Ziese & Associates, Ltd.

Robert J. Ziese, Esq.

Kathryn G. Ziese Financial Services

Client Newsletter - Oct. - Dec. 2001


Have a Wonderful Holiday Season & a Happy New Year!

Call us for real estate, wills & trusts, tax & bankruptcy issues, business startup & litigation, matrimonial, adoption, and non-profit organization matters
973-625-4559


CONTENTS:

TAX    NEWS

                Beefed -Up Child Credit

                Plan For Larger IRA Contributions Next Year

More Byte Than Bark

Saving for College educations - 529 Plans and Tools For Saving

Kinship Legal Guardian - Another Option For Children

Jedi Knights Achieve Official Recognition as a Religion 

Hidden Hold on Your Cash 

TAX  NEWS

Beefed-Up Child Credit

For 2001, the Child Credit has been increased by $ 100 to $ 600, for qualified children who were under the age of 17 at the end of the tax year. In addition, the new tax law makes this credit refundable for most taxpayers. Between 2005 and 2010, this credit will increase to $ 1,000 per child. Unfortunately, the new tax law leaves in place the existing thresholds for phasing out this credit. Therefore, for married individuals, the credit begins to phase out at incomes (AGI) of $ 110,000, $ 75,000 for single taxpayers, and $ 55,000 for married individuals filing separate returns.

Plan For Larger IRA Contributions Next Year

Beginning next year, the old $ 2,000 per year limit for IRA deductions is being increased to $ 3,000. For individuals age 50 and over, the new law allows a so-called make-up contribution for older taxpayers to contribute an extra $ 500 per year. These limits adjust again in 2005 and will ultimately reach $ 5,000 ($ 6,000 for taxpayers 50 and over) by the year 2008. These increases can have a substantial impact on your retirement planning and the allocation of investment funds in the future.

 


More Byte Than Bark

From Wired News, available online at:
http://www.wired.com/

Puppy Love for a Robot by Leander Kahney 
It sounds barking mad, but people are developing relationships with their robot dogs, as though they were real pets. People are adopting Sony Aibos as more convenient alternatives for travelers and renters who are barred from having pets. Scientists are now even studying the robots to see if they offer some of the therapeutic benefits of animal ownership. 

Owners of Sony's Aibo robot doggie report a strong emotional bond, akin in many ways to the attachments formed with flesh-and-blood pets. 

"I always thought I was pretty rational but I don't think of her as a toy any more," said Genie Boutchia, a 36-year-old mother of two, about her Aibo, Smidgen. "She's like part of the family....It's so strange. You become attached. I know she's a hunk of plastic but she's just fabulous.... I really can't put it into words why I like her." 

Aibos have been around for a couple of years but it's initial limited availability and high price (up to $10,000 on eBay) restricted it to well-off gadget freaks. But the second generation is being mass produced and at $1,500, it is attracting a different audience. This time around, Aibo is being bought as a substitute pet, not just a collectors items or a sophisticated grown-up toy. For example, there are reports of traveling businessmen buying Aibos as portable pets. They are easy to pack, provide companionship at the hotel, and can break the ice during business meetings. 

Saving For College Educations - 529 Plans and  Tools For Saving

Recent tax legislation has created state-sponsored college savings plans - known as 529 plans. They are, for most people, the best way to save for college- no federal taxes.

The money put into a 529 plan can grow and be tapped tax-free for higher education. Most states have started plans. They don't manage the money. They use selected stock and bond funds. The best way to investigate a 529 plan is to look at your state's program. This is because your state may allow you to deduct contributions to its plan from your state income taxes. But watch out for possible impact on financial aid  and the limits on investment options. 

See http://www.Savingforcollege.com and NJ Better Educational Savings Trust (NJBEST)  .

The American Savings Education Council has a web site with over 100 financial calculator tools for retirement, credit, mortgage, and budgeting issues. Visit http://www.choosetosave.org



    Kinship Legal Guardian - Another Option for Children 

Effective January 2002, a new law creates another option to establish permanency for children who cannot reside with their parents due to a long-term inability to perform the regular functions of care and support for their children. It provides an alternative between foster care custody and termination of parental rights/adoption.

A person or persons can be named the Kinship Legal Guardian if they have made a commitment to and the ability to raise the child to adulthood. The child must have lived in their home for at least a year. The Guardian can be a biological relative or a close family friend. 

The Guardian will have the same rights, responsibilities, and authority as the parents, including the obligation to support the child. However, the natural parents will have rights to visitation and the duty to provide child support. Financial assistance is available through New Jersey for the Guardians.

     Jedi Knights Achieve Official Recognition as a Religion

Source: http://www.theregister.co.uk

The United Kingdom Census 2001 has put Jedi Knight on the list of religions. Known as Code 896, the followers of Luke Skywalker have enough members to "make the charts". 

The official response from the Census Office is that it does not provide recognition to any religion nor does it attempt to define a religion. It only reports the numbers.

Is there a market for Yoda shrines?


     Hidden Hold on Your Cash

Source: Excerpted from Consumer Reports

Some debit card transactions don't require you to enter a PIN number for validation. In those cases, the merchant may hold 150% or more of the amount of the sale as a "blocked amount" against your checking account to ensure that they get paid.

This "hold" on your account could result in bounced checks and resulting bank fees. ANSWER:- Use your debit card only for PIN-based purchases. 


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