Hogwash Volume 43

Taxes, Monkeys, Chocolate and More!


Issue #43 ~ November 2015 

Rosi and Gardner

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An Exemption from the Homestead Tax Exemption

Since 1994, owners of residential property in Michigan may be entitled to claim a Homeowners Exemption from a portion of the assessed real property taxes, exempting that property from the operating millage of local schools.
Generally, to be eligible for the exemption one must be a resident of Michigan and the property for which an exemption is requested must be that person’s principle residence. Although the owner may spend substantial time away from the home, traveling on business, etc., as long as it is the owner’s intention to return to that home an exemption may be granted.
We came across an interesting decision that presented an unusual fact scenario. A husband and wife purchased a home in Leelanau County. The husband worked in Illinois and occupied a principle residence there. Illinois has a Homestead Exemption law that applied to the Illinois property. The wife, on the other hand, spent much time in Michigan, considered the Michigan home as her continuous principle residence and requested a Homestead Exemption on the Michigan property.
There are several complex rules adopted by the Department of Treasury that appear to be designed to limit those who may be entitled to the exemption. Michigan’s tax tribunal sought to limit the parties to only the one Homestead Exemption on one property, that allowed in Illinois. In an appeal our Court of Appeals ruled otherwise saying that because the Illinois Homestead Exemption was a Property Tax Credit and not an Exemption the laws were fundamentally different and the parties were entitled to claim the benefit of both.
The Appeals Court also stated that without a reciprocal tax law agreement with Illinois, Michigan tax officials are not authorized to interpret the laws of other states against Michigan citizens.
If you are fortunate to find yourselves in a comparable position, we may be able to help. Give our office a call at 231-941-5878 to schedule an appointment.

Not Just for the Rich and Famous…

Prenuptial agreements can also provide structure for a second marriage.  A properly crafted, written agreement can allow both partners to make clear what property is and shall remain separate, and what things are something that they will build and accumulate together.

With such an agreement, you can set aside assets (or categories of assets) that you want to pass to your heirs when you pass away.  Your partner can do the same, for his or her heirs (children, grandchildren, or others).  The two of you can also agree how you will divide monthly expenses, and what will happen to assets and debts that you accumulate together.
The process of preparing an antenuptial agreement can be very helpful for a couple.  The process involves full disclosure to each other, and ensures that both partners understand and agree to the arrangements they are making.  It is a good footing for a couple’s continuing, joint financial lives.   And, giving clear definition of your financial commitments to one another, and to the others that are important in your lives, can allow you to put more time and attention into the important things, like living your new life together.

All Our Uncles Are Monkeys Day

Thanksgiving, which this year occurs on November 26, may be best known holiday of November but this month we’re going even farther back, to almost before time itself. Here’s a hint, November 24 is officially – although it is not yet a national holiday – All Our Uncles Are Monkeys Day.  
To those with mo’ larnin’ this day is properly called Evolution Day. That’s the anniversary of the date of the publication, in 1859, of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin.
For all you cinema fans, who can forget Spencer Tracy as Henry Drummond, defending school teacher Bertram Cates?  Inherit the Wind was a part fictional – part historical movie based loosely on 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial in which Tennessee School Teacher John Scopes was prosecuted for teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. We understand that the folks in Tennessee are still discussing the merits of the outcome of that trial. 
Now, does that have anything to do with Thanksgiving? Probably not, but I thought it might be a good segue into a couple of discussions that center around evolution.
The first is to think about how, in some homes, turkey has evolved from whatever was served at that first celebration of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags into a table graced by a Turducken – a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken – at one end of the spectrum and Tofurky – tofu turkey – at the other. Neither of these were probably served at the that first luncheon.
Also consistent with the position espoused by Charles Darwin, November 24 is also the anniversary of the discovery in 1974 of the Australopithecus afarensis skeleton of that cute gal, Lucy, who was still looking good after 3.2 million years. For those who are disturbed by the potential of being neither a monkey’s uncle or a monkey’s nephew or niece, a perhaps the name of day should be changed to All Our Aunts Are Australopithecus Afarensis.   Who can remember and pronounce that three times?
Too confusing for me.

Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day!

We are sorry, dear readers.  November 7 was National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day.  We, as authors of Hogwash! and purveyors of delicious excuses, hereby authorize (perhaps direct, even) your belated celebration of this day, by the consumption of at least one full serving (bar, not pound!) of bittersweet chocolate, with almonds.  If you missed it, we recommend that you now celebrate it, in duplicate.  Why twice?  You don’t want to offend the chocolate gods, now do you?  Make it up to them.
The Father(s) of Aviation

November is National Aviation History Month, a celebration of U.S. aviation’s storied past.

Indeed, U.S. aviation history is replete with heroes, from the first man on the moon Neil Armstrong who, aside from his space adventures, flew more than 200 different models on aircraft, to aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, to the Wright brothers.

The Wright brothers are widely credited with inventing and building the world’s first successful powered airplane known as the Wright Flyer, but their claim to fame remains controversial in some parts of the world. Notably, Brazil regards its own Alberto Santos-­Dumont as the first successful aviator, and his flying creation, the 14­bis, as the first true airplane.

On 23 October 1906, in Paris, France, Santos-­Dumont’s 14­bis performed the first “officially” witnessed, unaided takeoff and flight by a heavier than air aircraft. That accomplishment was certified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (“International Federation of Aeronautics”), an organization founded in France in 1905 to regulate the “sport” of flying.

Like the European flying community as a whole, the FAI was skeptical of the Wright brothers’ achievement. One issue was that the Wright Flyer’s inaugural flights in Kill Devil Hills, NC, on December 17, 1903 were witnessed by only five people: three members of the U.S. coastal lifesaving crew, plus an area businessman and a teenage boy who lived nearby. In contrast, the 14­bis’ early flights were witnessed by a large crowd of Aéro­Club de France observers, and earned him the prize reserved for the first officially observed flight of more than 25 meters.

Also controversial is the fact that the Wright Flyer took off from a launch rail, and subsequent models used a catapult to assist most takeoffs during 1904 and 1905. Conversely, the 14­bis was self-propelled, running on its rear wheels, with a “nose skid” near the front.

Despite their relative lack of witnesses and press coverage, the Wright brothers did keep extensive logs of their flight attempts. Eventually, the FAI recognized the brothers’ records; acknowledged that the Wright brothers did conduct unassisted takeoffs and controlled, sustained, maneuvering flights nearly three years before Santos-Dumont; and credited them with having made the first successful heavier than air flight.

But if you ask a Brazilian who “the father of aviation” is…


November Musings

Thanksgiving originated in early of autumn of 1621 when the 53 surviving pilgrims celebrated a successful harvest while dining and feasting for three days with many of the local Wampanoag and their sachem Massasoit.
Today in the United States, Thanksgiving is a holiday where families all over the country sit down to enjoy their feast at the same time – HALFTIME (Go Lions!)


There is a lot of work that goes into a traditional Thanksgiving meal and it’s always nice to know help is out there for the perfect preparation of the turkey centerpiece. Here are some actual calls to the Butterball Turkey Hotline….
  1. A disappointed woman called wondering why her turkey had no breast meat. After a conversation with a Talk-Line operator, it became apparent that the woman’s turkey was lying on the table upside down.
  2. When a Talk-Line staffer asked a caller what state her turkey was in (meaning how thawed was it) the caller responded with, “Florida”.
  3. Another gentleman called to tell the operator he cut his turkey in half with a chain saw and wanted to know if the oil from the chain would adversely affect the turkey.
  4. A restaurant owner in California wanted to know how to roast a turkey for a vegetarian menu.    


On a serious note, November 11, Veterans Day, is celebrated in remembrance of the men and women that have, are, and will serve in the armed forces for this country:

“Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.” –Michel de Montaigne
“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.” –Abraham Lincoln
“The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.” –Patrick Henry

Gary’s in the Kitchen!

I received the original of this recipe from a friend who found it on online.  I’ve made changes to the original and am proud to say that this version is delicious.
Winter Squash with Macadamia Nuts
  • 4 cups peeled & cubed squash (about 3 pounds). Choose your favorite winter squash or combination of squashes – at our house we like a mix of kabocha, delicato and butternut.
  • 2 cups peeled & cubed parsnips (about 12 oz.)
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped Macadamia nuts (about 3 1/2 oz.)
  1. Butter an 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Combine squash and parsnips in large bowl. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in maple syrup, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Pour over the squash, and toss to coat. Put into the baking dish. Cover & chill. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover with foil.  Bake covered 40 minutes, then uncover; bake until all vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes longer. Sprinkle with nuts and bake 10 minutes.

November Offer

FREE Consultation (up to 60 minutes) regarding a prenuptial agreement. 
Call us at (231) 941-5878 to schedule your confidential consultation.

Offer Expires 12/15/2015

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