What happened to customer service?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed how poor customer service is these days. It’s frustrating to purchase a product, or attempt to do so, and in the process discover that no one seems to care. We used to just complain about the post office and DMV, but now it seems that many companies have determined that it is more cost effective to put the customer off than to hire another person to help. Then I ran across an article today with this headline: “Want to Boost Business? Stop Answering the Phone

Upon reading the article, it seems that a major financial services company is recommending that Financial Advisors should quit immediately answering the phone and train their clients to wait. I was appalled when I read the reasons for doing so. Here are their reasons and why I think they are completely wrong….Continue Reading

Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF) Tax Credits

Oregon residents have the opportunity to get a 10% annual return on their investment this year. The Oregon Department of Revenue, in conjunction with the Oregon Film and Video Office, will be auctioning 12,000 income tax credit certificates, worth $500 each.  The sale of the tax credits will benefit the Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF). Continue Reading

How not to lose money in the stock market

What if I told you… You could invest in the stock market and get a guarantee that your investments won’t lose money. You could do so without paying exorbitant fees or commissions. If stocks go up, you share in the profits. If stocks go down, you won’t lose money. That’s right, no downside. In fact,Continue Reading

Are You Paying Too Much Tax on Your Bond Income?

  You may be overpaying or underpaying taxes on your bond income and not even know it. Bond taxation is complex because there are several considerations that require different tax treatments. If a bond is purchased at par and held to maturity, it is fairly simple. If it’s a taxable bond, you pay income tax on theContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Tax Scams, Fraud, and Tax Refund Theft

IRS Releases the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2013 The Internal Revenue Service issued its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of tax scams, reminding taxpayers to use caution during tax season to protect themselves against a wide range of schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud. To see the complete IRS “Dirty Dozen” list,Continue ReadingContinue Reading

Increasing Your Income While Hedging Your Risk

As you already know, I’m partial to fixed income (bond) investments as a significant portion of a portfolio for anyone at or close to retirement.  I feel strongly about this for several reasons. The equity (stock) market has done very well so far this year, and I hope it continues, but it is volatile andContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Health Care Exchanges – What You Can Expect to Pay

Many states will start offering health coverage through Health Insurance Exchanges this year. These exchanges are designed to be a one-stop shopping place for individuals and families that do not have health insurance coverage through their employer. The concept is to provide a competitive marketplace for health insurance in an effort to slow the growthContinue ReadingContinue Reading

The Kindler/Gentler IRS Goes Unnoticed

In 2001 the IRS instituted the First-time Penalty Abatement (FTA) to bolster voluntary compliance and help to fairly administer the application of penalties. But according to a 2012 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report, in 2010 only 8.8% of the taxpayers in the sample it tested actually received the abatement. The report indicates that theContinue ReadingContinue Reading

A Simplified Option for Claiming the Home Office Deduction in 2013

On Jan. 15, 2013, the Internal Revenue Service announced a simplified option that many owners of home-based businesses and some home-based workers may use to figure their deductions for the business use of their homes. The new option provides eligible taxpayers an easier path to claiming the home office deduction. Currently, they are generally requiredContinue ReadingContinue Reading

Social Security Changes for 2013

If you’re a wage earner, you are already aware of the expiration of the 2% payroll tax cut, but there are several other rules and features the Social Security Administration (SSA) will be implementing in 2013. Here’s a look at some of the Social Security changes that go into effect this year: Payroll tax cutContinue ReadingContinue Reading