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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘tax’

Obama Tells ’60 Minutes’ He Tunes Out Netanyahu’s ‘Noise’ (Video)

Monday, September 24th, 2012

President Obama was asked on 60 Minutes Sunday: “You‘re saying you don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign, to try to get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand…?”

The president responded: “When it comes to our national security decisions—any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.”

Obama sounded belligerent later on, when he commented on Mitt Romney’s charge that his foreign policy is “a policy of paralysis,” blurting: “If Gov. Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so.”

Romney’s Press Secretary Andrea Saul commented:

“Tonight on 60 Minutes, President Obama called Israel’s legitimate concern about the impact of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons ‘noise’ and referred to Israel as merely ‘one of our closest allies in the region.’ This is just the latest evidence of his chronic disregard for the security of our closest ally in the Middle East… As president, Governor Romney will restore and protect the close alliance between our nation and the state of Israel.”

Romney worked hard to make “more elegant” his secretly taped remarks to an audience of wealthy donors in May, that 47 percent of the American people paid no income taxes, were dependent on government and would never vote for him.

He also distanced himself from his running mate’s reputation regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare.

Congressman Paul Ryan wanted to reduce payments to the Medicare program by about $700 billion.

“Yeah, he was going to use that money to reduce the budget deficit,” Romney said of Ryan’s proposal. “I’m putting it back into Medicare, and I’m the guy running for president, not him.”

Romney discussed his plan to reduce income tax rates by 20%, adding that the plan would also limit deductions and exemptions. Responding to criticism that his tax reductions would favor the rich, Romney said in his tax plan “there should be no tax reduction for high income people.”

He said he wants to give middle class families a tax reduction by cutting taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains. But he wouldn’t name the specific tax deductions and exemptions he would cut.

Skip to 10:59 for the ‘noise’ segment.

What is More Virtuous: Paying Taxes or Giving Charity?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

David Axelrod was manhandled across cyberspace for tweeting an attack against Republican donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson on the morning of September 11th. Let’s be charitable here and forgive Axelrod his breech of etiquette given that campaigns become so intense you can easily get carried away without meaning to. Whatever the case, Axelrod was reacting to a report in the Huffington Post that if Mitt Romney won the election people like the Adelsons could save billions in taxes. The report also said that a repeal of the estate tax could save billions more.

As the Adelsons are arguably the world’s foremost supporters of Jewish causes and charities, this raises for a Rabbi who is also a congressional candidate the question of what is a bigger mitzvah: paying taxes or giving charity. Surely even Axelrod, or other critics of the Adelsons, are not suggesting the couple have a problem parting with their money, as they regularly contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to charity. Rather, the argument is that they should be paying higher taxes, and the payment of higher taxes on the part of the super-rich has been a constant campaign theme.

Mind you, even Obama and Axelrod have their limits. They are not advocating confiscatory taxation as is, say, France’s new President Francois Hollande, whose plans to tax those making more than a million euros per annum at a rate of 75% is already leading to an exodus of the rich. No, President Obama wants the Bush tax cuts to expire at the end of the year leading to a federal tax rate of 39% for those in the highest bracket.

But since America came into being as a protest against unfair taxation, what rate is fair, even for the super-rich? For example, in my home state of New Jersey a millionaire will pay, at present, 35% of his income to the Federal government and then nearly 10% percent to the state, and New Jersey was changed by Democrat Jon Corzine to a net income state, meaning you cannot deduct what you pay in Federal Taxes from your state tax bill. That means about half your income goes to taxation, and that’s before real estate tax (in New Jersey it’s arguably the highest in the nation), sales tax, and the myriad other taxes we each pay on a daily basis (take a look at your monthly cell phone bill to see if you can even count how many taxes there are).

Still we are told that America’s taxes ought to be higher. In New Jersey it hasn’t worked. People are leaving the state because they’re tired of being ripped off. So while we lost a Congressional seat, leading to a terribly bitter Democratic primary here in the 9th district, Florida and Texas, which have no state income tax, added a bunch. When I meet people campaigning, they tell me that taxes are the number one issue for them.

Are American citizens really expected to feel guilty about not paying enough tax? When we see such incredible government waste, should we be eager to fork over more money to see it so much of it squandered?

Take President Obama’s trillion dollar stimulus that seemed to have stimulated only greater American resentment at paying taxes. Nearly a trillion dollars was poured down a sinkhole but produced no jobs or greater economic performance. I even remember reading a story after the package passed in February 2008 of a public school that was sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend. The school responded they didn’t need the money. They had good facilities and new equipment. No matter. They were told they had to spend the stimulus funds.

I remember being deeply upset. I’m an orthodox Jew. I have a right to educate my children in the Jewish tradition, just as Catholic, Islamic, and Christian parents. I send my kids to a Jewish day school. But not a dollar of my hard-earned tax dollars is allowed to pay a single expense at my children’s Yeshivas and Jewish day schools, even for completely secular subjects. Religious parents throughout the country are having fewer children as they struggle to keep up with insanely high taxes and insanely high tuition. Yet here was a school having our tax dollars being shoved down its throat when it didn’t want or need the money.

ZOA Loses Tax Exemption Status, Will Apply for Reinstatement

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The Zionist Organization of America has lost its 501(c)3 tax exemption status, due to failure to file tax returns for the last three years.

In an interview with JTA, ZOA president Morton Klein confirmed the loss, and stated that his organization has hired a tax attorney to help them bring their files up to date and apply for reinstatement of their status.

According to Klein, the error in filing was due to the failure of a ZOA-funded school in Ashkelon to provide correct information in time, as well as a misunderstanding on the part of the ZOA as to the amount of time it had left to file for an extension.

Transferring Wealth with Stocks, Bonds, and Bicycles

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Wealth transfer is a hot topic in financial planning. Thinking about how to pass funds from one generation to the next can be emotionally difficult. Perhaps the older generation doesn’t approve of the way the younger spends the money, or the younger generation isn’t involved in the family business. Furthermore, tax and legal issues can complicate matters.

While estate and inheritance planning can be complex, other wealth can be transferred more easily: the wealth of knowledge. My grandmother successfully passed a financial education to my mother, who transferred it to me, as I am a proud third-generation licensed broker. My maternal grandmother Miriam Rosofsky struggled against social norms to enter the work world. But eventually she had the distinction of being one of the first women to hold a U.S. Securities license. She started as a secretary in a brokerage firm, but then began picking up her own book of clients. My mother Rhoda Goldstein was an associate vice-president in Dean Witter. Dinner-time conversation around my childhood table alternated between medical issues (my father was a surgeon) and economic discussions. I saw how both my parents helped people gain and maintain their physical and financial health. It was therefore only natural for me to begin my financial career partnering with my mother on Wall Street.

After I made aliya, I founded Profile Investment Services, Ltd. with the aim of helping people living in Israel create financial plans and maintain U.S. brokerage accounts. I try to follow in my mother and grandmother’s footsteps in transferring the wealth of financial knowledge to my own children. Even though none have announced their desire to be financial planners (but my wife recently became a licensed U.S. broker), they do check stock prices regularly.

We frequently discuss fiscal responsibility, budgeting, and other economic topics at our dinner table.  Some of the kids are reading books on behavioral finance, and others are reading books about loyalty, fidelity, and trust. My mother, keen to pick up on children’s natural curiosity about money and the way the “grown up” world works, recently came out with a book geared for young adults about how the stock and bond markets work, and how an entrepreneur can raise the funds necessary to fulfill his dream. If you’re interested in sharing this information with your children and transferring the wealth of financial knowledge to them, visit my website to get her new book Stocks, Bonds, and Bicycles. Let me know if you recognize any of the characters in the story.

Flying Back to the US? Better Ask your Accountant First, You Could Get Arrested

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Hey American Olim — Remember the phrase, “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition”?

Well, no one expects to be questioned at the US border when flying to the US for a simcha or visit…by the IRS, about back taxes.

This month’s, “Journal of Accountancy” has a rather scary article about this very issue. First and last paragraphs are the key:

Taxpayers traveling to the United States with unpaid U.S. tax assessments can be detained at the border, questioned, and flagged for follow-up enforcement. If a taxpayer has an unpaid tax liability and is subject to a resulting Notice of Federal Tax Lien, the IRS may submit identifying taxpayer information to the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS), a database maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The database allows the DHS to identify taxpayers with unpaid tax assessments who are traveling to the United States (Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), §5.1.12.26).

A taxpayer who resides outside the United States may not be aware of outstanding federal tax liabilities if the address on record for the taxpayer is outdated or otherwise incorrect. Consequently, tax advisers with clients who reside outside the United States should ensure that the correct address for the taxpayer is used on the client’s returns and, if the client no longer is required to file U.S. returns, that the IRS still is able to contact the taxpayer about previously filed returns. Taxpayers should be advised that a failure to keep the IRS apprised of a change in mailing address may result in an unwelcome—and potentially embarrassing—surprise when the taxpayer seeks to enter the United States.

This could apply even if you DON’T owe money, but the IRS thinks you owe money, audited you (without your knowledge if they couldn’t contact you), and then…while trying to visit…

So, make sure you file regularly, and make sure they have an address listed for you, which will actually reach you.

Remember the IRS motto: “We’re not happy, till you’re not happy…”

The Tischler Brothers Tout Their Commitments To Public Service

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Avraham and Moshe Tischler, 20-somethings brothers and ambitious political neophytes, recently met with The Jewish Press editorial board to discuss their current political plans and future prospects.

Avraham, 21, focused on his campaign against Simcha Felder, a former New York City councilman, in the so-called Super Jewish State Senate (district 17) race in southern Brooklyn in the September 13 Democratic primary. Among his chief policy goals, Avraham stressed his commitment to tuition tax credits, creating more jobs in the district, and improving government efficiency – especially the spending of citizens’ tax dollars. If successful, Avraham said he plans to use his office as an educational tool to raise various important issues to his constituents and rally them for their implementations.

Moshe Tischler campaigning on 16th Avenue with Laizer Lichtenstein, a local business owner.

For his part Moshe Tischler, 20, discussed his race against longtime incumbent Dov Hikind for the 48th State Assembly seat. Moshe claimed that he would be more effective than Hikind in the area of tuition tax relief for Yeshiva parents, emphasizing that this would be his top legislative priority in Albany.

Born and raised in Boro Park, the Tischlers said they know firsthand the needs and issues within the community, and have gained the education and insight necessary to understand and serve the community’s needs. With a B.A. degree in psychology and a minor in political science, Avraham has established his acumen on educational issues. And his growing interest in politics has led him to pursue a career in law.

Through his studies, Avraham has become well versed on the issue of the costs of private education. Avraham, declaring that “no child should be deprived of that [school choice] right,” spoke at length about his desire to enact private school tax credit legislation in order to provide parents with financial relief, thus enabling them to exercise the choice of sending their children to private (parochial or non-denominational) or public schools. He explained that city and state government spend close to a combined $20,000 of taxpayer’s dollars per public school student. Parents who send their children to private schools are burdened with those schools’ extra expenses, and Avraham believes that if government provides tax credits to them, parents would gain immediate tax relief. When asked to explain the difference between Felder and his views on this issue, he said, “[Felder] had his opportunity for ten years on the City Council and failed to deliver relief for parents.”

Avraham brings a strong reputation and history of volunteer work in the community. In grade school, he began volunteering in Maimonides Medical Center. He has helped Ohel Bais Ezra recruit young adults to help children with special needs. And he contributes his time to the nonprofit soup kitchen network, Masbia.

These experiences and his unswerving commitment to the community’s needs have made Avraham aware of average people’s struggles in finding jobs, as well as the predicament faced by many businesses that are attempting to maintain their current workforces. Avraham spoke of his plans to help small businesses create more jobs. He said he believes that “small businesses are the key engine to prosperity” and that the fines, regulations and penalties imposed by government are effectively killing those businesses. Avraham detailed the chain reaction of what occurs when a small business is ticketed with an expensive fine, and how that penalty forces them to cut back by possibly laying off some employees – and, in the worst-case scenario, shut down the business altogether.

According to Avraham, Felder did little when serving on the City Council to solve this problem, sponsoring the bill that Mayor Bloomberg proposed to overturn term limits, thereby allowing him to remain in office and continuing to fine and regulate businesses. In Avraham’s view, Felder was essentially a rubber stamp pertaining to the policies of Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Bloomberg.

On the controversial issue of pay raises for lawmakers, Felder voted to increase his own salary by 25 percent. Avraham vowed that if elected, he would vote against a pay raise and challenged Felder to join him in this pledge. As Avraham put it: “When people are struggling and hurting because of the stagnant economy, legislators should not be increasing their pay.”

Florida debate: ‘Should Jews Vote for Obama or Romney’

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

If you are already bored with the US presidential campaign rhetoric, do we have a debate for you!

Tonight’s debate in the swing state of Florida will not be the standard snooze, and you can watch it on your very own computer screen.  Among the players are one vegetarian, animal rights, nuke-the-terrorists rabbi; a Christian Zionist whose opposition to Islamic terrorism has placed his group on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups; a dyed in the wool Democratic Party leader; and a former high school teacher who debates as if his life depends on it.  He thinks it does.

Florida is one of the key swing states in play in this year’s US presidential campaign.   President Obama made a personal visit to  Century Village in Boca Raton, Florida last month, and newly-annointed Republican vice presidential candidate Cong. Paul Ryan (R-WI ) made one of his first official campaign visits there.  Ryan appeared with his Wisconsin-based mom, who lives part of the year in Florida.

Within the swing Sunshine State,  Florida’s 639,000 Jews are attracting a lot of the campaign attention.  According to a Boston Globe article this week, President Obama is losing some support amongst Jewish Floridians.   Although Jews constitute only 3 percent of Florida voters, their high voter turnout means they may account for as much as 7 or 8 percent of the vote.

Which brings us to tonight’s debate.

Rabbi Barry Silver is the religious leader of the 200-family Reform congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Lake Worth, Florida.  His shul has been holding the Rabbi Sam Silver Controversial Issues Series for years.  Topics they have addressed include: “Which branch of Judaism is the most authentic?” and “Is vegetarianism consistent with Jewish law?”

On May 15, 2012, the Controversial Issues Series held the first debate in this year’s election series.  The question debated then was: “Is President Obama Good or Bad for Israel?”

Tonight’s question is a slightly broader one: “Should Jews Vote for Obama or Romney?”

The same quartet from May is back for tonight’s rematch.  In the blue corner, representing the pro-Obama vote, is Mark Alan Siegel, chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, and Rabbi Barry Silver.  In the red corner, speaking for the pro-Romney vote, will be Alan Bergstein, a transplanted Brooklynite, currently a South Florida pro-Israel activist and Tom Trento, president of The United West.  The United West describes itself as a counter-jihad organization.  It is adamantly supportive of Israel, which Trento describes as America’s beacon of light in the Middle East.  Siegel, however, described Trento and Bergstein as anti-Islamic extremists.

In the earlier debate, Trento seized on Siegel’s statement, that “there is more to this election than merely Israel.” To which Trento responded: “no, there isn’t, there’s one issue – it’s Israel.  It isn’t abortion, it isn’t healthcare, it’s Israel.”

This afternoon, speaking by phone to The Jewish Press, the Palm Beach County Democratic Chair said that in tonight’s debate he “will be presenting a drash, based on traditional Jewish sources, which make clear that Jews should vote for Democrats, because that party is more consistent with traditional Jewish values.”  Siegel especially focused on “the Democratic party being more representative of the Jewish belief in communal responsibilities, such as for education, than is the Republican party,” which he said “focuses on individual responsibility, in other words, everybody for himself.”

In contrast to Siegel, who is a party line supporter of President Obama, Rabbi Silver is less enthusiastic.  Silver told The Jewish Press that the president “speaks well, but what he does doesn’t match up with the rhetoric.”  The Republican challenger, however, fares even worse.  In Silver’s estimation, “Romney doesn’t even say the right things, and unlike Obama’s baby steps in the right direction, Romney is taking huge leaps in the wrong direction.”

But just when you start to chalk up the Reform Rabbi’s positions as predictable of a solid left-leaning Democrat, he shatters that stereotype.

“Israel and the US and the rest of the western world should declare war on terrorist groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, and also Ahmadinejad,” Silver explains.

“How does the world expect Israel to achieve peace with those terrorists?” asked Silver.   “Just as during World War II we didn’t try to find a way to live with the Nazis, we defeated them militarily, and then we found friends with whom we could make peace.”  According to Silver, “the same has to happen with the Islamic fundamentalists.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/politics/florida-debate-should-jews-vote-for-obama-or-romney/2012/08/22/

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