Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mom, 13, is ruled a sex crime offender

I was shocked when I read this. I nearly choked on a Pepsi.

It appears that this 13 year old infant who became pregnant by a twelve year old is now a child sex offender for having intercouse with the afore mentioned infant. I don't know what to make of it. It is incredibly ridiculous to me that children this young are engaging in sexual activity, and even more ridiculous is that the government is actually holding one of these children out as being a perpetrator.

If the courts were to charge anyone of a crime it should be the children's parents -- charge them with being incredibly lousy parents. My heavens, 12- 13 year olds should still be playing with dolls and avoiding the other sexes cooties.

This is one of those cases that make me long for the past. Kids could be kids for more than 11 years.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

2006 Filing Season

It's that time of year again, New Years is about here and soon the tax filing season will be in full swing. During, this time of year my wife & children are pretty much orphaned and my blog will likely fall in that category. However, I'd like to give my business website address that is under construction and will be fully operational in a few weeks.

As a reminder I'd like to offer a few last minute tips to lower your tax bill. If you are wondering if your withholdings are insufficient you can submit a new W-4 before your last paycheck for the year is issued, the IRS has an excellent calculator on its website to determine your withholding allowances. You can also make extra contributions to your 401k. Purchasing a hybrid vehicle is an excellent last minute tax saving move if you can get your hands on one, the deductions are available to individuals as well as businesses and the state of Utah has a substantial tax credit in connection to the purchase of that vehicle. If you anticipate extraordinarily high income from a business, you may be able to reduce your liability by making purchases of business assets. You can write off as much as 100,000 dollars of asset purchases made before year end 2005, there are restrictions and issues that apply so contact your tax professional for details.

Thanks for your readership, and plan on regular posts after 4/15/2006 .

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Homesteading: An Interesting Solution to Skyrocketing Housing Cost

Steve U suggested an interesting idea to solve the out of control housing prices (this maybe a little more applicable to So. Utah than the rest of the state). If by chance the state could finally get land the Federal government has been promising to give back to Utah, offering developments to "homesteaders".

Its an interesting idea that I really like, although I'm sure it would be several years before anything would likely come of it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bob Schultz -- "We The People"

On Steve U's blog there was a commenter on the budget post that kept refering to a Bob Schultz and We the People. The commenter had a high opinion of this man and asked Steve Urquhart to render an opinion of Mr. Schultz's arguements about the legality of the income tax. It is apparent that Steve didn't feel the need to bother with this (Steve's a smart man thats why he gets elected) likely because of the lunacy of the arguements.

Concerned Citizen -- Quatloos (an organization devoted to uncovering financial fraud schemes) has rendered an excellent opinion of Bob Schultz. I suggest anyone who has been approached about such schemes and scammers pay a visits the the above mentioned website.

I do appreciate the dramatics that Mr. Schultz likes to resort to, some of his antics have included threatening the IRS to arrest him (this was predictably toned down after Lynne Meredith, fellow scamer, was indicted) and even going on a hunger strike to draw attention to himself. He's just another swindler selling lies to eager listeners like Concerned Citizen.

Update: this is a recent decision involving a WTP disciple.

Monday, December 19, 2005

UTAH QUARTER: Mormon symbol doesn't belong on coin

Ah yes the Salt Lake Tribune editorial board.... They published an editorial this weekend that seems fairly ridiculous to me. I guess they think that everything about Utah must be politically incorrect. The article states, "The beehive is a beloved and enduring symbol of Mormon culture. The federal guidelines for the U.S. Mint's popular 50 State Quarters Program prohibit depictions that are specific to one religious organization. If you know anything about Utah history and the symbols of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know immediately that the beehive should be disqualified. " Nevermind the fact that the beehive is on the state flag, nevermind the fact that Utah's nickname has always been the "Beehive state", and nevermind the fact that the Mormon church has always avoided symbols as items of worship. As Charley Foster so aptly points out in his blog today, "by the Tribs logic the atheist's lawsuit against the Highway should have been based on the fact the beehive is on the crosses, and not the cross itself."

First, if you know anything about the Mormon Church, there are no symbols. I'll grant you the angel Moroni is the closest (the statue on top of all temples). I don't know why the church keeps the beehive on the pulpit of the conference center, but I assure all of my readers that Mormons don't see the beehive as a symbol of worship or reverence. The beehive was intended (as far as I understand) as a symbol of being industrious, of self-sufficiency -- all traits that are desirable to a society.

Second, why shouldn't a symbol that has been an intricate part of the state's history be excluded from the commemorative quarter. It's not like the beehive is a swastika, or the confederate flag of the old south. If they wanted the Angel Moroni on it, than I could see the religious offense. It just seems like the same old ACLU/Cliff Lyon/Rocky Anderson BS. If there is anything Mormon-esque it must be opposed and taunted all in the name of protecting the delicate feelings of oppressed non-LDS people residing in the State of Utah.

I guess someone should probably sue to get rid of the seagull as the state bird. After all the seagull has its roots with Mormon pioneers. Actually everything in regards to the state except national parks and skiing is likely offensive by SLTrib standards.

Friday, December 16, 2005

More Buttars !!! Outlaw Gay Clubs.

Buttars wants to pass a bill to outlaw gay clubs in public schools. This issue was answered pretty strongly when in 1995, a group of East High students asked to form a gay-straight alliance, resulting in a firestorm of debate over homosexuality. The issue made it into a lawsuit and eventually East High and other districts in Salt Lake County relented allowing such clubs to exist. I was unaware that these clubs are all over Salt Lake Valley. McCoy of the ACLU called Buttars timing curious, " 'I suppose it has to do with the Provo (High alliance and) being an election year.' It is not unusual for some Republicans to introduce conservative, moral legislation in an election year, and if Democratic lawmakers vote against the bills then GOP challengers have an issue to take after the Democratic incumbents. "

I appreciate what Buttars wants, however I disagree with him. Buttars used this reasoning when he announced the bill. " I'm concerned about gay clubs. In my mind, if you are in the chess club, what do you talk about? Chess. If you are in the dance club, what do you talk about? Dance. If you are in a gay club, what do you talk about? I just don't believe members of sexual orientation clubs should be sanctioned by the public schools what they are talking about even a part of the public schools. They should not be allowed to have that on school property at all. It's just wrong." Give me a break! How does he view these clubs -- some kind of gay brothel in public schools. However we live in the real world where there are kids that struggle with these issues. Although I believe homosexuality is immoral, I can't dismiss the clubs as septic pools of immorality. These kids have to deal with depressionn, low self-esteem, and persecution from other students they deserve the right to assemble for support.

Senator Buttars, I don't know what kind of sterile bubble you live in. I don't know if West Jordan is that kind of town. People have different back grounds, opinions, and ideas. Your "more holiness give me" approach to life may be a great way to live and perfect ideal to preach in church, but as a voter your desire to eliminate any opposing ideas is a turnoff -- its almost Hitler-esque.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Year-end tax planning

It is the year end and many people are calling asking about how they can lower there tax bill. Here is my top ten list.

1. Own your home -- Home Mortgage is fully deductible on both the state of Utah tax return (at the moment) and on the Federal Return.
2. Pay a full 10% Donation to your religion of choice -- Normally charitable deductions of more than 2% would trigger an audit. However, living in Utah you have the advantage of living amongst a religious majority that is required to give a full 10% and everyone can take advantage of this.
3. Donate to Katrina related charities -- The charitable deduction limitations are lifted on all Katrina related donations.
4. Contribute 4,000 dollars to your traditional IRA -- If you aren't covered by an employer sponsored retirement plan you are eligible for a full 100 % page one deduction.
5. Purchase a Hybrid vehicle -- They are expensive, but there is a sweet page one deduction on your Federal return, and an even better credit from the state of Utah.
6. Use your car to run errands that are business related -- If you own a business you are eligible to deduct during the last few months of '05 48.5 cents per mile (44.5 cents for 2006) of all business related miles. If you can run errands as an employee you are eligible for the same milage rates, however the deduction is limited to 2% of gross income. Documentation needs to be kept to substantiate the claim.
7. Start a small business -- If you have a hobby that you are talented at, try going into business. Your business expenses are 100% deductible, and you would be eligible to depreciate your assets.
8. Set up a small business corporation -- As a sole proprietor, you are eligible for many great deductions. However, there is a 15.3% tax on the net income of your business on top of the income tax. As a corporation you may be able to limit the amount of SE tax involved.
9. Purchase Assets -- Whether or not you are in business, there substantial deductions available in connection with the purchase of assets. The IRS allows a deduction of estimated sales tax paid for the year with additional large ticket sales tax added on top of the IRS estimated sales tax. Buy purchasing a car or a boat you may be able to have larger deduction than your state income tax paid would have provided, and when you use the state sales tax deduction your state tax refund isn't taxable. If you are in business you are able to deduct as much as 102,000 dollars of 100% business use property costs (limitations apply use a professional)
10. Have a family -- When you get married and have children you are entitled to many tax credits that for many families zero out federal tax liabilities. The child tax credit is 1,000 dollars per child up to three children, and a portion of the credit left over can possibly be refunded. The exemption is 3,200 dollars per person. A family of 5 has 16,000 dollars of write off available in exemptions alone.

The first day of E-File is 1/15/2006.

I hope everyone has a good year.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The "flatter" tax appears to be the plan.

The governor released his proposed budget on Friday. "This budget is a lot more Santa than Scrooge," Huntsman said. The budget includes a much needed pay hike for state workers (my mother works for the state and the last time they saw a cost of living raise was in the 1990's) a raise for teachers, and a raise for law enforcement. There was also a sum of 176 million dollars set aside for Medicaid, an initiative the governer has set forth to make get all Utahns insured. All of these spending increases paired with the record 60 million dollar tax "cut" (I'm still sceptical about the "flatter" tax) is giving the governor a jolly Ole' Saint Nick attitude about the state.

I appreciate the removal of the tax cut on food greatly, it is a truely repressive tax. However, I'm very hesitant to embrace a system that on the surface appears to be of benefit to the wealthy first and foremost. As I demonstrated in a previous post, the flat tax will be a hike to a great deal of people. Unless the proposed credits are far more substantial that the original proposal demonsrated (a flash calculator on the Gov.'s website when the governor originally announced the flat tax that I can't find anymore), I doubt that this will be a cut to the average wage earner. If anyone has seen a concrete explanation of the proposed credits, I'd like to hear about it before I can give the flat tax a strong vote of confidence.

Other than my rant about the flat tax, Bravo Mr Huntsman! The pay increases for state law enforcement/general employees, and the raises for public and college educators is very much needed. The other spending will be beneficial as well, I'm sure.

Friday, December 02, 2005

St. George among top 5 U.S. cities in home value appreciation

In the DesNews this morning it was announced that housing prices are soaring, with my home, St. George leading the pack. "With an appreciation rate of 31.57 percent, St. George earned a No. 4 spot among 265 U.S. cities and was the only Utah city to break the top 20." St. George apparently beat out Orlando FL. The article interviewed the owner of REmax in SG and he attributed the price increase to out of state investors. "They are buying everything." El-Bakri said, "but you've also got 38 million baby boomers that are getting ready to retire. Today, I'm driving down the street and my car says it's 61 degrees, and it's December. I actually played golf yesterday. This is the lifestyle that people want." Although the weather may be good in St. George, it sure is cold if you aren't in a home here now.

The driver of this housing market, I suspect, is almost purely speculative. On average I have at least one client call me a week about building spec. homes, and all of the new business clients I see are new construction start-up businesses or realtors. This growth can't be sustained without a starter home market, and soon the starter home market will be totally out of reach for the start-up families. It is frustrating to me to see a market in this town (void of industry other than construction, and medicine) where the only housing BARELY under 150k is a home on wheels.

Forgive my coming rant.

The prices in St. George are ridiculous. From the city's website, the average salary in St. George is $1,351 dollars a month, the median family income is 40k, and a neighbor in my last neighborhood just sold a 1100 sq. foot townhome (no yard) for 205k. Judging from my memory of a personal finance class I took as a freshman in college, generally a family or individual should only take on, and banks are likely hesitant to give a loan at payments more than 30% of their income. Given that, for the average wage earner owning a home is an impossibility, at 40k a year even owning a small townhome is pretty much out of reach, so how can this market be sustained?

Something has to break here. Without an influx of major industry to St. George the house values will either fall drastically, or other communities (Cedar City, Mesquite, or Kanab) will have to serve as a home for many middle class families. As supply is (I believe) starting to outweigh demand, I feel that many people will suffer the disappointment of seeing meager returns on their home equity. However realtors argue and historically land prices don't drop drastically, therefore I think that many middle-class families (like mine) will have to leave St. George to live in rural surrounding communities and commute to SG, or leave the area all together, in order to obtain the American dream.

Damn it I need a raise!