Welcome! Most of my writing is NOT about crazy card deals! I discuss Taxes, Investing, Retirement, Frugality, and a number other topics.  With all the interest in the Roth IRA, I recently launched RothMania to focus on this important topic. Check out the site and ask any questions you wish. I write a few articles each year at Stock Options Cafe.

I am the father of a 17 year old girl, a husband, puppy owner, and financial blogger under the name JoeTaxpayer. I affectionately call them Jane and Jane 2.0 or J2, in case you catch me tweeting these names. My wife doesn’t read me, but I was careful to explain this in case I ever accidentally called her ‘Jane’ out loud.

I am on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/joetaxpayer
My Twitter handle is JoeTaxpayerBlog

I am a moderator at the Usenet group misc.taxes.moderated which was around decades before Google was created.

I was a guest blogger at TurboTax, and the FTC wants you to know I was compensated for that.

I also guest authored at H&R Block.

This is not my day job, I have a love for numbers, and aced the Math SATs (A standardized test required for many colleges in the US) scoring an 800. The love of numbers transferred to a love of learning about finance.


If you got this far and were planning to leave a comment, please see above, the tab for “Guest Posting.” ’nuff said.

29 Responses to “About”

  1. Howard Says:


    Question on your social insecurity article- Is there an age after which you can earn as much as you want and the phantom tax does not apply?

    Also do you count passive income the same as earned income when doing these calculations?


  2. JOE Says:

    Thank you for visiting my site. There are two issues in your question, my web article only looked at one. If you are under ‘full retirement age’ $1 in benefits are lost for each $2 you earn above $12,960. That’s quite a hit, and someone who is working should think about whether it makes sense to draw any benefits earlier than full retirement age. Note: full retirement age changes based on the year you were born. The SS web site has a link to see your retirement age.

    For the phantom tax bubble I illustrated, I show either earned income or 401(k)/ IRA withdrawals which are taxed the same. Dividends or Capital Gains have their own curves which are unpleasant in their own right, the marginal rate appearing to be 32% on what should be 5% rate dividends. The best advice (and I may repost this so it might be more easily seen) is to go to http://www.ssa.gov which is an easy site to navigate, and to buy a copy of TurboTax, and run your own scenarios. To produce those charts, I set a fixed SS payment, changed income by $1000 increments, and charted the numbers. I offered two examples, one from experience, the other at a reader’s request. The tax software will make your exact situation clear to you.

  3. alaska592 Says:

    Thanks for making the marginal tax rate clearer with graphs. Most Congressmen do not realize what curse they have bestowed on SS recipients, and never will until they are required to do their own taxes.

  4. JOE Says:

    Your kind words are much appreciated. I’ve seen many articles that mention the taxation, but none with the graphs, so it’s great to see comments like yours.

  5. Cathy Says:

    On your page on annuities, you say, “Looking at immediateannuities.com, I find that a 70 year old woman can receive an annual payment of $8484 for her $100,000 principal. Nearly 8.5%. One can do the math and see that at 5% fixed, a withdrawal of $8484 will draw down her savings by the time she is 88. If she lives past 90, she may wish she had gone the immediate annuity route.”

    However, it seems that the $8484 payout is “Guaranteed Income for a 5-Year Period Certain Only”. Doesn’t this mean she will only be guaranteed the payments for 5 years? It looks like the option for lifetime benefits is only $463 a month, far less than the 8% return you state she will get for life.

    I’m no expert so maybe I’m missing something?

  6. JOE Says:

    Cathy – I used Female, age 70, $100K investment, and state of Massachusetts. The quote was for ‘single life’, i.e. no spouse and no beneficiary options. Someone buying such a policy would lose their money if they die soon after the purchase. It’s the opposite of a life insurance policy, where if you get into an accident and die the week after your policy is in force, the insurance company still has to pay.
    The web site showed other options, such as a 5yr guarantee so a beneficiary would still receive a payment if the insured passes during that period. Please write back if this is still unclear.

  7. Cathy Says:

    I need to move to MA once I turn 70!!! I did GA and for that state it is so much lower. It’s amazing it varies so much from state to state. Thanks for clearing that up.

  8. Chthenos Says:

    Thanks for reading my blog. Your site is interesting! I’ll actually be earning income eventually, and I really know nothing serious about taxes or planning for retirement, so a resource like yours is quite helpful for me!

    (–thanks for the kind words. Joe)

  9. Debbie Says:

    What is your opinion of using home equity to invest in a life insurance policy? My advisor is telling me that it is a great way to do arbitrage: to refinance (cash out) your home equity that normally would go unused, and invest it in an equity indexed universal life insurance policy, withdrawing the proceeds tax-free many years later. You are using tax-deductible money and investing it to receive tax-free income later on, so as to have as much spread as possible that you get to keep. Of course, it is necessary to leave the proceeds alone for many years so they will compound. It seems to make a lot of sense to me. Can you see anything wrong with this?

  10. JOE Says:

    Debbie – it seems you read my Apr 2 post, “Borrowing to buy tax free munis”. I can’t be certain the remarks there apply directly to this situation, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Without more details about the product your advisor is trying to sell you, and the rest of your situation, I can’t reply in full.
    Keep in mind, these products are heavily commissioned, and carry very high annual expenses, up to 3%/yr if not more. I am on the record as being against VAs in general, http://www.joetaxpayer.com/annuity.html and I’d feel even more strongly about borrowing to buy such a product. If you lose your job in 3 months, do you really want the expense of the loan this guy just talked you into?

  11. Dennis Ackley Says:

    Hello Joe,

    Nearly 90% of 401k plan sponsors say most employees will not be adequately prepared for retirement (Deloitte/IFEBP). Shouldnt taxpayers be asking the retirement industry to either make 401ks work nowor asking Congress to come up with something that will work? Waiting will only make the problem worse.

    See my Open Letter to the Retirement Industry on the front page of http://DennisAckley.com.

    All the best,
    Dennis Ackley

  12. Jill Says:

    Your site contains much valuable information. Thanks.

  13. JAL Says:

    Hi Joe,

    Just saw this article on a local newspaper web site about indexed
    annuities which I thought you’d find interesting. It’s nothing you
    don’t already know, but illustrates more of the many problems associated with
    these complicated contracts…


    Best regards,


  14. JOE Says:

    Thanks, excellent article. It may be time to set up a links page for tracking my own series of articles and others such as this. My next project.

  15. KenS Says:


    The charts on the marginal tax incurred while receiving Social Security are right on. I too have seen this happen with several clients. I have developed a spreadsheet that generates the charts so that plans can been made to avoid the ‘tax torpedo’.

  16. JOE Says:

    Ken – I appreciate the kind words. This issue is one that I don’t see enough about, and it impacts those who don’t really have a large income. I see it as part of the broken tax code that needs to be addressed.

  17. john stearns Says:

    Joe – the pages of 1-4 of your excellent expertises on MMA analsis have expired; will you please forward them to me? I’m a mortgage guy who wishes to keep his customers focussed on reality. Thanks, John

    (note: I’ve written to John directly. No idea what he meant by ‘expired’)

  18. Jim Says:


    You mentioned you would send a spreadsheet to anyone for free if they wanted in an article about the MMA. I have seen some of the United First Financial sites which are pretty flashy and now I have a relative who was trying to sell me on it. I would appreciate any info you could give me. Thanks!

  19. Daniel Sommer Says:

    Dear Joe Taxpayer,

    Readers come to you in search of no-nonsense financial solutions. Saving for retirement has become one of their most urgent issues. Faced with a failing retirement safety net, volatile markets and rising inflation, investors need new ways to save more.

    At Jefferson National, weve made it our mission to help Americans save more for retirement by launching Monument Advisor, the first variable annuity with a Flat-Insurance Fee and a supermarket of more than 200 tax-deferred funds.

    Variable annuities are an excellent source of more tax-deferred savings. The controversy with VAs has always been cost, complexity and limited investment choices. Our Flat-Insurance VA goes right to the core by cutting costs and commissions to help investors accumulate more, and arming them with 5x more fund choices to navigate todays volatile markets.

    Tax deferral can often outperform a taxable account, even when capital gains taxes are at an all time low. The key is using a Flat-Insurance Fee VA. With just 10 years of tax-deferred investing in a Flat-Insurance Fee VA, the typical moderate investor can accumulate more, generate more retirement income and leave a larger legacy than investing in a taxable account. It takes 13 years for an aggressive investor, just 4 years for a moderate investor, and as little as 1 year for an active manager.

    Tax-deferral can also generate higher after-tax returns for tax-inefficient assets, such as REITS and fixed income. And should the current advantage for capital gains tax disappear, tax-deferral will be even more crucial.

    Many of your readers could be saving more through the power of tax-deferral. We encourage them to take our challenge at http://www.thepoweroftaxdeferral.com where they can compare an investment in a Flat-Insurance Fee VA with an investment in a taxable account to see how much they can save and how much more their savings will grow. Our site also allows them to learn from industry experts and their peers, read success stories, and access a range of resources that can help them to maximize their retirement savings.

    We often write articles on important financial topics, such as maximizing tax deferral and increasing tax efficiencies by using a Flat-Insurance Fee VA. If you believe these articles will be of value to your readers, we will send them to you for posting on your blog.

    I thank you for your time and look forward to having an ongoing dialog. If you have any questions, or if you would like to speak with or one of the many clients who are saving more by making the move to our Flat-Insurance Fee VA, please dont hesitate to contact me at dsommer@jeffnat.com. I would love to contribute in any way possible.

    Best Regards,

    Dan Sommer
    Jefferson National

    Note – I accepted the offer as I referenced this product as being the lowest cost product of its kind that I could discover. The post offered to me was quite a bit longer than appropriate for this blog, so I need to spend some time and either edit or break it into multiple posts. – Joe

  20. JOE Says:

    Kevin – Thanks! Fixed.

  21. Kevin Says:

    I tried the link in the article but it is inoperative.

  22. Financial Samurai Says:

    Joe, do you have a more detailed bio of yourself and your story?

  23. JOE Says:

    I guess I need to work on that. But in my case Tony Stark is far less interesting than Iron Man. (I used to refer to Clark Kent/Superman, but I was set straight. In the case of Superman, Clark is created identity, for Tony Stark, it’s Iron Man that is the created identity.)

  24. Financial Samurai Says:

    Sounds good Joe. I like your commentary. It doesn’t seem like you are just your normal joe commenting on taxes. You write in a higher level than I have to imagine most people can understand clearly. Perhaps I’m just slow, or number just make my head go numb, but it shouldn’t, since i’m in finance!

  25. JOE Says:

    Thanks for the comment. Some things are pretty complex, and I do struggle to make it simple. The current Roth issue? Few pros really ‘get it.’ Me, I am trying to get it in writing that makes sense. I always happy to hear from readers, to help me communicate better to my audience. Thanks, again.

  26. Financial Samurai Says:

    Yeah, sometimes it’s tough when one has to deal with numbers. People’s eyes start glazing over. I tried to make my Flat Tax post argument as simple as possible, but I’m sure enough people still skipped it. As they tought us in journalism class, need to write at the lowest level grade possible to reach out to the lowest common denominator!


  27. Robert Says:

    Very many thanks for putting together the PDF documentation for WordPress (http://www.joetaxpayer.com/WordPressForBeginners.pdf). I too love to have hardcopy, but often I just keep the PDF file on disk. I find it much more convenient than going on-line all the time, finding the site, going round in circles because some goon thought circular links were a good idea….

    (I presume you’re not too hot on UK Tax Law, otherwise I’d bookmark your site!).

  28. C The Writer Says:

    You seriously don’t allow your 14 year old daughter to have her own private email account that you don’t have access to? That’s crazy…

    She’s 14, not 4.

  29. JOE Says:

    Not sure where you got that idea. All I said here was my family doesn’t read me.

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