Personal Finance from Forbes.com

  • Social Security Q&A: Should My Lower Earning Spouse Claim Early Retirement Benefits and then Switch to Spousal Benefits at FRA?
    Social Security may be your largest or one of your largest assets. How you manage it, by deciding which benefits to collect and when, can make an absolutely huge difference to your lifetime benefits. And those with the highest past covered earnings have the most to gain from maximizing their Social Security.
  • 10 Unusual Jobs That Pay Surprisingly Well
  • How To Find Out What Coworkers Earn
    Whether you are negotiating for a raise or standing up for your legal rights, knowing what coworkers make gives you the upper hand. We offer practical advice about how to get the information you need.
  • Money Motivators: 5 Apps That Can Up Your Financial Game
    Forgetful? Disorganized? Paralyzed when it comes to money? There's an app to help with that?like these five finance-focused tools.
  • The Burger King Deal: What Happens If Your Job Moves Across The Border?
    The recent merger of Burger King and Tim Hortons spurred a lot of comments about the tax benefits that could result from the company setting up their headquarters in Canada.
  • Social Security: Getting the Spousal Benefit Right
    Maximizing your Social Security benefit isn't a simple matter. You can leave a lot of money on the table depending on when you claim your benefits.
  • How Star Athletes Deal With Retirement
    When it?s time for star athletes to retire they struggle through some of the same emotional and financial challenges that the average Joe goes through. A major difference, however, is that pro athletes are forced to deal with it at a much earlier age when Social Security and Medicare are still years down the road
  • The 9 Habits You Develop In College That Will Haunt Your Wallet
    College is an incubator for learning ?new subjects, new cultures, new skills. But while you perfected your Spanish and polished your resume, you also picked up some habits that will cost you after graduation.
  • Debt From KPMG Tax Shelter Survives Bankruptcy
    Reading appellate tax decision, there is as bad as it gets, which is appealing your sentence after you have been incarcerated.  Almost as bad as it gets is appealing a bankruptcy court refusing to discharge your tax debt.  That is what James Charles Vaughn was seeing the Tenth Circuit about.  He did not get any help, so his multi-million dollar tax debt survives his bankruptcy.  Even though, I wasn't rooting for him as I read this case, I do feel really bad from him.  Primarily, he is a victim of the deprofessionalization of public accounting, which is a pretty sad thing. Mr. Vaughn was part of the large number of people around the turn of the millenium who were led to believe that their major liquidity events could be tax free, thanks to the brilliant geniuses at their Big 4 firms.  In his case it was KPMG. Mr. Vaughn, whom the Court calls "Appellant" was a really smart guy.
    In the mid-nineties, Appellant was Chief Executive Officer of a cable television acquisition company, FrontierVision Partners, LP. Though Appellant had little formal education beyond high school, he had significant practical business experience. In the decade-and-a-half prior to becoming CEO of FrontierVision, Appellant served in senior executive positions at a number of cable and communication companies. Appellant was so effective in these positions he was described by one of his colleagues, the Chief Financial Officer at FrontierVision, Jack Koo, as having “as much business acumen as anyone that known in career.”
    So when Mr. Vaughn did something that turned out in retrospect to have been kind of dumb, it was something dumb designed by very smart people that was really complicated.  It was called BLIPS.
     BLIPS was described as a structured, multi-stage program that involved investment in foreign currencies. BLIPS's use as a tax strategy resulted from the manner in which the program combined a participant's relatively small cash contribution to an investment fund (made through a limited liability company), with a nonrecourse loan and a loan premium, ultimately facilitating a high tax loss for the participant without a corresponding economic loss. Through BLIPS, a desired tax loss could be tailored to offset a participant's actual economic gain, and thereby shelter that gain from tax. The BLIPS program was structured so the basis for a desired tax loss would be achieved by closing out the investment fund after sixty days.
    Have you ever seen the proof that 1=0?  Buried in all the steps is a division by 0.  BLIPS and its relatives such as BOSS and Son of Boss, have buried in them an unbalanced entry.  As a variation on an old accounting joke, I have called it "Debit By the Window, Credit Out the Window".
  • Social Security Q&A: Should Each Spouse File And Suspend, Claim Spousal Benefits And Then File For Retirement Benefits At 70?
    Social Security may be your largest or one of your largest assets. How you manage it, by deciding which benefits to collect and when, can make an absolutely huge difference to your lifetime benefits. And those with the highest past covered earnings have the most to gain from maximizing their Social Security.

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