Thursday, February 14, 2008

Figuring Out My Traditional Tax Deduction

I wanted to know where and how and what I needed to document to take the tax deduction on the money that I'm putting into my Traditional IRA that I just opened. But with my wife getting a raise this year, I know that I'm dangerously close to the cutoff where the deduction is phased out for people participating in an employer sponsored plan(ESP), such as my SIMPLE-IRA. About the last part, apparently none, that is reported directly to the IRA. About the first part, (ironically, because of the phrasing, found on is line 32 on the 1040.

But where was the cut-off? As I interpret IRS Publication 590, what I think it boils down to in my case, a married filing jointly, is this. Take the upper limit they give you, which in my case is $103,000, subtract your Modified AGI and multiply the result by 0.2. For $83,000, it is the full $4000. For $90,000 AGI its $2600, and for $100,000 AGI, it is only $600 dollars a year that can be deducted. You can still put more in up to the limit of $4000 for 2007 (it goes to 5K in 08), it is just not deductible on your taxes. The numbers are different for people who file singly or separately, or who aren't covered by an ESP.

So in going forward, I will need to consider this possibility if our income rises. Since I only have $100 a month going into it currently, I should be good for awhile. But this is not something I had anticipated when I decided to work towards bringing my SIMPLE-IRA contributions down and putting more into a self directed IRA, while still deferring the taxation on that same amount of money. Which is the only reason that I even consider it in addition to the Roth, except with regard to the idea of earning money on Uncle Sam's dollar for a change.

It is an interesting quandary. Compared to some previous periods in my life, it is a actually a good quandary to be in. It is indicative that the good Lord has been good to us, even if the IRS hasn't.

[Update: 5/2/08] I closed the sucker. I got tax deferment with the simple IRA and no-tax with the ROTH. Bases covered.


S.T.A.R.D.O.M.B.*, Part Deux

I have found that the biggest trouble with debating politics with rednecks is how they have that savant-level mastery in the fine art of completely missing the point. In response to yesterday's post on the Murray Ledger board, I got this response:

Since you think Obama is qualified because he has 4 years in the US Senate and 8 in the IL senate, I wasn't sure what he was in in the IL government. I guess because I never heard his name till he run for the US Senate. Anyway, wouldn't that make McCain more qualified since he's been in the US Senate longer. I'm not crazy about McCain but not being liberal, I will have to vote for him. Obama is the most liberal voting person in congress.


The great thing about a moderated message board is that it forces me to be more tactful than I might be otherwise. Restraint and tact were what I was going for in this reply:
Jay, the point was in comparing political experience. If I had thought longer about, I could have said Eisenhower, who never held a political office at all before becoming President, although Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in WW2 would count as some major experience in my book.

I never said length of political career was a good indication of anything. But if you actually feel that way, you would have to concede Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd were more "qualified" than John McCain, something I'm sure your are not willing to do, and neither would I. I guess if Fox news says the Obama is the most liberal member of Congress it might be true.

However I have noticed that particular label seems to follow whoever is the biggest threat to the Republicans at the time. In 2004 it was John Kerry, then it was Hillary, now its Obama, and what I find insulting is that they actually expect us to believe it when there are far more bona fide liberal whackos out there like Kucinich, Barney Frank, and the previously mentioned Ted Kennedy.

Tomorrow, there will be another "most liberal member of Congress", and maybe one day you will realize that by using and buying into such rhetoric you have been manipulated by the right wing media to an extent far more sinister and extreme than what you could have ever been by the so called left wing media. But I won't be putting money on that happening.
When will I learn to just keep my mouth shut?

Hopefully never. ;-)

*S.T.A.R.D.O.M.B. = Stooping To Answer Redneck Dumbasses On Message Boards

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The S.T.A.R.D.O.M.B. Sees No Sign of Abaiting

More excitement from the Murray Ledger Message Board.

A guy calling himself "History Lesson" tried enlighted one of the previous posters who thought the Founding Fathers would be rolling in their graves at the thought of a Congressman getting sworn in on a Koran. To which another redneck replied:
That may or may not be, History Lesson. No one can deny, though, that the only ones who don't have religious "freedom" are the ones that were here first.
I tried to let it slide. But I have a sore spot for fellow Americans who think they are losing religious freedom, just because they get called bigots for using terms like "Godless Sodomite".
Citizen, I would deny that the only ones who don't have religious "freedom" are the ones that were here first. Who has stopped you from going to Church? Who has denied you from ever saying a prayer anywhere? Who has confiscated and burned your Bible? Prayer in school?

Usually the folks that fear the overwhelming role of Government in our lives are the first to bemoan the loss of State-sponsored prayer in our schools, and would also be the first to complain if their children were led in prayer by Catholic Priest, or a Jehovah's Witness or for some, even a woman. I say if you want your children to pray at the start of each school day, you should be hitting your knees with them before they get out the door.

Merchants saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is usually done in the spirit of inclusion to all people and not as part of some secular humanist plot to remove Jesus from public view. To imply Christians are persecuted in this country is to make a mockery of every true martyr for Christ and the truly oppressed. Unless I misunderstood your statement, and by "the ones that were here first", you are talking about the Native Americans, in which case I might be agreeable, but I still think they are doing OK.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Healthcare rant

When I think about how America might adopt Universal Healthcare, I don't think it will come in the hands of Liberal Socialists wanting to style our healthcare system after Canada or Great Britian. I think it will be in response to the callous greed of the Health Insurance industry. Things like this. It will be the outrage of the multimillion dollar bonuses of CEO's in charge of companies who deny coverage, or who rescind coverage on uninsurable people.

Stooping To Answer Redneck Dumbasses On Message Boards

This is what passes for excitement for me I reckon.

I had to go off on some redneck on the Murray Ledger message board. You never know with them what is going to get through and what won't (the moderator, not the thick skulled head of rednecks), so I will post it here for posterity. This particular redneck named Julie is...well, just read it:

First she says this:
I wonder if most of the Christian people considering voting for Obama have considered the fact that he was born and raised by an Atheist and a Muslim?!?! His mother did not believe in God and his step dad sent him to a Muslim school. A part of me (crazy as it may sound) wonders if he was not born and bred to assume the roll of President to totally screw our country over. When you look back at 9-11 they used our own planes to destroy us from the inside out. Why not use a person to do the same thing. Obama keeps talking about CHANGE but has nothing to say what he will do. I also have a problem with the fact that he calls himself an African American... the last time I checked I was just an AMERICAN! I think all of us should drop the Asian American, Hispanic American, and African American. Because if you are not proud to be just an AMERICAN....they should all go back to where they came from. I will not vote for anyone no matter what color of their skin if God is not their leader first and foremost. If they are pro choice, what kind of Christian does that make them? The Bible I read says Homosexuality and Murder are sins, and I won't vote for any one that does not stand for the Bible. The Bible says "if you are not for me you are against me" people need to remember that when they vote
"Homosexuality and Murder", what a pair! I might have left her alone if she also included the abominable sin of having sex with menstruating women, which I feel is the single most, least talked about sin in the Bible. Or if she'd just left it at that, but she had to continue. In response to some other voice of reason calling her out , she replied to them:
....I did search before I posted so please don't insult me. I will not vote for Obama either. When you go to his web site and it lists the church he attends if you search that church on line you will also find their mission statement where they basically swear their allegance to Africa. Also, on Obama's web site it talks about his past and he did attend Muslim school. I think everything we experience in life effects us, and I personally will not take a chance with this man. He has no experience what so ever.I hear the word change, but he says nothing about what or how he is gonna bring change about....SOMETIMES Change is not what it is cracked up to be

Yeah, change like black people getting the right to vote. I felt compelled to answer. I had had enough:
Julie, I am almost embarrassed to answer your post. But the Christ I worship has the power to redeam and bring salvation to anyone, regardless of their upbringing. While many, even on this board, have stated that they feel his conversion to Christianity was politically expedient, some have said as much about our current president, as well as many other politicians.

I can only wonder if the same part of your paranoid mind that imagines Obama was "born and bread" to destroy America from the inside out would find it more likely that the Communist brainwashed John McCain into being a Manchurian Candidate during the six years he was held in their captivity. But that would probably be harder for you to accept because McCain is a White American. McCain is also an Episcopalian, which has recently taken some positions that someone like you would probably find just as offensive as Obama's church allegedly has, but that seems to give you no pause.

Personally, I think African Americans are entitled to be called whatever they want without it being a slight to their patriotism. After all, less than a mere 50 years ago, it was usually something far less flattering, you know back when they weren't able to even vote around here? Or even have their white murderers brought to justice because the all-white juries of the time would not convict them? Ever heard of Medgar Evers? You should be proud they are claiming their American identity because not so long ago America didn't claim them. You might not belong to a culture that you can be proud of in addition to your being American, but you have absolutely no right to deny anybody else that pride, and still call yourself a freedom loving American. I notice in your list of hyphenated-Americans you only included people of different races, but left out Irish Americans and Italian Americans, both of which are groups with the same strong cultural pride of those groups you mention. I'm sure that was just a lapse in memory and not a reflection of your biases.

As for "no experience what so ever", his 8 years in the Illinois Senate and 4 years in the US Senate give him a political career 85% as long as John F. Kennedy had when he became President. In conclusion, the Bible also says among the things that the Lord hates are "a lying tongue,... a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers." For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. It also says that too.
Wouldn't it be nice if politics was just about discussing Ideas logically, and with facts? And less about the spreading of baseless propaganda? Oh to dare to dream.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

My Message to Citibank

Wow, I just realized I haven't posted anything in almost two months. I'm such a lame blogger. Not that I really give a shit about that. But maybe I should try to do a little better there. I've just been so damn busy. But anyways, here is an unacceptable rant. It was deemed unacceptable by Citibank. Apparently if you want to bitch them out, you must limit it to 20 lines, what ever a "line" is.

But while setting up my monthly payment it just started to fly all over me that they don't have automatic monthly minimum payments to set up. So I tried to tell them about it. But they wouldn't have it, I guess they don't have the time. Assuming whoever might read this does, here it is:
Dear Sirs: // <-- I actually didn't bother with a salutation. While I am currently enjoying a very low interest rate on the balance that I owe on my CitiBank account, I do feel compelled to register a complaint. This is the only credit card that I have which does not provide a means for either a set amount to be paid each month automatically, or for the minimum payment to be paid automatically. Just so you know, I am becoming ever more and more unsatisfied as a credit card user and have started using my newly acquired, interest-bearing(!) debit card from ING for almost all of my monthly expenses. I don't have to worry about changing terms, payment dates, whether or not I have to pay by the payment date or at least a couple of days before. I am starting to find it hard to believe that the only reason Citibank does not provide the functionality to at least schedule payments more than one month into the future, like Chase does, or automatically schedule the minimum payment to be made, as I get with Bank of America or any affiliate of CheckFree, is that they want customers to occasionally forget to make their online payments so that they can ding them a fee. I plan on having this debt paid off in less than one year. If you have not added this feature to your website within that time, it will factor heavily on whether or not I will keep this account open, and continue to do business with CitiBank. I'm sure that this will little communique will have little influence on your decision to do so when you are probably making so much money with those dings, and the automatic rate increases that would most certainly come from it. Just be aware that I'm sick of the ever changing service agreements, I'm sick that you people would engage in Universal Default and penalize someone for what could be the accounting mistake of a competitor at the expense of a customer, I'm sick of online account management that I feel doesn't help me do the single most important thing I want to do, which is to pay my bill on time, aka pay you people money I owe you. Personally, I don't put roadblocks on people trying to pay me what they owe me. But for all I know doing the opposite is a good a way to run a credit card business, but it does seem counter intuitive. The bean counters might even have some formula as to what level you can make your customers unhappy without affecting your bottom line. But for what its worth, you are probably going to lose this one or at the very least maintain an empty account, no big deal I'm sure.
I worked on that particular composition and they were just not interested. Oh well, at least I know now how much they actually care about this particular customer. Somewhat less than 20 lines of text. Oh man, I can't wait to pay those usurers off.

[Update] My mistake. They replied and I was all upset for nothing. They DO have AutoPay. They just apparently don't want anyone to use it, since they don't display it anywhere in my account settings or like in the "Pay Bill" Section. They might now want you to know this if you are a CitiBank customer, but if you know that their system is called "AutoPay", and you do a search in their Online Answers section for that word you can get some information about it. They are going to mail me a form to fill out, mail it (the old fashion kind) back to them, have some buffoon type my application into the internets and in a month or two I should have AutoPay set up. Ain't the wired up, electronic information age great? This is the same level of service that I would have expected in 1990. Ain't the wired up, electronic information age great?