Monday, April 14, 2014

The Last Minute


I owe taxes this year, what can I do at the last minute to avoid this tax bill?

Stressed in Covina


Consider an extension – All individual taxpayers are allowed up to an additional six months to prepare and file, which will extend the deadline for 2013 returns to October 15. To get this extension, taxpayers must file IRS Form 4868. Remember, that an extension to file the return is not an extension to pay your tax. To avoid penalties, you must pay the IRS at least 90% of what you owe by April 15. Interest – currently 3% a year, compounded daily-will be due on the underpayment.

Deductions available – Make tax-deductible contributions for 2013 to a regular retirement account by April 15. Make tax-deductible contributions to another pension plan before October 15, if you have a six month extension. Make tax-deductible contributions to a qualified Health Savings Account by April 15.

Check your Marriage Penalty or Marriage Bonus – For two-income married couples, especially those with similar incomes, being married can mean owing more in taxes than the partners would as two singles. In part, that is because the U.S. tax system “stacks” one partner’s income atop the other’s. If you are curious about your marriage penalty or bonus, The Tax Payer Policy Center, a nonprofit group in Washington, has a calculator at

If you can’t pay or don’t file – strapped taxpayers should be aware that it is impossible to outrun the IRS. You may qualify for an “online payment agreement” at that can be used to schedule payments. Don’t ignore, the IRS can help you work your payments out.

Good luck.


HAPPY TAX SEASON: HERE'S HOW TO SAVE $675M - In honor of our annual spring ritual, let me show you how utterly bizarre the American tax system can be, using a recent deal between two well-known outfits to illustrate my point. The deal involves Don Graham's Graham Holdings (formerly the Washington Post Co.) and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, which are doing what's known in the tax biz as a cash-rich split-off.

It's a way that companies can dispose of holdings on which they have big gains and emerge with cash without technically selling anything, thus incurring no tax bill ... Cash-rich split-offs are specifically allowed by the Internal Revenue Code. Graham and Berkshire aren't pushing boundaries; they're using something that Congress has specifically allowed. It's absurd, but it's permissible.

OUT OF AFRICA - Nigeria becomes Africa's biggest economy, Nigeria ... became Africa's biggest economy, leap-frogging South Africa ... With 170 million people, Nigeria is about three times the size of South Africa and has enjoyed high rates of growth, notwithstanding widespread corruption ... Economists ... warned not to take the new figures at face value, given that South Africa -- the continent's only G20 member -- has fewer people and is way ahead in ... infrastructure and governance. ... For ordinary Nigerians -- most of whom still live on less than $2 a day - the [GDP] rebasing [will] have little effect, but it will improve the country's balance sheet and its credit rating.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Ellen Barkin (60), Ashley Judd (46), Jessica Lange (65), Emma Thompson (55).

COLLEGE CHRONICLES – Harvard and Yale ... accepted about 6 percent of applicants, Columbia and Princeton about 7 percent, and [MIT] and the University of Chicago about 8 percent. Duke accepted only 9.9% of the 31,785 who applied to the school for the Class of 2017, the lowest acceptance rate in Duke history.

CBS LATE NIGHT – Comedy Central’s Steve Colbert has signed on to be the replacement to David Letterman’s Late Night show. Colbert's the real deal: in person, Colbert is a nice guy, but not as monologue-monomaniacal as Jay Leno. Colbert has lived the life of a suburban soccer dad and Catholic Church-going Sunday school teacher in Montclair, N.J., with a beautiful wife he's nuts about, Evie McGee, and three kids. He's not an ingratiating boy next door, like Jimmy Fallon, or a scorchingly candid curmudgeon, like Letterman. ... Carson was the Walter Lippmann of comedy, wielding enormous influence over the reputations of politicians he mocked. Stewart and Colbert took it a step further. They became Murrow and Cronkite for a generation of young viewers.

15 minutes prep
60 minutes refrigeration
Serves 10

How We Did It
We've taken a classic recipe and made it over by preparing it with JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Fat Free Sugar Free Instant Pudding, COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping and an angel food cake. We also eliminated the butter and powdered sugar in the chocolate topping. These changes will save you 170 calories and 11 grams of total fat, including 3.5 grams of saturated fat, per serving.
Make Ahead: Dessert can be made up to 4 hours in advance. Remove from refrigerator 30 min. before serving.

What you need
1 pkg. (1.0 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Fat Free Sugar Free Instant Pudding
1-1/2 cups cold fat-free milk
1 cup thawed COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping, divided
1  round angel food cake (10 oz.), cut horizontally into 3 layers
1 oz. BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, chopped

How to make it
Beat pudding mix and milk in medium bowl with whisk 2 min. Stir in 1/2 cup COOL WHIP.
Stack cake layers on serving plate, spreading pudding mixture between layers.
Microwave chocolate and remaining COOL WHIP in microwaveable bowl on HIGH 30 sec.; stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Spoon over cake. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Rink Rats Kitchen Tips
How to Slice Cake Evenly
Mark the cake into 3 horizontal layers with toothpicks. Use a long serrated knife and gently sawing motion to cut the cake into the layers as directed.

CHAMPS – We like the San Jose Sharks to win the Stanley Cup Playoffs over the Boston Bruins which begin this week. Also we like the San Antonio Spurs to win the NBA playoffs over the Indiana Pacers.

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Congrats to the Union College Dutchmen, a 2,200 student liberal arts D-III school (except for hockey) in Schenectady, New York, for winning the 2013-2014 NCAA D-I Men’s Hockey Championship. Final Season to date (8-5).


(MLB, April 19) Anaheim Angels (6-6) vs. Detroit Tigers (6-4). Tigers back home in Comerica after west coast trip, Detroit wins 5 - 4.

 (NHL, April 19) Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues, the best time of year for hockey fans, The Stanley Cup Playoffs. Western Conference Quarter-final Game 2, Hawks win 4 – 3.

SCIAC Game of the Week (Sat. April 19-softball) Redlands Bulldogs (24-10) vs. La Verne Leopards (12-18). First place Redlands visit the new Campus West field, Leos pull the upset 6 - 4.

2014 Season to date (24-26), ouch!

DRIVING THE WEEK -  Treasury Secretary Jack Lew this morning plans to meet with Ukrainian Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak at Treasury. Following the meeting, the Secretary and the Finance Minister will participate in a signing ceremony for a $1 billion loan guarantee for the Government of Ukraine ... Retail sales at 8:30 a.m. expeted to rise 0.9%, 0.5% ex-autos ... Empire State survey at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise to 8.0 from 5.6 ... Consumer prices at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday expected to rise 0.1 headline and core ...

Fed Chair Janet Yellen at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday delivers remarks via video to an Atlanta Fed conference on financial markets ... Yellen on Wednesday delivers remarks at 12:15 p.m. to the Economic Club of New York on "Monetary Policy and the Economic Recovery" ... Industrial production at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday expected to rise 0.5% ... Philly Fed Thursday at 10:00 a.m. expected to rise to 10.0 from 9.0 ... Markets closed Friday in honor of Good Friday and Easter weekend.

A joyous Easter and Passover to our readers.

Next week: Entitlement Part Deux and The Lie.

Until Next Monday, Adios.

Claremont, CA
April 14, 2014

#IV-52, 209

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