Monthly Archives: November 2017

30Nov 2017

How 'Free' Credit Cards Can Cost You – Forbes



<div _ngcontent-c23 innerhtml="

Shutterstock

Until a couple of years ago, Bobby Hoyt avoided credit cards with annual fees. Not anymore.

These days, he carries a small-business card with an annual fee of $175, which is waived the first year. For him, the card’s rich ongoing rewards and benefits made it well worth the cost.

“I just didn’t know you could get 3X points in a category, or get a 50,000-point sign-up bonus,” he says, explaining why he chose an annual-fee card over one with no annual fee. Hoyt, who founded the blog Millennial Money Man and lives in Houston, now uses the card to cover his business expenses.

It’s easy to overlook the potential value of a pricey credit card. For many, “free” seems like the best option: When asked about what they were looking for in a credit card, about 54% of respondents said they wanted a card without an annual fee, according to a 2017 online survey from credit bureau Experian.

But a no-annual-fee credit card can still cost you, indirectly. It could be keeping you from a better deal, especially if you:

  • Pay in full every month
  • Maintain good credit
  • Spend a lot in certain categories
  • Travel frequently

“Don’t let an annual fee stand between you and the right card,” says Rod Griffin, director of public education for Experian. By swearing off cards with price tags, you might be missing out on the best deals.

You could be giving up a big sign-up bonus

When searching for a new rewards credit card, you might notice that most fall into two buckets:

Generally, you can’t have it both ways with the same credit card. So is a fatter welcome bonus worth the cost?

Oftentimes, yes — assuming you can easily redeem the rewards earned and meet the spending requirements without busting the budget. Setting aside other benefits and fees for a moment, consider how the value of these credit cards compare after the first year:

  • Sign-up bonus worth $500, $95 annual fee:$405 net return
  • Sign-up bonus worth $300, $75 annual fee:$225 net return
  • Sign-up bonus worth $150, $0 annual fee:$150 net return

With an annual-fee card that offers a huge sign-up bonus and waives the first-year annual fee, you could net even more. Plus, that giant promotion could cover a major portion of a vacation.

“>

Shutterstock

Until a couple of years ago, Bobby Hoyt avoided credit cards with annual fees. Not anymore.

These days, he carries a small-business card with an annual fee of $175, which is waived the first year. For him, the card’s rich ongoing rewards and benefits made it well worth the cost.

“I just didn’t know you could get 3X points in a category, or get a 50,000-point sign-up bonus,” he says, explaining why he chose an annual-fee card over one with no annual fee. Hoyt, who founded the blog Millennial Money Man and lives in Houston, now uses the card to cover his business expenses.

It’s easy to overlook the potential value of a pricey credit card. For many, “free” seems like the best option: When asked about what they were looking for in a credit card, about 54% of respondents said they wanted a card without an annual fee, according to a 2017 online survey from credit bureau Experian.

But a no-annual-fee credit card can still cost you, indirectly. It could be keeping you from a better deal, especially if you:

  • Pay in full every month
  • Maintain good credit
  • Spend a lot in certain categories
  • Travel frequently

“Don’t let an annual fee stand between you and the right card,” says Rod Griffin, director of public education for Experian. By swearing off cards with price tags, you might be missing out on the best deals.

You could be giving up a big sign-up bonus

When searching for a new rewards credit card, you might notice that most fall into two buckets:

Generally, you can’t have it both ways with the same credit card. So is a fatter welcome bonus worth the cost?

Oftentimes, yes — assuming you can easily redeem the rewards earned and meet the spending requirements without busting the budget. Setting aside other benefits and fees for a moment, consider how the value of these credit cards compare after the first year:

  • Sign-up bonus worth $500, $95 annual fee:$405 net return
  • Sign-up bonus worth $300, $75 annual fee:$225 net return
  • Sign-up bonus worth $150, $0 annual fee:$150 net return

With an annual-fee card that offers a huge sign-up bonus and waives the first-year annual fee, you could net even more. Plus, that giant promotion could cover a major portion of a vacation.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
29Nov 2017

Isaiah Whitehead making mark for Nets as frequent-flyer miles grow … – New York Post


DALLAS — Isaiah Whitehead is getting used to these last-minute cross-country flights.

Slowly but surely, the young Nets guard is getting the hang of this NBA thing, too.

For the second time this season, Whitehead hopped a long flight on short notice. And for the second time he responded well, tying his career-high with 24 points Monday at West-leading Houston. Next up is the Mavericks on Wednesday.

“[It’s] just staying ready, like I’ve been; just taking opportunities and doing well with them. Stay ready throughout the whole year, and I’m going to continue to stay ready and hopefully I get more chances,” said Whitehead, who hit 10-of-16 from the floor with three rebounds, three assists and five turnovers.

Cut down on the turnovers, and he could start seeing more of Brooklyn and less of Long Island and the G-League.

“Against a talented team like that? Listen, Isaiah has the talent,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He’s still a young guy. He’s got to cut his turnovers down. I keep telling him: if he can control that a little bit, [he’ll excel].

“But I like his presence, how he competed. He’s got the physical tools, with his size. He’s strong. Lower body, too. So he’s got an NBA body. There’s just things to fine-tune; and he’s going to fine-tune it this year. You’re going to see him back-and-forth, which is great. I’m really excited about our G-League team, how much that’s going to help us. It already has.”

The G-League helped Spencer Dinwiddie develop last season, and can do the same for Whitehead, just 22.

“He had a great game in the G-League. That’s the model. That’s why we have the G-League,” Atkinson said. “He had a great game down there, and that gave him the rhythm. He’s not coming here cold and out of rhythm. He’s in the same system with Long Island. I’m proud of him. He did a good job.”

On Saturday, Whitehead had been in Canton, Ohio, carrying Long Island to a win with 32 points and 10 boards. But with the Nets facing an injury crisis, they called in Whitehead.

Earlier this month, Whitehead had taken an early-morning flight to land in Denver a few hours before tipoff. This time he got a few hours notice to make a Sunday night flight to Texas for games Monday in Houston and Wednesday here.

“I was supposed to go to the G-League. But they called me at 7:30, said I’ve got to get on a flight [at] 10 o’clock,” Whitehead said. “I came in [Sunday] night at 12, maybe 1 o’clock.”

And promptly led the Nets in scoring, facing off against a backcourt featuring James Harden and Chris Paul.

“I just look at the mismatches,” Whitehead said. “They switched a lot so I was able to get downhill and make plays. I just took advantage of all the mismatches on the floor, and did a good job at it.”

He’s done a good job taking advantage of his G-League opportunity to develop, fourth in the league in both scoring (29.0) and plus-minus (18.5).

“Definitely it’s a confidence boost, definitely helped [Monday] just making shots the other night in Canton. It’s just about building my confidence and staying sharp, and just playing. I’d rather be down there playing than up here sitting on the bench; so it’s definitely just getting reps in and getting some minutes,” said Whitehead, adding it’s important to see it translate on the NBA level.

“It’s very [vital], just going down there playing, working on your craft, working on your game and coming up here being confident. That helped my confidence a lot going down there being a dominant player. Just having the ball in my hands a lot, it just helps me get better at certain areas.”


DeMarre Carroll (upper respiratory) told The Post he expects to be able to play Wednesday, and was taken off the injury report. Allen Crabbe (sore lower back) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (sprained right ankle) are both listed as doubtful.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
27Nov 2017

Crooks Cash in Stolen Rewards Points for Flights and Hotels – Fortune


It’s nice to take a free trip using credit card rewards. Unfortunately, criminal gangs feel the same way and are stealing other people’s rewards points—including those for British Airways and booking site Orbitz—in order to resell them on the Internet.

The rewards scam, which began in Russia but has since spread to English and Spanish speaking markets, represents yet another frontier for cyber criminals to make money by hacking consumer accounts.

According to Flashpoint, a service that monitors activity on the so-called dark web, the crooks are running full-blown travel agencies that let consumers purchase flights or hotel and car packages at a steep discount.

In a blog post describing the scams, Flashpoint also notes that users are encouraged to make reservations in their own names, and that some sites even have community groups where people post vacation photos.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

According to another source familiar with the dark web, which lets people conduct illegal transactions anonymously, there are numerous types of rewards points for sale. Other familiar brands include Southwest Airlines and Canada-based Aeroplan.

Those companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether they are aware of such criminal activity.

In response to a question from Fortune about why the companies don’t put a stop to this, Flashpoint said that some brands use software to detect unusual booking patterns. The problem, however, can be hard to detect since many consumers don’t pay close attention to the balances in their various rewards programs, which means thefts can go undetected for long periods of time.

According to Flashpoint, the rise of hackers stealing rewards points has been facilitated by the use of “brute force” software, which allows the user to guess a large number of passwords in a short amount of time:

After obtaining a user’s password through brute forcing, cybercriminals can potentially access any rewards points associated with the compromised accounts. A symbiotic relationship exists between the expanding presence of these tools and the marketplace for compromised credentials.

In order to prevent hackers stealing their rewards programs, Flashpoint advises using long and complex passwords since those are harder to guess.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
26Nov 2017

Corporate repatriation is a scam: GOP plan rewards tax-dodgers – Salon


Republicans are planning to reward bad behavior by some of the worst corporate actors in the world.

The various Republican tax plans generally grant a huge tax break to corporations for returning their vast stockpiles of cash held overseas back into the United States, often referred to as “repatriation.”

The theory is that corporations would just love to bring back this money and put it to good use by investing it in America to create jobs, which is a dubious premise in itself. But this money would be taxed upon entry into the United States at the standard corporate tax rate of 35 percent, which is significantly higher than the foreign tax havens where the money is now parked. To address this problem, the logic goes, the U.S. should lower its tax rate on money repatriated into the U.S. to encourage corporations to bring it back onshore.

The amount of this money is staggering. Estimates indicate that U.S. companies are now sitting on as much as $2.6 trillion in overseas stockpiles.

But hold on a second. Something doesn’t seem quite right.

The reason these American corporations accumulated such vast piles of cash overseas in the first place is because they were dodging taxes. These companies hired high-priced accountants and lawyers to devise byzantine schemes to avoid paying taxes in the United States.

So the response from Congress, in its infinite wisdom, is to grant a huge tax reduction for these corporations?

Under the GOP proposals, the Senate would reduce the rate for corporate repatriations to from 35 percent to 10 percent, a whopping 71 percent tax cut, while the House would reduce the rate to 14 percent, a 60 percent tax cut. This is an extraordinary corporate giveaway.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
25Nov 2017

Macy's suffers credit card payment glitch at the worst possible time: Black Friday – CNBC


Macy’s confirmed on Friday it was having trouble with its credit card systems on one of the busiest and most important shopping days of the season. That trouble was resolved by Friday evening.

div > div.group > p:first-child”>

“We have fully resolved today’s system issues. We highly value our customers and sincerely apologize for any inconvenience today’s system slowdown may have caused during their shopping experience,” a spokesperson for the company said.

The retailer attributed the processing “delays” to “a capacity-related issue.”

Word began percolating on social media around noon ET on Friday from shoppers across the country.

“Hey Macys, just left $300 of items on counter because your credit card machines are down at State St Chicago,” wrote Meghan McCollough.

The retailer began responding to complaints on social media a little after 1:00 p.m. ET, asking users having trouble to direct message it.

Around the same time, Macy’s said in a statement and message to frustrated shoppers it was having a slowdown in processing payments. Customers said the system wasn’t working at all.

Shoppers trying to place orders on Macy’s website received the following message: “We’re unable to verify availability of some item(s) in your order. Place your order now, and we’ll send you an email confirming availability and shipping when our system is back online, or please try again later.”

Macy’s needs a strong holiday season. The retailer has suffered 11 straight quarters of same-store sales declines as shopping habits have changed, moving both online and away from clothes. Last year, Macy’s generated roughly 33 percent of its revenue in the fourth quarter.

Even if the company fixes its issues Friday, the impact may linger throughout the shopping season, said Paul Argenti, a professor of corporate communications at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business. For customers that are not particularly loyal to the retailer, a bad experience on Black Friday may turn them off throughout the holidays. Macy’s is not known to have as loyal a customer base as competitor Nordstrom, Argenti said.

“I can’t think of anybody that needs this less than Macy’s,” he said.

The day had started off well for the retailer and many of its peers. Consumer confidence seems have to propelled this shopping season to one of the strongest in years. The National Retail Federation has forecast total holiday retail sales to climb 3.6 to 4 percent in 2017.

Macy’s has been eager to use the holiday season as a chance to test the impact of some of the in-store investments it has made over the past year. These include a partnership with Samsung and expanding its private label brands business.

The department store also recently revamped its loyalty program, offering discounts and perks like free shipping and priority customer service based on how much they spend at the retailer.

Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette highlighted some of these investments Friday morning in a conversation with CNBC. Optimism regarding the department store’s outlook, along with what appears to be a strong Black Friday, buttressed up Macy’s stock. Its shares were up as much as 4 percent in the morning, before closing up 2 percent.

—CNBC’s Courtney Reagan and Amanda Lasky contributed to this report.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
23Nov 2017

The Sweet Rewards of Bitter Food – New York Times



Advertisement

MANY YEARS AGO, I had dinner at a restaurant in Chinatown in Boston — the sort of city where most non-Chinese people seeking Chinese food are in fact seeking what might better be described as American Chinese food: General Tso’s chicken, fried pork dumplings, “house special” lo mein; mild, comforting Cantonese dishes slick with sauce and loud with sugar, salt and the intense umami buzz of MSG. In an attempt to be adventurous, I ordered instead the most unusual thing I could find on the menu: beef with bitter melon. The waitress looked at me, her brow furrowed. “You don’t want that,” she declared. “You won’t like it.”

“I do!” I insisted. “I’ve had it before.” A little while later, she returned with a dish of beef strewn with crescents of a jade-hued, scallop-ridged, firm-textured fruit that looked not unlike oversize celery. The truth was, I’d never had it before. As advertised, it was bitter, in a distinctly vegetal way, with none of the fruity sweetness that the word “melon” would imply. I took a bite, then another, and another — in a different context I might have stopped, but my reputation was on the line. By the time I was finished, the melon hadn’t become more palatable, exactly, but my palate had changed. What had tasted like bitterness now tasted like pride.

WHY DO HUMANS eat bitter foods? Our bodies crave sugar, salt, fat, protein — all forms of replenishment or efficient providers of caloric energy. When something tastes bad, we’re meant to take it as a warning sign: danger, don’t eat this, it could kill you. And yet two of the five sensations we’ve universally categorized as tastes are, arguably, bad ones: sour and bitter. Then there’s spicy food, whose flavor can be so extreme that it actually qualifies as a form of pain instead of a taste. But the discomfort of eating a superhot chili pepper can also be physiologically compared — for some people, at least — to riding a roller coaster or watching a horror movie. It’s a pain we perversely crave, a feeling that’s as pleasurable as it is uncomfortable. Super-sour foods, too, can offer a kind of exhilarating rush. There’s something addictive about the tangy, mouth-puckering effect: Watch a baby suck on a lemon for the first time, burst into tears and then go back for more; try to resist a bag of Warheads or sour gummies.

Flavor, then, needn’t be pleasant for it to be attractive. But the appeal of bitterness is less obvious — unlike spicy and sour foods, the sensation has never been much of a selling point, at least not in America. If the physical impulse when eating sour foods is to suck in your cheeks, bitterness hits hard on the back of your tongue and, in excess, makes you gag. And yet this taste has long been an integral element in the cuisines of many other countries and cultures, which are starting to gain real traction here. The current trend for Middle Eastern food, for example, means more eggplant, even when roasted until caramelized; tahini, made from naturally bitter sesame seeds; and za’atar, an herb and spice mixture heavy on wild thyme and oregano. The movement toward more authentic Mexican food introduced mole, a Oaxacan sauce whose primary ingredients are tomatoes and alliums, charred until earthy and blended, and has made cilantro as common as basil.

As difficult as it is to trace the origin stories of the use of bitter ingredients, it seems safe to assume that it was often the result of necessity: In times of scarcity, you learn to make do with anything edible. Over time, however, eating bitter foods became not only traditional but in some cases even philosophical, revealing of a culture’s resilience: In China, there is a colloquialism that translates literally to “eat bitter,” a metaphor for the ability to endure hardship. Jews eat bitter herbs, usually horseradish, at Passover seders, to remind themselves of the suffering endured by their ancestors. On the Japanese island of Okinawa, a ubiquitous stir-fry of egg, tofu, pork and bitter melon called goya chanpuru is thought to ensure longevity — suffering in service of a long life.

It’s hard not to see the current worldwide health-food craze as being a convoluted translation of this: If beauty is pain, health, you might say, is bitter. Conscientious eaters choose salads overflowing with raw kale or collard greens; frothy, chalky matcha and “golden lattes” tinged with pungent turmeric. These things are nutritious, yes, but there’s also a psychological element: Bitterness equals raw, which in turn equals purity. Adding sweetness to your coffee or chocolate is a corruption of this purity. And, as with my bitter melon experience, eating bitterness can be a brag: How better to prove your connoisseurship than ordering something whose pleasures are either obscure or nonexistent? To order a drink with no trace of sweetness — say, a hoppy India pale ale or a straight shot of the Italian amaro known as Fernet-Branca, dark, viscous, herbal — is to announce one’s fortitude and disdain for instant gratification. Nothing worth doing is easy, and nothing worth consuming goes down easy. In an age of ready pleasures, choosing something difficult and unlikable is an announcement of sophistication. The craze is born, you might say, from having too much enjoyment.

Danny Bowien, the chef behind Mission Chinese, a restaurant with outposts in New York and San Francisco, is passionate about bitterness, which he describes, affectionately, as “challenging.” Bitter melon not only makes multiple appearances on his menus — most prominently in one of his signature dishes, thrice-cooked bacon with rice cakes — but he also seeks it out elsewhere, including at the taxi-stand Punjabi restaurant across the street from his Lower East Side apartment, where he orders an Indian varietal of the fruit braised in a curry with radish or potato. “It takes something out of you, in a way,” he muses. “The first time you have it your body kind of seizes up. I like that it punches you in the face.” What he calls “abrasive” flavors “break up the experience” of eating.

For Bowien, discovering bitter flavors was thrillingly world-expanding. He grew up in Oklahoma, where food was often sugary, but when he was 19, he left for San Francisco, where he had coffee-braised pork shoulder at a New American restaurant, and beef with bitter melon and fermented black beans at a Chinese restaurant in the Mission, both dishes that changed the way he understood flavor. At his restaurants now, he tries to create “food that really leaves an impression on you, and you can do that in many ways — drama, luxury products, really amazing techniques. But there are a lot of ingredients that up until recently have not really been highlighted within what we cook on a daily basis.” This includes, for example, grapefruit rinds, which Bowien has used to garnish scallop sashimi, giving it a mouth-twisting bite.

The Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, too, has been steadily elevating certain ingredients and recipes not only for the American palate, by way of his New York restaurants, Cosme and Atla, but also for his own countrymen at his Mexico City restaurant, Pujol. There, he serves fine-dining dishes that showcase bitter vegetables like the wild greens known as quintoniles and prickly pear cactus, or nopal — and Pujol is especially known for his dark, rich, intensely complex, intensely acrid mole, aged for over 1,200 days.

To Olvera, an affinity for bitterness is evidence of human innovation and diversity. “Mole doesn’t taste like tomato with garlic and onions — you probably think of that and you think of Italian pasta sauce,” he says. “But the fact that when you char tomatoes and add peppers and cinnamon and mix it together, and then it tastes like mole is magical.” For Olvera, bitterness is essential for depth of flavor and harmony of tastes. “In Mexican food,” he says, “it’s a huge component of every dish, combined with spice, or with sweetness, or even with acidity.” His mole teases at your tongue by promising but never quite delivering the relief of sugar. As such, it’s perhaps the best literal example of another poignant and enduring metaphor for an otherwise ephemeral human feeling: It’s bittersweet. And what’s more understandable than that?

Advertisement

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
23Nov 2017

How to Request a Refund if Your Credit Card Has Price Protection – Lifehacker Australia


Let’s say last week you caved and bought that fancy espresso machine you’ve been eyeballing. You’re happy and caffeinated, but then you see it’s $50 cheaperthis week. Bummer. The good news is, if you paid with the right card, you might be able to enjoy that price drop after all.

Some credit cards offer price protection as a perk. If an item you buy with that card drops in price within a certain time period, you can request a refund if the retailer doesn’t already offer one with their own price drop policy (and many of them do).

Advertisement

There are usually quite a few restrictions, though. Typically, the time period for a drop is between 30-60 days, depending on the card. And as ValuePenguin points out, there are limits to how much you can get back, usually between $250-$500 per claim. They add:

Second, not all purchases are eligible for credit card price protection. Most issuers have a long list of exclusions in the fine print of their benefits guides. Some of the most common exclusions include:

  • Boats, cars, and aircraft
  • Food, drinks, gas or medications
  • Jewelry
  • Tickets for shows, flights, concerts and sporting events
  • Collectibles
  • Items for resale, rental, professional or commercial use
  • Plants or animals
  • Professional services
  • Refurbished, secondhand, customized or special-order items
  • Traveler’s checks, precious metals, coins or any currency

That said, tools like Paribus and Earny, both of which we’ve written about, can help monitor your purchases and alert you if anything you’ve bought has dropped in price recently. Of course, you can monitor purchases yourself, too, and track prices using a tool like CamelCamelCamel.

Advertisement

Once you see that something you’ve bought has dropped in price, you typically have to call your credit card company to request the refund. Here are the policies and phone numbers for a few numbers of popular carriers:

Of course, they’re not just going to take your word. You’ll probably need to fill out a claim form, along with a receipt and proof of reduced price. If you have a Citi card, you can file a claim via their Citi Price Rewind site and they’ll track the price for you.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
20Nov 2017

Mutual funds and taxes, frequent flyer miles – Hot Springs Sentinel


Handle with care: Mutual funds and taxes

Many people overlook taxes when planning their mutual fund investments. But they’ve got to handle these valuable assets with care. Here are some tips to consider.

Avoid year-end investments

Typically, mutual funds distribute accumulated dividends and capital gains toward the end of the year. But don’t fall for the common misconception that investing in a fund just before a distribution date is like getting “free money.”

“True, you’ll receive a year’s worth of income right after you invest. But the value of your shares will immediately drop by the same amount, so you won’t be any better off. Plus, you’ll be liable for taxes on the distribution as if you had owned your shares all year,” states the press release.

“You can get a general idea of when a particular fund anticipates making a distribution by checking its website periodically. Also make a note of the ‘record date’ — investors who own fund shares on that date will participate in the distribution.”

Invest in tax-efficient funds

Actively managed funds tend to be less tax efficient. They buy and sell securities more frequently, generating a greater amount of capital gain, much of it short-term gain taxable at ordinary income rates rather than the lower, long-term capital gains rates.

Consider investing in tax-efficient funds instead. For example, index funds generally have lower turnover rates. And “passively managed” funds (sometimes described as “tax managed” funds) are designed to minimize taxable distributions.

Another option is exchange-traded funds. Unlike mutual funds, which generally redeem shares by selling securities, ETFs are often able to redeem securities “in kind” — that is, to swap them for other securities. This limits an ETF’s recognition of capital gains, making it more tax efficient.

This isn’t to say that tax-inefficient funds don’t have a place in a portfolio. In some cases, actively managed funds may offer benefits, such as above-market returns, that outweigh their tax costs.

Watch out for reinvested distributions

Many investors elect to have their distributions automatically reinvested in their funds. Be aware that those distributions are taxable, regardless of whether they’re reinvested or paid out in cash.

“Reinvested distributions increase your tax basis in a fund, so track your basis carefully. If you fail to account for these distributions, you’ll end up paying tax on them twice — once when they’re paid and again when you sell your shares in the fund.

Fortunately, under current rules, mutual fund companies are required to track your basis for you. But you still may need to track your basis in funds you owned before 2012 when this requirement took effect, or if you purchased units in the fund outside of the current broker holding your units.”

Do your due

Tax considerations should never be the primary driver of investment decisions. Yet it’s important to do ones due diligence on the potential tax consequences of funds they’re considering — particularly for their taxable accounts.

Sidebar: Directing tax-inefficient funds into nontaxable accounts

“If you invest in actively managed or other tax-inefficient funds, ideally you should put these holdings in nontaxable accounts, such as a traditional IRA or 401(k). Because earnings in these accounts are tax-deferred, distributions from funds they hold won’t have any tax consequences until you withdraw them.” And if the funds are held in a Roth account, those distributions will escape taxation altogether.

Are frequent flyer miles taxable?

“If you recently redeemed frequent flyer miles to treat the family to a fun summer vacation or to take your spouse on a romantic getaway, you might assume that there are no tax implications involved. And you’re probably right — but there is a chance your miles could be taxable.”

Generally, miles awarded by airlines for flying with them are considered nontaxable rebates, as are miles awarded for using a credit or debit card. The IRS even addressed the issue in Announcement 2002-18, where it said:

“Consistent with prior practice, the IRS will not assert that any taxpayer has understated his federal tax liability by reason of the receipt or personal use of frequent flyer miles or other in-kind promotional benefits attributable to the taxpayer’s business or official travel.”

There are, however, some types of miles awards the IRS might view as taxable. Examples include miles awarded as a prize in a sweepstakes and miles awarded as a promotion.

For instance, in the 2014 case of Shankar v. Commissioner, the U.S. Tax Court sided with the IRS in finding that airline miles awarded in conjunction with opening a bank account were indeed taxable. Part of the evidence of taxability was the fact that the bank had issued Forms 1099 MISC to customers who’d redeemed rewards points to buy airline tickets.

The value of the miles for tax purposes generally is their estimated retail value. If you’re concerned you’ve received miles awards that could be taxable, please contact Prince & Tuohey CPA.

Prince & Tuohey CPA Ltd. is located at 2836 Malvern Ave. Suite D, Hot Springs, AR 71901. Call 501-262-5500 or visit website http://www.princetuohey.com for more information.

Business on 11/20/2017

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
18Nov 2017

Airlines' frequent flyer programs are too complicated to understand – CNBC


How well do you understand your airline’s frequent flyer program?

Just 52 percent of travelers said they fully understand how to redeem miles from their airline loyalty program, according to a survey published Wednesday by J.D. Power and Associates.

Travelers would be forgiven for not grasping the increasingly complicated formulas airlines use to earn or redeem miles.

Overall, it’s become more difficult to earn miles on some of the largest airlines, which now reward passengers based on how much travelers spend on a ticket. Previously travelers could rake in the points based on how far they traveled. It has also become more difficult to earn higher statuses on airlines, which grant automatic upgrades and other perks.

Travelers are understandably more satisfied with airline loyalty programs that waive same-day change fees or offer bonus points.

J.D. Power ranked the responses on a point system, with 1,000 as the top score. Here’s how respondents rated U.S. airlines’ programs:

The survey, based on responses from 3,387 people who were polled in September, found that travelers are more satisfied with their frequent flyer programs when they can redeem points for things other than flights.

“Flexibility in how miles are redeemed is valued by members,” Michael Taylor, the head of J.D. Power’s travel practice, said in the study. “After all, if you win a pie-eating contest, you may want to be rewarded with something besides another pie.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading
18Nov 2017

Rewards: Backup Your DVD Collections at the Fastest Speed with … – 9to5Mac


We’d like to thank Digiarty, makers of MacX DVD Ripper Pro, for sponsoring 9to5Mac today. They’re offering a Thanksgiving giveaway of 10,000 free licenses for MacX DVD Ripper Pro, one of the fastest Mac DVD ripper apps we’ve found. They’re also offering a limited-availability Black Friday deal on their MacX Media Management suite with less than 200 copies remaining as of the time of this post.

Fastest Ripping Speed

MacX DVD Ripper Pro uses your Mac’s GPU to do hardware encoding by default. This means your CPU – and system fans – stay calm and collected while the rip is happening, unlike Handbrake where everything is maxed out. Speed-wise this helps and, in the tests we’ve done, MacX DVD Ripper Pro bests Handbrake for Mac every single time. Here are a few results:

DVD Type MacX DVD Ripper Pro Handbrake for Mac
Homemade DVD 13.2 min 25 min
99-title DVDs 11.6 min error
TV series DVD 8 min 11 min
Hollywood movie 14 min 28 min
Damaged DVD 13.7 min error
Unplayable DVD 13.3 min error

Widest DVD Support

As you can see, MacX DVD Ripper Pro even rips damaged or otherwise intentionally-unrippable DVDs that stop Handbrake in its tracks. This includes those pesky 99-title DVDs, recently-released movies, and workout DVDs that are generally built to be unrippable. You bought the DVD, now you want to rip the DVD to MP4 to have the freedom to play it back on your iPad while you travel. Mac X DVD Ripper Pro is the Mac DVD Ripper that will make this happen.

Plus, MacX DVD Ripper Pro is a signed app, so you don’t have to set your Mac to allow an exception like you would with Handbrake Mac.

With a free license available, MacX DVD Ripper Pro is an excellent tool to have in your DVD ripping arsenal. Get it now, before they’re gone!

Richest Outputs

Having easily-selectable output formats is important, and MacX DVD Ripper Pro has a very comprehensive and exhaustive list of supported formats. Video formats and containers include MP4, H.264, MOV, M4V, HEVC, QT, AVI, MPEG, FLV, MKV, M4V, MTS, M2TS, ISO images, and more. Audio formats include MP3, AAC, and AC3, ensuring you’re able to make a movie that’s compatible with all your devices.

Speaking of devices, MacX DVD Ripper Pro supports all models of iPhone (including iPhone X and iPhone 8), iPad, iPod, Apple TV… and even Android phones and tablets from Samsung, HTC, Google, Huawei, Sony, and others.

Free Giveaway Today

MacX DVD Ripper Pro is a tool we keep installed on our Macs as a Handbrake alternative and now you’re able to do the same for free. Visit their free giveaway page to get your license and download your copy today. While you’re at it, consider checking out their upcoming Black Friday MacX Media Management suite deal (it’s a sweet deal, after all!).

Again, our thanks to Digiarty and MacX DVD Ripper Pro for sponsoring 9to5Mac today.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading