Seattle Tunnel Ballard Community Forum

March 28, 2009

Seattle Tunnel Ballard Community Forum

This forum left more questions unanswered than were answered.

Tolls for one. How much on the tolls. Will it be feasible to collect tolls or will the operations bog down and choke off the entrance.

No answer as of yet on the quality of the dirt. How far down will the dirt dictate to go to non-shifted dirt. Remember that the phrase “Shop ’till you drop” was originated in Seattle. From Western Avenue every 1st floor was at the street level. At First Avenue the second floor was at street level. At Second Avenue the third floor was at street level. So in order to get from the street level on Second Avenue on had to climb down a ladder to get to the first floor of a building to enter the building. If your packages were too heavy or cumbersome then you could literally drop down the ladder. Of course, at that time it was time to drop. This happened when the fill-in dirt was put in. Subsequently the Second Avenue entrance is the equivalent of the former second floor level. The first floor is two stories down.

Why was the above raised is that also in consideration is the slope of the grade for the truck travel. A literally only 5% grade is extremely hazardous to the semi-truck industry. It was mentioned that this grade could possibly be a four percent grade or even a three percent grade when the question was raised. The tone of the answer was not based upon any studies or half-breed evidence but rather what the questioner probably wanted to hear. This type of answer is not conducive to the perception of confidence being instilled by anyone. But rather I smell an alternative plan or in other words a snow job. Is this really how government is supposed to conduct a community forum.

Another comment is that the construction of the tunnel will generate 2.9 jobs for every tunnel job created. Is this really true. I say the 2.9 jobs are just old smoke and mirrors for this particular project. When one job is created additional delays of travel are created for the rest of us. So if I want to go to another job for my second part time job and presently work downtown this will be impossible to do unless I also have a second job outside of the core downtown Seattle area. At night downtown Seattle virtually is dead. An occasional job at the Quest filed or Safeco field could be worked at but will the job expire if no one is traveling to downtown due to the traffic congestion created by a few Tunnel workers. In certain situations an economic model of the creation of 2.9 additional workers is not applicable.

This project also ignors the will of the voters from two years ago. Overwhelmingly the voters said “NO” to a cut and cover Tunnel along the waterfront. What is the difference here. Should not a vote of all of the alternatives be given to the citizens to exactly find out what the voice of the people are for them, “the community”.

The clearest and least expensive choice still is a retrofit which would only cost around $1B. In this day of economic crisis and of BOEING’s major buyer not being able to get financing for jet purchases should not the belt be tightened. The yearly accumulation of funds for this project could be done and this would truly lessen the burden and the interest costs of construction. Interest expense on bonds is really the cost of construction.

The Port of Seattle is also talking about contributing $300 million of the costs and it is really questionable whether infrastructure renovations not directly associated with the Port is part of the Port’s charter. What we do not need is a law suite contraditory to a Public Agencies Charter. Let’s think this thru and VOTE NO on a Seattle Tunnel. Sign I-99 or download and sign I-99 so this City Hall con-game can stop.

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AIG – Congress needs to pony up Benefits

March 19, 2009

Just got back from lunch. Radio broadcasters were talking about AIG and employee bonus. But being in the tax field I am always thinking about tax and sometime this is unfortunately.

Back to AIG and Congress and relating the Congress as a shareholder and owner and the duties according to tax law and what this would entail.

The employees of AIG deserve the same medical insurance covereage as what Congress gets due to the tax laws which are in place based upon shareholder ownership percentages and anti-discrimination rules. If discrimination exists then the other party must pay income tax on the amount of the discrimination. In other words it is not tax-free for them. Same with pensions. The basic rules is that if one party or a related group of parties own a minimum of twenty percent of a company then the pension plan which the one owns must be the same offered as what the twenty percent party owns. Thus since the Congress is an owner then the pension plan which Congress has offered itself must be offered to all of the employees of AIG. What a concept. The government as a shareholder must be governed by all of our rules.

This amount of money will seem small in relationship to the AIG bonus payment. Also, to make things equal the government cannot lower the pension amount but must raise the pension to the higher level.

This is one of the reasons why some business acquisition deals do not go through. The selling company employee benefits are too costly and deplete the reason for the bailout or the purchase in the first place.

Good luck Congress in trying to get out of this one.


Seattle Tunnel versus Viaduct alternatives

March 18, 2009

Mr. Scott White.

I believe you are on the Transportation Committee when I looked this up previously.

Am the treasurer for the initiative I-99 which seeks to take away the right-of-way for the Seattle Tunnel as proposed by Mayor Nickels.

The cost of a tunnel at this time is extremely expensive and Elizabeth Campbell who is the sponsor of the initiative will be having a 100% effort in gathering signatures for this initiative after her Winter 09 class ends.  I will join the signature gathering efforts after the tax season ends on April 15, 2009.

However, this effort would be null and void if the funding for the Seattle Tunnel is not approved by the State Legislature and yourself and the committee on Transportation.

Have spoken with many people concerning this effort, obviously, and almost virtually everyone is opposed to the Seattle Tunnel idea.  Some comments circle around the State Budget and the need to balance the budget and others also still do love the idea of the beautiful travel route which the current Seattle Waterfront Viaduct passes by.  Others are extremely upset that voting does not count and recollecting the vote which overwhelmingly ditched a tunnel option previously.  The voters do not like to be ignored whatsoever.  As you recall I had said I would approve a teachers pay raise as per the voters even if no other state employee were to get a raise as per the voters electing this a few years ago.

Personally I still would like a retrofit of the Viaduct and then an accumulation of funds for the setting aside of funds for other more appropriate roadway construction in about 20 years or so.  I assume you would still like a Street Version of the Viaduct.  Both are incongruent with the Seattle Tunnel alternative and I would wish you to vote “NO” on any approval of a Seattle Tunnel version.

Thanking you in advance for your deep concern on this important roadway structure for the beautification of the Seattle Waterfront and the drivers of Seattle and the enjoyment of the beautiful vista which drivers are able to enjoy at the present time.  An enjoyable drive while in Seattle will remain if you agree to Vote against funding of a Seattle Tunnel project. 

Thanks

Keith Ljunghammar, EA


To buy a car or to wait to buy a car

March 13, 2009
To buy a car or to wait to buy a car

That definitely is the question.

This is concerning the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) as related to the Deduction of Sales Tax on the Purchase of New Vehicles. I am getting my basic information from an email from my employer Larry R. French and Associates which they received from UltraTax CS an income tax program developers which we use at the office who received the information from Thomson Reuters under user bulletin 4351.

To my friends from http://www.coldron.us and all of the other taxpayers who live in Washington State and other states which do have a sales tax and not an income tax your strategy for buying a car is explained here. To the other taxpayers in states where they only have an income tax like Oregon and no sales tax only part of this blog may be of importance to you. I will explain your situation first.

Below is the wording which I am looking at:

“Deduction for Sales Tax on Purchase of New Vehicle – ARRA allows state and local sales and excise taxes paid on the purchase of a qualified motor vehicle as a deduction. A qualified vehicle must meet the following conditions:

* Purchased after February 17, 2009, and before january 1, 2010

* New not used

* May be passenger car, minivan, light truck, motorcycle, motor home

The Motor Vehicle Tax deduction is limited to a purchase price of $49,500 and is phased out beginning with modified adjusted gross income of $125,000 ($250,000 jointly filed returns). The deduction is allowed as an additional standard deduction when not itemizing on Schedule A and when not electing to deduct state and local sales taxes in lieu of state and local income taxes. The new Tax Projection Worksheet – American Recovery Act (ARRA) includes a worksheet for the Motor Vehicle Tax Deduction and new Screen TPW-3 contains a data entry section for motor vehicle purchase information.”

Concerning those in Oregon and other income tax only states.

Since the buying of a new car is concerning an inclusion of a sales tax amount and your state and a few others only have an income tax this part of the ARRA deduction of sales tax on the purchase of a new vehicle will not affect your federal income tax return. Your choice of purchasing a vehicle would be left to: 1) a new car with no sales tax deduction advantage as with other states who have a sales tax; 2) Buy a used car where the law of being able to deduct the sales tax does not affect any of the states because a used automobile is not an option under the new law for 2009; 3) Buy a car which still has an alternative hybrid tax creditor alternative fuel credit and also tax double advantage if your state include an additional credit so your personal income tax on the federal and state level can be reduced; 4) Wait to buy past the 2010 year a more efficient vehicle due to the announcement of the ion battery discovery/invention by MIT researchers to be able to recharge car batteries in the time it takes to fill up your tank. Thus innovation will make the road quiet and the environment cleaner. You may even think about investing in sources of electric production. Maybe even a windmill from your backyard for the production of your personal vehicle and home usage for recharging and home usage.

Concerning those living in Washington and other states with a sales tax.

Since the buying of a new car may allow you to include the sales tax as an income tax deduction or as an increase to your standard deduction you may need to consider the following items.

1) If you itemize you will be able to use the sales tax as an itemized deduction. But if your state also has an income tax return they you will also have to consider using your income tax withheld or paid to the state as an itemized deduction or the amount paid for sales taxes as a deductible amount. Using the large of the two is usually a behind the scene calculation which appropriately calculated software will automatically determine for you. So including the proper sales tax amount for the sales tax amount on the new automobile purchase will be necessary. The checking of a box or some other feature in the software to indicate a new car purchase will have to be implemented in all software. This then should be a simple process.

2) If instead of itemizing you use the standard deduction there are additional amounts which will increase the standard amount.

a) if you are blind a box needs to be checked.

b) If you are 65 years of age or older you will be getting an additional amount added to your standard deduction. This information is usually picked up by the software based upon your birthday input. So definitely make sure your input of your birthday and your spouse’s birthday is correct.

c) For 2008 and 2009 you will get an extra amount if you are not itemizing and you own real estate and are paying real estate taxes on your domicile. The amount is $500 and for married filing jointly couples this amount is raised to $1000.

d) Finally the amount of the sales tax paid for the state portion and the local portion will be included as an additional amount to be included for the standard deduction increase. In Washington State we also pay in some areas an RTA tax or Regional Transit Tax. The IRS previously when calculating the sales tax does not include the additional RTA amount or the excise tax associated with the continuing tax of a automobile which is paid every year. Sorry but I guess Congress does not want to have everything as being deductible. I did not see specifically any wording to this affect except the wording only to include the state and local sales tax. In previous instruction the IRS does not explain exceptions but only what can be included. If previous instructions have explained that the other taxes beyond local sales tax are not included then I would be assuming the IRS will not be included other sales tax amounts beyond the state and local sales tax basic amount.

And again even if you are able to include the sales tax with the standard deduction I really do question the potential frequency of the use of this provision. Individual income tax preparers who are using the standard deduction quite frequently without doing any research are buying used cars instead of new cars. The individuals who are itemizing would have higher incomes and thus a higher disposable income base and a better capacity to increase their deductions when it comes to purchasing a vehicle.

Another consideration for these individuals able to claim an itemized deduction would be to wait another year a purchase a vehicle which might be green or able to use with a plug-in electric power grid for recharging. The new dynamics of innovation are exploding and current decisions will help in deciding what will be a viable consumer product in a short period of time as well. Five years out in vehicle purchase time is probably about a half-life.

Happy auto purchasing in any situation. New, used or wait your pursuit of happiness is what strengthens our economy.

Then again, what happens if the price of oil goes up again in a crazy fashion.

#####

 


Mexico to be Overthrown.

March 11, 2009
Mexico to be Overthrown.
Some internet articles seem to indicate that the imminent overthrow of the Mexican government is just at hand.

Other internet articles indicate this will not happen at all. This is just a little town occurrence and the central government strength will come to the rescue.

Reading one article indicated that the Mexican government starts from the center or Mexico City and lessens as the distance from the capital increases. In affect this would create a castle mentality for the central government. The fortifications around the main city are untouchable and if they are penetrated the strength of the “inner walls” will squelch and potential uprising.

The problem with this thinking is that indeed outlying areas can be manipulated and coerced. This is dangerous and leaves no sympathy for the multitude of citizens in outlying areas. This same situation could exist with the United States except that each state has its own militia and thus weakness internally is shallow in relationship to a centralized military power. Indeed this multiple castle technique was just an outcropping of our geographical decentralization from our founding.

The Mexican border citizens also have a more complex situation in that the Mexican enemy or the drug czars of Mexico have the capability to infiltrate the United States and kill at will natives of Mexico who oppose their marketing plans.

Eventually I do see where the good citizens of Mexico will either: 1) Flee their native lands for a more comfortable living style in the United States; 2) Rise up and demand their government decentralize the military might of the government: 3) the United States will have to accept fleeing Mexican citizens under refugee status thus causing more unemployment in the United States; 4) the United States will halt at the request of the Mexican government transfers of payments from Mexican citizens in the United States to Mexico in order to stop illegal payments into Mexico; 5) other deep restrictions which would cause non-benefits for Mexicans and for United States citizens.

Temporarily legalizing Mexican citizens legal VISA status is what I see but this solution would weaken and not strengthen Mexico. The further collapsing of a government can never be a strong solution. Weakening tax collection within a government is never a solution. Stopping illegal flow into or around the United States is for the benefit of the United States and for the strengthening of the Mexican government. Our system of government is enhanced by the respecting of law. The unfortunate strength of the Mexican government seems to be still in a feudalistic characteristic. The mighty rule and not the fear of the law.

See also RespectWashington.us or the State of Washington inititiative I-1043.

What do you say.

 

 


Consumer Protection Act

March 11, 2009

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf

Consumer Protection Act

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/credit/cre27.pdf

Under the Fair Trade Consumer Protection Act I am not seeing anything which punishes the casher of a bad check when the casher knows that the check is indeed bad.

Under different sections of the Protection Act a penalty of $1000 is enforced.

Quite commonly a PayDay Loan institution will get a prepaid check. If you then call the PayDay loan location and state that the check is not good they will then cash the check anyways. This would seem to indicate to me that the consumer could charge a $1000 fee as provided by the Act and since the amount of the loan would probably be less than $1000 have the entire amount of the PayDay Loan eliminated.

In other aspects of law I have seen that paying attention to the small details of how a law is written is paramount. But in practice things can be constructively different.

Being previously caught in this tight-rope I called the PayDay location and notified them that the check which they have did not have enough money on deposited for the check to clear. But in about a three day period of time I should have the funds in the bank account. Not only did I get an insufficient funds penalty from the PayDay loan company but a penalty fee from the bank.

If the Federal Government does not clarify this amount then the State should clarify this by instituting their own law. The federal government law at the bottom of the law only states that the States cannot have a tougher interpretation than the federal law with respect to the consumer. Since this may not have been clarified then the state should interpret this matter.

Notwithstanding the consumer loan business tramples on consumers when it comes to credit collection time. Perhaps now is the time for the consumer to trample on the creditor until they come back into compliance. Many debt collectors do not leave a phone number or if they do leave a phone number they do not leave an address where they can be written to.

What do you say.  What is your opinion.


Limousine Economics

March 11, 2009

Had a dream last night.

I was the driver in this long long white limousine. It was for a trip to a party. One of the passengers was a former Republican appointed aide to the Washington area for the Labor department. After the Bush administration left office he was also retiring and could do many different things which he otherwise could not do because of his need for working.

Left him and the other passengers at the party. I knew I would have several hours before I would be needed to pick them all back up again and deliver them back to their respective houses. I was trying to decide how to kill some time. Should I just go and pick some other people up and make some additional money for an hour or so. So instead what I did was to go into the party and try to local the guy so I would know how much time he would be spending there. I was unable to find him.

Came back outside of the doors of the party and my limousine was subsequently parked someplace else. It had snowed since I went into the party. My car was parked and the two doors on the drivers side were open. The vehicle seat on for the driver was filled with snow and the back door was filled with snow inside of the passenger area as well. I started scooping the snow out. I heard some type of noise and there were two kids which I saw taking the tires off of the car. The tires were just ordinary and of no special importance. They were not gold plated rims. I caught one of the kids and I still heard some noise and others were continuing to take the tires off of the car with the rims attached. I called the police. I called to have the new tires and rims replace so I could drive the party home when they finish the party. The mechanic came and started working on the engine.

This sounds like if a mechanic would be working on the engine to get the engine fixed so this is like the Obama administration saying they need to get all of the pork projects going before they deal with the real problem which is the mortgage situation and the economic destabilization which this has caused.

We only need four tires with rims on them and no an overhaul of the engine or even a look at the engine. To date I have not seen any legislation which is geared at correcting the problem of not allowing no down payment loans. The banks are not loaning unless a minimum payment is made. The prior problem is still intact and could resurface at any time.

So in conclusion the limousine economics of the Obama administration fixing of the economy will take a long time. The Bush administration will not be found again. The fix is not started on and the completion of the job may outlast the party. The fix is relatively simple and yet may take a long time. Don’t concentrate on the environment when the thieves are stealing from right under you.

What do you say.