OUR

 GOAL IS                                                  SMOOTH  

​     SAILING

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has significantly reduced the percentage of people living in America without health insurance, but the cost to insure the uninsured is about to get a lot more expensive next year especially in Tennessee, Oklahoma Montana Colorado and Hawaii. Insurance premiums in those states are expected to increase at a rate that is more than 3 time the average 10% increase nationwide. As we enter the third year of Obamacare's marketplaces, there is no debate that healthcare reform has been a big win for the nation's health insurers. Despite worries to the contrary, opening up the market place to low income and difficult to insure Americans has swelled insurer sales and increased their profit​. At United Health Group, the largest US health insurer, revenue soared by 27% year over year to $41.5 billion and sales at Anthem, the second largest insurer, increased by 7.6% to $19.8 billion in the third quarter alone. Net income increased by $100 million at United Health Care Group and by $30 billion at Anthem  by $30 billion


Net income is growing at a much slower rate than revenue because the margin insurers earn on exchange plans is lower than the margin they earn on other plans such as employer based health insurance. Insurers are likely erred on the side of caution when pricing their plans in order to capture market share.. Now that insurers can more accurately refine their models based on their real world experience over the past two years, they are beginning to right size premiums to bring margins back in line with other markets.  Monthly health insurance premiums will increase by 10.1% in 2016, a significant increase given that overall inflation in the US was nonexistant in the year ending this September


Among residents that will be hit hardest by insurers rising premium prices are those who are lining the Western United States. Health insurance plan premiums on the second lowest priced silver medal plan will increase by 33.6^ in Montana, 32.2% in Colorado and 31% in Hawaii. Also affected will be people living in Tennessee, where premiums on plans will climb 38.4% and Oklahoma where prices will grow by 34.7%

​WINDOWS 10 VIOLATES PRIVACY

​HEALTH CARE

Look for the dollar to keep rising worldwide, 5% to 7% more by the end of 2016, after a 17% climb in the 15 months starting in mid-July of last year.  With US interest rates poised to go up, starting with a nod from the Federal Reserve in December. The buck is an even more desirable option for foreign investors. Central banks in Europe, Japan and China are moving rates in the opposite direction.


Ultimately, a stronger dollar is a net negative for the US. It widens the trade deficit and costs jobs at companies that sell goods overseas. The beefed up buck, along with the slowdown in China, will knock off about a half a percentage point of growth from  US GDP next year, which will still grow 2.8% a few tricks higher than the 2.5% for 2015.


Commodity prices will continue to languish. Oil, averaging $45 to $55 a barrel in 2016. Despite the rising greenback oil prices will not fall further because of supply cuts. Prices for key industrial metals, flat.  About $500 per ton on average for hot-rolled steel near its current level of $460  Cooper $5,000 to $5,500 per ton, versus $5,200 now.  That will hold down manufacturing costs and help keep inflation in check, which may induce the Fed to be more relaxed about more interest rate hikes in 2016.


Expect to see moderately lower prices for a variety of imported goods made cheaper by the stronger dollar as measured against other key currencies, everything from cell phones and appliances to apparel, toys, and sporting goods. Travel abroad will be less costly overall. US exporters face another rough year as their foreign competitors continue to profit from currency advantages that make their goods cheaper to buy. Hardest hit: construction, mining and farm equipment firms.

Upon installation, Windows 10 defaults to some pretty serious privacy invasions. Here are some steps you can take to keep yor personal data private. Since July 29 release of Windows 10, the tech world has been talking about its release, more than 14 million users had downloaded Windows 10. The quick ramp up was due in part, to Microsoft releasing the update as a free download for existing Windows users. Windows 10 also came with a new service model as Windows will be releasing service packs every few months to users


The model itself got some backlash, especially from organizations that do not want to upgrade their system that frequently. More recently some criticism has arisen over privacy concerns brought on by the new OS The first issue is that windows automatically assigns an advertising ID to each user on a device tied to the email address that is on file. Using that ID, the company can tailor ads for web-browsing and using certain applications The next concern is that much of users' personal data is synced with Microsoft's servers. Some of this information, like your WI-FI password, can then be encrypted and shared with your contacts, using a feature called WI-FI sense. Additionally, Microsoft's personal assistant, Cortana, must collect data as well to provide the kind of service it does.


One of the biggest worries, is Microsoft's policy on disclosing or sharing your personal information. The following is an excerpt from the privacy polocy. "We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services."

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​GOOGLE IS CRUSHING APPLE

Google Microsoft and Apple have been competing for years in the very lucrative education technology market. For the first time, Google has taken a huge lead  over its rivals . Chromebooks now make up more than half of all devices in US educational facilities. While it is clear that Chromebooks had made progress this news is shocking. Chromebooks made incredibly quick inroads in just a couple of years, leaping over Microsoft and Apple with ease said Forrester analyst J P Gownder.


Combine Chromebooks with devices running on Android and Google's share of the edtech market is even more impressive. As the third quarter of this year it had 53 % of the market for k-12 devices bought by schools and school districts. 


Google rapid gains come at the expense of its biggest rivals. Over the past three years, Apple's market share slashed by more than half, from 52% to 24% and Microsoft's market share has slipped from 43% to 24% "It has  been amazing to us to see that growth happen just in that short period of time., said Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Android and Chrome in business and education. " If you look at the overall market for devices in education, it is actually expanded a lot and Chromebooks have actually taken a lot.  Also known as the "father of Google Apps," Sheth leads a team that has delivered impressive results. So far this year, Google's Chromebooks make up 4.4 million of the 8.9 million devices sold to schools and school districts k-12. Put another way, every school day 30,000 new Chromebooks area are activated in schools


Google's gains come as the edtech market emerges as important growth prospect for the tech giants,as school districts bring big budgets on line and PC and tablet sales in other industries flat line. " It is one of thte few bright spots in the market. That is why we are seeing this battle in education, they all know how important the education segment is . it is critical" said Futuresource analyst Mike Fisher. " It is basically a head on fight for the entry level part of the market that is procuring in huge volumes.. Google's major advantage when it comes to wooing cash strapped school districts - which are expected to purchase more than 11 million devices next year in the US alone - is Chromebooks extremely competitive price

​AFFORDABLE CARE ACT RISKS BECOMING UNAFFORDABLE

Demand is blossoming for commercial green houses in urban areas as more and more consumers hunger for fresh produce that is locally grown. In addition, technological advances are driving down operating costs. More multi-acre year round growing facilities will sprout near major cities in the Northeast, particularly along he i-95 corridor from Boston to Washington DC Other hot spots for such facilities: Chicago plus cities in Arizonia, and Southern California. Growers, food retailers and consumers will all reap the benefits.  Controller environments protect local farmers from the vagaries of the weather, while retailers and consumers are assured a more reliable supply of local crops. Among the green house leaders: Bright Farms,Intergrow Greenhouses, Backyard Farms, Tanimura & Antle

​NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER P2

It is health coverage open enrollment season. People will be selecting their insurance plans for 2016, whether  through their employer,  a private insurer or shopping on the the state and federal exchanges. If you opt out of coverage for next year, the penalties are going up substantially.  For 2016, the basic fine is soaring to $695 per adult ( $347.50  for children)  with a family ceiling of $2,085 up from $347.50 for children and $975 in 2015. The income based levy is increasing from 2% to 2.5% of household income over the threshold fore filing a tax return. The uninsured will typically owe he higher of these two amounts when they file their 2016 tax returns.


Folks without insurance do not have to pa the fine if they have an exemption. Many can get exemptions: People for whom health coverage is too costly. Individuals with household incomes below the federal tax return filing thresholds. those who can show hat  a hardship forced them to go without coverage. Most who purchase insurance on an exchange will qualify for tax subsides. A credit will be available for folks with household incomes ranging from 100% to 400% of federal poverty level: $11,770 to $47,080 for singles and $24,250 to $97,000 for a family of four. Individuals who  are eligible for Medicaid or other federal insurance do not qualify. Nor do folks who can get affordable insurance through their employer.


The tax credit is estimated when you on the exchange to buy insurance. The estimated premium subsidy will be based on your expected 2016 income. Those who qualify for the credit can choose to have it paid in advance directly to the health insurance company in order to lower their monthly premiums. adults who receive coverage on an exchange must file a tax return with the IRS. they will have to attach Form 8962 to compute their actual health premium tax credit, list any advance payments made to the insurer and then reconcile the two figures. The Service is serious about the return filing requirement. It mailed letters to taxpayers who got advance premium credits in 2014 but have not filed their returns warning them that they will be ineligible for advance subsidies in 2016 if they do not file. If you are now getting a subsidy to pay for coverage bought on the exchange, let the exchange know of any changes that could affect the credit amount.  If your 2015 income ends up being higher than estimated when you bought the policy, the credit you figure on your return may be lower than the advance premiums you got. That could result in getting a smaller refund come next spring or maybe enen a tax bill. Reporting changes to the exxchange as they occur can lessen the effect of a mismatch.


​THE DOLLAR

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​PETITIONING THE TAX COURT

​The Tax Court was formed solely to hear tax cases in nearly 80 cities throughout the United States. It is particularly advantageous to small taxpayers because it does not require going to  the expense of hiring a lawyer. You would be well advised to retain a tax professional. Two procedures are available through the Tax Court. If your case involves a disputed tax of $50,000 or less, you may elect a small case tax procedure. This type of hearing is considerable less formal than a regular hearing, in that the rules of evidence are less strict and the formal trial practices are eased. You probably will not need a tax professional for a small case procedure, and there is usually no need to prepare written briefs for the judge. The regular procedure is more complex and may involve weighty legal exchanges.  In both types of procedures, your arguments are heard only by a judge, there are not any juries in Tax Court proceedings.


To initiate either Tax Court procedure, you must file a petition within 90 days after receiving your Notice of Deficiency from the IRS. You can secure a petition form by callinng the clerk of the court. US Tax Court in Washington DC at 202-521-0700. You must specifically elect  the small case procedure . To file:

  1. Attach a copy of your Notice of Deficiency to the original copy of the petition
  2. Besides the original, include two photocopies of the petition when requesting the small case procedure or four copies when electing the regular procedure
  3. Include form 4 on which you state your preferences as to the place of the trial
  4. Attach the nominal filing fee, which you can pay by check or money order


Because the petition must be received within 90 days of the time you received your deficiency notice, it is advisable to send the Tax Court petition and additional required materials by certified mail,  return receipt. Assuming that the Tax Court receives your petition within the stipulated time, a copy of it is sent to the IRS Commissioner. In a regular procedure the commissioner's office has 60 days to file a formal answer to the petition or 45 days to file a motion inthe case. The formal answer from the IRS must admit or deny each allegation you raised in your petition. Once the commissioner's office files its answer, you have 45 days to file your response, in which you must admit or deny the commissioner's material facts.  You also have 30 days to file motions on the answer.

​FOOD