Saturday, November 29, 2008


* Oops, missed this post in last week’s BUZZ. Bill Perez of WILLIAM’S TAX PLANNING BLOG at reminds us to “Max out Your 401(k) Plan (Year-End Tax Tips)”. As Bill points out, “Maxing out a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan has long been a staple of tax planning” and reminds us, “unlike IRAs, contributions to a 401(k) or 403(b) plan must be made by the end of the calendar year”.

Bill reminds us that the maximum contribution for 2008 is $15,500. However be sure to check your plan, as the maximum contribution may be limited to a % of your salary. I recently came across this issue with a client. You are also allowed a $5,000 “catch-up” contribution if age 50 or older, and this is normally permitted in addition to any plan limitation based on salary.

If I can add my 2 cents – the fact that your 401(k) balance may have tanked because of the current economic mucking fess is no reason to stop making the maximum contributions. With the market so low now is the time to buy. If you are concerned you may want to, as Bill suggests, “review your retirement plan's asset allocation, investment options”.

* Russ Fox of TAXABLE TALK reports another in a long line of tax FUs from the Chairman of the House tax-writing committee in his post “Rangel's Tax Troubles Mount”.

* As promised, Dan Meyer of TICK MARKS has announced his “Nominees for 2008 Twelve Blogs of Christmas”. Good choices all.

* Nothing to do with taxes, but I had to get this in somewhere -

As I twitted (or is that twit, or tweet?) after it was over – “If the Variety Show wasn't already dead it was just killed for sure by Rosie O'Donnell! A total waste of potentially good guest stars.”

Rosie, a supposed stand-up comic, was stiff and unfunny. Alec Baldwin, Jane Krakowski, Harry Connick Jr, Clay Aiken, and Kathy Griffin, who could have made for a good show if properly used, were paraded on and off in seconds while prime time was given to bland and boring pop tunes from Neo (wtf?) and Alanis Morissette (unintelligible – I couldn’t understand a word she was singing) and weird unknown vaudeville-type acts.

Let us hope that this universally-panned debacle is not brought back, as promised, as a weekly show. A total insult to the much-missed variety shows of the 50s–70s.

Thursday’s PARDON OUT PLANET cartoon by Vic Lee in the Star Ledger has the Devil welcoming a new resident of Hell, who is seated among the flames in front of a tv set. “You’ve gotta be kidding”, the new denizen exclaims. “Nothing but reruns of RAWHIDE and ST ELESWHERE?!” That wouldn’t be so bad. Before Wednesday I would have said Hell was having to watch nothing but reality tv. Now I know that Hell is being forced to watch ROSIE LIVE!

* Who is the manliest man in the tax blogosphere? Check out Joe Kristan’s post “Macho Macho Tax Blogs” at the ROTH AND COMPANY TAX UPDATE BLOG.

* Peter Pappas brings us the “best tax blog posts of the month” in “Issue #4: Dr. Tax-O-Sphere, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tax Code” at THE TAX LAWYER’S BLOG. Yes that is a picture of me!

* A week of “re-runs” of good information posts at TAX GUY – “Are You Having Enough Withheld”, “Filing Status”, and “529 College Savings Plans”.

* First I used
Typealyzer to discover my blog’s personality characteristics (see last Saturday’s WHAT’S THE BUZZ), which told us I was ”the independent and problem-solving type”. Then, as mentioned above, I used Genderanalyzer to find out that I was 89% manly (and to find that Kay Bell was 4% more manly than me). Now, thanks to a prompt from Prof Jim Maule of MAULED AGAIN (“Giving MauledAgain a Personality”), I have taken the Blog Readability Test and found – “This Blog’s Reading Level: College (Post Grad)”.

Are there any other blog tests I can put THE WANDERING TAX PRO to?

* A reminder. Just in case I have not made this clear in earlier posts, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 has reinstated the expired $500 credit for energy-efficient property such as doors, windows, water heaters, and central air units. This credit is reinstated for the 2009 tax year, so if you’re considering energy-efficient improvements to your home, 2009 is the year to have that done. Thanks to the NATP weekly email newsletter for reminding me!

* More from the NATP’s TAXPRO Weekly –

The IRS has extended return-filing and payment deadlines for victims of recent wildfires in the California counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and Santa Barbara. Taxpayers residing or having businesses in these disaster areas have until February 11, 2009, to file returns, pay taxes, and perform other time-sensitive acts otherwise due between November 13, 2008, and February 11, 2009.

In addition, taxpayers whose books, records, or tax professionals' offices are located in the covered disaster areas are also entitled to this relief. Affected taxpayers who reside or have a business located outside the covered disaster area must call the IRS disaster hotline at 866.562.5227 to request relief.

Additional information is available on the IRS

* Always leave them laughing. Compliments of Peter Pappas of THE TAX LAWYER’S BLOG – “Funny Late Night Tax Quotes”.


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