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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

GLENN BECK'S 828 RESTORING HONOR TO AMERICA RALLY

by JC Leahy


I should have gone earlier if I had wanted to be near enough to actually see the speakers. As it was, I gave my car to the doorman at the Army Navy Club on Farragut Square, and walked to the Reflecting Pool, arriving  at 9:30 AM  The Rally commenced at 10:00AM. The folks near the podium had arrived at midnight!  The crowd was considerably denser than at last year's 912 March. It was so dense that I couldn't move around to take photos. All I could do was hold my camera up high over my head.and use the Cannon G-2's unique pivoting LCD screen to compose pictures. This ocean of people facing the Lincoln Memorial surrounded the reflecting pool. It wasn't evident from news photos that the crowd actually extended all that way back to the Washington Monument, albeit less densly once past the World War II Memorial. What I didn't realize until the next day when I saw an aerial photograph, was that the crowd also covered the vast field behind the trees to the south of the reflecting pool. Yikes! This was definitely a larger crowd than last year's 912 March!! I saw no political signs or banners, which was interesting.  Dr. Beck had asked attendees to leave the signs at home, and they did.

Glenn Beck started speaking at 10 AM, then introduced speakers, and then he spoke again later. He had several themes. First, he asserted that we could each be a heroe. Our larger-than-life heroes, even the heroic Founding Fathers, were once young people, uncertain of their future. "We do not want to transform America!" he proclaimed. "We want to restore America!" Dr. Beck exhorted each of us to pledge to himself/herslef to restore honor in America and to restore the promise of America. "Heroes are just people who stand up and do the right thing," the advised.

Dr. Beck outlined the interesting history of the Purple Heart medal. He said that George Washington issued the first Purple Heart medals during the Revolutionary War. The medals were issued to soldiers, not specifically for being wounded, but rather for doing the meritorious right thing. It was a "merit badge." This history of the Purple Heart related to Dr. Beck's themes of meritocracy and the common man doing the right thing. He then proceeded to award 3 medals; one for Faith, one for Hope, and one for Charity. Each of the recipients gave a speech.

Dr. Beck's other prominent theme was one of anti-racisim.  He extolled us to come together as one nation without any regard at all for the color of our skin.  The relatively tiny counter-rally conducted by Al Sharpton, in contrast, railed about Black people "rclaiming" Martin Luther King, Jr. and "the dream."  One who sees the ironic contrast of these two messages must wonder how Liberals could be anything but embarassed.

A helicopter buzzed overhead. I assumed they were doing a crowd count. Besides the helicopter, a balloon floated nearby!

Sarah Palin also spoke. I was so far from the podium that I couldn't see her. Only by the network of large-screen monitors and speakers could the crowd see and hear the speakers.

CLICK HERE TO SEE AN AERIAL PHOTO OF THE CROWD - WHICH DOESN'T EVEN INCLUDE THE WASHINGTON-MONUMENT PORTION!!!
 
What was the crowd count?  I live here in the Washington, DC area and have some experience attending events.  Also, I am an experienced accountant.  I say that the crowd was between 300,000 and 600,000.  Look at it this way: The area immediately surrounding the Reflecting Pool holds 200,000 people.  That entire area was packed like a subway car in a Tokyo rush hour.  Additionally, the massive field to the south, parallel to the Reflecting Pool , was full -- check the above link to an aerial photo.  Additionally, the World War II Memorial area was packed, and there was also a pretty good crowd on the Washington Monument grounds.  My best guess would be 500,000.  If you encounter an estimate greater than 600,000, be skeptical and get the details,  An estimate 200,000 you can confidently dismiss, most likely as wanton political misinformation, otherwise know as propaganda.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Vote Absentee

by JC Leahy

If you're not sure whether you can make it to the polls, get an absentee ballot!!  It's easy!  Check the links below for absentee ballot applications or find your state's absentee ballot application via Google.

Here in Maryland, I think it would be worth a vote for Brian Murphy for governor. Re-electing Ehrlich would be like re-electing Bush. It's time for something new. Here's the link to download your Maryland, Virginia, DC absentee ballot application.


MARYLAND ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION

VIRGINIA ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION

by reader demand:

MASSACHUSETTS ABSENTEE BALLOT APPLICATION

ABSENTEE BALLOT GUIDES & FORMS FOR ALL STATES

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

URGENT! APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR MARYLAND HOMEOWNERS' PROPERTY TAX CREDIT

by JC Leahy

September 1 is the deadline to apply for this year's Maryland Homeowners' Property Tax Credit.  This is not to be confused with the Maryland ( and County) Homestead Property Tax Credit.  The latter, you qualify for just by living in your house.  The Maryland Homeowners' Property Tax Credit is an ADDITIONAL tax credit for homeowners' with a combined household income of  $60,000 or less.  It has existed since 1975 when it was known as the "circuit breaker" property tax credit for the elderly.  Age is no longer a requirement, but if you are over a certain age, you can apply for 3 prior years' credit even though the deadline has passed.  If you live in your house in Maryland and have
a qualifying household income, here's the link to get more details and download the application.  We're talking significant dollars here, so mail it by Sept. 1.

INFORMATION AND APPLICATION FORM HTC-60 FOR MARYLAND HOMEOWNERS PROPERTY TAX CREDIT

If you desire information about the other Maryland state and county property tax credits, click here.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

FROG OR PRINCE?

Question by JC Leahy

Nancy Pelosi asked us to kiss the frog to see if it was a prince.  She demanded the Democratic health care reform bill be passed  first so that we could find out what was in it afterwards.  Indeed, she arranged it so that Representatives would vote on the bill without actually reading it.  Was that responsible then?  What do you think now?  Is it a prince or a frog?  Should Nanci Pelosi be commended or fired?  What about all the Representatives and Senators who voted for major legisltation without reading it?  What should be done about it?  Enter your comment below.  And click here for details on an alternative plan for health care reform.

Powerful Thunderstorms Rip Through Washington, DC Area

Thousands Without Electricity

by JC Leahy  -- Aug. 12, 2010

Rush hour driving into Washington, DC this morning was an adventure. Pounding hail, driving rain, gusting winds, falling branches, malfunctioning traffic signals, and crackling cloud-to-ground thunder made my pulse quicken.   Flood waters on New Hampshire Avenue were higher than halfway up the hubcaps in places. In the picture at the right, a car creeps through the dark intersection at New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard in Langley Park, Maryland. As I passed cars stalled and pulled off the road, I was impressed that my Mustang convertible just kept on going through the deep water.

85,000 PEPCO households were left without power by the storm. A falling tree crushed an apartment building in Gaithersburg, Maryland, injuring 10 people. At least 12 people had to be rescued from vehicles stranded in the flooding. The Forest Glen and Cleveland Park Metro stations closed. The MARC Brunswick Line trains were delayed by falling trees. The Penn Line was delayed by power outages

I made it in to my DC office on time at 8 AM. I was amazed that the Mustang was undamaged by the hail.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough on Your Mortgage

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What Are the Tax Consequences of the Short Sale of a House in a Foreclosure or Mortgage Recharacterization?
Question by Sarah of Silver Spring
Answer by JC Leahy, MA Accounting

JC Leahy
When the going gets tough and you can't pay your bills, sometimes you can get a lender to forgive part of what you owe. Sometimes the lender doesn't really forgive you; he just gives up trying to collect the debt. He writes it off as a "bad debt."  You can't squeeze blood from a turnip.

This is what usually happens when you lose your home through foreclosure or any similar short sale. The mortgage balance above what the bank collects from the sale of your home is usually written off -- which is considered a form of "forgiveness".

After you lose your house, it used to be that you were then slammed with a sledge-hammer-of-an income-tax bill next time you filed your annual Federal return. This was because the bank would send you a 1099-C for the amount of the mortgage loan "forgiven." That 1099-C amount would be taxed as ordinary income, just like a salary. Not only did you lose your home, but you got a big kick in pants courtesy of your Congressman and Senator via the Internal Revenue Service.

This madness was ended -- or at least mitigated -- with the passage of Bush-era tax cut entitled the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007. Under this tax-cut law, if the mortgage was used  to buy or improve your principal residence, you don't have to include the "forgiven" amount in your taxable income. That's a big relief!! All you have to do is file a Form 982 with your tax return. Form 982 tells the IRS that although the bank reported a 1099-C under your social security number, it's a mortgage for your principle residence and therefore it is excluded from your taxable income.

However, if you have a mortgage on your principle residence and you used the money for anything other than buying or improving the house, you've still got to pay taxes on the forgiven mortgage debt. Also, if it's a second home or vacation home, you've still got to pay taxes on the forgiven mortgage or second-trust debt.

By the way, if any other debt is "forgiven" -- such as credit cards -- you'll probably get a 1099-C in the mail at the end of the year. The old rule was that this was generally taxable income. The new rule is that this is generally taxable income -- but with some juicy exceptions. That's a Journal article for another day.

Questions? Enter them as comments below. I'll read & respond as best I can.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

CONSUMER / TAXPAYER ALERT: MONTGOMERY COUNTY AND THE MARYLAND HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX CREDIT

by JC Leahy, MA Accounting

If you own an home in Maryland, you had better check your latest property tax bill.  Two significant tax credits may have been left out this year, leaving you will a unfairly larger property tax bill to pay.

I am talking about the Maryland State Homestead Property Tax Credit and the corresponding county credit.  I live in Montgomery County.  I have lived in the same home since 2004 and have always received both credits every year without a problem.  No annual re-application for these credits has ever been necessary.. All you have to do to qualify for these credits is live in your home.  A couple of years ago, Montgomery County, in its quest for new revenues, decided to take away this credit from homeowners who did not re-apply for it.  A lot of homeowners missed this little detail.  I didn't; I actually re-applied.  Nevertheless, my property tax bill arived this year with those two credits quietly missing.  My daughter and son-in-law, who bought a nearby house several years ago and have been living in it continuously ever since, also are missing the credits this year. 


We're talking significant dollars here, so check your latest  property tax bill.  Check last year's tax bill, too, while you're at it.   If you live in a Maryland county outside Montgomery, this could apply to you, too.  Look at your latest property tax bill and make sure there are lines for the Maryland Homestead Tax Credit and the County Homestead Tax Credit.  Resources below:

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MONTGOMERY COUNTY MARYLAND PROPERTY TAX RECORDS

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY MARYLAND PROPERTY TAX RECORDS

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

WHY HEALTH CARE COSTS ARE SO HIGH

Submitte by Steve Monje, Silver Spring, Maryland

Nurse JC,  this is for you.

Bubba had shingles.  Those of us who spend much time in a doctor's office should appreciate this! Doesn't it seem more and more that physicians are running their practices like an assembly line? Here's what happened to Bubba:

Bubba walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had. Bubba said: 'Shingles.' So she wrote down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.

Fifteen minutes later a nurse's aide came out and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, 'Shingles.' So she wrote down his height, weight, a complete medical history and told Bubba to wait in the examining room.


A half hour later a nurse came in and asked Bubba what he had. Bubba said, 'Shingles..' So the nurse gave Bubba a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, and told Bubba to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.

An hour later the doctor came in and found Bubba sitting patiently in the nude and asked Bubba what he had.

Bubba said, 'Shingles.' The doctor asked, 'Where?'

Bubba said, 'Outside on the truck. Where do you want me to unload 'em??'

HOPE THIS MAKES YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD LIKE I DID... THAT'S WHY I HAD TO SEND THIS TO YOU....THESE DAYS WE NEED ALL THE LAUGHS WE CAN GET

Click here for a more on health care reform.