Broker Check


Obama To Give Up Internet

          President Obama plans to give up U.S. protection of the open Internet.  The Internet is not broken, so why fix it?  Since the launch of the commercial Internet, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or lCANN, has operated under a contract from the U.S. Commerce Department.  American oversight freed engineers and developers to run the networks without political pressure from other governments.  China and Russia can censor the Internet in their own countries, but not globally, because Washington would block tampering with the "root zone" of web addresses.

          The Obama Administration, looking to placate other governments after the Edward Snowden disclosures in 2013 about U.S. surveillance, said it would end this American exceptionalism.  Surveillance is unrelated to Internet governance, but the White House thought it would be an easy concession.

          The Administration originally planned to surrender U.S. control this month, but was forced to postpone to September 2016.  The Commerce Department declared this month that there isn't any post-U.S. plan for the Internet.  Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling posted an update online saying "many questions still to be answered, both about the substance of the overall plan as well as its implementation" and "significant confusion and uncertainty".
          Congress may yet save the Internet by blocking the Administration's plan.  Senator Cruz joined Senator Grassley and Congressman Goodlatte, respectively Chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office arguing that the executive branch cannot act alone, that there is a constitutional requirement that only Congress can "dispose" of federal property.  Wall Street Journal 9/28/15 p. A15.

           Stay tuned!

End of Life Directives

      Lately, I have been asked to do legal work with regard to the following.  It is clear that an individual is presented with many alternatives and options which decisions must be made on an informed basis.  To that end, a review of the various options is presented.

  • Last Will and Testament: This is an individual's formal written directive as to how and by whom his estate is to be distributed upon his death.  It is also used to, if applicable, designate a guardian of minor children.
  • Living Will:  This is a written directive that informs medical personnel as to your end of life wishes such as not to be placed on life support.
  • Health Care Proxy:  This enables an individual to designate a particular person or persons to make health care decisions on his/her behalf is he or she is unable to make the decision.  Sometimes, this is combined with the Living Will.
  • HIPAA Authorization:  This authorizes the dissemination of an individual's personal health related information to particular persons such as a health care proxy.
  • Disposition of Decedent's Remains:  This relatively new document enables an individual to designate a particular person(s) to make arrangements and decisions concerning disposition of the individual's body upon death.  It is not settled if this document supersedes the Last Will and Testament and the authority of the Executor.
  • Durable Power of Attorney:  This is a useful and important document that gives another person the power and authority to manage someone's financial affairs particularly when one is disabled or incompetent.

Global Volatility Makes People Nervous        

          Mounting worries over problems in Greece, Puerto Rico, China, the Middle East, as well as looming concerns over possible interest rate increases at home by the Federal Reserve have prompted many to abandon equities and bonds for cash. 

          Wealth managers say many clients are nervous and are losing confidence with those asset classes in the face of both new and recurring problems.
          This is causing buying opportunities in the market for the long term but people are a bit gun-shy to jump in right now.  On Wall Street August 2015 p. 16.

Higher Medicare Premium 

          Many seniors (including me) will face higher Medicare premiums thanks to a law that President Obama signed in April that spare doctors who take Medicare patients from a cutback in federal reimbursements ordered by Obamacare.

          The premium hike affects 2015 tax planning even though the potential increase is not scheduled to take effect until 2018.  Deferring income to 2016 can cause you to pay much higher premiums in 2018 since premiums for that year are based upon 2016 income.

Driving To/From Rental Homes can Make You a Pro 

          Real Estate professionals can fully deduct rental losses on their rental properties if they satisfy two time tests: they must spend over 50% of their total working hours and more than 750 hours each year materially participating in real estate activities.  In a recent Tax Court case the taxpayer lived about 45 minutes from her dozen rental properties and needed the time she spent driving to and from the rental properties during the year to get over the 750 hour annual time threshold.  Leyh, TC Summary Opinion 2015-27 
           As always, if you have any questions about these or any other matters, do not hesitate to call us.

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