A subversive thought crosses our mind as the weekend approaches: Obamacare might be what finally kills the IRS.
Just play along with us this morning…
As you’re likely aware, this is the first year in which you must prove to the IRS you have health insurance, or else pay a penalty.
“Since the tax agency is tasked with enforcing compliance with Obamacare,” writes Reason’s J.D. Tuccille, “it is responsible for figuring out, after the fact, whether the people who received subsidies for their coverage — really, advance tax credits — received too little, too much or just enough.
“Actually, it leaves the calculations to the recipients, many of whom are low-income and so have previously avoided the mental and logical gymnastics inherent in IRS forms. Well, aren’t they in for fun!”
What they’re in for specifically is IRS Form 8962.
“Although this two-page form officially has just 36 lines,” writes the veteran personal finance columnist Kathy Kristof, “there are actually 90 spaces on just the first page that need to be filed in — up to six spaces for each official ‘line.'”
Need help? There are charts and worksheets contained within an instruction booklet dedicated to this one form. It runs 20 pages.
Even better, this is the year the IRS decided to cease distribution of instruction booklets to libraries and post offices!
More from Kristof: “If you are, say, divorced and sharing expenses with your ex-spouse, you’ll also need to fill out the second page of the form. Though this page has just seven lines, there are 37 spaces.”
The Tax Policy Center estimates 43% of U.S. households owed no federal income tax in 2013 — the most recent figure available.
Many of those 43% undoubtedly file 1040 forms already. But our point remains: Obamacare will suck more people into the Byzantine process of satisfying IRS bureaucrats every year.
Cross your fingers. The more people who suffer along with you and me, the better the chance we’ll reach critical mass and the 70,000-page tax code can be junked for good.
Well, we can dream.
Until that day arrives, we’d like to draw your attention to a different IRS form — one that effectively gets you off the IRS’ radar.
You may not be aware this form even exists (in fact, as few as 127,531 Americans do), but it’s shockingly simple. Much simpler than Form 8962, we assure you.
Go here now to learn more.
For a second straight day, major U.S. stock indexes have recovered early losses. As we write, the S&P 500 is nearly flat at 2,095.
“From a technical standpoint, 2015 has been pretty quiet,” writes one of our resident chartmeisters, Jonas Elmerraji. “The S&P 500 is pressing into new high territory, but a month and a half into the new year, we’re only half a percentage point higher than we were back at the end of December. So this probably doesn’t feel like a rip-roaring bull market to most people — and it shouldn’t.
“That said, we’ve still been able to squeeze some quick trades out of the market. As I write, we’ve got six open trades in the STORM Signals Elite portfolio — the oldest got entered at the end of January, and they’re all positive. Even in relatively flat markets, taking a technical approach to trading can squeeze some performance out of Mr. Market. The key is hitting consistent singles and doubles that add up over and over again.”
[This just in: Make that five open trades. Moments ago, Jonas urged his readers to take 56% gains on one of those trades… after only 10 days holding time.
That’s the “Work-Free Income Incubator” in action. And Jonas is inviting you to a FREE online workshop in which he’ll walk you through four predictable market patterns that allow you to generate hundreds of dollars in profits each week.
Participation is free. We only ask that you sign up in advance so we can gear up our bandwidth and servers to handle the demand. Please note: Sign-up is available only from now through midnight tomorrow night. Follow this link to make sure you won’t miss out.]
For once, oil isn’t making a 2% or bigger move in a single day. Indeed, it’s downright calm for the first time in three weeks, up 13 cents at last check, at $51.29.
“I’m optimistic about the future of Russia,” says adventure capitalist Jim Rogers.
It was a year ago this weekend that the democratically elected government in Ukraine was toppled during a coup instigated by Washington. You won’t hear about it from the elite media; for them, history didn’t begin until a few weeks later when Russia reasserted its historical control over the Crimean Peninsula and “Russian aggression” became the mantra in D.C.
“I bought more Russia during the Crimea incident, and I’m looking to buy still more,” Rogers says in an interview with our friends at Casey Research.
Rogers first visited the Soviet Union in 1966. “I came away very pessimistic. And I was pessimistic for the next 47 years, because I didn’t see how it could possibly work…
“But a year or two ago, I started noticing that things are changing in Russia… something is going on in the Kremlin. They understand they can’t just shoot people, confiscate people’s assets. They have to play by the rules if they want to develop their economy.
“Now Russia has a convertible currency — and most countries don’t have convertible currencies, but the Russians do. They have fairly large foreign currency reserves and are building up more assets. Having driven across Russia a couple of times, I know they have vast natural resources. And now that the Trans-Siberian Railway has been rebuilt, it’s a huge asset as well.
“So I see all these things. I knew the market was depressed, knew nobody liked it, so I started looking for and finding a few investments in Russia.”
But what about the conflict with the West? Rogers notices Europeans getting jittery about the sanctions.
“People are starting to re-examine the propaganda that comes out of Washington. Even the Germans are starting to reassess the situation. I suspect that things will cool off eventually, because the U.S. doesn’t have much support and they’ve got plenty of other wars they want to fight or are keen to get started…
“I don’t see America going to war, I certainly don’t see Europe going to war over Ukraine, and so America will just sort of slowly slide away and have to admit another miscalculation.”
But that miscalculation will have financial consequences, Rogers warns: “We think we’re hurting the Russians. We are actually hurting ourselves very badly in the long term.”
The whole interview is worth your time and attention. You can read it here.
Gold is set to end the week a few bucks above $1,200.
But it’s not the bullion value that makes these coins so special…
“So valuable that it’s priceless,” says the Israeli Antiquities Authority
[Israeli Antiquities Authority photo]
You’re looking at a few of the 2,000 gold coins discovered recently by divers off Israel’s Mediterranean coast. They were minted by the Fatimid Caliphate, which ruled much of the Middle East and North Africa during the 10th-12th centuries.
Winter storms had stirred up the seabed near the port of Caesarea — uncovering the treasure. “At first, [the divers] thought they had spotted a toy coin from a game, and it was only after they understood the coin was the real thing that they collected several coins and quickly returned to the shore in order to inform the director of the dive club about their find,” says a statement from the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
Marine archaeologists will return to the site soon to look for evidence of a shipwreck. The coins are now property of the state of Israel. Alas, the divers won’t collect a finder’s fee…
“Watch a NASCAR race and you will notice that the stands are practically empty, even when they swing the camera angles to avoid showing the empty bleachers,” writes a reader after we examined the underperformance of the two major track owners.
“Years ago, NASCAR decided that if you wanted to attend the feature race, then you had to buy tickets to the preliminary race(s). Most folks do not have the money or time off work to attend the other race(s) during NASCAR weekend. So, predictably, we fans stopped attending any race because of the cost of having to buy multiple tickets to get the feature event tickets.
“NASCAR has gone from always selling out its feature race to not selling tickets to any race during NASCAR weekend. NASCAR is a case study of how to alienate your base, and it will fail completely if it doesn’t start giving its fans the product that they want.
“Honestly, it’s like an NFL, NBA or MLB franchise telling its fans that only season tickets will be sold, no longer selling tickets to individual games.”
“It is easy to see why NASCAR is going downhill,” writes another.
“Are these fans the same ones who won’t get their children vaccinated for measles? But they will sit 50 feet away from 200-mph cars going by with nothing between them but a chain-link fence? It may just be a reality check.”
The 5: Oooh, nothing like ending the week by starting a flame war!
Have a good weekend,
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. Just in from the New York Times website: “About 800,000 taxpayers who enrolled in insurance policies through HealthCare.gov received erroneous tax information from the government, and were urged on Friday to hold off on filing tax returns until the error could be corrected.”
Heh… Even if they fill out the aforementioned Form 8962 correctly, they’re screwed because they’re starting with the wrong figures.
Even by federal standards, this is a monumental foul-up — covering about one-fifth of all the forms the feds mailed out.
“The error by the federal insurance marketplace,” adds the Gray Lady, “is similar to what would happen if an employer reported inaccurate information on wages paid to an employee, or a corporation reported incorrect information about dividends paid to a stockholder.”
Not quite similar: Someone at a private business who did something like this might get suspended or fired.
The insurrection against the tax code we mentioned at the start of today’s episode? Might start sooner than you think.
But whenever it starts, you’ll want to take advantage of every legal step you can take to minimize the IRS’ take. We’re here to help. Here’s where to get started.