Wednesday, May 15, 2019

You Are WRONG - Life is GREAT!

Every single one of you who thinks this country and this world are going to shit are wrong.

Very wrong.
Insanely wrong.

Turn off the news.
Stop listening to the politicians.

The arc of world improvement is universally positive and will continue to do so DESPITE the fuckwads we keep putting in power.

 Life is great and getting better!
This is not even debatable...

A Woman's Right to Choose...

If you truly want to protect a woman's right to choose (I do, despite serious reservations about some abortions) then the best way is to take a principled stand regarding the government's authority to make choices in all areas of people's lives. Take a skeptical view of all attempts to force people to make choices based on popular beliefs.

This means that you have to examine your beliefs on prostitution, drugs, vaccination and even guns. It doesn't mean you have to change your opinion, or become a libertarian or an anarchist, but you really need to be willing to subject your beliefs to rigorous examination of whether the benefits outweigh the intrusion, especially the myriad of laws without a direct victim.

While your at it, you might want to examine how much power the state has to force you or prevent you from doing what you want. You might want to re familiarize yourself with the first ten amendments of the constitution, especially the forgotten 4th through 6th and realize that erosion of these enumerated rights makes it easier to erode every right, including the right to choose.

 A state whose power is limited and which is not allowed to make choices for its citizens except in the most extreme of cases, is a state where a woman's right to choose is truly safe.

 A woman's right to choose will NEVER be safe in a country where the majority can force its will on the minority without the citizens raising an outcry.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Post I Wrote for the Tax Blog on Having a Great Tax Pro

It's obviously no secret that I favor the use of tax professionals over software. With that said, having a great tax pro matters, and it costs money. This post is about a few of the things that might or might not occur to the average person that a great tax pro can provide. Some of these became especially important with the advent of the new tax law and its effect on tax return results.

Here's the list:

1. If you had a great tax pro, you wouldn't have been surprised that refunds in general were going to be down, but you also would have known that actual taxes paid would also be down. More importantly, a great tax pro would have taken your 2017 tax information and analyzed it under the new law so you would know the EXACT effects on your tax situation.

2. A great tax pro would also have anticipated, through asking great questions, what changes would occur in your life and how they would affect your tax situation. It is amazing to me how many people with okay tax pros end up surprised by simple things that are easily anticipated such as a child turning 17.

3. Expanding on the above, a great tax pro will tell you what you can do to mitigate the effects of tax law or life situation changes. Unlike tax software, a tax pro can make changes to your return, see the results and then make more changes so that you can make informed decisions about what to do.

4. A great tax pro can show you how to use the tools the IRS provides such as withholding calculators, installment agreements and many others.

5. A great tax pro knows state tax laws or where to find them. Software sucks at state taxes. There are numerous state tax deductions that you basically need to know about ahead of time to take advantage of. Software just draws numbers from the Federal with occasionally a few questions. If you use software, ask yourself how many times the state tax return magically occurs without ONE SINGLE QUESTION about state taxes.

6. If you have to file more than one state, your software is going to mess it up. An average tax pro might have difficulty with a state other than the one they work in and maybe a neighboring state. A great tax pro understands how to file multiple states intimately.

7. A great tax pro will save you a ton of time, frustration and worry. If your tax pro is really good, the time and effort you save should make every penny worth it.

8. A great tax pro can answer your questions in the off-season, BEFORE you make a mistake.

9. A great tax pro can help you understand IRS and state tax letters and (often for a fee) help you respond or (if you get their extended guarantee) handle the letters for you and/or go to audits for you. A tax pro who is an Enrolled Agent or CPA is critical for this.

10. A great tax pro will tell you about deductions you've never heard of.

11. A great tax pro can give you interesting non income tax advice you might not think of. The perfect example in South Carolina is when people are paying WAY to much real estate tax because they don't realize they need to inform the county that they are living in the home they just bought. We will also give you a redacted copy of your tax return that you need to file the paper work, and often provide a copy of the form and instructions.

12. A great tax pro can tell you some interesting military stuff, like the 6 states that give military bonus money of various types, the extended period you get to sell a rental property and avoid a lot of taxes, and how to manage tax free combat pay.

13. Really great tax pros have a bunch of worksheets, spreadsheets and calculators that you can use for tax planning or record keeping.

14. Great tax pros see a lot of life occurring and can give great advice based on what we've seen work and not work in people's lives.

15. A great tax pro will check your prior year tax returns for free and make sure you didn't miss anything.

16. A great tax pro can counsel you on the appropriate level of aggression based on the position you want to take and your tolerance for risk.

17. A great tax pro will be up on every tax law change, every IRS ruling and every court case result that affects taxes.

We cost a lot of money. We're worth it. Just make sure your tax pro is great. Okay is not okay.

Friday, May 3, 2019

February to April 2019 Charleston Restaurant Visits

Name                        Loc                    Rating   Beer Selection Rating

Azul Park 4 3
Chas Bakery + Deli Sum 4 0
Coast Brewing Park 5 5
EVO Park 5 4
Five Loaves Café Var 3 3
Husk DT 5 3
Jeni's DT 3 1
Malagon DT 5 2
Melfi's NK 5 2
Swig and Swine Var 4 3
The Ordinary DT 4 3
Wine and Company DT 5 5
Wiki Wiki Sandbar WA 4 2
Basil Var 3 2
Maui Tacos DT 3 3
Steel City Pizza NC 2 3
Sweatman's MN 5 0
The Brew Cellar Park 4 5
The Codfather Park 4 3

Here's a link to the Master Restaurant Spreadsheet

Columns are Restaurant, Location, Rating and Beer Selection Rating.

Locations: Park - Park Circle, DT - Downtown, NK - North of 17 Downtown, Var - multiple locations, MP - Mount Pleasant, MN - Middle of Nowhere (Outside Holly Hill in this case), WA - anywhere West of the Ashley, NC - North Charleston

Rating - 1 to 5 scale (5 being best (gotta be perfect to get a 5 - 4 is a perfectly great score and 3 is reliably good))

Beer rating:
1   No beer or little good beer (or a bad brewery)
2   Below Average (or a mediocre brewery)
3   Some locals and other good brews (or an OK brewery)
4   Excellent (or a good brewery)
5   Best (or a great brewery)

Azul is a casual Mexican restaurant with a great mix of classics and innovative dishes. The Molcajete is a great variety dish suitable for multiple eaters.
Charleston Bakery and Deli has great breakfasts and sandwiches with a Jewish Deli twist.
Coast Brewing is still my favorite brewery. They have not succumbed to modern brewery fads (not that those are a bad thing) but instead continue to produce their classic styles with a smattering of innovations. Hop Art IPA, Boy King DIPA, 32/50 Kolsch and Blackbeerd Imperial Stout are some of the best examples of their respective styles.
EVO is a slam dunk for pizza and an awesome local beer selection. The Pork Trifecta is the best pizza and is perfect reheated in the morning with a runny fried egg on top. Make sure to visit The Brew Cellar for an excellent tap list and brilliant selection of cans and bottles to drink on presence or take home.
Five Loaves Cafe has become a bit more "chainy" than before, but still serves good food with decent service. It is a good choice for Summerville due to somewhat limited options in the area.
Husk remains one of the best downtown restaurants, with a modern take on classic southern cuisine. Great for out of town visitors. The bar is a perfect option if you can't get in the restaurant since its menu is basically the Husk Greatest Hits menu.
Jeni's has some unique ice cream flavors, but make sure you pay attention to ensure you get dairy if you want it as it can be a little confusing.
Malagon is a grazer's delight. It's where Artisan Meat Share used to be and is a great replacement. Small plates and shareable entrees are the feature.
Melfi's has outstanding pasta and Italian food. They have parking nearby which is nice. The staff is very knowledgeable of what they are serving and why. Pasta is homemade.
Swig and Swine Summerville has reopened!!!! I really love this place, especially since it's so close to me. Not the best barbecue in the area, but extremely good.
The Ordinary still has amazing oysters and cold fish selections, along with excellent seafood options. Get reservations or arrive before it opens.
Wine and Company is still the best wine bar in Charleston with an incredibly knowledgeable staff. You can also buy bottles to go and they can help find what you want. They also have a phenomenal beer selection to go or drink on premises which most people don't know about. The beer list is very well curated. Located at Meeting and Spring, it's a great stop before or after dinner. Also great cheese and charcuterie.
Wiki Wiki Sandbar is a HUGE Polynesian restaurant with some great bars and a good selection of classic dishes mixed with some local standbys.
Basil is a reliable Thai restaurant with more options for non-Thai food fans than other places. I like the Garlic and Beef dish.
Maui Tacos does a good job of replicating the original. They are a good choice if you are bored with the cookie cutter Mexican that is way too prevalent in our town. Great beer selection. If your out of town family insists on going to Hyman's tell them you'll be at Maui Tacos waiting for them to finish being disappointed.
Steel City Pizza has a good beer selection. That's why they get a 2. You do the math...
Sweatman's has managed to maintain great barbecue standards despite the ownership change a few years ago. Still the best barbecue in the area. Visit Biedler Forest on the same day, since it is located in the same middle of nowhere. Better yet, do dinner and a Biedler Night Walk on the full moon Saturday of the month (not affiliated with each other - just a good evening plan).
The Codfather has outstanding Fish and Chips and Meat Pies. You can get the meat pies to go.

This post is a combo of three months (most likely it will be every year) due to tax season being in full swing. Check out my tax blog if you want to see why I'm so popular this time of year!

You may wonder why very few places got a score below 3. There's an explanation on the spreadsheet. In fact, there's a ton of information on the spreadsheet. But to answer the question, we go places we expect to be great. I'm not here to confirm that a mediocre restaurant is actually mediocre. So 2's will be rare, and 1's will be a catastrophic failure in planning.