Wednesday, December 19, 2012

State of North Carolina Comprehensive Annual Financial Report

If you live in North Carolina, and ever wondered how your tax dollars are spent, you can find out in the recently published 

If that report seems daunting at 301 pages, you might start with the 21 page

Both reports also include many non-financial statistics including economics, demographics, and employment.

A few highlights:  You can discover facts like North Carolina has fewer teachers in 2012 than 2008.  It also lists the top 10 employers in the state.  The state itself is number 1, and the federal government is number 2.  North Carolina has roughly $9 Billion of debt outstanding and collected about $22 Billion in taxes last year.  Of the $22 Billion collected, $10.4 Billion came from individual income taxes and $7.4 Billion from sales and gasoline taxes while corporate income taxes chipped in $1.2 Billion.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Everyone in the USA should watch this video of David Walker

David Walker from the Comeback America Initiative ran the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as the US Comptroller General for 10 years under Presidents Clinton and Bush (1998-2008). This is a video of his presentation at Dartmouth University. Hear his SOLUTIONS to most problems in government.  If you care at all about our nation's fiscal health you will be fascinated by this video.  Be sure to watch even the questions and answers at the end.  

If you have time to watch Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, Downton Abbey, Duck Dynasty or Honey Boo Boo every week, you have time to watch this video, once.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Do I earn too much to have a Roth IRA? Nope.

There is an income limitation for contributing "directly" to a Roth IRA ($173,000 Modified Adjusted Gross Income for 2012 for married couples filing jointly).  However, back in 2010, the income limitation for Roth "Conversions" expired, completely.  Thus, it is not possible to earn too much to have a Roth IRA.  If you exceed the income limitations for a direct contribution to a Roth IRA, one just needs to make a non-deductible contribution to a Traditional IRA then "convert" the Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA as soon as possible.

Annual contribution limits for IRAs and Roth IRAs are $5,000 per person in 2012 and $5,500 in 2013 unless you are over 50 in which case your annual limits are $6,000 and $6,500 for 2012 and 2013, respectively.  Thus, a husband and wife can EACH put $5,000 away this year for a total amount of $10,000, or $12,000 if they are both over 50.  I recommend everyone get money into a Roth IRA every year if at all possible since earnings grow tax free and withdrawals in retirement are also tax free.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff-Hanger: Were the Mayans Right?

Good news!  The US Government has confirmed the end of civilization as we know it WON'T happen on December 21, 2012 - the end of the Mayan Calendar.  The bad news? The Mayans may only have been off by 10 days.  The US will plunge off the so-called "fiscal cliff" on December 31, 2012.  Many folks are probably wondering what this "fiscal cliff" is all about anyways? The "fiscal cliff" is the phrase coined by the United States top economist, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, to characterize the man-made impending economic cataclysm created by our US Congress.
Bernanke said, "Under current law, on Jan. 1, 2013, there's going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases. I hope that Congress will look at that and figure out ways to achieve the same long-run fiscal improvement without having it all happen at one date."
Congress, in its infinite insanity, decided playing chicken with the US economy via the man-made "debt ceiling" and "budget" crises at least twice every year, was not exciting enough.  So, Congress purposely set up the US economy to drive over a cliff, unless the most dysfunctional group of 535 people ever assembled in world  history, comes to an agreement on whether to steer left, or right and avoid plunging into the abyss.

So, the big question is, "which is Thelma and which is Louise" in this picture from our real-time historical econo-drama?  I'm sure we can all agree that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (a.k.a TurboTax Tim among the CPA crowd) is Brad Pitt in this analogy.

My second question is, "should I trademark the term econo-drama?"  Just think of the royalties Dr. Bernanke could have earned had he trademarked "fiscal cliff?"

And lastly, "who will bail out the U.S." if we continue to write our own version of the similar econo-drama, and Greek tragedy, "The Five Little PIIGS" that is playing out on the European stage simultaneously?