Weird news: witches work as life coaches

by Rhode

Professional witches?

In The Land Of Dracula, Witches Work As ‘Life Coaches’ Of The Supernatural

Pathway to success for the non-STEM-loving kid?

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77 thoughts on “Weird news: witches work as life coaches

  1. THIS – “He compares witches to modern-day life coaches. “They commercialize the feeling of being in control of one’s life and one’s destiny,” he says.”

    IMO, the vast majority of people need to feel in control, at least at a certain level, of their lives. They realize they cannot control everything, but when life feels too out of control, they will turn to various individuals to help them regain it. IME, this is often a pastor/priest/rabbi (or other respected religious leader). So, turning to a witch seems like a similar response.

  2. Pathway to success for the non-STEM-loving kid?

    Entrepreneurship?

    Cassandra stated the running a successful business requires more cognitive ability and executive function that getting a degree. I felt, as did MM, that academic skills are only somewhat correlated to business skills. With that being the case, there is a group of kids who have the business skills to run a successful business but don’t have the academic inclination required to thrive in college.

  3. One of the neighbor kids I played with when young definitely had the entrepreneurial streak, but was not successful in academics. Grew up UMC, got kicked out/flunked out of a few schools, and eventually finished at a military school. While there he ran a business selling contraband (smokeless tobacco, etc). Never went to college. My family thought he would always be the most successful of the 4 kids (2 are lawyers that don’t practice, 1 SAHM). He has done OK, but not great. I always thought he would do a stint selling luxury cars.

  4. With that being the case, there is a group of kids who have the business skills to run a successful business but don’t have the academic inclination required to thrive in college.

    They still need to have a high level of cognitive ability.

  5. A lot of colleges, including mine, are starting degrees in ‘entrepreneurship”. I have trouble understanding how this would be different from a business degree, and I question whether entrepreneurial ability can be taught.

  6. They still need to have a high level of cognitive ability.

    1. I don’t know that many totbaggers could identify a high level of cognitive ability that wasn’t accompanied by high levels of academic ability.

    2. To use an old Totebag favorite Harvey Mudd has an average SAT score of 1510. That’s an IQ of 150. They say the world is run by people with an IQ of 125 which is almost two standard deviations from 150.

  7. One of the neighbor kids I played with when young definitely had the entrepreneurial streak, but was not successful in academics.

    There was a guy like that at my church. He’s in his late 60s now, so his childhood was in the 50s, but still. He started out in elementary school buying bulk bags of candy and reselling them to the other students in small bags. Then in his teens he started a car-painting business in his parents’ garage. He worked at night so the neighbors wouldn’t complain and also detailed their cars to keep them happy. When he was 17 there was a house for sale in Denver that needed a lot of work (we’re probably up to about 1968 here). He finagled a loan from the bank (it’s always good to be a white male in a small town, which Denver used to be), bought the house, fixed it up, and sold it. Took the profits and bought another one. Lather, rinse, repeat. No college. Then at about 25 he started a housepainting business and wound up getting some large commercial contracts. Ultimately he retired pretty comfortably. Every damn thing he did, he turned into a business. Woodworking? Sell your products. Stained glass? Sell your artwork.

    I too wonder whether you can really teach that in a college class. He was absolutely born with it.

  8. I question whether entrepreneurial ability can be taught.

    No more than coding ability can be taught. There needs to be some underlying talent. But, if the talent is there, you can certainly point someone in the right direction.

  9. “But, if the talent is there, you can certainly point someone in the right direction.”
    Sure, but what would the classes be except business classes? To get your startup running, you need to know how to do a business plan, how to do accounting, how to market your work – isn’t that what they do in business school?

  10. Sure, but what would the classes be except business classes?

    How to start a business. How to identify what business to start. How to obtain small business financing. Wharton or whatever is going to be teaching you about the overnight repo market. Not how to get the money for a Subway franchise.

    isn’t that what they do in business school?

    Business school teachers you to be a cog and eventual leader in corporate America. It usually doesn’t focus on how to build a business from scratch.

  11. ” I have trouble understanding how this would be different from a business degree, and I question whether entrepreneurial ability can be taught.”

    I totally agree. Business training is useful – which a regular business degree can provide. Particularly a generalist degree which is going to give you basic accounting, marketing, economics, business law and maybe org development/HR type stuff.

    The guy I know who had the most entrepreneurial tendencies (like RMS was talking about) is a mutual fund manager who does real estate investing on the side. Even though his day job pays well into the 1%, he is always hustling. I’m sure it’s just an innate drive.

  12. ” I have trouble understanding how this would be different from a business degree, and I question whether entrepreneurial ability can be taught.

    Hmm. I feel like you guys don’t really understand what it means to be an entrepreneur. It’s probably true that you can’t teach the spirit or mindset, but there are a TON of tangible business differences between going to work for an established business vs. starting one from scratch, and a degree that focuses on those could be incredibly valuable. Funding (including SEC rules regarding investors), marketing, founder/owner agreements, growth, HR/employment law/hiring, buyouts, structuring — I could write an essay on this.

    I’m trying not to be too critical here, but there is a powerful tendency among this group of smart people to believe that just because they don’t know something, it’s not knowable or its not worth knowing.

  13. MM – Of course my experience is from BITD, but my business degree really focused on what you needed to work in a medium to large corporate environment. Yes, all the concepts apply, but did not focus much on the day-to-day running of a small business. Small business development centers are more hands on and practical information that I think entrepreneurs are looking for and maybe that is what these entrepreneurship degrees are heading toward.

    I completely agree that running a small business (above board) requires a significant amount of executive function especially once you start hiring employees.

  14. there is a powerful tendency among this group of smart people to believe that just because they don’t know something, it’s not knowable or its not worth knowing.

    +1000

  15. A good way to differentiate between the two degrees is to decide exactly what your career goals are. With a Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship degree, students will be primed with the knowledge needed to start their own business from scratch and become a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to running a small business. With a Bachelor’s in Business degree, students will take a more scientific approach to understanding the inner-workings of large businesses to learn how they can better run and effect change within a large business.

    Which jives with what Austinmom said.

  16. “I could write an essay on this.”

    In my old job, a big part was representing sell-side businesses. And what we found was that these companies that sold for a lot of money had all made the same mistakes (blowing their Reg D exemptions, formation issues (choosing the wrong type of entity, the wrong state), misclassifying employees – exempt v non-exempt, independent contractor v employee, terrible buy-sell agreements, issuing the wrong types of stock and creating big issues, messed up benefits plans, etc. So we created a class/webinar that we would run periodically for people who were starting businesses and for people who were getting ready to sell. Basically a how not to screw up what everyone screws up. And it was a great way to get clients.

    I would have no idea how to teach the true business stuff, but if you have a competent lawyer and accountant from the beginning, you can do so much of this stuff. This stuff is easy to hire our if you know how to vet for competent counsel. True entrepreneurship seems like it is much more difficult to teach and something you need to innately possess.

  17. True entrepreneurship seems like it is much more difficult to teach and something you need to innately possess.

    In a way that’s different than teaching someone to be a lawyer or a doctor or an electrical engineer?

  18. I don’t know that many totbaggers could identify a high level of cognitive ability that wasn’t accompanied by high levels of academic ability.

    You said there are plenty of people who do well with starting a business or such but didn’t do well in school. That’s what in referring to. Cognitive ability is not the same as academic ability.

  19. “In a way that’s different than teaching someone to be a lawyer or a doctor or an electrical engineer?”

    I think so. I can tell someone how to set up a business and not screw things up. But I am never going to be one of my former clients who sells his business that he started 13 years ago for $220m while screwing up so many of the details that I would sweat. If I had a kid who was very interested in starting his own business, I wouldn’t encourage an entrepreneurship degree. Most of the stuff you would learn would be for the service providers you hire.

  20. But I am never going to be one of my former clients who sells his business that he started 13 years ago for $220m while screwing up so many of the details that I would sweat.

    But isn’t that like comparing the outside counsel manager at 5th/3rd Bank with a Supreme Court Justice or the managing partner at Cravath? There are outside counsel manager at 5th/3rd bank level entrepreneurs as well.

  21. Entrepreneurship also requires a comfort level with risk-taking that not everyone possess and a commitment to the work that you cannot walk away from. I don’t think you can teach that.

  22. Most of the stuff you would learn would be for the service providers you hire.

    Again, I totally disagree with this. You’re looking at it from the point of view of the lawyer. There are so many specific skills associated with founding a business that a degree would be incredibly helpful for.

  23. “There are outside counsel manager at 5th/3rd bank level entrepreneurs as well.”

    Yes. But they need to understand their space really well, be adequately capitalized for their industry, be comfortable managing risk and log on to my 3 hour webinar on how not to screw things up and how to identify what you don’t know and when to bring in the experts. They don’t need a 4 yr degree in entrepreneurship.

  24. They don’t need a 4 yr degree in entrepreneurship.

    Most certainly, having the cash would be much better.

  25. Entrepreneurship also requires a comfort level with risk-taking

    Is that really true? Think about your vet, dentist, insurance agent, etc. Are they really at more risk than someone toiling in the bowels of Corporate America?

  26. I don’t know that many totbaggers could identify a high level of cognitive ability that wasn’t accompanied by high levels of academic ability.

    Sure we can. It’s the person who asks good questions, especially about something they have no particular reason to know or learn about, they’re just curious. And then asks more focused questions based on the answer. And you can see them starting to get their arms around whatever the subject is as you talk.

  27. Fred – yes! The kids seem to be liking it. I think it is cold. We went to Florida for Thanksgiving, but will have Christmas at the new house. Currently offloading the old house!

  28. “Is that really true? Think about your vet, dentist, insurance agent, etc. Are they really at more risk than someone toiling in the bowels of Corporate America?”

    Interesting question. The downside risk for the employee is that they will lose their paycheck and need to find another one. The downside risk for the entrepreneur is that they could lose all their assets if they aren’t savvy enough to quit soon enough, or if they lose a lawsuit. The upside for the employee is that they keep getting their paycheck. the upside for the entrepreneur is less limited. The range of outcomes is wider for the entrepreneur, both positive and negative.

  29. “Are they really at more risk than someone toiling in the bowels of Corporate America?”

    For the right person, no. It is probably better. But you need to want to be the man instead of work for him. Many people prefer to work for the man.

  30. What is meant by entrepreneurship? Building a small business to support your family, with or without employees, or creating a large company? I agree that small business centers will be helpful to contractors, mom ‘n’ pop landlords, HVAC businesses, funeral homes, etc.

    Building a company that requires investors seems like something that will be so rare for college students to do that a degree program would be unnecessary. Perhaps entrepreneurship degrees are really focused on people who want to work for startups? BTW, my solar cell coating acquaintances just got funding for their company, but it took ~10 years for the patents and process development. The local nuclear startup will take 10-20 years to come to fruition. Both are started by people with PhD’s or practical equivalent in the technology as well as MBA’s/MBA type education.

    My solar cell acquaintances are doing an entirely different project than my-uncle-the-landlord.

  31. Some reasons for going to college: grow up a bit, make some contacts, learn somethings that you don’t already know. All of those are valuable for entrepreneurs. It’s important for a business to keep growing, so especially for family businesses, it seems important to send off the kids so they can both grow up and learn stuff that is different from what they learned at home. Many successful family businesses I know of have a minimum time spent working for other companies after college before the kids can come back to the family business.

  32. The downside risk for the entrepreneur is that they could lose all their assets if they aren’t savvy enough to quit soon enough

    That’s not uncommon among employees either. You have a 50 something guy with out of date skills in a dying industry getting laid off and trying to scrape together shifts at Home Deport as he eats through what’s left of his savings.

    I guess it also depends on the business. I know someone who owns a few office buildings. Assuming he isn’t overly leveraged and he’s got some good long term tenants, that’s about as safe as you could be.

  33. I have an MBA and have experience in entrepreneurship. Specific skills that entrepreneurship classes teach that my MBA program did not include:

    How to read and manage a cap table.
    How to incorporate a company including how to select which structure is best for you (LLC? C Corps? etc).
    Finance, marketing, competitive strategy, HR for a really small company.
    How to raise funds and promote your company. Different types of funding options.
    Legal aspects about establishing and maintaining intellectual property.

    +1,000 to everything Lark said.

    BTW, you cannot just leave things to your service providers. Attorneys need direction from clients. I need to be able to look at our tax accountant’s K-1 calculations and catch errors and/or ask intelligent questions.

  34. “They don’t need a 4 yr degree in entrepreneurship.”

    They would need a college degree and some skills to fall back on if the entrepreneurship thing doesn’t work out. : )

  35. So, Birdie, where might one find this webinar?? Or comparable resources?

    Many here seem to believe that their local doctor/dentist/orthodontist has some innate business or entrepreneurial skills when in fact doctors are probably the worst at making business decisions from my experiences. Those practices tend to bring in plenty of money, but are often run poorly and with questionable practices. I knew an orthodontist trying to buy a practice but the owner would not show him the books….why?? well, he ran his personal finances through there (wife was office manager) and the books were a total mess. Especially since he’d paid for his daughter’s wedding the year before….probably through the business funds.

  36. RMS – a good friend is currently living in Anchorage. She reported on FB that she and her husband (and the dogs and cat) are doing OK. I hope that her story will be a common one.

    OT – this is such an interesting discussion to follow. I never thought that my suggestion would produce anything nearly as in-depth! I’ve learned enough about entrepreneurship to know that it’s not for me at all… Houston’s 1:45p post of all the things she didn’t learn makes my head spin. My hats off to all you entrepreneurs.

  37. “They would need a college degree and some skills to fall back on if the entrepreneurship thing doesn’t work out. : )”

    Certainly! That is why I would want them to have a degree in something useful!

    An entrepreneurship class would be great. Each topic (entity selection/formation/securities issues, employment issues, various tax issues, debt v equity financing, etc) could be a day or two’s worth of discussion. But you don’t need a whole class about picking an LLC v an S corp v a C corp. Or how to put together a cap table.

  38. How to incorporate a company including how to select which structure is best for you (LLC? C Corps? etc).

    Or presumably not incorporate at all. As we’ve discussed before the benefits of incorporating are wildly overblown. In many cases it’s better to run the business as a sole proprietorship.

    Per our discussion the other day, I will never, as long as I live, be able to spell entreprenuer or nessecary.

  39. Well, I can not reliably spell yield or field. Do you have any idea how often that makes me look incompetent?

  40. “In many cases it’s better to run the business as a sole proprietorship.”

    You are giving me a heart attack, Rhett.

    qqqqq – I don’t think my webinar is up any more since I no longer have that job. Let me look around a bit and see if I find anything helpful.

  41. “why?? well, he ran his personal finances through there (wife was office manager) and the books were a total mess.”

    Gah! A former friend had this situation. Her husband’s business checking account and the family checking account were the same! When she went to buy a house (on her own, I believe), it was a mess to untangle the finances. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t have a business checking account. To me, that seems like the first step to opening a business.

  42. “The kids seem to be liking it. I think it is cold.”

    Birdie — Weather-wise, it was an unusually miserable fall in the Greater Boston area this year. Usually fall is much more pleasant in these parts…

  43. Rhett – I can’t spell at all. I am saved by spellcheck and muscle memory. Which is also why I can’t catch form and from.

  44. “As we’ve discussed before the benefits of incorporating are wildly overblown.”

    When did we say that?

    I didn’t incorporate my business (i.e. structure it as a corporation), but my business is an LLC (which is different from a corporation). There are benefits to being an LLC, and no downsides that I can think of. (Well, other than the $500 fee that I have to pay to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts each year to maintain my LLC status. Many other states’ fees are a lot lower, though.)

  45. “Is that really true? Think about your vet, dentist, insurance agent, etc. Are they really at more risk than someone toiling in the bowels of Corporate America?” and The downside risk for the entrepreneur is that they could lose all their assets if they aren’t savvy enough to quit soon enough.

    1. You can’t fix being inept. I would consider your 50 something with outdated skills to be inept. This same guy would likely not have moved his business along with the times either.

    2. As a marketable employee, I manage the risk of my continued employment and pay check. I am continually (consciously or not) assessing is it better for me to stay in this position with this employer or to go to a different position with this or another employer. If I make the wrong decision, then I am job hunting, sometimes with some unemployment or a severance package to tide me over a bit.

    3. As a business owner, the amount of my assets and time tied up in the business makes a difference. Yes I am at more risk, if I am a brand new vet or dentist, I have had to sink a fair amount of money into my business before I even open the doors – from acquiring the space and the specialized equipment to likely at least one office staff and computer equipment to various types of insurance to all the appropriate legal set up and working capital loans. If I can’t build a clientele fast enough, best case scenario is I broke even, but likely I am in debt for a portion of my front-end costs.

    4. As a business owner who is taking on a viable business, I think you are closer to the risk of the employee than the brand new vet or dentist.

    5. I would put an insurance agent in a different category as while they too, need a license and office type equipment, they do not need specialized equipment and can work on their own without other employees while they build up their clientele.

  46. You are giving me a heart attack, Rhett.

    You’re going to have to personally guarantee any loan your business gets, the corporate veil is relatively easy to pierce if you don’t have multiple owners, if you get sued that’s what insurance is for, etc.

  47. “the corporate veil is relatively easy to pierce if you don’t have multiple owners”

    Not really, especially if you don’t do stupid stuff like pay for your daughter’s wedding out of your business funds.

    It is true that the liability protection afforded by forming an entity is better for torts (especially negligence) than breaches of contracts where you have signed a personal guaranty. But the downsides of forming an entity are almost non-existent.

  48. To add to Austin’s points, as a business owner, you pay yourself last. Sometimes that means that you don’t get paid for a period of time when business is slow or you have some unexpected expenses.

  49. torts (especially negligence)

    Is that what insurance is for?

    than breaches of contracts where you have signed a personal guaranty.

    I assume contracts often include a personal guaranty requirement? I know from doing RFPs that the financial security of the vendor, number of employees, etc. is a common concern. It would make sense that to close the deal you’d have to put up some collateral.

  50. ” Think about your vet, dentist, insurance agent, etc.”

    Most of those people aren’t starting a business from scratch. They are much more likely to be buying into an established business or buying an established business – small business owners, but not entrepreneurs.

  51. In addition to paying yourself last, you making be making a low return for each hour put in. A plumber friend recently decided to go out on his own. His initial thought was I know what my former company charged per hour of my time vs what they paid me, so I’ll charge the same and get to keep it all. He quickly realized that simply looking at what he took out of the business vs the hours worked, he was making less per hour.

  52. small business owners, but not entrepreneurs.

    That’s a very good point. I think most people think of them as the same thing. But they really aren’t.

  53. you making be making a low return for each hour put in.

    Very true. You have to be sure the juice is worth the squeeze. That said there is a segment of the population who is going to get a lot of value out of being self employed. Having clients/customers and no boss is different from having clients and customers and a boss.

  54. Later, the firm manufactured pocket linings for Lee, Wrangler and Levi jeans. Cotswold still handles pocketing business for many U.S. brands,

    Pockets my boy, pockets! They don’t make themselves now do they?

    Good article about several things including entrepreneurship.

  55. Rhett i agree with the others about sole proprietorships. once in a while you are actually wrong, not just trying to help us think outside the totebag box.

    I wouldn’t describe a 50 something middle class male wage slave as inept if he doesn’t realize that needs to manage his work life as if he were in business for himself. It is a paradigm shift. The similarly employed women OTOH get societal signals by 50 that they are becoming non persons and in my experience respond to bag lady fears by becoming extremely good at reinvention.

    DD was a high status wage slave who has remade herself. She wasn’t going to thrive lifelong in her former guise. So she learned how to hustle and develop a business model. She doesn’t have a salesman’s natural gifts , but much like her mom, sometimes a difficult transition is possible when the alternatives are unacceptable

  56. Rhett i agree with the others about sole proprietorships. once in a while you are actually wrong

    Perhaps but the only small business person/entrepreneur totebagger is a sole proprietor. So there is that data point.

  57. Went to a retirement party today and I should have realized since the department throwing it is mostly Filipino it wasn’t going to be just cake . . . it was a groaning board complete with a whole roast pig.

  58. Rhett. There are lots of regular contributors who have independent business operations, either family or solo. Almost all of them use a limited liability structure. Sole proprietor is a technical term.

  59. Sole proprietor is a technical term.

    Right and Cassandra’s family business is a sole proprietorship.

  60. Rhett I am waiting on a dock for a boat that is running late and looking at Diamond Head. I am not going to nit pick this with you.

  61. I am waiting for DS to finish sorting through winter wear donations at our church. Our church sells Christmas trees for charity, so a bunch of people are driving off with their trees. It’s a bit rainy but not that cold.

  62. I still need to put up our Christmas decorations. However, I have finished all of my shopping for gifts. It was 77 here today and we put on our AC.

  63. Gah! A former friend had this situation. Her husband’s business checking account and the family checking account were the same! When she went to buy a house (on her own, I believe), it was a mess to untangle the finances. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t have a business checking account. To me, that seems like the first step to opening a business.

    Keeping personal and business finances separate would be covered in Entrepreneurship 101.

  64. Good article from the WSJ. I know many of you no longer have a subscription, so I will cut and paste the whole article.

    It’s Time to Start Paying Your Taxes Like a Billionaire
    Last year’s tax overhaul means multiyear planning strategies used by wealthy Americans now make sense for many others

    The richest Americans have long saved billions from multiyear tax planning. Now it makes sense for many others to do the same.

    Advisers to high earners have always done multiyear analyses of items like operating-loss carryforwards or stock options for their clients. But because of last year’s tax overhaul, filers earning less have an incentive to use this approach.

    Individuals may decide to speed up or slow down their charitable donations, while business owners may want to spread out certain deductions instead of taking them all at once. The result could be a significantly lower tax bill over time.

    “A far broader group of taxpayers will now benefit from planning over more than one year,” says Jeffrey Porter, a certified public accountant in Huntington, W. Va.

    One key driver of the change is the near doubling of the standard deduction, the amount taxpayers get if they don’t itemize write-offs like mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable donations on Schedule A. This write-off is now $12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples.

    As a result, nearly 29 million more filers will take the standard deduction for 2018 than for 2017.

    This is where multiyear planning helps.

    Say that John and Jane have paid off their mortgage, owe $15,000 in state and local taxes, and give $10,000 a year to charities.

    For 2017, they deducted the $25,000 total on Schedule A because it was greater than their standard deduction of $12,700. But their 2018 state-tax write-off is capped at $10,000. Thus their deductions total $20,000, less than their $24,000 standard deduction this year.

    Now see what happens if they accelerate their $10,000 of 2019 donations into 2018. They can deduct $30,000 on Schedule A for 2018 and take the standard deduction for 2019, which is $24,400 after an inflation adjustment. By doing this, their write-offs over two years total $54,400 rather than $48,400.

    “People should maximize charitable deductions, as it’s often the only Schedule A strategy left,” says David Lifson, a CPA with Crowe LLP in New York.

    Multiyear planning is also newly important to owners of pass-through businesses like proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations. They now get a 20% deduction, as long as their own taxable income doesn’t exceed $157,500 for single filers or $315,000 for married couples. Above that, the deduction can shrink or disappear.

    Owners with income above the limits can use various strategies to get below it. Among them: investing in depreciable equipment; making charitable donations; and saving more in retirement plans with deductible contributions.

    Say a married business owner has taxable income of $330,000 and buys $100,000 of equipment. The law allows him to deduct 100% of the cost right away, which gets him far below the $315,000 income threshold—for one year.

    Instead, says Mr. Porter, the owner should consider spreading out these deductions, as is often allowed. If he takes the $100,000 write-off over five years, perhaps he can lower his income so it’s below the threshold for that period, qualifying him for a full 20% write-off each year.

    With year-end nearing, here are other tax moves.

    *Take capital gains and losses as needed. Don’t let the tax tail wag the dog, but remember that capital losses can offset taxable capital gains from investments and reduce a filer’s bill. Up to $3,000 of excess capital losses can also be deducted against “ordinary” income like wages.

    Investors who sell losing securities can’t repurchase them for 30 days before or after without running afoul of Internal Revenue Service rules. Winners can be rebought right away.

    *Beware of the 3.8% surtax. The 3.8% tax on investment income applies to most married couples with more than $250,000 of adjusted gross income and most singles with more than $200,000.

    It’s levied on net investment income, such as interest, dividends, capital gains and royalties, above the thresholds. Thus if a single filer has $150,000 of income and a $75,000 capital gain, $25,000 would be subject to the 3.8% tax.

    Some people can avoid this tax by planning, such as by selling part of an investment before year-end and the rest early in January.

    *Take required IRA payouts. These are typically from traditional individual retirement accounts held by taxpayers 70½ and older. The required payout is a percentage of total assets on the prior Dec. 31. Except for those taking their first such withdrawal, the payout must be taken by year-end.

    IRA owners taking their first required payout have a later deadline: April 1 of the year after they turn 70½. But waiting means the IRA owner will owe tax on two IRA payouts in the second year, pushing some into a higher bracket, so it may make sense to take it before year-end.

    *Make annual tax-free gifts. This year an inflation adjustment lifted the limit for annual tax-free gifts. Each individual can now give up to $15,000 in assets to any other person, per year, free of gift tax.

    Making annual gifts to shrink a taxable estate is less important now that the federal gift-and-estate tax exemption is above $11 million per individual. But such gifts still help reduce state death duties. According to the Tax Foundation, 17 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have estate or inheritance taxes, or both.

    Write to Laura Saunders at laura.saunders@wsj.com

  65. Thanks for that article, Lauren. Very timely for me, as one of the items on my to-do list this weekend is to look at my projected business income for 2018, and then figure out what I want to do re. retirement plan and charitable contributions to get DH and me the best possible result on our 1040.

  66. Happy Hanukkah! I saw a picture of scrumptious jelly donuts on FB and that’s all I want today!

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