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  #1  
Old 02-25-2007, 08:39 PM
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Default ramblin on / insurance/ card values

Posted By: Brian Lindholme

I bought a new house and it gives me the reason to look at homeowners insurance once again...I have to switch agents anyway because I'm moving to another state (WA).

I've never had a good idea of what my cards might sell for, so it's making it hard to set a price for insurance...I've been woefully underinsured for many years.

I suppose the best thing to do is to insure them separately from the home, right?

Also, I don't want to breach any etiquette, but I have a few cards that don't show up either on eBay or auction too often,and they are raw. Do y'all have some suggestions as to how I might assign a value to those? I could always take a wild guess, but that wouldn't be any fun. Any objections to me listing 5 or 6 cards (sorry no scans because they are all packed still) and seeing what the consensus price I should insure them for?

Any additional advice on insuring my collection would be appreciated.

Thanks
Brian L
familytoad

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  #2  
Old 02-25-2007, 08:59 PM
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Posted By: robert a

Hi Brian,

I would insure separately from the house. CIA (in forum links) is really easy to sign up for and probably provides better coverage than what you'll get under your homeowners insurance.

Rob

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  #3  
Old 02-25-2007, 09:22 PM
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Posted By: Paul

I use CIA for my cards. I insure my collection at cost, but the policy I believe supposed to cover any price appreciation or replacement cost. I was told that they would poll dealers/experts to get estimates on current values if needed. CIA doesn't require much documentation to setup the policy, only on cards that you suspect are valued over 5k. The best thing to do once your policy is in place, is to document your collection with pictures & receipts, but they seem to put more emphasis on pictures. I would try to get yourself pictured with most of your major cards too. I had a policy with State Farm before CIA, but soon realized they were clueless & a hastle to deal with.

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Old 02-25-2007, 09:46 PM
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Posted By: DaveW

I also live in WA, but I don't think that makes much difference.

I almost completed a T206 collection before I thought there may be an insurance issue. I contacted my agent (State Farm) and gave a rough estimate of value. He checked my policy, and found that there was a hugh insurance gap. I was covered only up to about $1500 on my cards. If I wanted special insurance, they could issue a rider, for about $400 per year.

We never got to how to establish value for the cards should there be a claim, which is a big topic. Given the price, I bought a gun safe for about the first years premium and keep the cards there.

I checked out a safety deposit box at my bank; the cost wasn't too bad, but the cards were generally unavailable. I like to look at the cards from time to time.


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Old 02-25-2007, 10:05 PM
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Posted By: Frank Wakefield

I've attempted to explain this in past times...


Say I buy a signed print of Marc Chagall (one of his paintings is shown in Notting Hill)... I take it home and insure it. It would need to be separately scheduled, it isn't going to fit on a general policy. Now one day I die. In some states it would be obvious to the folks who'd consider the estate value that there should be a signed Chagall print in the estate. It kept showing up on insurance schedules year after year... and the schedules even show an appraisal value. If the print isn't around, then I must have sold it, and the tax folks should be able to look back through my 1040s and see where I sold it and had ordinary income from its sale. If they can't find where I've declared that income, then I must have omitted paying taxes on the sale, and my estate would owe back income tax. It would be a giveaway to see where it was scheduled for 16 years, then no more...

Maybe I'd be better off to not insure it, take good care of it, not declare a value on it, and then I could just give it to a grandkid one day.

Insuring it is a guaranteed way of making sure that either an estate tax or an income tax will be paid on it one day.

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  #6  
Old 02-25-2007, 10:10 PM
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Posted By: Brian Lindholme

Guys thanks for the reference, I looked over the website and I'm puzzled as to how they will actually pay me off if I have a claim. I guess I have been really taking a chance in the past anyway, so I'll call them on Monday.
To insure my entire collection with a couple paragraphs of text and without needing to provide an inventory sounds a little "too good to be true", but I don't expect anything to ever happen to them...

(I hope none of you have had to use any insurance company for a claim either)

When I get organized, I'll scan all of my best cards and start a real inventory that's obviously long overdue.

Thanks again,

Brian L
familytoad

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  #7  
Old 02-26-2007, 12:04 AM
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Posted By: Cobby33

CIA's principal is Hartford, I believe, which is a very reputable company.

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  #8  
Old 02-26-2007, 12:54 AM
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Posted By: RC McKenzie

I agree with Frank... My office was burglarized a few months back and the theifs made off with a copy machine, a fax machine, a clock/radio, and a 12 inch tv. They left an Ellsworth Kelly numbered print worth about 50 x what they stole. The problem is a Kelly print is like baseball cards; you have to seek out the small number of folks who will pay you what it is 'worth'. You can sell an ounce of gold to a farmer in sri lanka, but he's not gonna give you anything in return for an Ellswoth Kelly print or a tango eggs Bob Bescher.

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  #9  
Old 02-26-2007, 04:17 AM
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Posted By: barrysloate

I say get a safe deposit box and keep your most valuable cards in it. Leave some of the less expensive ones at home so you have something to look at. I would hate to be in the position of having to claim that the cards that were just stolen were worth a ton, and then have to count on the insurance company to make you whole. I guess I just have a level of distrust.

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  #10  
Old 02-26-2007, 04:58 AM
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Posted By: cmoking

Has anyone used CIA and filed a claim with them? If so, how smooth was the process?

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  #11  
Old 02-26-2007, 06:42 AM
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Posted By: Joe D.

as you mentioned.

I have stuff in my safe deposit box -
but there are two issues to mention:

... the items in your safe deposit box are not insured - so if you go there one day, and your box is empty (not likely I know), you are out of luck. You can insure the items in your safe deposit box, but at that point why not keep them home?

... you don't get to play with your cards as often


I have been giving serious consideration to some sort of humongously heavy safe that is bolted to the floor. Not exactly sure the best place in my house / best one to buy / so for now - i stick with the safe deposit box.


edit to say: I also suggest getting a PO BOX. The fewer people who know your address - the better. Very inexpensive. Well worth it for security and convenience.

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Old 02-26-2007, 07:21 AM
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Posted By: warshawlaw

CIA allows you to set the limit of insurance and doesn't do the whole inventory thing. I assume that in the event of a claim Hartford will put you through the usual ringer where you have to prove up your claim. Document everything of note with images.

As far as a safe goes, it doesn't stop three very significant things: home invasion robberies, sophisticated burglaries, and natural or manmade disasters. I would hate to lose my cards to a fire, for example; a fire-proof safe is of only limited utility in stopping fire damage and doesn't do much for water or smoke. Putting the stuff you like the most into a safe deposit box (or several of them) and leaving the rest at home ensures that if your house burns down, at least some of your favorite cards don't go with it. And you can enjoy the images of the cards you keep on your PC.

Estate taxes are a lousy reason not to insure your collection against risk. First of all, for the vast majority of people they aren't a factor because of the large amount you can leave tax-free and the ability to leave your entire estate to your spouse tax-free regardless of value and you can effectively double the exemption with a simple bypass trust. The whole estate tax boogeyman is a contrived issue. Today, the estates of only 1 out of every 200 people who die owe any estate tax whatsoever, because the first $2.0 million of the value of any estate ($4.0 million for a couple with minimal estate planning) is totally exempt from the tax. The exemption level is scheduled to rise to $3.5 million ($7 million for a couple) in 2009 under current law. At this level, only 3 of every 1,000 people who die will have an estate large enough to owe any tax. If you have an estate worth millions, you need much more sophisticated estate planning than not insuring your cards.

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  #13  
Old 02-26-2007, 07:49 AM
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Posted By: Jeff O

Joe - while it's true that the bank will not take responsibility for the theft or loss of items stored in a safe deposit box, many if not most homeowners (or renters) insurance policies will provide coverage for items that are stolen, damaged or destroyed in a bank safe deposit box. I'm not sure if CIA's coverage includes this, though it very well may.

I know that Adam and I have worked on opposite ends of the insurance claims process, but I think there is one thing we both would agree on (probably more than one, actually) - document what you have, especially your most valuable items. Scanners and digital cameras are so inexepensive today - have images of your collection, particularly your high end items. Burn those images to a CD and store it off site - safe deposit box, or even a friend's house. Somewhere you can retrieve it with a level of certainty following a loss. Documentation will certainly make the claims process easier for you (or your attorney).

Jeff

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  #14  
Old 02-26-2007, 08:01 AM
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Posted By: leon

When you said:

"As far as a safe goes, it doesn't stop three very significant things: home invasion robberies, sophisticated burglaries, and natural or manmade disasters. I would hate to lose my cards to a fire, for example; a fire-proof safe is of only limited utility in stopping fire damage and doesn't do much for water or smoke. Putting the stuff you like the most into a safe deposit box (or several of them) and leaving the rest at home ensures that if your house burns down, at least some of your favorite cards don't go with it. And you can enjoy the images of the cards you keep on your PC."


I totally agree with you. I have a 1200 lb safe in my house with a monitored alarm. For the last 5 years (since we moved in) I have always worried about seeing smoke coming up at the end of our street where our house is. Worse yet someone could think I have stuff at home and rob us and take everything. SO about 3 months ago, for $100 a year, I got a huge safety desposit box and put all cards valued at over $200, or so, in it. I saw the bank being built, where I keep them, and there was no wood used. It's all steel internally. The bank is just a few minutes away and I visit my cards fairly often. I feel much safer with them there...as relatively speaking to my net worth, I have more value in them than I should.....best regards

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Old 02-26-2007, 08:12 AM
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Posted By: JK

Brian - not having to individually itemize your cards with CIA (except for those worth over 5k) does not make getting paid in the event of a loss any less likely. Whether the insurance company requires a full list of your cards (which, for many of us, would require almost weekly amendments due to frequent buying and selling) or not - if you claim a loss, they will require proof of ownership. In other words, even if you provide an inventory up front, w/o scans, receipts, etc. the insurance company is no more certain that you actually own the list provided up front as they are if you provide a list of items taken after the fact. CIA is also backed by Hartford which carries, I believe, the highest rating for insurers.

Regarding not insuring due to estate taxes - completely agree with Adam. Also, is it just me, or is there something odd about a judge offering advice about ways to avoid taxes?

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  #16  
Old 02-26-2007, 08:27 AM
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Posted By: Joe D.

lets say i have a one of kind item (at least one of a kind that I know of, but lets just call it rare).

And - lets say my personal valuation of the item is several times what I paid.

I feel the place I purchased it from was not the proper venue for the item... and if it was at auction say at Mastro, or Robert Edward, or Sloate... it would see a much much higher valuation as it would be in front of the correct audience.

What is an insurance company going to pay me if the item if it is stolen or destroyed (by fire)?

I am guessing they will ask me what I paid... which will give me a sinking feeling in my stomach.

There will be no other track record for the item.

So, how is something like this handled?

Would love to know the answer to this if someone knows.

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  #17  
Old 02-26-2007, 08:29 AM
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Posted By: Frank Wakefield

Warsawlaw has omitted mentioning inheritance tax.


I am certain that you won't have tax problems any way whatsoever, when you die, if you've scheduled cards with an insurance company. You'll be dead. No taxes for you.

Your beneficiaries will face a different story.



If you buy that card that's listed in Leon's new contest for 30k, and you insure it... 12 years later you have it insured for 65k, and you sell it for 65k and quit insuring it. Now you have 35k of ordinary income. If you don't pay tax on it, that can be seen after you die.... You had it valued at 65k and insured in 2019, then not scheduled after that... must have been sold. Taxes on the 35k plus penalties and interest. Or you didn't sell it, it's still in the estate, you've paid decades of premiums, and it affects the value of your estate (possible estate taxes, but not likely, warsawlaw has that right), AND inheritance tax on whoever gets it. It would be like winning a 40k sports car on Wheel of Fortune, you win, they want you to pay 12k income tax on it, so you can't come up with it, leaving you to sell the car for only 35k and pay the 12k and pocket 23k. Here, kid, your granddad left you a 65k Cracker Jack card, have you enough money to pay the inheritance tax, or do we sell the card and give you what's left.

Really need to think long and hard before you start giving an insurance company premium money. The safe and safety deposit box guys have it right.

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Old 02-26-2007, 08:30 AM
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Posted By: JK

Joe - that is the stuff that makes for a great lawsuit Seriously, I think I would advise getting the item appraised if there is someone with sufficient expertise to do so - I dont practice insurance law, but I think it would be a good start.

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Old 02-26-2007, 08:39 AM
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Posted By: Joann

Let's see - Joe is right, Leon is right, Josh is right. Hey - everyone's right! What kind of board is this becoming now, anyways??

I checked with the bank where I have my safe deposit box, and Joe is correct. They merely provide a safer storage place but do not insure or reimburse any losses if something happens to the cards while in the box. I think that $1000 may be the very maximum for any circumstance.

But I still feel better with a safe deposit box. Like Leon's, mine is very close to the house and it's not all that big a deal to go grab cards, add more, etc. I have all cards worth more than about $150 in there, and I have to say I feel much more comfortable with that.

Home safes just didn't seem like an option to me. I don't think I'll be in this house long, so don't want to invest in anything built in or difficult to move. I had them in a strong box for a long time, but wasn't that confident that they would be protected from fire, etc. As to strong boxes and theft, well that just kind of makes it easy for a thief, right? Portable, obviously containing valuables, can be opened later with all the time in the world (although I'll laugh at the thief that spends hours and hours opening my file-size strong box only to find ... all of my law school outlines and my copy of Lipset's Encyclopedia).

Regardless of cataloging, proof of ownership and recovery issues, I still plan on insuring them soon (probably through CIA). Even if recovery is difficult, it's still a whole lot more than I would have now - which is zero.

Joann

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  #20  
Old 02-26-2007, 11:37 AM
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Posted By: Jeff O

Joe - your question is a good one, and the default answer is that how you are compensated for an item will depend on the language in your insurance policy as well as the laws of your state.

There are two ways to "value" personal property in an insurance policy - ACV (actual cash value) and RCV (replacement cost value). ACV is the depreciated value of the item. For example, you may have a 5 year old TV set for which you paid $1,000. Under an ACV policy you will receive the value of a 5 year old used TV - maybe 50% of what it would cost to replace it with a comparable model today (which may cost less than your original purchase price). If your policy has RCV coverage, one of two things happens. Either you get the value of a new, comparable item, or you get the depreciated value up front and can recover some or all of the withheld depreciation if you replace your item, depending on what you pay for it.

One thing to keep in mind - the replacement cost of your item is not necessarily what you paid for it, but what it would cost to replace it with a comparable item today. That HD TV you paid $3,000 a few years ago can be replaced by a like kind and quality model today for $1,500, so that will be the replacement cost of the item. The same holds true for jewelry - if you paid $5,000 for a ring and the insurace company can replace it for you with a ring of the exact style and quality for $3,000, then they only owe $3,000.

What about antiques and collectibles? In general, they are automatically valued at ACV. This may seem contrary to logic, but the reason is that they don't depreciate, so in effect you should get the "actual cash value" of the item immediately. A five year old TV might only be worth 50% of a new TV, but your T206 Cobb is worth exactly what it is worth on today's market, even if that is more than you originally paid.

As an added wrinkle, an insured is not supposed to profit from his loss. This could raise a question with collectibles. Suppose you have a card graded PSA 5 that you paid $1,000 for a few years ago, but that same card today is worth $1,500. An argument could be made to support you only receiving $1,000 up front for the loss of your card, with you eligible to receive an additional $500 if you actually go out and replace it for $1,500. After all, you shouldn't "profit" from your loss by not replacing your item and still receiving more than you originally paid for it. This also raises all kinds of tax questions, as the added value of the item probably constitutes a capital gain.

Collectibles are very tricky business in insurance claims because, unlike most types of personal property, they don't lose value over time. I can tell you that as a former property claims adjuster, I hated dealing with claims involving lots of antiques and/or collectibles. Determining value is often difficult, though eBay has made it much easier - in the event of a loss involving collectibles, it's probably one of the first places your adjuster will look.

Jeff

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Old 02-26-2007, 01:11 PM
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Posted By: warshawlaw

Regardless of the term you use, "death tax", "estate tax" and "inheritance tax" ARE THE SAME THING. Your estate is valued after you die (depending on changes in asset value it may be on date of death or 6 months later) and if it reaches a threshold of value it is taxed. The current threshold is a net value of $2 million (if your house is worth $2 million and you owe $1.9 million on it, the net value is $100K). Your heirs do NOT pay taxes on what they inherit; your estate pays taxes on the net value of what you owned, if it exceeds the $2 million net value floor, with a final tax return. Your heirs inherit whatever is passed on to them, taking a basis in the item at fair market value (called a stepped up basis) because the estate paid taxes on it at fair market value. They are not taxed again. If they elect to sell the items they would pay taxes only on the net appreciation between the date it was valued for your estate (the stepped up basis) and the sale price.

I hardly think that a collection worth even $200,000 is worth not insuring simply to avoid reporting it for estate tax purposes, as it amounts to only 10% of your exemption (5% if you do even bare bones estate planning with your spouse). And, of course, you do realize that counseling your family not to report assets you actually own is conspiracy to commit tax evasion and depending on the amount involved might amount to a felony. Certainly it would be grounds for disbarment.

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Old 02-26-2007, 01:14 PM
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Posted By: Andrew

Hi Frank,

I am confused by your last post. You seem to agree with Adam that most estates are not subject to the estate tax. However, you also state "Warshawlaw has omitted mentioning inheritance tax." I am unclear what you mean by this statement. Adam clearly mentioned the estate tax. You use the terms "estate tax" and "inheritance tax," but you do not seem to use the terms interchangeably. Are you arguing there is an additional transfer tax beyond gift and estate tax simply called "inheritance tax?"

Andrew Jerome

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  #23  
Old 02-26-2007, 02:02 PM
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Posted By: Frank Wakefield

Estate tax is a fed tax on the estate, based on gross amount of estate, adding back in lifetime transfers in excess of 10k per year per recipient.

Inheritance tax is a state tax on the recipient on an inheritance or bequest. Usually spouses are exempt.

They aren't the same thing at all in this state. Feds tax the estate, if it is large enough. Commonwealth of Kentucky taxes inheritance. Not a joke. They are VERY DIFFERENT taxes. I don't know where warsawlaw practices, but I am certain about what I have said as far as this state.


The issue isn't about taxes on a card that becomes part of your estate. Where folks get hammered is where you schedule a card on an insurance policy for years, then it's gone. Then you die. If it isn't still around you must have sold it, probably when it was no longer scheduled, a quick look at old 1040s will show if you listed that ordinary income and paid tax on it. And if you didn't, then your estate can get popped for the tax, penalty, and interest. No joke there.

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Old 02-26-2007, 04:02 PM
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Posted By: Andrew

Frank,

Thanks for clarifying that you are differentiating between federal and state schemes. I am always interested in how other states operate. Are you saying that heirs are responsible for paying the inheritance tax instead of estates under the State of Kentucky scheme? Is inheritance tax due on every dollar received by an heir, i.e. there is no exemption amount?

Andrew

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Old 02-26-2007, 05:06 PM
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Posted By: Frank Wakefield

I said some of that...

Feds to the estate tax on large estates, some states have an inheritance tax.

For Kentucky, there is a spousal exemption, close family members are taxed at one rate, others at a higher rate... The esate "collects" the tax and sends it in to the state. If I left you $5000, you'd get that minus the tax since we're not kin, the executor with help of his attorney would send that in to the state so the inheritance tax return would be approved.

But still, and I'm about to give up, you miss the point. It isn't about what happens when you die with a card. It is about what happens when you list owning a card on an insurance schedule, and then when you die the card is gone. If you aren't understanding that, you're missing a significant matter.

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Old 02-26-2007, 07:29 PM
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Posted By: warshawlaw

in my state (and in most states) the state law on inheritance is conformed with the Federal law. Since I don't practice in KY, I'll take your word for it.

But where did the card go? Either an heir stole it from the estate, the executor took it and passed it on to someone in violation of the tax law, or the collector sold it before dying without paying any tax owed. No matter how you slice it, someone has broken the law. I sound like a broken record here, but I don't see how there would be any problem with records unless part of the estate planning in question includes an illegal "five finger discount" on the gross estate.

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Old 02-26-2007, 11:44 PM
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Posted By: Andrew

Frank,

I understand insurance policies can create an audit trail. I get it. As you say, you can get "popped" for the tax if you have items scheduled on an insurance policy and they are "gone" when you die. Someone will need to explain what happened to the asset. Was it sold? Was it gifted? Was there a casualty loss? The estate will need to explain what happened. I get it. What I do not get is your repeated posts in this public forum advising assets to be left uninsured as a means to avoid payment of income tax if the asset is later sold. You are dangerously close to advocating tax evasion with your previous posts.

Andrew

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Old 02-27-2007, 06:04 AM
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Posted By: Frank Wakefield

Dangerously close isn't there.

Folks are after eBay to report sales amounts and sellers to various states, already. Initially, they're only going after sellers with lots of transactions. But once established, that could spread to any eBay seller. I don't look forward to the day that any eBay sale I might make results in me getting a 1099. I think some folks might sell a dvd on eBay, and realistically put the money back into buying some other dvd. Same with books, ball cards, cds, pc games... Those folks would't like the idea of each sale being a taxable event.

I reckon you're the kind of fellow that if you buy a card on eBay from an out of state seller, you calculate the sales tax you would have paid had it been in state, and you send that in as a use tax when you file. That would be the legally correct thing to do, now, wouldn't it. Are you paying use tax on all of your purchases?

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Old 02-27-2007, 10:17 AM
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Posted By: Joann

I pay the max use tax every year. It's about $40 or something like that. I can't go back and remember everything I've bought mail order so I pay the max amount just to be on the safe side.

Joann

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Old 02-27-2007, 10:25 AM
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Default ramblin on / insurance/ card values

Posted By: JK

Frank,

Im not sure how your analysis of the taxation of ebay sales or your query as to whether Jerome correctly reports his taxes is a valid response to his question. You cant be arguing that you arent doing anything wrong because others do the same or similar things are you?

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Old 02-27-2007, 10:46 AM
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Default ramblin on / insurance/ card values

Posted By: warshawlaw

Two wrongs don't make a right. The fact that I sped with ten others doesn't excuse me from a speeding ticket if the cop happens to pull me over. It doesn't matter whether someone else pays use tax; that doesn't justify your apparent advocacy of avoiding records relating to assets to avoid an audit trail.

If you pay all taxes actually owed, you have nothing to fear from having a record. If you evade taxes or plan to evade taxes, you have to worry about what records you create. It is as basic as that.

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  #32  
Old 02-27-2007, 12:37 PM
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Default ramblin on / insurance/ card values

Posted By: Frank Wakefield

His question was should he get insurance on his ball cards.


If one of you gets charged with a crime, I'll suggest you remain silent. Seems to me 3/4ths of convictions are based on a confession. Keeping quite is a good initial strategy. Might change later on.


Listing cards on an insurance schedule is a way of not remaining silent. I still think it is a good idea to avoid that, you guys insure all you want.

It isn't about 2 wrongs making a right, or about how inheritance tax and estate tax are the same (which they aren't), or about what inheritance tax laws are in various states (I'm only up to speed on one state, don't profess to know the law in most states), it isn't about whether you pay a use tax (never knew there was a cap on that in any of the states, and I don't really think there is in any state, I think if you buy something for $5k that you'll owe all the use tax on it not just $40)... it is about should he get his cards insured. I think he's better off with a good safe or a safety deposit box. I didn't even suggest to him that he should avoid slabbed cards because they take up 20 times the space in safes and deposit boxes. Is it a game to try to trap me into a mistake? After saying estate tax and inheritance tax are the same did you back up and say you were mistaken about that and that maybe I was right? I didn't advise him to commit a felony, I told him that there's a potential problem down the road if the cards are scheduled. And there is. But you can argue about it. A misologist would.

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Old 02-27-2007, 12:51 PM
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Default ramblin on / insurance/ card values

Posted By: leon

Usage tax is the same amount as sales tax, in Texas...mostly about 8%.....if you pay at the time of purchase it's sales tax....if you pay at the end of the year it's usage...but you have to pay one way or the other. Corporate customers used to tell me they bought computers from out of state to avoid sales tax. I called the State Comptroller to see what the deal was. When I told the customers what I found they barely ever knew there was a state usage tax. Even some tax departments didn't. This was several years ago when the internet first started. I would guess most corporate customers are a little wiser today. Uncle Sam always gets his share....

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Old 02-27-2007, 02:03 PM
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Posted By: Andrew

Frank,

You used the term "inheritance tax" without explaining you meant a state scheme. In Washington, the state scheme is still called "estate tax." Not all state schemes are titled "inheritance tax." It was a miscommunication in terms and lack of full explanation on your part, not a lack of knowledge on the part of anyone who replied to you.

To be honest, I am a bit shocked and dismayed by your posts in this thread given that you are a federal judge. And now name calling? In any event, as I and several other people have pointed out, your posts in this thread are dangerously close to advocating tax evasion. I am just disappointed to read that advice on a public forum coming from a federal judge, that's all.

Andrew

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Old 02-27-2007, 04:20 PM
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Default ramblin on / insurance/ card values

Posted By: Joann

OK - just to clarify on use tax.

In Michigan, if you purchased any item for > $1000 from out of state, you have to pay 6%.

HOWEVER, if you did not purchase any single item for more than > $1000 you can either pay 6% of actual, OR use a Michigan Use Tax table that sets a flat amount based on your AGI. This is kind of considered the 'max', because the presumption is that if you had receipts for all purchases you could probably pay less than what the AGI Table value is. That's what I meant by max use tax, and Michigan does allow it.

I don't think it's less, but it is allowed so long as no item was over $1000. I think, actually, that most people pay zero. In past tax years I have never had a single item >$1000, so I pay the AGI amount ($44) just to be on the safe side. Anyone that knows me thinks I am crazy for doing it, but I do it anyways.

This year I will have to pay more because a few auction purchases have exceeded $1000. So I'll pay 6% of that PLUS the max AGI amount. It doesn't pay to get cross purposes with the IRS for $44.

And Frank, I see your point about not insuring as a way of not broadcasting your ownership of individual items. It's well made, and if someone wants to take the risk on card loss it makes sense. With a safe deposit box I think that risk is negligible. And I agree that this might be good practice that does not necessarily imply an intent to break the law at some point.

Joann

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