Good Stuff

If you don’t follow Michael Kitces’ musings you’re missing out. For those of you who are Twitter novices like me, here’s an example. . .

“Get some good Twitter software apps. It’s a lot easier to keep up with Twitter when you have good tools that help you easily scan to see what’s going on in your timeline and if there’s anything you want to share, not to mention seeing who’s been replying to or mentioning you. I’m a fan of the web version of TweetDeck on the desktop (create an account and log in and then it’s easy to get the same tools and interface from any computer!); Hootsuite is a fine option as well, and is especially well suited for monitoring and posting on multiple platforms at once (e.g., Twitter, and LinkedIn, and a Facebook business page, etc.). I’ll confess that to just scan my Twitter stream for what people are sharing, I prefer TweetDeck, although I keep HootSuite open in a browser tab as well for the times I occasionally want to cross-post to multiple platforms.”

Find even more at…

Say It Isn’t So

Excerpted from a recent release by the law firm Holland & Knight:

In his State of the Union speech last month, President Obama called for “bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform,” while the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee — Representative Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — have each pledged to pursue an overhaul of the tax code in 2013. Further, the Government Accountability Office and the Internal Revenue Service’s National Taxpayer Advocate continue to urge Congress to prioritize tax reform. Both offices have recommended that Congress reexamine the deduction for state and local taxes and the exclusion of interest on municipal bonds as part of comprehensive tax reform.

Stay tuned . . .


A timely notice from NAPA Net on tomorrows release of the Retirement Confidence Survey.

“For almost a quarter-century now, the RCS has meticulously tracked the evolving trends in Americans’ confidence about retirement. Next Tuesday, March 19, we’ll unveil the results of the 23rd annual Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS), the longest-running annual retirement survey of its kind. You can count on it providing some fascinating insights on where workers and retirees are, where they’ve been, and where we all need to be—with a growing sense of where we want to be tomorrow.

The results of the 2013 Retirement Confidence Survey (RCS) will be available at 8:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, March 19, at”


According to a recent study by Natixis Global as reported in Financial Advisor, the United States ranks 19th in the quality of retirement available to senior citizens. The study reports that the low ranking is due mainly to the better social and health-care safety nets that exist in European countries that outranked the United States.

There were 150 countries included in the study and future needs. Coming out on top were Norway, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Austria with other U.S. beating countries including the Czech Republic, Japan, Slovenia and Slovakia.

According to Financial Advisor the really depressing conclusion was “The economic downturn has also taken a major toll on retirement savings. Fifty-three percent of American workers 30 and older are on a path that will leave them unprepared for retirement, up significantly from 38 percent just two years ago.”

The only silver lining is that there will be an increasing need for good financial advice.


Robert Gordon, principal of Twenty-First Securities, a friend and one of the foremost experts on tax related investment issues, recently sent an alert regarding the House Ways and Means Committee draft proposal for the reform of tax laws dealing with financial products. Obviously it’s early in the process; however, many of the provisions may well be a hint of what’s coming. For example, included is a provision that would eliminate lot basis sales and require average costs on all transactions and a related party rule for wash sales that would extend to spouses, dependents and related corporations, trusts or estates under the control of the taxpayer.

His full report is at

Good News

At least for many of us dealing with the requirement to report cost basis. Schwab’s Advisor Center just reported:

2013 Cost Basis Regulations Delayed Until 2014
The Internal Revenue Service announced that it will delay the implementation of 2013 cost basis regulations for Fixed Income and Options by one year. The new effective date for tracking and reporting cost basis information for Fixed Income and Options is January 1, 2014. Cost basis reporting rules already in place for Equities, Mutual Funds, ETFs and DRIPs are not impacted by the Fixed Income and Options effective date change.

Bye Bye

In cased you missed it, with the new year the temporary provision granting unlimited federal insurance coverage on deposits held in noninterest-bearing transaction accounts ended. These typically include certain business, non-profit and others that require quick access to large amounts of money. Coverage is now limited to $250,000.

More Shoes To Drop?

So far I’ve avoided posting anything about tax reform as I’m sure you’ve been bombarded about the details as much as I have; however, Pensions and Investments just published an article highlighting an area of possible impact that had not been high on my radar screen. Below is an excerpt:

Groups representing the retirement industry expect that Congress’ attempt at the first major tax code overhaul since 1986 “is going to suck all the air out of the room,” said Kathryn Ricard, senior vice president of retirement policy for the ERISA Industry Committee in Washington. Beyond tax reform, “it’s a pretty short list for retirement.”

That means the tax-deferral advantage for retirement savings will get plenty of attention in tax-reform talks, welcome or otherwise. “I don’t think retirement is going to be untouched,” said Michael Falcon, managing director and head of retirement, Americas, for J.P. Morgan Asset Management (JPM), New York. “People are looking at big pots of money, and retirement deferral is a big pot of money.” It’s different in this round of tax talks “because the system is growing up” and the amount of deferred tax revenue has grown with it.

You can find the full story at

Social Security Adds More Digital

From the New York Times:

Social Security recipients can now get their benefits verification letter and conduct other business online, as part of enhanced Web services introduced Monday by the federal government.

The letters, which state the amount of the recipient’s monthly benefit, are used to verify income when, for instance, someone is applying for a loan or for special programs, like those offering reduced rent based on income. The letters are now available online for those who are retired and receiving Social Security, as well as those who receive Supplemental Security Income, which pays benefits to those who are disabled.

Recipients can also change their address and manage electronic delivery of their monthly benefits payment on line.

The availability of the letters and the other options represent the first “significant expansion” of the agency’s online service, known as mySocialSecurity, since it debuted in the spring, said Michael Astrue, commissioner of Social Security.

The service initially made online access available to annual Social Security statements, for those who are still working. The statements list the annual income used to calculate benefits, as well as estimates of future benefits based on one’s age at retirement.

Full story at

Danger – Cliff Ahead! (Maybe)

Federated Investors, Inc. just issued an excellent paper on “What’s next for investors” that included the following summary of the fiscal cliff:

The full article is at