Broker Check

April 30, 2017

We Remember Robert Taylor

          Often, we do not know the names of people who have changed or made significant contribution to our lives.  Such a man was Robert Taylor.  We know Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and maybe even Marc Andreessen but, we do not know the man who influenced these three and made theirs and others’ achievements possible.

          Robert Taylor, while at NASA in the 1960s, helped to create the computer mouse; and while working at the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) created ARPAnet, an early version of the internet, as a solution to string computers at different research institutes together into an information sharing network (Not Al Gore).

          Xerox opened the Palo Alto Research Center, known as PARC, in 1970 and hired Mr. Taylor to run it.  His band of merry corporate misfits, drawing upon their own ideas, developed graphical displays to replace confusing codes needed to operate earlier computers; created Ethernet networking technology and created laser printers.

          Heads of other computer companies were allowed into this “Skunkworks” to see what was being worked on.  Parc’s experimental Alto personal computer inspired Steve Jobs to create the Lisa computer, which became the Macintosh and he “stole” all the technology he witnessed.  Later, Bill Gates appropriated the technology from Steve Jobs in order to create the Windows system.

          But most do not know who started it all.

          In 1984, I was the Tax Manager at a regional accounting firm and the person in charge of technology saw a demonstration of the Lisa and the Macintosh and said he had seen the future and was effusive in praise of it.  I went to the local Apple dealer under the program of “Test Drive a Mac”; gave them a copy of my driver’s license and took home a 512K Mac for the weekend and started to tentatively use it and the two programs that came with it.  Minutes later, my 5 year old daughter, without hesitation, started to hit the keys and started to use the Mac Paint program to create designs.  I bought a computer the following week and never looked back.

          I became a member of the New York Macintosh User’s Group (NYMUG), which met first at CUNY’s midtown location and later in the Ethical Culture Center on the upper west side.  Apple asked me to beta test accounting programs since they said we were the largest Mac-based accounting firm in New York and the designated Accounting expert for NYMUG.  Since then, we have always worked in both the PC and Mac worlds and many companies found their way to us via NYMUG in order to use a Mac-based CPA.

          So, I have a special fondness for the man who inspired it all.

Has New York’s Law on Full Payment Checks Changed?

          After completing work and rendering an invoice, you receive a check for a lesser amount with the words “payment in full” on the front.  You need the money.  Should you cash the check?

          For the past 30 years, the answer has been yes.  You could cash this check “under protest” and then bring legal action to recover the unpaid amount.  The words “under protest” (or similar language) printed above your endorsement preserved your rights to the unpaid balance.

          Today, there is uncertainty.  A recent article in the New York Bar Association Journal asserts that cashing a check “under protest” may no longer preserve one’s rights to the unpaid balance.  Because, argues the article, the December 17, 2014 revisions to New York’s Uniform Commercial Code make it “likely” (except in a limited group of cases) that cashing the check will result in an accord and satisfaction of the dispute, even if the check is cashed “under protest”.

          Did those revisions reverse New York’s long-standing law on payment in full checks?  We will not know for certain until the courts address this issue.

Do Not Get Trapped By Medicare Rules

          If you are retiring past age 65, you may choose to stick with your employer’s health plan rather than signing up for Medicare.  But you could risk going without insurance for several months, and pay an annual penalty for life, if you do not follow Medicare’s strict enrollment rules.

          When you turn 65, you are eligible to sign up for Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient services.  You may decide it is easier or cheaper to continue with your employer’s coverage, either opting to take corporate retiree medical benefits or going with COBRA.  Under federal COBRA law, companies with at least 20 employees must allow former workers to buy into the group health plan for up to 18 months.

          That could be a costly mistake.  When you turn 65, you can forgo Medicare without consequences if you are still working and are covered by your employer’s group health plan.  But once you leave the job, you must enroll in Part B within 8 months after the month you retire, even if you continue to be covered by your employer’s health plan.  This 8 month period is known as the “special enrollment period”.

          If you miss this deadline and your employer coverage expires, you could find yourself uninsured for many months.  You will not be allowed to enroll in Medicare Part B until the next “general enrollment period” which runs from January 1 through March 31.  Your coverage, however, will not begin until July.  Plus, you may be subject to late penalties.

          Some retirees realize they have made a mistake when the group health plan rejects their claims.  When you turn 65, a retiree health plan or COBRA will pay only for medical expenses that Part B will not cover.  Even if you decide not to enroll in Medicare, your former employer’s plan will consider the government insurer to be the primary payer.  Kiplinger’s Retirement Report 1/16.

          As always, if you have any questions about these or any other matters, do not hesitate to call us.

          Remember, We’re Here For You!