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1
IRS Includes Phishing Scams Among Its “Dirty Dozen”
2
Losing Faith?
3
Inflation or Deflation – Which Do We Have? (Part II)
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Paying For Your Higher Education
5
A Visual Explanation of How Quantitative Easing Works

IRS Includes Phishing Scams Among Its “Dirty Dozen”

IRS phishing scamPeriodically the IRS issues a list of tax scams that it considers especially troublesome. Most of the 2009 “Dirty Dozen” Tax Scams involve fraudulent tax filings and other abuses of the tax system. However, the first item on the list is “phishing:” the use of e-mails that appear to come from the IRS but that are actually from crooks looking for ways to steal bank account information, social security numbers, and other personal information.

During periods of general economic stress, frauds like this often increase.  I wrote last summer about a bogus IRS e-mail that I received, with advice about …

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Losing Faith?

According to a study conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute and published by the Wall Street Journal, workers’ and retirees’ confidence about their retirement security has deteriorated sharply during the past two years. The survey of 1,257 Americans found that the percentage of workers who are very confident about having enough money to retire comfortably has dropped to 13% this year, a record low. That is down from 18% in 2008, and a record high of 27% in 2007.

According to Jack VanDerhei, a survey co-author, retirees are waking up to what amounts to “a huge gap between what …

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Inflation or Deflation – Which Do We Have? (Part II)

A major problem with deflation is that it can be difficult for a central bank to control. When inflation is high, the Federal Reserve can raise interest rates, and this tends to slow down inflation. But if prices are falling consistently, the Fed would normally like to stimulate the economy by making it easier to borrow money.  The lowest rate the Fed has at its disposal is 0%. Presently the Federal Funds rate (the interest rate banks charge each other for loans) target range is 0.25% – 0%.  Once the central bank lending rate is at 0%, it can’t go …

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Paying For Your Higher Education

Another way to pull funds from an IRA or a qualified retirement plan (401(k), 403(b), 457, etc.) without having to pay the 10% penalty is to use those funds for Qualified Higher Education Expenses (QHEE).  This comes up quite often, as parents are faced with the issues surrounding the dueling requirements of retirement saving and paying for college for the young ‘uns.

We’ve been talking about the components of Internal Revenue Code Section 72, and specifically here we’re talking about §72(t)(2)(E).  In this portion of the code, the provision is made for a taxpayer qualified retirement plan or IRA owner …

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A Visual Explanation of How Quantitative Easing Works

How Quantitative Easing WorksI gave a short discussion of quantitative easing in the second post of my Inflation/Deflation series. I learned recently that the Financial Times web site has a nice explanation of how quantitative easing works to check deflation; if you’re a visual learner, you might find it helpful. You may have to register at the FT site to view it, but registration is free. The piece explains the risks of quantitative easing and makes an important point: although many economists believe that too much quantitative easing could be very bad and that too little easing won’t check deflation, no one …

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