Tax Law Changes: Good, Bad and Ugly

The good: People can contribute to IRAs regardless of age, 401(k) balances can be converted into annuities and retirees can go another year and a half before there are required withdrawals from tax deferred accounts. The bad: heirs are required to withdraw deferred accounts more quickly (10 years). The ugly: industries that agreed to be taxed in order to fund Obamacare get their taxes rescinded, without any reform of the mess they helped create. More.

A Jewish Economist Saves Christmas

How many of you are dreading the breakout of political warfare over Christmas dinner? I am and I’m not even formally eligible to celebrate the holiday. I’ve seen no reliable count, but I sense that tens to hundreds of thousands of families have already come apart thanks to the Great Divider. More.

Goodman: Tax Reform for the Middle Class

Tax Law Changes: Good, Bad and Ugly

We need to remove the most unfair, most anti-work, most anti-saving provisions of the tax code – ones that burden the middle-class. These include a social Security earnings penalty that can push senior workers into a 95% marginal tax rate, a tax on nonsocial security income that even hits tax-exempt bonds, and unfair restrictions on part-time workers and the self-employed. More.

Tax Reform For The Middle Class

We need to remove the most unfair, most anti-work, most anti-saving provisions of the tax code – ones that burden the middle-class. These include a social Security earnings penalty that can push senior workers into a 95% marginal tax rate, a tax on nonsocial security income that even hits tax exempt bonds, and unfair restrictions on part-time workers and the self-employed. More.

Want To Sue Social Security? This May Be Your Chance

In its February 2018 report, Social Security’s Inspector General formally accused SSA staffers of reducing the benefits of thousands of widows — to the collective tune of $132 million. Here’s how the fraud, intentional or not, works. SSA forces, cajoles, suggests, or simply permits widows to unwittingly simultaneously file for both their survivor’s (widow’s) and retirement benefits. Doing so prevents widows from taking one of these two benefits early and the other later, after it has grown dramatically. MORE.

Opioids Are Killing Us: Here’s What We Can Do About It

Written with Larry Wedekind, Goodman writes: The treatment of choice, almost everywhere, is called Medication Assisted Treatment (M.A.T.) and it involves substitute drugs. It has an 80% failure rate. There is a treatment that involves microcurrent neurofeedback and a recovery support team. It costs one-fifth as much and has a high probability of success. What the Trump administration can do: create CPT (payment) codes for this new method of treatment. What Congress can do: reform the Obamacare exchanges. More.

Kotlikoff: Why You Should Pay Down Your Mortgage

Do you have a mortgage on your house? And instead of paying off the mortgage are you investing money elsewhere? If so, then you are borrowing (from a mortgage company) at one rate and using the funds to invest at a lower rate – after adjustment for risk. Larry Kotlikoff says it makes more sense to pay off the mortgage – especially under the new tax law. More.

Why Paying Down You Mortgage May Be Better than Investing in a 401(k)

The amount you will save by paying off your mortgage rather than investing in securities amounts to more than one year’s income. If the alternative is to invest by means of a 401(k) – with the advantage of tax-free growth – it’s a closer call. But even here, many families will be better off if they pay down the mortgage. More.

Kotlikoff: Real Federal Debt is $239 trillion

Uncle Sam’s fiscal gap (promises minus expected revenues, looking indefinitely into the future) is now $239 trillion. That’s ten times the size of our Gross Domestic Product. Eliminating our current fiscal gap requires either a 50 percent immediate and permanent hike in all federal taxes or a 33 percent immediate and permanent cut in all federal outlays, apart from debt service. The longer we wait, the more painful the solution gets. More.

Surprising Economics of Surprise Medical Bills

Surprise medical bills arise when hospital patients discover that certain fees are not covered by their health insurance. The reason for the surprise is that the patient’s insurance company and the hospital itself list the hospital as “in network.” Then, when the bill is presented, the patient discovers that certain doctors or certain services were “out of network.” As I wrote previously, in a free health insurance market this would rarely happen. Do you know of any other insurance market where this is a problem? I don’t. More.