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  Money Talks, LLC 


511 SW 10th Ave., Suite 805

Portland, Oregon 97205



 Phone: 503-233-8142  Email: Susan@moneytalksllc.com  

Money Talks NewsletterDecember 2010 

In This Issue:


Informed Taxpayers:

An important key to financial competency. 


Susan Hammitt, AFC, CDFA

Susan Hammitt 



 Life Planning Specialist 


I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. 


At this time of year I  particularly appreciate opportunity to focus on relationships and traditions that reinforce a sense of valuable life. 


And, that is what I wish for everyone.


Happy Holidays!  
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Personal Financial Sustainability

Celebration and financial integrity are fundamental in Personal Financial Sustainability. That which we value enough to celebrate and that which we prioritize in planning and action define the possibilities for our valuable lives.

This holiday season celebrate every success, witnessed and experienced. Hold close a sense of celebration, it strengthens community and reinforces solidarity.

For the new year commit to personal financial integrity.  Every dollar spent is an organic extension of values and priorities. We can, though our financial conduct, build our economy strong.  The stronger our household economies the greater our influence in public policy.  Commit to:

1.    Talk about personal finances with friends and family.  Divided and silent our economy crumbled, unified and talking we will rebuild.

2.    Use money wisely; in support of a valuable life, absent waste.

3.    Make financial decisions based on personal economies rather than macro-economic (big business and government) incentives.

4.    Focus on plans for a valuable life.

5.  Boycott institutions that do not conduct business with transparency, fairness, and respect for human dignity.

Have faith that personal financial integrity has a limitless horizon for the benefit of future generations.


Make a Plan for a Valuable Life!


taxInformed Taxpayers:

An important key to financial competency


Taxes are one of the most powerful influences undermining our sense of financial competency. Regardless how well we manage our financial lives taxes seem to trump every priority. Lawmakers are so far removed from our influence that most taxpayers are complacent, frustrated, or angry.


One of my favorite questions is, "How much do you pay in federal and state taxes?" Interestingly, very few people can answer. Pull out your 2009 tax returns, how much was your total tax?  Be careful, don't get distracted by the amount of a refund or underpayment.  Highlight the amount of total tax.  Every year do the same simple exercise.


If you are not already in the habit of reviewing your tax returns, make it a habit starting this year. The tax code is so complicated most taxpayers are intimidated trying to identify errors. Consider a review an opportunity to understand how you are taxed. Clients are often surprised by their own competence once they become familiar with the line items on their own tax returns.


The new federal tax law changes will effect almost every household in America. After reading many summaries I have not yet identified one to recommend as 'reader friendly'. The bill was just signed last week. Next month I will provide a link to an overview. I am confident everyone will find at least one tax category of interest. 


The new tax bill:


Extends the Bush tax rates for two years, across the board, for all taxpayers. 


Provides a 2% reduction on payroll taxes for 2011, a real windfall for workers.


Sets income levels for the Alternative Minimum Tax for 2010 and 2011.


Our attitudes about taxes impacts public policy. It's easy for politicians to get the public fired up about about taxes even when an issue does not effect most households. Estate taxes are a great example. Most American households will never have an estate tax problem. Taxpayers are far more likely to have a Medicaid estate recovery or transfer of assets issue. 


In the new tax bill only estates in excess of five million dollars are subject to estate taxes (35%).


On a personal level it is important to understand estate tax exposure before determining how best to structure estate documents. I am not an attorney but I am aware that some taxpayers spend thousands of dollars on complex estate documents when their real need only requires a simple will.


On a public policy level, the more each taxpayer understands how we are taxed, the more meaningful will be our public dialogue and vote.


As soon as I find a reader friendly summary of the new tax bill I will post it on my website and link it to the next newsletter. If you find one that you believe easy to read and understand, please forward it to me.



Make a Plan for Personal Financial

Confidence, Competence, and Prosperity!