The Sham of the Estate Tax Repeal

The new tax plan recently announced by the politicians has caught my eye with one thing in particular – the repeal of the estate tax.

Most people think that the estate tax doesn’t affect them. With the $5.49M exemption per person, most people won’t have enough assets at the time of their deaths to actually pay the tax.

However, that’s not the only effect the tax has on estate beneficiaries. And repealing it will not only help the rich save on the tax payments, but will also increase the tax burden on the middle-class families that inherit assets from their parents.

How? Three words: stepped up basis. Which will disappear together with the estate tax itself.

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Trump had almost $1B losses – how does that work?

The Republican Presidential nominee is apparently not as shrewd a businessman as he wants everyone to believe. It has been published that on his 1995 tax return he reported total accumulated losses of almost $1B!

I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether they want to install a president who alone reported almost 2% of total losses reported by individuals in the United States for that year. After all, he runs a campaign based on his credibility as a businessman and promising fixing the US debt and deficit problems, so his staggering net loss in the 1990’s must attest to his experience in that field… Not for success, though. But that’s politics.

Let’s talk about the loss itself. How does it work, and why it is actually good for us to have that mechanism in general.

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So Facebook decided to force spam on its users….

It’s been a while since I saw advertisements on Facebook that were not in form of click-baits or Takei’s promoted posts. And Facebook didn’t like that.

So they decided to circumvent ad filters and force the spam on me even though the clearly recognize that the whole reason people like me use ad filters was because the ads provide little to no value to us.

Clearly, they think they can boost revenue by degrading the user experience. Well, what can I do?

Click on all the ads.

Yes, they’ll get paid for that, but the more people do that – the more advertisers will realize that the Facebook “high” CTR doesn’t lead to any conversions, and in fact is causing them to lose customers instead of gaining them.

I don’t really care if Facebook earns more money or not. In fact, if they do – good for them. More money to Zuckerberg’s charity, for all I care. But if a large enough volume of advertisers realize that they’re paying for nothing and the clicks they’re getting are useless – maybe they will force Facebook to be more user-friendly?

Or maybe we all move to Google+ after all?

In any case – if you can’t escape it, click it. If the advertisers think it is a good use for their money to force me memorize what companies and products I’m not going to pay for – that’s their choice.

Your Little Advisor.

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Online banking deteriorating! Or, so I got the Citi’s Costco card.

I mentioned the new Chase online banking website and I wasn’t happy about it.

Little did I know… Just a few days later I had to sign up to the Citi online banking system, with my brand new Citi Costco Visa card. What can I say?.. Hey, Chase guys, your site is awesome!

So what made me so upset about Citi?

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It’s the Prime day at Amazon!

Today is the Amazon traditional “Prime day” sale. Tons of promotions are going on, and if you look carefully enough you may catch a glimpse of that rare beast called “a real deal!”.

If you don’t yet have a Prime account – you can try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial. There are some nice discounts going on, but do your own due diligence and compare prices.

Worth noting, that competitors have sales of their own. Walmart, for example, provides free shipping on any order. Target has already started the end-of-summer/back-to-college sales. Google Express has a 3-months trial that you can try to have deliveries from the local brick-and-mortar stores, if you don’t like what Amazon is doing to the retail market.

While on the topic of Amazon and sales, pay attentionĀ  to this piece of news. Apparently, Amazon are silently experimenting with the “list price” notion. Or rather, lack of it. Many sellers use the “list price” (or the MSRP – Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) to show how big their discount is, without revealing that the “list price” has never been the actual price for the item. In many cases, as noted in the article I linked to, the manufacturers themselves sell below their own MSRP prices.

What it means is that when you see “50% off”, it may not actually be half the “regular” price. It may be half the MSRP price, which no-one in fact sells at. So even when you see the “original” prices stricken out – do your own due diligence and compare prices on different sites. Including the manufacturer’s. Check the local retailers. You may be surprised by the results. In some cases, you may get the item cheaper in a brick-and-mortar shop next to you rather than online.

Enjoy your shopping!

Your Little Advisor.


PS: 712 (7/12) is not a prime number. However, 127 (12/7) is. 12/7 is July 12th as written in most of the European countries.

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So Chase updated their web site. To the AdBlock!

Chase Bank, of which I’m a happy customer, has recently updated their website for online banking.

There was nothing (much) wrong with the old one, IMHO, but it seems to be a trend for online service providers to move to a model of a site optimized for all devices. As part of that Chase decided to redesign their online banking site to be more suitable for tablet/phone users at the expense of the desktop users.

So far so good, from IT perspective it is definitely easier and cheaper to maintain one version that suits all than multiple versions for segmented markets. No complaints there.


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The IRS On-line Transcripts Service is No Longer Available

I wrote a while ago about the new IRS service allowing to download your tax return transcripts online.

Unfortunately, this service is no longer available.

The IRS took the online service down due to the compromised security, after a large amount of taxpayers’ personal information has been accessed by unauthorized persons.

For those who still need to get the transcripts, you can do it by mail, using the form 4506. You can download the form here.

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