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Auto Breakdown Insurance

May 27, 2011 | Filed Under Insurance | Comments Off

Is Mechanical Breakdown Insurance (MBI) Worth It?    by Chris Birk on 19 May 2011

This is an interesting article regarding a rarely heard insurance product, Mechanical Breakdown Insurance.  This is a hedge against those unexpected, costly automobile expenses.

Affording Retirement

May 18, 2011 | Filed Under Finance, Investment, Retirement Savings | Comments Off

Are you among the 40% of working Americans that feel you will never be able
to afford to retire? A Harris Interactive survey of 1005 American workers,
reported figures to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants,
that reveal the pessimistic outlook many Americans have regarding their
future days in the sun.  The study also showed that 55% of workers don’t
know how much they’ll need to retire.  Those who have some figure in mind,
are likely to underestimate how much they’ll need in savings.

The current state of the economy has left a hefty 56% of Americans who say
they can’t afford to save, and almost a third who feel they are financially
worse off now then they were a year ago.

“These statistics suggest we are on the verge of a retirement crisis in
America,” said Jordin Amin, chairman of the National CPA Financial Literacy
Commission(AICPA).  “Americans don’t know how to prepare for their twilight
years, and many have put off figuring it out because they’re struggling to
make ends meet now.”  Concerns over rising gas and food prices have 60% of
Americans interviewed by the AICPA Commission making adjustments to their
financial planning.  Worries over retirement however, are still looming over
90% of those interviewed, outranking concerns over uninsured medical
expenses, gas prices, and expanding educational costs.

The American Institute of CPA’s is trying help Americans gain financial
health through free educational programs and tools, and a task force of
volunteer CPA’s.

Despite the cloudy outlook, it is encouraging to find that nearly 60% of the
survey participants see savings as part of their lifestyle, regardless of
their current means to provide for it.

“Here’s  the best advice I can give for retirement planning: Start!”, Amin
said, “Set aside a $1 a day for an IRA, or $100 a quarter for a 401(k).
Small change adds up.”

In addition, the Commission offers these tips in establishing a financial retirement

  • Track your expenses for three to six months. Then think about how those expense                                                might change in your retirement years.
  • Create a concrete plan, determining how much you’ll need to save.
  • Develop a transition plan.  Many Americans reaching age 65, discover that their working                                           years still lie ahead.  Consider doing part-time or consulting work to supplement                                                      your  savings in order to transition into full retirement.

For more personal counsel about retirement planning, contact Shari Mattingly-Bevan
& Associates to help get you on track  for retirement.  864-283-6906 or

Simpler Tax Laws

May 13, 2011 | Filed Under Tax Articles | Comments Off

Simplifying the tax code has been the cry of the common citizen for decades and yet the tax laws only continue to increase in complexity.
A House Ways and Means Committee hearing in April heard once again the need for simpler tax laws. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants was one of the voices heard.

“Individual taxpayers and their families need simple tax laws so they can understand the rules and follow them correctly in a cost-efficient manner”, Annette Nellen, chair of the AICPA Individual Income Taxation Technical Resource Panel, said.

Ms. Nellen highlighted education as a prime example of the complexity woven into the tax code, that often confuses and intimidates taxpayers. Not to mention, costing them potential tax savings.

“Few, if any, taxpayers are both aware of all the education tax incentives and fewer still can perform the analysis to determine which incentive is most advantageous,”  Nellen said.  “The  requirements, eligibility rules, definitions, and income phase-outs vary from incentive to incentive.”

IRS Publication 970  takes over 80 pages to explain all the education provisions applicable to the two-page Education Credits Form 970.

A couple of years ago, a Government Accountability Office report, determined that nearly one-fifth of eligible taxpayers had not claimed either a tuition deduction or a tax credit that could have reduced their tax liability by $219 on average.

Over 6.1 billion hours a year are spent by taxpayers and businesses in complying with tax-filing requirements.  Imagine what a nation of productive workers could accomplish with a regained 6.1 billion hours!

Education of course isn’t the only area that is bogged down in tax “red-tape”.  The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Alternative Minimum Tax, mileage rates, due dates as well as most of the tax code should be simplified.

The taxpayer isn’t the only one to benefit from proposed tax reform. The government is estimated to have lost revenue of between $9.6 billion to $11.4 billion in 2005 from “over claims” in the EITC.

Reducing the complexity in the tax law would improve compliancy by a tax base that could complete a tax return accurately and quickly.  More taxpayers would be able to claim benefits they were entitled to and the government would more easily be able to identify inaccuracies and out right fraud.