Tags >> finances
Feb 08
2010

2010 Estate Tax

Posted by Bruce Robinson in seniors , politics , legislation , history , government , finances , families , budget

Bruce Robinson

Last year, the federal estate tax earned the government about $25 billion dollars. This year, unless Congress takes action, the amount will be zero.

The missing Estate Tax in 2010 means more than just less revenue for the federal government. Santa Rosa tax attorney MaryClare Lawrence explains it has a ripple effect that touches virtually anyone who has some kind of an estate plan.

Nor are the complications in the tax law that apply in 2010 limited to the Estate Tax. Lawrence says that calculating Capital Gains on inherited wealth has also gotten trickier.

This table shows how the revenue collected from Estate Taxes was apportioned before the minimum exemption was increased. The first blue column, for estates of less than $2.5 million, has gone away for the past several years, but unless Congress enacts changes, Lawrence says it is due to return with a in 2011.

 

 

Feb 02
2010

ACTA and Fair Use

Posted by Bruce Robinson in technology , rights , policy , nonprofit orgs , news , media , legislation , international , government , finances , economy , Congress , business , arts , activism

Bruce Robinson

An international trade agreement on counterfeiting, currently being negotiated in secret, may actually impose strict new enforcements of expanded copyright protections.

While it’s not unusual for international trade treaties to be negotiated behind closed doors, most of the rationales for doing so don’t apply in the case of ACTA. There are 37 nations involved in the talks, and they freely share materials among themselves; it has been the public—in all of those countries—that has been excluded from the process. The high degree of secrecy surrounding the ACTA negotiations are additionally suspicious, says the Electronic Frontier Foundation's International Policy director, Gwen Hinze (left) , when contrasted with the way other similar pacts were developed in recent years.

Extending the stringent protections of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to written work that is published online has already been tried in several of the countries that are party to the ACTA negotiations, says Gwen Hinze. But everywhere that has been tried, it has prompted enormous public outcry.

Requiring Internet service providers (ISPs) to enforce a “three strikes” policy against anyone accused of three violations of the new, tougher copyright protections, is being advocated by the film and music industries—who are being consulted in the ACTA negotiations—and opposed by the ISPs, who are on the outside. The Electronic Frontier Foundation agrees with the ISPs, because, as Hinze observes, there are too many ways such an enforcement policy can go wrong.

There's additional background information on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement here. EFF is also mounting a letter-writing campaign to urge that  Congress demand the ACTA process be opened to public scrutiny.

 

Jan 29
2010

Haiti Response

Posted by Bruce Robinson in volunteer , students , speaker , Sonoma County , resources , rescue , public safety , poverty , nonprofit orgs , medicine , international , homeless , healthcare , finances , economy , aging , activism

Bruce Robinson

The Hatian earthquake has left at least half a million survivors displaced and homeless, and as relief efforts continue now, some aid workers worry that the coming hurricane season may compound the disaster.

The enormity of the immediate crisis in Haiti has captured and held the world’s attention for the past two and a half weeks, but Chloe Gans-Ruggebregt, a north coast native who is on the Red Cross health staff in Haiti, is worried that global concern will soon move on to other areas, while  the Hatian people will need years of assistance to recover from the disaster.

Chloe has been living and working in Haiti for the past four year, and her parents visited her there just last summer. They’ve  been talking with her almost daily since the quake, and her father, John Ruggebregt of Santa Rosa, says that for him, those conversations have given the humanitarian crisis an individualized human face.

The local Red Cross office is maintaining a list of events in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties to raise money to support  relief efforts. You can also view a slideshow of Red Cross photographs from Haiti. To make a donation, click here.

 

When the quake struck, Chloe was more than 100 miles away in rural Haiti. She promptly returned to Port au Prince (where she, too, lived) and emailed her first impressions not long after arriving there:

I was on the fourth floor of the house in Trou du Nord when the earthquake started. It probably lasted about 20 seconds. The whole house was shaking and people started yelling and running outside. There was however no major damage in the NE. The phone promptly went out as did our Internet which relies on the same system.

I drove to PAP [Port au Prince] today thinking that I wouldn't be able to get back just because it had been raining for two weeks in the north and the planes weren't flying. There was no way I nor my driver could have predicted what we would see when we drove into PAP.

We started to see large cracks in the highway about an hour outside PAP and as we got closer and closer the chaos mounted. PAP probably has tens of thousands dead and no aid [organization] can even respond. Matt [Marek, head of the American National Red Cross Haiti delegation] was out with half our team all night and day just giving basic first aid, but the hospitals are closed or full, the government has many dead, the head of the UN is dead and many of the UN are unaccounted for as are six of our staff.

We are sure they are fine but they have no way to communicate and many roads are blocked. I  haven't been home but will go tomorrow to see if my house is still there. As far as I know we will only be able to do first aid but teams are on the way. I am in shock along with the entire city. The city has been reduced to a concrete pile of rubble. Everyone is sleeping outside because they are scared of more.

Jan 04
2010

Elder Financial Abuse

Posted by Bruce Robinson in Sonoma County , seniors , rights , public safety , poverty , nonprofit orgs , news , Napa , Marin , law enforcement , justice , finances , families , education , economy , California , aging , activism

Bruce Robinson

The recession can be a triple threat to the financial security of seniors. Not only are their savings shrinking, family members may have crucial needs, while unscrupulous predatory sales operations that target elders are on the upswing.

The Elder Financial Protection Network has collaborated with NBC Bay Area to create the television documentary “Be Wise, Be Aware,” which was first broadcast on Jan 3, 2010. Much of that program’s power comes from its first-person case histories, but Jenefer Duane, the EFPN’s founder and CEO (below), says it isn’t easy to find such people who are willing to come forward and tell their stories.

Duane founded the Elder Financial Protection Network in 1999, but she’s been working on senior advocacy issues much longer. It’s a calling she traces back to her childhood, growing up in Corte Madera.

A good resource for finding assistance when you suspect instances of senior abuse or fraud is the National Eldercare Locator. There are additional resources here on the EFPN website.

The North Bay Report previously reported on this issue on October, 2008.