The IRS needs to educate moderate income taxpayers who don’t normally hire CPAs and lawyers. As a volunteer tax preparer through the IRS VITA program and the Charleston Urban League, I have done a great number of tax returns where some advice would have helped the taxpayer immensely.

In the case of people who take money out of an IRA before turning 59 and a half, they pay a 10 percent penalty. Plus, if they work part of a year, then retire and cash out, the distribution can move them from a 12 percent tax bracket to a 22 percent tax bracket, resulting in losing more than 30 percent of their nest egg to the tax man.

In the case of a person who takes money out at age 57, waiting just three years could save them 20 percent of a $60,000 IRA, or $12,000.

A lot of taxpayers need to cash out an IRA to pay off debts or to repair their homes. And that kind of penalty is a lot to fork out just because you aren’t tax savvy.

An IRA distribution can also put a person who has Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) over the 400 percent of poverty level limit.

A retired couple on a fixed income withdrew some IRA funds to buy their first home, hitting the 400 percent limit, and had to pay back all of their health care premiums, which was more than $10,000.

This was a huge penalty. If they waited until going on Medicare, the IRA withdrawal would have had no impact.

Low- and moderate-income taxpayers need to know that there is a free tax service through VITA (and also AARP and United Way). I constantly remind them that they deserve just as good tax advice as the president.

These taxpayers should get better advice, and IRA custodians (i.e., banks) are not fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities by explaining a few simple facts about penalties and tax brackets.


VITA Coordinator

Charleston Urban League

Gardner Road


Road woes

I have served in two combat zones in my career and traveled around the world over the past 50 years.

While Charleston may be the highest-rated town to visit, I don’t think the locals would agree, especially those who have to encounter on a day-to-day basis the following:

The roads are a disaster and are dangerous from protruding sewer and manhole covers to unexpected dips and holes from utility projects. This is like engaging in a “Whac-A-Mole” game.

Then there is the interaction of horse carriages, bicyclists, tour buses, rent-a-bike riders and numerous tourists who don’t quite understand that a red light means stop.

Where are the road repair crews even if they exist? The pothole in front of Husk is a guaranteed tire disrupter, yet no one seems to care.

Try Meeting Street going south. At the corner of Broad Street, you will realize why you should buy road hazard insurance for your tires.

And whatever happens, don’t drive behind the Post Office unless you want to have your tires rebalanced. Does any bureaucrat care about this situation, or are we going to be continually challenged by how many hotels we can accommodate on the peninsula or how many memorials we can build?

Where is our common sense and where is our tax money going?


Tradd Street


Holzhauer a winner

I am one of thousands of people who will be suffering from “Holzhauer Withdrawal” as the “Jeopardy!” champion completed his amazing run as the guy trying to beat Ken Jennings’ well-documented record.

James Holzhauer came close with well over $2 million in winnings (some of which he has already donated to charity).

I must confess I was sad Monday night, but I watched with intrigue as Holzhauer, a person with phenomenal knowledge across categories, a quick draw on the buzzer and a pretty much flawless gaming strategy, abandoned all of that. What happened?

I have a theory that it was intentional. The questions were less difficult than usual; he did not buzz in with his usual vigor; and he wagered a modest amount in the final round.

The guy is more than a “Jeopardy!” champion. He was not out to beat a record or prove anything to anyone but himself. And when it came to the game that could have put him over the top, he sandbagged.

He had no intention of winning Monday night. Although he lost the game, he emerged a consummate winner in my humble estimation. (Gotta be humble if you watch “Jeopardy!” right?)

He accomplished his personal goal; therefore, he abandoned his strategy and unselfishly left the opportunity open for someone else. He knew it was his last night on the show. Why else would he have brought Alex Trebek a homemade “Get Well” card from his 4-year-old daughter?

Because he knew he had met his goal, unlike “Jeopardy!” junkies (count me in).

So, even though I will miss watching James’ incredible skill and knowledge every night, I learned something bigger than answers to the show’s questions. (After all, it is trivia). I hope and trust I am not the only one.


Winfield Way


Farewell, Wade

Photographer Wade Spees retired from The Post and Courier newspaper on May 31.

Wade has enjoyed more than 42 years as a professional photographer, 39 of those years shooting captivating pictures and writing detailed captions for this newspaper.

Behind the scenes, as well as behind the lens of a camera, Wade’s selfless acts of kindness, enthusiastically helping and encouraging others, hasn’t made headlines.

Wade discourages recognition for “doing the right thing.” He repaired an old car of mine, giving it to a working family. Then he replaced the engine on my next used car.

Wade accomplished these challenging tasks as a shade-tree mechanic during his “spare” time while working full-time and lovingly caring for his family. I am reluctant to impose upon Wade, but he emphatically reminds me, “Paul, I love doing this kind of thing!”

Although not “besties,” we are much more than casual acquaintances. We carve out time to help and encourage one another occasionally. Wade is decisively more of a blessing to me and my family than I am to him and his family. Wade would humbly disagree. But it’s true.

He appears ageless. Wade exudes the energy of someone considerably younger than him.

Now he will enjoy more opportunities to choose how to spend his precious time, such as devoting greater attention to his family, especially his beloved granddaughter.

Wade, we hope you take some well-deserved naps. You have earned extra rest and relaxation between your generous and cheerful acts of kindness.


Night Heron Drive

Mount Pleasant

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