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Latest High Life Issue

Latest HL 300 published Dec 23, 2018. Not all sections of Blog are on first page. Click OLDER POSTS to view additional newsletter sections. For PDF version and all archived list CLICK HERE. Look for next issue in 2 weeks!

Airlines news

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Mark's Remarks - HL 300 (3)

High Life 300  |   PCN Home  |  Post to PCN   | G-Group   |  Calendar   |  PCN Ads  |  Sign Up  |  FAQs   

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Dear PCN (of over 2600 subscribers),

Wow!  300 issues!

Whew!  This has been a long haul.  David Roberts started this web network in 1996 while I ran the Senior Slug Network for active Delta guys with a theme song of “Should I Stay or Should I go.” Ahhhhh, those were the days!!  In 2009 I took over David’s network and created the PCN, and in that process, have published 300 issues of the High Life.  Now, that may not seem like a lot of issues but to me it seems like a ton.  While I have been at this over 9 years, I am looking to retire from this Dir/Editor role after I have put in 10 years or so.  We’ll see how that goes.  In the Mean time, I always want to reiterate that is truly my honor and pleasure to serve this fantastic pilot group.  The roles that David and Carol still play in helping the PCN deliver important services cannot be thanked enough.  And of course I really wish to also thank all you contributors who help keep these High Life’s interesting and worth while.  Thank you for a 9 year-300 issue run and I personally wish you and your family the Merriest of Christmas Seasons. 

This time of year is really special:

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukka!!!

And Happy New Year!!!

My favorite quotes from the recent George H. W. Bush funeral:

Sen. Alan Simpson, ‘‘Humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life,’’ Simpson continued. ‘‘He never hated anyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.’’

PM Mulroney, offering the old Irish proverb, “There are good ships, and there are wood ships, The ships that sail the sea. But the best ships, are friendships, And may they always be.”

Rev Dr Russell Levenson Jr, “Preach The Gospel At All Times, If Necessary Use Words.”

Thanks for using OUR updated emails addresses:


PCN specific emails:           pcn.calendar@gmail.com

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Finance - HL 300 (1)

Helpful miscellaneous articles regarding our retirement plan and planning.  Like you, I review my retirement nestegg and plan from time to time.  Recently, I went though some continued education for some credentials I maintain and it occurred to me that we all could use a review about these issues.  So with your help, we will share and post articles and info that may be helpful and of interest to many of you in this section.

10 best tax-planning tips for 2019

Kelly Anne Smith    @keywordkelly     Taxes

With the end of 2018 approaching, it’s time to start strategizing about how you’ll handle your federal tax bill, and it’s even more complicated this year because multiple changes to tax rules have gone into effect.
State and local tax deductions are now capped at $10,000, estate tax exemptions have doubled, home equity debt can no longer be deducted under some circumstances and tax brackets have changed. It’s a lot to keep track of, so consumers should consider getting an earlier start to avoid any hiccups or confusion next year when your return is due.
Check out these 10 best tax-planning tips to prep now – and save later.

1. Consider “bunching” deductions

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which took effect for the 2018 tax year, increased the amount of the standard deduction from $6,500 to $12,000 for individuals, $9,550 to $18,000 for heads of households, and from $13,000 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly. Those who don’t have enough deductions to exceed that threshold take the standard deduction instead.
However, Ken Moraif, CFP and senior advisor at Money Matters, recommends using the bunching method to surpass the thresholds, if possible. Bunching is a method where you time expenses by pushing deductible expenses into one calendar year. Moraif says this can be achieved by moving forward certain deductions this year, like charitable contributions or prepaying January’s mortgage payment.
“Doubling the charitable contributions in one year plus other itemized deductions may allow a person to be over the standard deduction and itemize every other year,” Moraif says.
Aside from charitable giving, consumers can accelerate tax deductions, such as an estimated state income tax bill, a property tax bill due early next year, or a doctor’s or hospital bill. These can also be beneficial when itemized under the “bunching” method.

2. Max out your retirement plan contributions

Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and tax expert at TurboTax, says maxing out your retirement plan reduces your taxable income, which will reduce your tax bill. In 2018, the maximum 401(k) contribution is $18,500, or $24,500 if you are age 50 or over.
Greene adds that those who can’t afford the maximum amounts should try to contribute at least the amount that will be matched by employer contributions. Think of the employer match as an immediate return on your money — all of the funds are tax-deferred and grow tax-free.

3. Take your Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs)

Individuals who are age 70 and a half or older with retirement accounts need to take the required minimum distributions by the end of this year. If not, they might face a heavy tax penalty of 50 percent of the required amount. This applies to both 401(k)s and IRAs.
“The whole idea behind an RMD is the IRS has allowed these investments to increase in value tax-deferred, so when they come out, they make sure that the IRS is getting the tax revenue it’s owed,” says Mike Moyer, CFP, senior wealth strategist at PNC Wealth Management.
RMDs are based on age and year-end values in eligible accounts. Moyer recommends account holders work with a professional to ensure they are taking the appropriate amount.
Additionally, Moyer says that combining RMDs with qualified charitable contributions can help lower your tax bill. By sending RMDs directly to a qualifying charity, your adjusted gross income won’t increase and you may be able to take a charitable tax deduction.

4. Engage in tax-loss harvesting

Under IRS rules, you have to pay taxes on any investment gain you realize in the year. Tax-loss harvesting is a strategy that involves selling poor performers in your portfolio to offset gains. Under current law, you can claim up to $3,000 in capital losses against non-investment income (or $1,500 if married and filing separately.)  You can carry forward into future tax years any losses over $3,000.
Moyer explains that this may be a great strategy this year due to recent volatility in the market. However, under the wash-sale rule, you cannot buy “substantially identical”  securities until at least 30 days later.

5. Take advantage of annual exclusion gifts

This year, the maximum amount of gift tax exemption increased from $14,000 to $15,000. This means you can give up to that amount to a family member without having to pay a gift tax.
Moyer says parents can best take advantage of this by gifting their children $15,000 into a trust or a 529 plan, which is a tax-sheltered plan for college expenses.
“Putting the $15,000 in a 529 plan can help keep 100 percent of the money,” Moyer says. He adds that the extra benefit is when students use the funds for school, it’s taken out tax-free.

6. Do some charitable giving

Charitable giving doesn’t only take form in cash contributions; you can also donate items to local charities and write their market values off as an itemized deduction on your taxes. Depending on the charity, you can donate things like gently used clothing, furniture, working electronics and more.
According to the IRS, charitable contributions to private organizations are limited to 30 percent of your adjusted gross income; public charity gifts are limited to 50 percent of AGI.
To get the 2018 tax break on your charitable gifts, they must be donated by the close of the tax year and you must have a receipt stating you donated them. Keep in mind the bunching method described above because unless you can exceed the new standard deduction thresholds, there’s no deduction for charitable contributions.

7. Get your health care coverage in order

Moraif warns consumers that although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the individual penalty for not having health insurance, it doesn’t go into effect until 2020; the penalty for not being insured will continue to be enforced this year.
The penalty for not having insurance this year is $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater. Sending in proof of insurance is not required, but Moraif says it’s an important piece of documentation to keep in your records.

8. Defer your income

Those who get a year-end bonus might want to consider waiting to take it until the following year, if their employer allows this. By delaying the income, you postpone additional taxes for 2018.
However, Greene warns that this strategy only makes sense if you think you will be in the same or a lower tax bracket next year.
“You don’t want to be hit with a bigger tax bill next year if additional income could push you into a higher tax bracket,” Greene says. “If that’s likely, you may want to accelerate income into 2018 so you can pay tax on it in a lower bracket sooner, rather than in a higher bracket later.”

9. Update your beneficiary designations

While this doesn’t affect your taxes now, it could affect the taxes of your loved ones in the future. Moyer says year-end is a great time to review your beneficiaries and think about any big life changes that may make you want to consider updating your beneficiaries.
Why is it important? Down the road, it will help minimize any taxes your beneficiaries pay on your assets when you pass.
“If something unexpected happens to you, having your designations lined up and properly coordinated has a dramatic effect on the tax bills of who receives your assets,” Moyer says.

10. Protect yourself from fraud

Whenever you’re filing documents with sensitive information like your Social Security number, it’s imperative to take the necessary precautions to prevent your data from being compromised. Filing taxes should be done directly on the IRS website or that of a trusted tax preparer.
Additionally, be cautious about giving your personal information to a third-party platform. Setting up direct deposit with the IRS for your refund is wise, and if you owe money, be sure to send it through IRS Direct Pay.

 (As with any of these informative articles, anyone who needs someone to talk to about

this very subject contact me and I can direct you to a knowledgeable advisor).

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Insurance - HL 300 (2)

Call The Insurance Trust for
Delta Retirees for details:

Exclusive offers for Retirees, and Pensioners.  Enrollment ends 12-31-18

This chance comes but once a year - the chance to enroll in our exclusive Medicare plan. Will you let the opportunity to enroll for 2019 pass you by?
You've earned these privileges. Our group rates are more than just affordable - they don't increase based on age or location.
Paired with a choice of doctors and hospitals with no network limitations and extra benefits, this Medicare coverage is worth looking into.
Our plan includes first-class benefits, like:
  • A choice of doctors and hospitals with no network limitations
  • Fixed rates that don't increase based on age
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Low out-of-pocket annual limit
  • Extra benefits like "Silver Sneakers" fitness programs
  • Options to purchase dental and vision coverage

Call The Insurance Trust for
Delta Retirees for details:
877-325-7265 or visit www.itdr.com

This email was sent by: ITDR Service Center
P.O. Box 14464 Des Moines, IA 50306-3464


Update from Cone Insurance on Med Supp G:

2019 Important Transamerica Supplemental Retiree Plan Design Clarification

Transamerica Supplemental Retiree Medical
Plan G with $20 Copay for Doctors Visits in 2019

Retirees enrolling in the Transamerica Plan G for 2019 will pay up to a $20 for an office visit copay, other than when they are having a preventative care checkup. This is contrary to what we have communicated to you for the Plan G in 2019.

As you will recall, on the Medicare Conference calls, as well as other communications for the 2019 plan year, we have stated there was no $20 copay required in the Plan G in 2019. That was incorrect. The information received from Benistar regarding this issue by Cone Retiree Healthcare was addressed and while Benistar verified this was a Plan G, they did not make us aware that the "Transamerica Plan G" does not exactly follow the "Standard Plan G" outlined by Medicare causing this confusion on our part. Just as some Plan F plan designs you find on the individual market contain a deductible and are known as a "High Deductible Plan F" plans. Cone Retiree Healthcare Group will be posting "Transamerica Plan G" plan design we received from Transamerica for the 2019 plans on our website, www.mymedplans.com clearly outlining what is covered and what is not. The only difference in what has been communicated and what you will see is the addition of the $20 copay for the doctors visits for the Transamerica Plan G.

We realize that for some of you, this was one of the reasons you may have changed from a Plan F to the Plan G for 2019 and want to make it clear there will be a $20 copay required if you remain enrolled in the Plan G for 2019 for doctors visits outside the preventative care checkup. Transamerica has told us the $20 copay was also part of the plan in 2018, therefore it was not a new addition to the cost of the plan for those enrolled in the Plan G for 2019. If you have based your decision on moving or selecting the Plan G through one of the Trust for 2019 and would like to change your selection, you can contact Benistar and they will be happy to assist you in selecting another options. There contact information is 1-800 236-4782.

We sincerely apologize for the mistake that was made in communicating this information on the Transamerica plan design provided during the 2019 enrollment process. Since we have just recently received the full plan design in a document, we have identified the mistake. We have had discussions with both Transamerica and Benistar and learned that Transamerica has their own "Plan G' that does have this variation from the "Standard Medicare Plan G" referred to in the individual market by other Medicare providers. We will be posting the plan design for your review this afternoon, in its entirety on the website, showing the $20 copay and no other deviation from what we have described in our past communications to you.

We recognize this is late notice in providing you this important information and apologize for the late notice of this change to the plan design previously communicated however, we were just made aware of the difference in what has been communicated and what the plan design shows for the "Transamerica Plan G". If you have any additional questions or would like to speak to someone regarding this clarification or make a change to your plan selection in 2019, please contact Benistar, the call center at 1-800-236-4782.

We appreciate your understanding, it was never our intention to provide you with inaccurate information and we had gone to great lengths to make sure we got it right, before passing it on to you, we thought!

Thanks again for your continued support and as always, you can contact me, Cathy Cone with any issues you may have regarding this matter at 713-541-8842. While I will not be the party to contact to change your benefit option, that is Benistar, I can certainly answer any questions you may have regarding the issues of this notification.

Transamerica 2019 Plan G Plan Design

To review the Transamerica Plan Design, please go to our website, using the link below to be posted the afternoon of December 17, 2018

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Good Read - HL 300 (1)

From: jeffdegner1@gmail.com
To: DWSkjerven@aol.com
Sent: 12/13/2018 6:55:43 PM Central Standard Time
Subject: Jeff's Annual Christmas Poem
Hi Dave,

Here’s this years edition of my annual Christmas poem.  Please pass it along to all of your cronies, colleagues, fans, acolytes and devotees.   Merry, merry!

Christmas 2018

For dozens of years, I have written these poems.
And in airplanes or cars, but mostly your homes,
They've been spoken out loud or quietly read
With meanings made clear by the words that I've said.
Now, the main theme of this poetic endeavor.
Is: "What was your most favorite Christmas, ever"?

As you try to recall the best Christmas you had:
What made it unique and your heart feel so glad?
Were you young?  Were you old?  Somewhere between?
Whenever it was, what's your best Christmas scene?
So, dwell on this theme or share it with pleasure:
With friends or with colleagues, or someone you treasure.

Were you a toddler, amazed at the tree,
All cuddled up on your proud daddy's knee?
Or was it on an afternoon, hearing chapel bells,
Eating sugar cookies, midst those pine-tree smells?
Perhaps you were a teen, who shared a Christmas kiss,
Or a winter newlywed, full of dreams and bliss?

I wonder if when, you'd completed all your shopping,
Being so tired that you just felt like dropping,
But knowing that your presents: clothing, books and toys,
Would bring squeals of joy to lucky girls and boys.
Was it then, you realized, while singing Auld Lang Syne,
That getting gifts was fine, but giving them sublime?

Was it when you clearly heard the reindeer on your roof?
Or from a plain, brown box you heard a tiny "woof?"
Maybe your most special Christmas was the very last,
That you would share with someone who, shortly after, passed.
Or maybe it was walking home, alone, one festive day...
With snowflakes gently falling in a glittery display.

To all my friends and family, I dedicate this ode
Be you warm in bed, or somewhere on the road,
Or even on a Delta flight, high up in the sky.
I hope it leaves you with a smile...and a little sigh.
And here's my fervent wish, since now this poem is read:
May your best Christmas ever be one that lies ahead.

   Jeff  (Deltajeff8@gmail.com)

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Human Interest - HL 300 (1)

Date: 12/1/2018 6:19:32 PM
Subject: A True Patriot - From Pueblo, Colorado
Mary Babnick Brown was an American woman who donated her long blond hair to be used as crosshairs in Norden bombsights in WW II

Brown was a Coloradan; the children of Slovenian immigrants. She left elementary school at the age of 12, to help support her family as a servant for $5/week. When she was 13, she lied about her age so that she could work at National Broom Factory for 75 cents a day, a job she held for 42 years. Her younger siblings pitched in by picking up chunks of coal that had fallen onto the railroad tracks. Brown's lone prized possession was her knee-length fine blonde hair.

Brown in the 1940s:

In 1943, Brown saw an advertisement in a newspaper, searching for women with blonde hair of at least 22" length, that had never been treated with chemicals or hot irons. The military was offering to purchase such hair, to be used for meteorological instruments in the war effort.

The "meteorological instruments" were actually crosshairs for Norden bombsights. The Army Air Forces
(the predecessor to today's US Air Force) had tried various materials for the Norden bombsight, including black widow spider webbing, but nothing could withstand the temperature variations like fine blonde human hair that had never been treated with chemicals or heat.

A Norden bombsight and crosshairs:

Brown sent off a sample of her 34" blonde hair to the government for analysis. After analyzing her hair, they agreed to purchase it, offering to pay her in war savings stamps. But Brown wouldn't accept payment for her hair.
She saw it as her patriotic duty to help the war effort. She later recalled that she cried for months after cutting her hair.

It was decades before Brown learned the true use of her hair, and the effect of her sacrifice. In 1987, on her 80th birthday, she received a personal thank-you letter from President Ronald Reagan:

Brown's hometown of Pueblo, Colorado declared an official Mary Babnik Brown day, and she also received an award from the Colorado Aviation Historical Society.

Said Brown: "Here I am, an old lady of 83, and I'm still flying high".

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