cliff Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C. (JANUARY 18, 2013) BY MICHAEL COHN The recent fiscal cliff tax deal extends the ability to treat mortgage insurance premiums as qualified residential interest, and the Internal Revenue Service is providing guidance on how to report the premiums on Form 1098, both electronically and on paper.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mathematicians Hope To Take Publishers Out of Publishing

Episciences Project to launch series of community-run, open-access journals January 18, 2013 Mathematicians plan to launch a series of free open-access journals that will host their peer-reviewed articles on the preprint server arXiv, Nature News reports. The project was publicly revealed yesterday in a blog post by Tim Gowers, a Fields Medal winner and mathematician at the University of Cambridge, UK.

2013 Long Term Capital Gains and Dividends

In 2013 tax rates on cpaital gains and dividends for taxpayers whose income is at or below $400,000 ($450,000 for married, filing jointly) remain the same as 2012. Therefore, for taxpayers in the 10% and 15% brackets, the rate remains 0%. For taxpayers in the mid-range brackets, the rate is 15%. For those above the above thresh-hold, the rate of both capital gains and dividends is increased from 15% in 2012 to 20% in 2013.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Simplified home-office deduction safe harbor announced

While the computation of amount is greatly simplified, the provision still includes the reference that the office space in home is used 'exclusively' for the related business. Taken literally, that is a high hurdle. For instance, my only office space is in my home, but it is clear that I use it for a variety of activities (personal, church, and professional work), so I fail the 'exclusive' test.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Federal Revenues Continue to Improve

Federal revenues have increased by a total of 22.7%, despite a 2-year payroll tax holiday and no increase in tax rates!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Tax Rates Individuals; Trusts; Estates

One aspect of the "American Tax Relief Act of 2012" is that it reduced the propensity for annual, year-end, congress critter, stand-offs by making tax rates 'permanent' rather than 'temporary.' The link is to a one-page, PDF, of new rates effective January 1, 2013:

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

IRS Delays Tax Season until End of January

WASHINGTON, D.C. (JANUARY 8, 2013) BY MICHAEL COHN The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday that it plans to open the 2013 tax filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns on Jan. 30, more than a week after the initially planned start date of Jan. 22, but some returns cannot be processed until late February or March.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Thursday, January 03, 2013

ADP 215K Jobs in Dec

December 2012 ADP National Employment Report® U.S. Economy Added 215,000 Private-Sector Jobs in December, According to ADP National Employment Report.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Tax Deal Compared To Going Over Cliff

JAN 2 2013, 1:47 PM ET 13 Households making between $200,000 and $500,000 saved the most compared to a world where we went off the cliff forever. Congratulations, if you're reading this, you survived the fiscal cliff. To celebrate the occasion, Congress is giving all of us a tax hike -- though not as big a tax hike as we would have otherwise gotten. Happy New Year? There's a lot not to like about the fiscal cliff deal, but the biggest thing not to like is the expiring payroll tax cut. As you can see in the chart below, from the Tax Policy Center, it lowers everybody's after-tax income by at least 1 percent, despite the bottom 99 percent of the Bush tax cuts getting renewed and rebranded as the Obama tax cuts.

Congress passes fiscal cliff act

BY PAUL BONNER AND ALISTAIR M. NEVIUS JANUARY 1, 2013 Pulling back from the “fiscal cliff” at the 13th hour, Congress on Tuesday preserved most of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts and extended many other lapsed tax provisions. Shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that had been heralded and, in some quarters, groused about throughout the preceding day. By a vote of 89 to 8, the chamber approved the American Taxpayer Relief Act, H.R. 8, which embodied an agreement that had been hammered out on Sunday and Monday between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The House of Representatives approved the bill by a vote of 257–167 late on Tuesday evening, after plans to amend the bill to include spending cuts were abandoned. The bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.

Google Glass update

January 2, 2013 Google Glass will let you access information “so fast that you feel you know it,” says Project Glass leader Babak Parviz Summary of an IEEE Spectrum report In the next few weeks, Google will start shipping its Google Glass to developers. More-polished consumer models are expected in 2014.

IRS e-Services Systems Down Until Jan. 6

WASHINGTON, D.C. (DECEMBER 31, 2012) BY JEFF STIMPSON In addition to the previously announced Centralized Authorization File outage from December 26 to January 2 at 6 a.m. ET (see "IRS Warns of Service Disruption Christmas Week"), the IRS e-Services' Transcript Delivery System, Disclosure Authorization and Electronic Account Resolution systems will be unavailable for three additional business days. They should return to operation January 6.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

'Twas a very mobile Christmas

Android and iOS devices were apparently popular gifts this Christmas -- more popular than ever before. Device activations soared from their daily December average of 4 million to 17.4 million on Christmas Day, a 332 percent increase, according to analytics firm Flurry. That's more than double the 6.8 million devices activated on Christmas last year, the previous single-day record holder. And in a first, more tablets were activated on Christmas this year than phones. Apple tablets dominated the category, but the Kindle Fire HD 7-inch made its strongest showing ever.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Taxpayers Face Fiscal Cliff unless Washington Agrees on Deal

RIVERWOODS, ILL. (DECEMBER 27, 2012) BY MICHAEL COHN Congress is scheduled to return Thursday, with one of its top priorities a deal to avert the December 31 “fiscal cliff” deadline of looming tax increases and automatic spending cuts, but it will need to work quickly or reach some type of interim agreement.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eight shocking quotes in 2012

When is the last time you heard a statement that caused you to stop dead in your tracks? It doesn’t happen very often, but for each of us, there are a few unusual sound bites that will permeate our senses and sway our thinking. On these rare occasions, it’s usually a statement by someone we trust, with the power, authority, and credibility to make such a declaration. However, inside all of the statements the world finds important are the crème de la crème, the Richter scale shifting assertions that really stand out. These are statements so insightful and memorable that they have the power to change the course of history. For this reason, I wanted to focus on eight shocking statements made in 2012, and discuss briefly how they will invariably shift our outlook on the future. Here are the eight statements we’ve judged to be trend-setters for 2013 and beyond.

IBM reveals five innovations that will change our lives within five years

The era of cognitive systems: when computers will, in their own way, see, smell, touch, taste and hear December 18, 2012 IBM announced today the seventh annual “IBM 5 in 5” — a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years, based on market and societal trends as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s R&D labs. This one is focused on cognitive systems.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ray Kurzweil now works for Google

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 15 – Futurist and inventor Raymond Kurzweil said on Friday that he is going to work as director of engineering at Google to help “turn the next decade’s ‘unrealistic’ visions into reality.” Kurzweil, an author whose books include “The Age of Spiritual Machines” and “Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever,” said that Monday would be his first day on the job at Google.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Internet Will Stay Free from Government Control with UN Treaty Blocked

Good news for proponents of an open internet today as a proposed global telecom treaty was blocked by the US, Canada, Africa and Europe. The treaty would have allowed national governments to have control over the internet and monitor everything from its architecture to traffic flow to security.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Are CPAs Innovative Technologists?

A recent AICPA survey reflects that 40% of CPAs consider themselves a technology resource for their clients. I tend to agree with the linked Accounting Today article that wonders what planet they are from. Even though I am presently sitting in a room of around 400 CPAs attending a Technology Conference it doesn't appear that 40% of these CPAs are personally technology savvy. Most do seem to have some type of smartphone and have enough interest to both pay the fee and spend the time to learn some things. However many of their clients are ahead of them in implementing useful technologies. To the extent that my anecdotal observations are correct, it casts dispersion upon the validity of survey results.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

US Household Balance Sheets Improve

Flaws in Federal Government Accounting

From Knowledge at Wharton; December 5, 2012: Flaws in the way the government accounts for its loans and credit guarantees understate the costs that taxpayers are bearing with student loans and other credit programs totaling more than $2.5 trillion, plus more than $5 trillion in mortgages backed by the federally owned companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In fact, a proper accounting -- like that required of most businesses -- would make the government's budget deficit even larger than the officially reported amount.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


National Employment Trends The ADP National Employment Report® is published monthly by the ADP Research InstituteSM in close collaboration with Moody’s Analytics and its experienced team of labor market researchers. The ADP National Employment Report provides a monthly snapshot of U.S. nonfarm private sector employment based on actual transactional payroll data. November 2012 ADP National Employment Report® U.S. Economy Added 118,000 Private-Sector Jobs in November, According to ADP National Employment Report. November 2012 ADP Small Business Report® Small Businesses Created 19,000 Jobs in November, According to National Employment Report.

Mortgage Interest Deductions in 2010

Source: Internal Revenue Service Frank Pompa and Janet Loehrke, USA TODAY

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Percentages of Individual Income Tax Through 2010

Retired economist, Scott Grannis, has put the Tax Foundation summary of recently released IRS data into this chart:
And, an Income Shares chart by Scott:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Moderate exercise enhances memory and preserves gray matter

Exercise can improve your memory and preserve brain cells, researchers find November 28, 2012 A short burst of moderate exercise enhances the consolidation of memories in both healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment, scientists with UC Irvine’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory have discovered.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Standard mileage rates go up a penny in 2013

BY PAUL BONNER NOVEMBER 21, 2012 Optional standard mileage rates for use of a vehicle will go up by 1 cent per mile for 2013, the IRS said Wednesday (Notice 2012-72). Taxpayers can use the optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile.

Cyber Monday likely to be busiest online sales day

By MAE ANDERSON, AP Retail Writer NEW YORK (AP) — Americans clicked away on their computers and smartphones for deals on Cyber Monday, which is expected to be the biggest online shopping day in history.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Consequence of not patching AMT now!

Journal of Accountancy TAX Failure to enact AMT patch could push start of tax season to March for millions, IRS warns BY SALLY P. SCHREIBER, J.D. NOVEMBER 20, 2012 As the end of the year approaches, media attention is focused on the “fiscal cliff,” but a much more immediate result of Congress’s inaction threatens the 2013 filing season: the alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch, which expired at the end of 2011. The IRS warns that the start of tax season could be delayed for millions of taxpayers if the AMT patch is not enacted by the end of the year. The problem is serious enough that the acting IRS commissioner, Steven T. Miller, wrote a letter to Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chair of the Senate Finance Committee, on Nov. 13, 2012. The IRS Oversight Board followed up with a second letter on Nov. 19, urging Congress to act and saying, “We do not believe that the IRS has ever faced such a formidable operational risk.” For 2011, the AMT exemption amount was $48,450 for single taxpayers and $74,450 for married taxpayers filing jointly. At that level, 4 million taxpayers paid AMT for 2011, according to Miller. Without the patch for this year, however, the exemption reverted to $33,750 for individuals and $45,000 for married filing jointly, which, the IRS estimates, will cause 28 million more taxpayers to be subject to the tax, giving them a much larger tax liability than they had anticipated. The IRS also noted that the ordering rules that dictate how tax credits apply to regular income tax and AMT have also expired and need to be fixed as well. Because twice in the past when the AMT patch has expired, it has been reinstated retroactively, the IRS made the decision this year to maintain its tax filing systems “as-is” for the 2013 filing season. As a result, if the AMT patch and tax credit ordering rules are not enacted, the IRS warns of significant delays in the upcoming filing season. The programming changes it would have to make to its processing systems would mean it would have to notify 60 million taxpayers that they may not file a tax return or receive a refund until late in March 2013 and possibly later. A lesser problem, but one that still may cause delays in the 2013 filing season, is the expiration of a number of special tax breaks, including the educators’ deduction for classroom expenses. Miller noted that these deductions were reinstated late in the year in 2010 (mid-December), which delayed the 2011 filing season by four weeks for 9 million taxpayers while the IRS made the necessary changes. Having to deal with similar issues this year will cause inconvenience and delay for a large number of taxpayers, but would be much more manageable than the problems caused by failing to act on the AMT, Miller said. —Sally P. Schreiber ( is a JofA senior editor.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ray Kurzweil at Tucson Technology Conference

"A kid in Africa has more technology at his disposal than the president of the United States did 15 years ago."

Google sells more ads than combined US newspapers

(Credit: Statista/Google) Newspapers have continued to churn out the same content while watching their advertisers steadily flee for sites like Craigslist, Yahoo, the Huffington Post/AOL, Facebook, and Google, says writer Will Oremus in Slate Future Tense. . The chart above, from Statista’s Felix Richter, plots Google’s digital advertising revenue against the print advertising revenue of all U.S. newspapers and magazines. The Guardian‘s Roy Greenslade estimates that Google’s total revenue also now exceeds that of the entire U.S. newspaper industry even when you count digital ads.