Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TIPS Are Not Good Inflation Hedges

TIPS - Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities - are a fairly recent type of government bond that provides the owner with interest at a rate formed by adding two factors (1) a fixed rate, and (2) an adjustable rate based on inflation.  The concept is that the total interest paid on the TIPS goes up when inflation goes up, so the TIPS are sold as inflation hedges.  The benefit to the seller (US Government) is that they can typically sell TIPS to the public at a lower price than regular bonds because the buyers figure that the payment will go up when inflation goes up and so are satisfied with a lower initial interest rate.  TIPS have become very popular, but most people don't seem to understand that they are not really getting what they think that they are buying - and that other options would most likely be better.  Below, we will discuss the downside of TIPS and what people might want to consider doing instead.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Taxing the "Rich"

In previous posts, I described our federal taxes as taxing the "hardest workers more".  It seems that some people disagree and prefer to characterize the increasing federal income tax rates as higher taxes on the "rich".  However, that's not right by a long shot.  It seems like there is a fundamental misunderstanding of both what constitutes "rich" and how the tax code works to tax income from people that are "rich."  As I will show below, the federal income tax really hits hardest on those with high salary incomes (the hardest workers) rather than the rich (those with high assets).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is Earning A LLM Worth It?

I have occasionally been asked by law students whether they should go for an LLM.  Earning the LLM is quite expensive and there have been a number of posts lately (ATL, WSJ, Law) debating its relative merit.  If you are a law student considering an LLM - or a foreign student considering an LLM, please read below.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Love and Taxes - Part 4 - Upcoming Tax Changes

This is the final part of a 4-part series on taxes for lawyers considering getting married.  We discovered that for two lawyers getting married, filing as married-joint vs. married-seperate does not provide much in the way of impact (Part 1), but that declining to get married so that they can continue to file as single saves them about $9,300/year - and could save them $60,000 if they are willing to delay the wedding 5 years (Part 2).  We also found in Part 3 that having a child does not impact their taxes much - it only lowers their taxes about $1,000/year - but that switching from filing as single to filing as married-joint costs them an additional $10,000+/year in taxes - if both spouses continue to work.  On the other hand, if one spouse stops working, the total tax liability for the couple will be $10,000+ less than it would have been if the worker was filing as single.

In this Part, we will take a look at the potential impact of some of the proposed tax raises - and see if they help the young lawyer and her spouse live the American dream.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Love and Taxes - Part 3 - What About The Baby?

In Part 1 of this series, we met a young lawyer who is concerned about the tax implications of marrying her boyfriend.  Although we found in Part 1 that there is not much difference between them filing as married-joint as opposed to married-separate, we discovered in Part 2 that there is a very significant difference in taxes owed if they each file as single instead of as married - $9,300/year.  Further, if they delayed the wedding for a few years, they could save $60,000 on their taxes.

In her original e-mail, the young attorney mentioned that she was thinking about filing as single until she had her first child - and then switching to married-joint.  Below we will take a look at what impact having a child has on her taxes.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Love and Taxes - Part 2 - Filing Married vs. Single As A Lawyer

In Part 1 of this series, we met a young lawyer who is thinking of marrying her boyfriend, but is concerned about taxes. In Part 1, we compared filing as married-joint with filing as married-separate and found that there is really not much difference, but married-separate may be slightly worse.  However, what if the young couple decides to delay getting married?  Would you be surprised to find out that by delaying their wedding they could spare themselves paying $60,000 in taxes?  (Yeah, you read that right - $60,000!).  Read on below.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Love and Taxes - Part 1

Ahhh ... Young love - and taxes?  We all acknowledge our responsibility to chip in and pay for our society - although there is a lot of disagreement about who pays how much and what gets bought with the tax dollars.  In terms of personal finance, taxes are especially important as a practicing attorney because you pay so darn much of your income in taxes.  Additionally, tax considerations can impact your other life decisions as a lawyer - like whether or not to get married - like the young lawyers in this recent e-mail that was sent to me: