Category: Individual & Economic Liberty

The Biggest Advantage You Have Over Wall Street

DollarNews stories of high-frequency trading, market rigging and interest rate manipulations make the average individual investor feel like they have no chance of making any money in the markets. It seems like the guys on the inside track, such as the hedge funds, private equity funds and other “accredited investors,” only have access to all of the great deals. But there is a huge advantage you, as an individual investor, have over Wall Street and the entire investment management industry – independence.

What I mean by this is you as an investor of your own money only have to answer to yourself. Almost every hedge fund or investment manager in the industry is managing money for someone else and therefore have to answer to to their clients every month or quarter and report on their performance. This is of course a good thing in itself, but it can be a hindrance to the manager and something you can use to your advantage.

For example, hedge fund manager David Einhorn has recently been under fire for his bet on gold. His publicly traded reinsurer, Greenlight Capital Re, is down 18% year-to-date partly due to the fund’s gold position as well as other positions that have not been working out.

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6 Reasons Why Rent is So High – and What You Can Do

For-rent-signMillennials are having a tough time finding an affordable house or apartment to rent as they start their lives and careers. A recent report found most rental homes were unaffordable for millennials in 23 of the largest 50 cities in the U.S. The reason is simply supply and demand. But what is driving the demand for rentals and what, if anything, can you do about it?

 

1. The homeownership rate is back where it was 20 years ago, before the campaign to encourage homeownership began.

A chart of U.S. homeownership clearly shows the government-influenced boom to get people to own their own homes and then the resulting bust. It appears there may be a natural rate of homeownership due to the fact that some people will always be renters, such as students, those moving to new cities or young people starting their careers. Trying to artificially increase the homeownership rate beyond this natural rate cannot last indefinitely. Once the bubble popped, all those who owned homes – who normally wouldn’t have been homeowners – came rushing back into the rental market.

2. Millennials are now competing with baby boomers for rental units.

As if it wasn’t enough to compete against other millennials and those still scarred from the housing bubble, rental demand is also being driven by baby boomers looking to downsize or have a more convenient lifestyle. According to a recent Bloomberg article, the sheer size of the baby boomer generation is likely to keep up demand on rental units for the foreseeable future.

3. The middle-aged and middle class are renting too.

Households between the ages of 45 and 64 accounted for about twice the share of renter growth as compared to those younger than 35. Also surprising is the fact that households in the upper half of income distribution contributed 43% of the growth. These are the two groups that traditionally are the most likely to own a home. It’s not entirely clear why, but it’s likely it relates to these traditional homeowners getting burned in the last housing bust and choosing to rent while they repair their finances.

Expert Interview: Tom Wheelwright, Tax Free Wealth

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When we hear the word “taxes” it immediately captures our attention. For some, it conjures up fear and dread. But according to tax expert Tom Wheelwright, the word represents significant financial advantages for those savvy enough to capitalize on key provisions in our tax law.

As a tax authority and Rich Dad Tax Advisor, Tom is fond of a saying espoused by Robert Kiyosaki, author of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Robert says, “Debt and taxes will make you rich.” Following on this point, Tom recommends having a great tax advisor who is knowledgable about tax law and real estate investing. In his book Tax Free Wealth, he offers a treasure trove of strategies that create tax favorability for your business and personal income. Tom is CEO of ProVision Wealth where he and his team works with successful small businesses and entrepreneurs in 30 countries, helping them build long-term sustainable wealth. He is a frequent speaker for groups both nationally and internationally and has been featured in Accounting Today, Investors Business Daily, Deseret News National, and CEO Blog Nation.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tom for this piece, and found his approach to taxes and wealth building to be quite refreshing. Check out the discussion below for his no-holds-barred thoughts on how we can keep more of what we earn personally as well as in our businesses.

 


Tom, what prompted you to write a book on taxes, of all things?

[Chuckle] It seems like wherever I turn, I tend to hear about the tax law being bad and terribly complicated.

50 Free Tickets to Anthem Film Festival for Students

anthemfilmfestAs you may have heard before, Anthem Vault is sponsoring two categories at the Anthem Film Festival this year: Best Libertarian Values and Best Original Score. Winners will be receiving $500 towards an Anthem Vault account. Anthem Vault CEO, Anthem Blanchard, and Board Member, Cynthia Blanchard, will be on the distinguished panel of judges, taking part in the 3-day festival.

However, it’s not just the filmmakers that are benefiting from Anthem Vault’s participation. Film students in the Las Vegas area, and students at Freedom Fest will receive access to 50 free tickets. All you have to do is visit the Anthem Vault booth (202 &204) in the Freedom Fest exhibit hall and ask for your passes (student ID encouraged – to ensure we maximize student access to the film festival).

Feature Interview: Garrett Sutton, Author of Start Your Own Corporation

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With free enterprise, economic freedom and asset management being such hot topics these days, growing numbers of entrepreneurs are setting up corporations here in the U.S. and abroad. In my opinion, there is no better authority on the rules of the corporate-formation landscape than Garrett Sutton.

Garrett is an attorney who has been in practice for over thirty-five years, assisting entrepreneurs and real estate investors globally in protecting their assets. Garrett has the distinction of being a part of an elite group of Rich Dad Advisors, through best-selling author Robert Kiyosaki, who is known for his perennial best-selling book, Rich Dad Poor Dad.

I reached out to Garrett after reading his book Start Your Own Corporation, and he was kind enough to grant me 45-minutes of his time to talk about current and emerging trends concerning business formation. Below is a Q&A transcript of our discussion.

Garrett, thank you for your time. Can you briefly start off by telling us a little about your journey into the world of corporate formations?

Michael. My journey began in Northern California where I attended U.C. Berkeley for undergrad before heading over to Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. After becoming a California attorney and determining that the Bay Area was becoming too crowded for me, I decided to move to Reno, Nevada, and take the bar exam there so that I could be closer to Lake Tahoe, one of my favorite places.

I’ve always had an interest in corporations, but I found there were a lot of people who really didn’t understand them. So in addition to starting my law practice, I decided to write a layman’s guide to corporations. As I was starting to write the book, I became acquainted with Robert Kiyosaki and the Rich Dad/Poor Dad group. My book then became a part of their series.

I’ve actually read Robert’s book Rich Dad, Poor Dad years ago, when it was on the way to becoming a bestseller.

That’s great. I have to say that being associated with Robert and his positive message of financial independence has been a huge boon for me personally. This connection with him has really helped my book – Start Your Own Corporation – gain credibility with a fairly wide audience.

In Chapter 2, entitled Good Entities, you break down the various types of business entities and their pros and cons. Can you offer a brief overview of this?

Sure. When I travel around the country and around the world, I like to frame entities as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The Bad is the sole proprietorship. The Ugly is the general partnership where liabilities often exist times-two. In the book, I encourage the use of good entities, which are S and C Corporations, LLC’s, and LPs which stand for Limited Partnerships. The reason they are good, Michael, is because these good entities provide the owners with limited liability protection. This is the asset protection you want when doing business because, unfortunately, lawsuits occur all the time.

So what’s so bad about a sole proprietorship or general partnership?

Michael, the bottom line is that operating as a sole proprietorship or general partnership leaves all of your personal assets exposed. Setting up an LLC, a Corporation or LP, allows you to protect your personal assets – like a house or a car – from being exposed to a claim against your business. So that’s why I always encourage people to use the good entities.

Does this hold true even for new business owners who are just starting out?

With all due respect to the accounting field, you often hear CPAs tell their clients that are just starting out that they really don’t need to set up a corporation or LLC. I personally disagree with that type of thinking because even though you are just getting started, the risk of getting sued is still there. And if you are the sole proprietor and someone sues you, a judgement can be renewed against you every seven years. So if you set up a good entity like a corporation or LLC from the start, you can prevent that from happening. This is why I always encourage people, even if they don’t have a lot of income at the start, to use a good entity.

I remember reading in your book about the various corporate formalities involved with managing a business. So what does a new business owner need to remain mindful of?

You raise a key point. When you separate yourself personally from the business, you have to follow the corporate formalities dictated by the State you filed in. This typically involves paying the necessary fees each year to the Secretary of State’s office and maintaining annual meeting minutes. Moreover, it’s important for contracts and agreements to be signed in the name of the business. In other words, shouldn’t sign a contract with just your name; you sign it with your name as “President of XYZ Corporation, Inc.” For at that point the world knows that they’re doing business not with you the individual (where you could be personally liable), but rather with the corporation which gives you limited liability protection.

As I understand it, there are also different tax ramifications associated with these various types of entities. What can you share here?

My Rich Dad Advisor colleague, Tom Wheelwright, gets into this whole area in his book Tax Free Wealth. But let me say this, as a business owner, it’s important to have a team of advisors to guide you through all of this. Here you have an attorney giving you the asset protection advice in collaboration with a CPA like Tom who delivers the tax advice. They need to come to the table as a team, working to ensure that you’re getting sound advice.

I’ve noticed that there has been a proliferation of online businesses offering to help a newly minted business owner incorporate in any one of the 50 states. What do you think of these?

That’s a good question. I would say at the start that a prospective business owner needs to exercise a bit of caution here. I’ve seen situations where people have received bad advice on what business entity to use, which can have major ramifications down the road. In fact, in my book I caution readers that sometimes these services don’t offer everything needed to get set up correctly. While the price may be cheap, it may not provide the full measure of corporate formality you need. So just be careful when utilizing one of these services.

Garrett, there is much discussion about the value of setting up a corporation in states like Nevada, Wyoming, Delaware, South Dakota and Texas. What’s the story here?

One of the trends we’re seeing across the nation is that courts are not giving protection to the single member LLC, particularly when that business owner owes money to someone else. However, there are five states that continue to protect single member entities: Nevada, Wyoming, Delaware, South Dakota and Alaska. So setting up entities in these states will continue to be popular.

What about the expense associated with setting up an entity in a particular state?

The State of California definitely stands out in terms of cost, as they are the most aggressive at collecting their annual $800+ franchise fee. In fact, even if you are from out-of-state, and you do business in California, you will likely see a bill. This has become an expensive proposition for those California residents who own a lot of state entities as well as entities outside of the state. So any time you have a California resident doing business outside of California, or a resident outside of California doing business in California, there is much more extra planning needed to meet California’s requirements.

In general, filing fees amounts vary from state to state. Nevada just raised theirs, but at the time of this interview, we don’t know how much it’s actually increasing. Wyoming, which is a very good state in terms of it’s protections, is only $50 per year. So you kind of get to pick and choose where you want to get set up.

So how does it really work if a business owner has an entity in one state but chooses to have a second entity in another?

Here’s how this works. Let’s say you have a Colorado LLC but because Colorado is not the strongest asset protection state, you choose Wyoming which is far better. There are two ways to do this. One way is to establish a Wyoming LLC and qualify it to do business in Colorado. That would require you to pay the Wyoming corporate entity fee and then pay the Colorado Secretary of State for permission to do business there. Another way to do it is to set up the LLC in Colorado, pay the Colorado filing fee, but have the Colorado LLC be owned by a Wyoming LLC. This scenario offers far superior asset protection than having a single entity here in Colorado.

In your book, you talk about a concept called the “corporate veil” where you underscore the importance of following proper incorporation formalities. Can you walk us through this?

Sure. The corporate veil is what protects you as an individual from being held responsible for the corporation’s liabilities. So let’s say you enter into a business deal through your corporation and the corporation gets sued. If you follow the formalities, then that’s where the suit ends. On the other hand, if you don’t follow the formalities, the veil of protection between the corporation and you as the individual falls apart, and the person suing the corporation can get through to you, the individual.

What type of formalities are required?

These formalities include maintaining annual minutes, where each state requires you to have a meeting once a year and a record of the meeting minutes. You also have to pay the annual filing fees to the state as well have what is know as a registered agent that resides in the state. Then there is the issuance of stock certificates, a requirement that not everyone follows. It is particularly important to issue these stock certificates to keep the corporate veil in place. Often the IRS is all over those entities that don’t issue stock certificates or haven’t kept meeting minutes.

So how concerned should a business owner be if they haven’t followed these formalities?

Well, let me put it this way. If you fail to follow these formalities, the veil of protection comes down, and you can be held personally responsible in the event of a lawsuit. The fact that the percentage of successful veil-piercing cases is 50% suggests that business owners need to pay close attention to this.

I’m curious as to whether assets like physical gold and silver can be protected through corporate formation?

We have a number of clients who have bullion – physical gold and silver – and that’s very easy to record as an asset through an LLC. I also know people who have auto collections, trademarks, and patents recorded in an LLC. So there are a number of ways to use an LLC to protect personal assets. And here again, it is particularly helpful to have this entity set up in a protected state like Nevada or Wyoming.

In closing, can you offer a few ‘crystal ball’ predictions in terms of emerging trends in the business formation space?

I hope my crystal ball is not cracked [laughter]. The trend that I mentioned earlier about the decline in asset protection among single member LLCs is one that I think will spread. We are keeping a close eye on this and have alerted our clients so that they are aware. Another trend I think we’ll increasingly see are states like Nevada raising their filing fees because, frankly, I don’t see states becoming less hungry for tax revenues.

At the end of the day, I hope there continues to be an interest in corporate formations and entities because we need people starting businesses and employing their fellow Americans. That’s something which will help this country prosper, over time.

Michael Scott is a book publicity content strategist located in Denver, Colorado. http://allthatbookjazz.com More on Garrett Sutton can be found at sutlaw.com. And his book can be easily found at Amazon.com

Zimbabwe Ditches Hyperinflated Currency

Zimbabwe is infamous for its hyperinflated currency, with its citizens carting wheelbarrows full of money to the market just to buy a loaf of bread. The country’s hyperinflation hit a peak in 2008, reaching 5 billion percent, making the Zimbabwean dollar virtually worthless. After that, citizens began using foreign currencies, such as the U.S. dollar and the South African rand.

640px-Flag_of_Zimbabwe.svgNow, the Zimbabwean government is finally ditching the currency, offering a deal to citizens in which they can convert their bank account balances to USD. Accounts with balances up to 175 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars will receive USD$5; accounts in excess of 175 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars can convert their money to USD at an exchange rate of USD$1 for 35 quadrillion Zimbabwean dollars. People who still hold old Zimbabwean dollar notes can exchange 250 trillion old notes for USD$1.

Zimbabwe’s disastrous hyperinflation is a textbook example of the dangers involved with using fiat currency. Granted, Zimbabwe’s monetary horror story occurred because of extremely irresponsible policies that are not present in the developed world. However, strong currencies like the US dollar are not very different from the Zimbabwe dollar in terms of fundamentals. Both currencies are managed by a central bank and can be printed at will, with no restriction on supply. The only real differences between the two currencies are that the Federal Reserve is better at managing its money supply, and the political climate in the U.S. is much more stable than in Zimbabwe. But those two things could change at any time, placing the U.S. in a similar situation to Zimbabwe.

The only way to guarantee a reliable currency is to completely get rid of central control over money. Arguably, the best way to accomplish this goal is by adopting a currency with a limited supply, as well as preventing banks from issuing money substitutes in excess of real cash. That way, the money supply cannot grow beyond the amount of cash the banks have in reserves. Under such a system, not only would it be impossible for banks and government to create destructive inflation, but volatile business cycles would likely be prevented as well.

Historically, “sound money” has been synonymous with gold. However, as modern technology progresses, the market has produced potential alternatives to gold. Zimbabwe’s move to the United States dollar will undoubtedly be a welcome change for the country’s economy. However, Zimbabweans should understand that the USD is not fundamentally different from their own failed experiment with fiat currency. In the future, they should seriously consider a sound money alternative to fiat currency.