Service of Contests for Kids: We’re All Winners

August 18th, 2018

Categories: Books, Contests, Driving, Kids, Reading, Safety

Contests that teach, encourage and reward kids to better themselves and/or their communities help us all.

Author Karen Russell told NPR “New Yorker Radio Hour” listeners on a recent August weekend about how proud she was to treat her family to a pizza when she was a kid. An avid reader, she’d qualified for a free pie with one topping through Pizza Hut’s Book It program. She’d read 10 books.

Books tossed recently at the Millbrook, NY Transfer Station

Book It was founded in 1985. It runs from October 1 to March 31 for children from Kindergarten to the sixth grade and homeschoolers can also participate.

Things may have changed since Russell won her pizza. She read printed books and today many children use Kindles and other tablets. Some may still record their books on paper and some access an app that reaches teachers who track their participation. But the goal remains–to promote reading.

The National Road Safety Foundation [NRSF] conducts contests for kids to help its campaign to drive down the number of traffic accidents, deaths and injuries here. I know about it because a colleague, David Reich, runs and promotes the contests. One is “Drive2Life,” in its seventh year, in which teens submit messages to be turned into public service announcements [PSAs] to warn drivers about the dangers of speeding. This year’s winner, a California 8th grader, received $1,000 and a trip to New York where he collaborated with Emmy Award-winning producers to script, film and edit his winning PSA, “Cars Aren’t Toys.” The PSA aired on “Teen Kids News” on 150 TV stations.

Photo: fcclainc.org

In addition to Drive2Life, there are NRSF Drive Safe student contests in Washington DC, LA, Chicago and Atlanta as well as Safe Rides Save Lives for members of Family Career and Community Leaders of America [FCCLA] and #DrivingSkills101 for Students Against Destructive Decisions [SADD] Chapters nationwide.

Can you name other great contests for children? Did you participate in any when you were a kid?

Photo: washingtonautoshow.com

Service of Cart Before the Horse: Corporations Collaborate When Foolproof Locks on Internet Security Don’t Exist

August 16th, 2018

Categories: Banking, Corporations, Data, Internet Security, Mobile Wallets, Social Media

Photo: edgarstewart.com

Thank goodness all giant corporations aren’t leaping into bed together to share respective expertise and information although some are inching in that direction and others are raring to go. It won’t be long.

But first a digression: In arriving at the topic for this post I counted seven fuzzy attributions in one newspaper article. Isn’t that a lot? Laced throughout a recent front page article in The Wall Street Journal I read: “According to people familiar with the conversations; the people said; a person familiar with the discussions said; some of the people said; said people familiar with the matter; some of the people said and people familiar with the matter said.”

Photo: clckinmoms.com

Nevertheless I believe the topic is valid and am troubled by its implications. The title and subtitle: “Facebook to Banks: Give Us Your Data, We’ll Give You Our Users. Facebook has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about customers as it seeks to boost user engagement data.”

Reporters Emily Glazer, Deepa Seetharaman and AnnaMaria Andriotis wrote that Facebook had spoken with people at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and U.S. Bancorp “to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger.” Facebook Messenger is a messaging app and platform.

What did “people say” about the conversations? “Facebook has talked about a feature that would show its users their checking-account balances, the people said. It has also pitched fraud alerts.” In addition, “Facebook asked banks for information about where their users are shopping with their debit and credit cards outside of purchases they make using Facebook Messenger.” Messenger has 1.3 billion active monthly users according to the reporters.

Photo: pinterest.com

Timing could be better for this outreach. The reporters reminded readers about current investigations in which Cambridge Analytica accessed data on some 87 million Facebook users without user OK. “‘We don’t use purchase data from banks or credit-card companies for ads,’ [Facebook] spokeswoman Elisabeth Diana said. ‘We also don’t have special relationships, partnerships or contracts with banks or credit-card companies to use their customers’ purchase data for ads.’”

Banks are tempted by the digital reach and doing business with online platforms with healthy and growing businesses. Even though Facebook has introduced what it says are safety features, “Bank executives are worried about the breadth of information being sought, even if it means their bank might not being available on certain platforms their customers use.”

While PayPal and Square have beaten banks to the punch in the world of mobile commerce many customers continue to be comfortable with traditional ways of paying such as credit and debit cards, cash and checks.

Photo: timeanddate.com

Some deals between big players are already struck though I question their purpose: American Express members can reach a rep through Facebook. [Why would you need to do that?] Paypal users can send money through Facebook Messenger and Mastercard’s Masterpass digital wallet lets customers place online orders with some merchants.

Before all these mergers of communications, customers and data happen, shouldn’t there first be a firm grasp on digital customer privacy? Why are we becoming so lazy: Is it so onerous to check a balance on your bank’s website that you need Facebook do it for you? Can you believe that AmEx members can’t reach out to a company rep but instead need Facebook to do it for them? These “benefits” appear to potentially favor everyone but the consumer—do you agree?  Do you pay for things via mobile wallet, credit or debit cards, cash or checks? And last, does an article with more than a few generic attributions disturb you?

Photo: canyourelate.org

Service of Changing Taste: The Lowdown and the High

August 13th, 2018

Categories: Beer, Cannabis, Drinks, Trends

Photo: 13.com

Question: What do smart marketers do when consumers cool on their once hot product? Answer: Develop the next trend.

Beer consumption has slumped—Americans chose wine or cocktails over beer in 2017 for the first time. Saabira Chaudhuri and Annie Gasparro wrote that drinkers “are thinking about other things: taste, value, beer bellies.”

Photo: stealingshare.com

In their Wall Street Journal article they cite Beer Institute stats: the brew was 60.8 percent of people’s drink of choice in the mid-1990s. Last year it dropped to 49.7 percent. People 21 to 27 years of age chose beer 65 percent of the time in 2006 vs. 43 percent two years ago according to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA.

Enter brewers like Lagunitas, a Heineken company, among several “diving into the deep end of the cannabis-infused drink pool.” The brand introduced a sparkling water drink for sale in California called Hi-Fi Hops according to Steve Huff on maxim.com. “Lagunitas says their 420-friendly fizz comes in two strengths: a lighter version with 5mgs of THC and a stronger one loaded with 10mgs of the only reason anyone messes with cannabis anyway (it’s the THC that brings the mellow, in case you didn’t know).” THC stands for tetrahydrocannabidinol.

Photo: forbes.com

According to Huff, “If anything, the beer maker is a little late to this game. Blue Moon founder Keith Villa is producing craft beer loaded with THC. Corona is ready to join the game, too. And California vintners have been infusing wine with weed for a while now.”

Cannabis is legal in Canada but is against federal law here. Mike Adams, contributing writer at Forbes, wrote that “Molson Coors, the second largest brewer in the world, is reportedly trying to get into the game.” It’s considered by some currently a risky venture for sales in the U.S right now though “the beverage sector alone is expected to produce $15 billion a year, according to statistics from Cannabiz Consumer Group.”

Photo: newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org

Adams reported that in Canada the market might jump from $5 billion to $22 billion because, as a Canadian brewer planning to introduce a cannabis beer observed, “Smoking has lost, and beverages are how we like to become altered.”

Do you think that cannabis drinks will take up the sales gap for breweries made by decreased beer sales? Will pressure by breweries, along with other interest groups wanting to make cannabis legal, convince lawmakers to change the law in the US? Have you tried a cannabis drink?

Photo: thedrinkbusiness.com

Service of Subscriptions: A Winning Business Model—Sometimes

August 9th, 2018

Categories: Films, Inconsistency, Movies, Subscriptions, Success

Photo: Tundra Restaurant Supply

Before Amazon customers buy a toothpick, its 100 million Prime subscribers have handed the company from $77.88/year to $119/year, representing the cost to students and everyone else respectively. [Some may be grandfathered at $99.99.] Nobody outside the company seems to know the breakdown so you can’t do the math but 100 million paying $1/year would represent a tidy sum.

Subscribers get benefits such as free fast shipping for eligible items, shopping deals, streaming films and TV shows.

Photo: videoblocks.com

According to Rachel Siegel of The Washington Post, “The real money, though, is in the buying power these shoppers wield: Prime members reportedly spend an average of $1,300 a year on Amazon, compared with $700 for its customers who are not members.” And it seems that many of the former don’t comparison shop.

The subscription model works for others such as Netflix, which Siegel reported has 125 million members. Health clubs too—which count on people paying for a year and not returning after a few months.

Photo: What’s-on-Netflix.com

On the other hand, MoviePass has had trouble calculating its fee and benefits–a shame as the concept originally served a purpose, especially for customers in cities where one movie ticket costs upwards of $15. Its monthly fee will soon increase to $14.95 from $9.95. According to Nishant Mohan in The Wall Street Journal, “MoviePass, which has more than 3 million members, lost $98.3 million on $48.6 million of revenue in the quarter ended March 31.”

Tuesday’s Journal reported that the company would limit subscribers from one movie a day to three a month. Ben Fritz wrote that the company had forecast 5 million subscribers by December 2018 which chief executive Mitch Lowe admits might not happen quite that fast. He told Fritz: “Ultimately, I believe this is a 20 million-subscriber business over the next three to four years.”

Meanwhile, it’s trying to stay afloat. It has competition such as AMC Entertainment Holdings with 175,000 members with a monthly $19.95 charge to see three movies a week at its US theatres. MoviePass “plans to limit the availability of first-run movies opening on more than 1,000 screens during the first two weeks.” It also has had technical glitches. One recent day its app featured showtimes for e-ticketing theatres, only, and none others.

I’ve noticed disgruntled customers gripe on social media. One subscriber wrote on Facebook: “I’m unable to cancel my account. They say you’re liable for a year. It’s crazy. You have to go thru their app for customer service and that took more than 2 hours.”

Have you had trouble getting out of a subscription? How many times can a company stumble and succeed in the end?  Are there some subscriptions you endorse? Any you don’t?

Photo: crisistimes.com

Service of Favorite Things Possibly Gone in Moments

August 6th, 2018

Categories: Favorite Things, Fire, Memories

Niece Alison & mug from John

If we’re lucky, we own and can treasure some favorite things.

Carr fire Photo: Axios.com

Millions don’t have this luxury starting with Californians now homeless due to the Carr conflagration, just one of many. Then there are those who also have lost everything in other fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods and some half a million in the U.S. living on the street or in their cars because they can’t afford an alternative. Favorite things are the last thing on their minds.

Glenn Close told The Wall Street Journal Magazine’s Thomas Gebremedhin that her mother’s gloves were among her favorite things. I understood that: I have a worn pair of my father’s leather ones on a shelf in my living room which I mentioned and photographed in “Service of Remembering.” About her mother’s Close said “I find them hugely comforting. Sometimes, when I need it, I put them against my face.” I lay my hand on top of my dad’s gloves for reassurance.

My bet is that most favorite things are small and of little intrinsic value. I know of only one photo taken of my parents on their wedding day. It’s on my wall [photo left].

In addition to books, the physical things I hold dear are mostly small: two coffee mugs nephew John gave me and countless photos—some framed—nephew Edward has shared [see the photo above for one of the mugs and one of the photos]. A copper cocktail jigger from sister Elizabeth and wooden recipe box she gave me decades ago make me feel at home. Daily I wear a ring and bracelets from dear ones along with my wedding band.

A ceramic and a china bowl—one a friend made, the other, a wedding gift—join lovingly-used Vietri dinner and pasta plates [right] we hand-carried from Italy and decorative kitchen towels that I keep until they are in shreds. I love my posters; a cartoon of my father; a vintage silver Tiffany cocktail shaker; key rings; a photo of my parents on a motorcycle in France that Edward framed for us; an oil painting of my mother as a child and my parents’ everyday silverware.

And I’ve just started.

What are some of your favorite things? Do you think “there but for the grace of God go I,” when you hear about devastating natural disasters that turn lives upside down?

Service of Keep it Short: Economists Resist the Trend

August 2nd, 2018

Categories: Academia, Academics, Economics, Editing, Writing

Blaise Pascal, 1623-1662. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

We’d all do well to heed Blaise Pascal’s apology: “If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.” It might be among the first well known quotes to recognize the benefits of taking the time to self-edit. I’m horrified at some of my first drafts bloated with superfluous words and appreciate it if I have time to revise.

Ben Leubsdorf made it clear that many academics in the economics world haven’t received Pascal’s message. Until recently they haven’t recognized the trend to share sometimes life-changing information in increasingly reduced sizes. Think social media.

Leubdorf wrote in The Wall Street Journal: “The average length of a published economics paper has more than tripled over the past four decades, and some academics are sick of wading through them.”

Photo: nature.com

He quoted MIT professor David Autor who launched a [lengthy] Twitter hashtag, #ThePaperIsTooDamnedLong, inspired by a working paper about minimum wage. He compared wading through the 94-pager to “being bludgeoned to death with a Nerf bat.”

The American Economics Association [AEA] “announced last year it would launch a journal dedicated to publishing only concise papers, at least by economists’ standards—nothing longer than 6,000 words, or about 15 double-spaced pages.” But that’s not expected to happen until next summer. One economist predicted that this approach might attract 600+ papers the first year.

That was Amy Finkelstein of MIT. She told Leubsdorf that significant papers written in the1950s by future Nobel Prize winners Paul Samuelson and John Nash covered public good and game theories in just a few pages. “Some journals today seem wary of publishing such quick reads.” In 50 years the top five academic journals covering economics upped average paper size from 16 to 50 according to a University of California, Berkeley analysis.

Paul Samuelson Photo: nobelprize.org

“It isn’t unusual for economists to include a number of statistical checks to confirm each finding’s validity, similar points made with several different data sets, lengthy reviews of past research, multiple appendices with technical details and page after page of Greek letter-laden formulas that require, well, a Ph.D. to understand.”

Katharine Anderson told Leubsdorf that the time it takes to write and read/review a lengthy paper becomes a huge commitment. The Carnegie Mellon University economist explained that these papers must make/prove many different points while academic papers in other specialties need make only one or two. Boston University’s Samuel Bazzi said that these papers include redundancies “to head off possible quibbles that might come up during the review process.”

Do you think briefer academic papers in a specialty such as economics will positively impact the quality of research or at least the dissemination of information? How is it that eminent economists in the 1950s could make their points—and win Nobel Prizes—reporting breakthroughs in 16 pages while today some need 50+? Do the blinders to essential changes in communications by this community reflect on their abilities to forecast?

Photo: economcsdiscussion.net

Service of a Pet Scam: A Sleazy Twist on Leasing

July 30th, 2018

Categories: Animals, Pets, Scams

Photo: dogtime.com

This post might have enhanced “Service of Did you Know That When You Bought or Rented It?” published early in July. Actually it slips in between. It’s about customers who thought they’d bought something that is usually purchased or given away but was actually rented to them.

Nancy Coleman wrote “Just Bought a New Puppy? It Might Be a Rental.” It shocked me because most pet people I’ve met are kind. Like millions, I fall in love with my animal family members and once ensconced in the household, they are there to stay.  A company structured to pull a fast one over people willing to adopt a pet is sick. With the exception of a movie production company, why would anyone want to rent an animal?

Photo: health.com

Leasing company Wags Lending thinks they do or at least that someone will fall for its scam. In her Wall Street Journal article Coleman wrote that the company, headquartered in Nevada, leases pets. The 20-something woman in her story inadvertently leased her Chihuahua, Remi, from an upstate NY pet store. She said to Coleman that “An employee at The Pet Zone, told her Remi’s list price was about $1,900, but according to the contract, the puppy would have cost more than twice as much—$4,370—after two years of paying about $180 a month.”

Photo: justpuppies.com

The victim ended up paying $540 for three months plus $1,900 for Remi plus a $300 leasing fee. She wasn’t alone. “Her story—documented in records from a fraud case brought by the New York Attorney General’s office in May against the pet-store chain, and recounted to the Journal—isn’t unusual. At least six other customers gave similar accounts about The Pet Zone, which has four outlets in New York, in depositions for the same continuing lawsuit.”

Like furniture and car leases, pet leases usually run from one to three years, and like furniture and cars, pets cost more at the end. However, should the pet die or run away, the lessee is still obligated to pay for it.

Meanwhile, the FTC has twice warned about this business model in blogs; a bill banning pet leasing is waiting for N.Y. Governor Cuomo’s signature—California and Nevada already have such a ban–and Coleman reported that Wags Lending’s parent company, Bristlecone Holdings, filed for bankruptcy last year.

Coleman wrote: “There are certain compliance requirements under the Consumer Leasing Act that come into play when stores advertise a leasing option, said Lesley Fair, a senior attorney in the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education. The language used to explain the lease needs to be ‘clear and conspicuous,’ and understandable for consumers, she said.

“Businesses also specifically need to disclose how much consumers will have paid at the end of the leasing term and details about monthly payments.”

The pet industry, already at $86 billion, is expected to grow. No wonder there are bottom feeders poised to take advantage.

Have you run into a situation where you thought you were buying something but were actually leasing it? Do you agree that pets should not be leased from pet shops, period?

Photo: allpetsplace.com

 

 

 

Service of Retrospect: Cleaning Up the Past with Rose Colored Glasses

July 26th, 2018

Categories: Awards, Famous, History, Library, Racism

Photo: icreatedaily.com

There a many powerful pro and con arguments about the confiscation of historic statues—of Robert E. Lee in New Orleans, Confederate Soldiers and Sailors in Baltimore or Jefferson Davis in Memphis to name a few—or the removal of names on prizes and honors of people once admired. In most cases their political positions, remarks or writings represented or reflected racist sentiments, often typical in the day, that are unacceptable now. Yet not all have been equally demoted.

Robert E. Lee statue formerly in New Orleans

Take Albert Einstein. In recently released travel diaries he wrote “some racist things about the Chinese back in the early 1920s,” Peter Dreier reported on prospect.org. “As I point out in my book,” wrote Dreier of  The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, “none of the 100 people in my Social Justice Hall of Fame was

Albert Einstein Photo: biography.com

(or is) a saint. They all had vision, courage, persistence, and talent, but they also made mistakes.” He also wrote “I would certainly incorporate Einstein racist comments in my profile of him, but that wouldn’t exclude him from being in the pantheon of great American radicals and progressives.”

Drier continued: “Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood and a crusader for women’s health and birth control, briefly endorsed eugenics.

Margaret Sanger Photo: pbs.org

Theodore Roosevelt’s was a foe of big business, but his ‘big stick’ imperialism outraged many progressives. Alice Paul, the great women’s suffrage leader, was an anti-Semite. Eleanor Roosevelt also absorbed the casual anti-Semitism of her upper-class WASP upbringing.”

Then there’s the former Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. A division of the American Library Association [ALA]– the Association for Library Service to Children {ALSC]–renamed the award the Children’s Literature Legacy Award. According to Michael Taube in The Wall Street Journal, “‘Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness,’ the association announced in a press release.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Photo: en.wikipedia.org

“Characters in ‘Little House on the Prairie’ say ‘the only good Indian is a dead Indian’ three times,” Taube reported. “Wilder’s references to her white settler family’s manifest destiny has also troubled the black community,” he wrote.

Taub continued: “Hardly anyone would defend these sentiments today, but people are products of their times. The Wilder Award was established in 1954, and its first recipient was Laura Ingalls Wilder herself. If we judge past luminaries by today’s standards, who’s next to go?”

For 36 years the ALA collaborated on Banned Books Week with Amnesty International. Taub quoted “An ALSC blog post about it last September called the week a time to ‘celebrate intellectual freedom.’” He asked: “How does the ALSC square the spirit of Banned Books Week with its scrubbing of Wilder’s name?” and concluded “I tried to reach them, but didn’t receive a response.”

How best deal with the past when looking at it through today’s rose colored glasses?

  • Why are we inconsistent in our castigation of prominent historic figures, punishing some and not others? For example, should the World Cultural Council rename its Albert Einstein World Award of Science?
  • What does it take for some, and not others to lose their exalted place in the firmament of the admired?
  • Do you agree with the name change made by the Association for Library Service to Children from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award?
  • Should we leave well enough alone or in the forewords of book reprints, such as Ingalls Wilder’s, put in historic context her remarks and attitudes that are now considered hurtful and demeaning?

 

Eleanor Roosevelt Photo: tes.com

Service of Stopping Robocalls

July 23rd, 2018

Categories: Phones, Spam, Telemarketers, Telephone Service

Photo: arstechnica.com

I try not to pick up calls from unusual area codes because I suspect a sales or robocall. I read that the objective is not to let these callers know they’ve reached a live number. I was wrong at least when it comes to robocalls. Read on.

So what can I do to stop the onslaught? Nothing much, according to Katherine Bindley of The Wall Street Journal. She lamented “Why can’t anyone stop this madness? When will it end?” She was inspired to research and write her article after racing out of the shower to catch a call she thought was her boss. It was a robocall. This morning the same thing happened to me. The unknown caller left no message.

In preparing for her article, she heard “There’s no silver bullet” time and again from pundits She advises that you hang up if you pick up a robocall. If you respond in any other way the robocalling company might sell your reactive number to others.

Bindley explained: “Back when phone calls were transmitted over copper wires, businesses paid a lot of money for phone systems that allowed 1,000 employees to make calls without needing 1,000 phone lines. These systems inserted caller ID so, for instance, customers all saw the same business number, regardless of which employee made the call.

Photo: ksryangroup.com

“With the internet, businesses don’t need expensive hardware. Anyone can start a mini call center with software that auto-dials numbers and spoofs caller ID. They also need a provider to ‘originate’ the call, that is, connect the internet call to the phone network.”

Bindley wrote that “developers have proposed a call-certifying protocol…. If a bad guy tries to spoof the caller ID, the call would go through, but it wouldn’t be verified. Eventually, users would see a check mark or other indicator for verified calls.” Verification that a caller has the right to use a phone number leading to the approval check could take as long as five years though Verizon expects to launch a program later this year, Bindley reported.

She suggests you add your number to the Do Not Call Registry managed by the FTC. I checked and you can access by phone at 888-382-1222—use the phone you want to register—or online at www.donotcall.gov. Once the number is on the registry for 31 days you can report unwanted sales calls using the same phone number and website.

Photo: phys.org

Your carrier might have robocall protection as T-Mobile does for free. AT&T offers a free option and with one for $4/monthly you can block categories of calls, Bindley wrote. For $3/month Verizon will send spam numbers received by wireless customers to voicemail and Sprint’s Premium caller ID rejects calls if it determines that they are likely to be SPAM. It’s also $3/month. It’s active for IOS users only now and for Android users by fall.

You can check out Hiya, a free call-blocking app. “Nomorobo, $2 a month, identifies likely scam calls and can send them straight to voice mail. Unlike some other services, you don’t have to share your contact list for it to work.” I don’t trust the judgment of filtering services if they are anything like my SPAM and junk mail programs. I can be in a back and forth with a client, editor, reporter or producer when communication stops because their most recent email ends up in my SPAM file.

Bindley wrote that she blocked a robocall but got another one from the same business two days later.

Are you irritated by robocalls? Do you try to stop them or have you given up? Don’t you hope that the robocall protection systems and their detectives will distinguish between those we want—say from the pharmacy to announce that our prescriptions are ready or from the electric company that the power is restored at our homes when we’re away—from those we don’t?

Photo: techworm.net

Service of Deadlines: Divorce American Style

July 19th, 2018

Categories: Alimony, Deadlines, Divorce, Financial Planners, Middle Class, Taxes, Wealthy

Photo: thepitcher.org

Most people must meet deadlines at work and/or at home. There are plenty associated with product introductions that, in turn, trigger marketing and media rollouts and, of course, news deadlines. Some whisk out restaurant and school meals at lunch in record time. Others note coupon redemption days; plan and attend weddings; catch trains or planes and return library books for starters.

Here’s a deadline from left field: For tax reasons you’d better hurry up and finalize your divorce according to Jim Tankersley in his New York Times article, “Wedded Bliss Lost Its Ring? Rich Should End It in ’18.” You have 5½ months before the Republican tax law kicks in.

Photo: illinoislegalaid.org

If you split after December 31, you will no longer be able to take the full amount of alimony off your Federal income taxes. This is a very big deal especially for the wealthy and think–the benefit could last for decades. In fact, from 2019 on, alimony-payers won’t be taking off a cent.

By removing the tax break Federal revenues should benefit by $7 billion over ten years.

IRS records show that 600,000 get that deduction each year, reported Tankersley. He wrote that “about 20 percent of taxpayers who currently claim the deductions are in the top 5 percent of household income earners.”

Photo: nstp.org

There are other repercussions in addition to the obvious one. The higher earning ex spouse, once the deductibility is gone, might agree to pay less alimony to compensate for the loss of the tax benefit. This will impact women and some children. “Child support payments are not deductible, but so-called unallocated support—payments that are meant to help a divorcing spouse and children at the same time—is deductible.”

Some experts predict that the new tax law might reduce the number of divorces that women initiate if it adversely impacts their alimony/income.

Photo: 80snostalgia.com

But take heart: Financial planners for the wealthiest “will have ways of working around the change.” Some spouses “may choose to forgo alimony payments and instead accept more lucrative real estate, larger shares in tax-deferred retirement accounts or some complex combination of the two that maximizes tax advantages.”

What about everyone else? Surprise surprise: “Middle-class and lower-income taxpayers have fewer of those assets—and less ability to recapture potentially lost benefits of the alimony deduction,” Tankersley wrote.

What deadlines do you find hardest to meet? Do you wait until the last minute? Have you benefited from the new tax law? Do you think that lawmakers take into consideration the repercussions that the changes they make have on citizens’ lives? The pundits couldn’t forecast whether there will be a flurry of divorces before year’s end. Do you think that there might be?

Photo: defymca.org

 

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