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The Independent Investor: Is Bitcoin Broken?
By Bill Schmick,
05:14PM / Thursday, January 18, 2018
Bitcoin, Ethreum, Ripple and a number of other crypto currencies have had a terrible week. Some of these digital dollars have lost 25 percent overnight, if not more. Today Bitcoin, itself, is down almost 50 percent from that level. Those who warned that this mania would come to a tragic end are crowing now. Are they right?   Last July, I wrote my first column on the phenomena of crypto currencies. Since then, Bitcoin vaulted to historic highs, briefly touching $20,000 on Dec. 17. Since then clients, friends, relatives and yes, even my mother-in-law, have asked me if I thought crypto currencies were a good investment.   The answer will always depend on the price

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The Independent Investor: The Cost of MAGA
By Bill Schmick,
06:46PM / Friday, January 12, 2018
It is the guiding principle behind the Trump administration, but to "Make America Great Again" the U.S. may have to break some eggs. Are you ready for that?   "MAGA" is much more than a marketing gimmick. Almost every day, we uncover additional evidence of how the President and his supporters in Congress are dismantling regulations, taxes, and on the foreign front, trade deals.   For example, while the president professes to have "a great relationship" with China and admires its president, Xi Jinping, at the same time, he is working behind the scenes to apply more pressure to our sometime-friend,

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The Independent Investor: Beware the Tax Hit From Mutual Funds
By Bill Schmick,
03:22PM / Thursday, January 04, 2018
Plenty of investors will be faced with an unpleasant surprise. Any day now, one or more of the mutual funds that you own will be sending out their capital gain distributions for the year.   The tax hit could be quite large this year.   Many investors are not aware that mutual fund companies are required to distribute at least 95 percent of their capital gains to investors each year. Given the double-digit gains in the stock market last year, those gains could be an unwelcome liability when tax time rolls around.   At this late date, there is little one can do about it, other than pay the piper, but this year you can take steps to minimize 2018's

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The Independent Investor: Confusion Reigns as Taxes Change
By Bill Schmick,
09:46AM / Friday, December 29, 2017
At the best of times taxes are confusing, so much so that most people hire an accountant to prepare them. This coming year should be a real doozy for the accountancy industry.   Given the massive changes to the tax code that will go into effect next year, taxpayers are rightly concerned (and confused) on exactly what the rules will be and how they will impact their families.    "Most (although not all) taxpayers would owe less under the new rules, according to analyses by various independent think tanks, including the Tax Foundation and the Tax Policy Center," according to Charles Schwab and Co.    In high tax states, lines are

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The Independent Investor: To Roll, or Not to Roll Your 401(k)
By Bill Schmick,
05:18PM / Thursday, December 21, 2017
Rolling your 401(k) or 403(b) into an IRA can be a good idea for some savers but not for others. Here are some things to think about before you make a decision.   In my last column, I outlined some of the more obvious reasons for rolling over your retirement accounts: cost savings, larger selections of investment choices, more flexibility. I also discussed some of the cons against rolling it over: the ability to borrow against your 401(k), a lower age for beginning distributions from your 401(k) (55, versus 59 ½ for an IRA), the ability to delay minimum required distributions after 70 1/2, if you are still working.   This week, I want to focus on one of

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