Category Archives: Personal Finance

How the Rich Got Rich

Howard Lipset of Progressive Management, Inc. and www.thecfo.com dissects the top wealthiest people in the country. Want to emulate the success of others? If wealth is what you’re after, look to an unconventional source for tips: the IRS.

John D. Rockefeller, America’s first billionaire, said, “If your only goal is to become rich, you’ll never achieve it.”

Easy for him to say, but his point is: If the only thing you care about is making money, no matter how much money you make, it will never be enough.

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Another Medicare Hidden Trap

Howard Lipset of www.thecfo.wordpress.com discusses how the way hospitals are coding patients is affecting Medicare coverage.This is a summary of a major article published in this month’s AARP Bulletin.

The article discusses a woman who fractured her spine, spent 5 days in the hospital, wearing an ID bracelet, eating hospital food and receiving nursing care but when she was transferred to a rehab facility she learned that Medicare was not going to cover her rehab because the hospital had never formally admitted her,  but had classified her as an outpatient under observation.

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What Small Businesses and Individuals Should Know About The New Credit Card Reform

February 22, 2010 marked the day when Congress allowed credit card reform to take affect.  Why they waited so long when they passed the bill over nine months earlier is a mystery to me.  What is also a mystery to me is why they could not see the abuses in the credit card industry before then.

Howard Lipset - What Small Businesses and Individuals Should Know About The New Credit Card ReformYes, changing the interest rate without notice is an abuse.  So is being able to change the rate on balances already in existence.  And charging you for going over the limit when they know and you don’t is totally unfair.  And interest rates of 29% are worse than the Mafia.  But all of that is small potatoes.

Think about this.  Why did they love that $39 late charge?  If you had a minimum payment of $10 and you were one day late, they could hit you with a $39 late charge.  That is an effective rate of 1,423%.

The new laws have made all of this tougher for the credit card companies.  You should expect them to raise their annual fees and raise their balance transfer fees as well.  If you are carrying a small business card from American Express or Visa or a personal card from any credit card company, you should expect to see the credit card companies act more like the airlines.  That is, fees go up and charges for “extras” such as a meal or a blanket, that were previously free.

We have been successful in the past negotiating these fees for clients; small businesses and individuals should be able to do the same if you start to find the fees outrageous.

Let me know if you need my help.

The IRS and Their “Do Right” Department

These are tough economic times for everybody.  But when you owe the Internal Revenue Service money, this is especially so.  I thought I would share some advice with you.

Howard Lipset - The IRS and Their “Do Right” Department I have a client who has been on a pay-out with the IRS for a number of years.  The effect of the pay-out is that he has paid his tax for the year involved, but now owes the penalty and interest for that year.

Nine months ago, he lost his job and he has court ordered payments which leaves him nothing to pay the IRS with.  I wrote to the IRS explaining the situation and asking for the penalties and interest to be expunged.

They ignored my letter and instead, sent a notice of lien, which implied that he violated their agreement.  They ignored subsequent letters that I wrote as well.  I had to take this further and did.

If you find yourself in this situation, as my client did, where the IRS is not listening to you,  be advised there is a Taxpayers Advocates Office within the IRS.   I got resolution through this process.

They have a Form 911 which allows the Advocates Office to step in and try and remedy the situation.

It’s been several weeks since I contacted this Office.  Today, I was informed that not only did I get the current penalties and interest forgiven, but I also received a refund for my client for prior penalties and interest that were previously paid as well.

Do Right or Due Rights?  Doesn’t matter, the problem was handled.

Our government and its affiliated agencies can be big, bureaucratic, and scary to any individual or small business.  But, when you look hard and have the right advice, these too can be navigated so that you can be heard and your problems handled.

STRESS RELIEF

Recently, a client called to ask some questions about taxes.  While talking to her, I discovered she had many questions about finances, retirement and business, as well as taxes.

When we were done she told me that she does not know why she doesn’t call me more often, because I always relieve her financial-related Stress.

Howard Lipset - Stress ReliefI kind of laughed but she went on that she feels very insecure about financial matters and when she talks to me, she understands what I am saying and then everything feels OK again.  She told me that I should market myself as a “stress reliever”.  I laughed again and told her that I did not think I wanted to touch that line.

Afterwards though, I started to think about it.  She was not the only client to say this, though the others framed it differently.  They used terms such as “confidence in me”, “sleep at night knowing I am there to watch over their finances”, and “help them to be more productive in their business and life”. Each one is indicative of Stress Relief.

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