Fighting cancer the Pan-Mass Challenge way – my post on “why I PMC”

When asked the question, “why do you PMC,” I was not sure my reasons are special. Everyone faces cancer, either directly or with family and friends. But as I thought more, I realized I have a story about how I became such a committed PMC-er.

I am a cancer survivor; I had a tumor removed from my cheek in 2003. The day I was told I had cancer changed my life forever. But that did not make me a PMC-er. No, I only donated when my friend Mark asked me to contribute to his PMC ride.

But then, my best friend, Alan, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He had terrific care from Dana Farber. But, after three years, it became clear that he was on the verge of losing his battle to cancer and he was back in the hospital.

At the same time, Mark sent an e-mail about his PMC ride. I said, “I’m in.” He responded, “to ride or to donate.” Initially I thought, “to donate, of course.” But, after some reflection, I responded, “to ride!” So, in January of 2015, I told Alan that I was building a road bike and riding in his name. He died a few weeks later.

A photo of Alan working on a 1973 Alfa Romeo that I owned

Keep in mind that I was a mountain bike rider, used to slow rides over rocks and roots. On my first time out on a road bike, I did 15 miles in an hour and thought it was such effort that I could not imagine ever completing the 192 PMC ride that August.

So, I trained. And not only did I make that PMC ride, I have done two more after. Now, I am preparing for my fourth ride. In fact, I rode almost 4,500 miles last year to train for the two-day event in August.

Me, thrilled to finish the B2VT ride

My commitment to the PMC ride gets more serious each year. Two years ago, I started working with a coach to train, and hired a dietician to eat better. And when Mark formed Team THANKS, I joined (learn more about Team THANKS here). This year, I helped design our team jerseys and shorts that we plan to wear on day two in August. I have also built five carbon fiber road bikes for me and other riders.

Parts out of the box to build my current bike

Team salute last year

Our team has a pedal partner, who we thought was cancer free. But, this winter, we learned that she back in the hospital, facing a very tough battle with cancer that returned in a new form.

 Maddie in her first fight that she won against cancer

When someone so young faces a painful, daunting form of cancer, it is heartbreaking. The I only way I have to deal with something like this is to try and raise more for the PMC!!

So, that is why I PMC.

This photo taken in my first year is from the last ten-mile stretch shows
me with Keven Lewis enduring to the end demonstrating how much we can all do!!

2017 year-end tax planning – a year of uncertainty (updated)

(as also seen online at IRIS)

The Republican Congress is in the process of passing the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, a new tax law. President Trump is expected to sign it by Christmas.

The law was created and passed hastily and affects many aspects of the federal tax code, so many details are still not clear. Furthermore, regulations have yet to be issued. Also, while the provisions affecting corporations are permanent, most affecting individuals expire in 2026. Thus, tax planning is complicated.

How do you plan? Very carefully – you need to augment your traditional year-end planning by anticipating the impact of the many changes.

Note: many proposed changes did not make the final law, so be sure you are referring to the final version when making your planning decisions!

Planning steps

First, be practical:

  • Determine what income and deductions you can move from 2017 to 2018 or vice versa.

Second, review the impact:

  • What happens if you shift any of these amounts of income and deductions to the other year?

Finally, watch for the impact of the Alternative Minimum Tax (“AMT”):

  • The exemption for the AMT and the threshold above which that exemption gets phased out both rise next year, so some deductions lost to the AMT in 2017 could have value in 2018. Others simply vanish next year, so you need to plan carefully!


The new law lowers the tax brackets, so income will be generally subject to less tax in 2018.

Conclusion: You probably want to move income to next year if you can.

Exemptions and standard deduction

The new law eliminates personal exemptions and raises standard deductions to $12,000 for single filers and to $24,000 for married couples. These amounts will be indexed for inflation. The increased standard deduction may offset deductions that you lose, as discussed below. If you have children and others who are dependents, those tax credits are increased, which may help as well.

Conclusion: You probably want to move itemized deductions to 2017.

Itemized Deductions and Credits

The deduction for property taxes and for state and local income taxes is capped at $10,000.

Mortgage interest on new home purchases is deductible only for loans of up to $750,000 used to purchase your primary residence. Interest on home equity loans will not be deductible. (It is not clear if converting any part of home equity indebtedness that was used to purchase or improve your primary residence to a mortgage would make that interest deductible, subject to the cap.)

All miscellaneous deductions are eliminated. This includes investment and tax preparation fees, safe deposit box charges and unreimbursed employee expenses.

The casualty loss deduction is also eliminated and the bike to work exclusion ends.

Moving expenses will no longer be allowed (except for military personnel in certain cases).

The deduction of alimony will be eliminated for divorces occurring after 2018.

What survived? The deduction of student loan interest and medical expenses survived. The latter is subject to a 7.5% rather than a 10% floor. And, the new law repeals the reduction applied to itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers, which may help with some deductions.

Here are several items that were considered for limitation or elimination that remain unchanged:

Dependent care accounts, adoption expenses, tuition waivers and employer paid tuition, capital gains on the sale of your personal residence, the teacher deduction, electric car credit, Archer medical accounts and designating shares of stock or mutual funds sold.

Conclusion: you will want to move any of the eliminated deductions that you can prepay into 2017.

Note: a last-minute provision added to the new law makes prepaying 2018 income taxes in 2017 non-deductible.

Pass-through businesses

If you have income from a sole proprietorship, LLC, partnership or S Corporation, you may be able to deduct 20% of that income, subject to certain rules on wages and a phaseout beginning at $157,500 for singles and $315,000 for married taxpayers. These rules are designed to avoid abuse seen when Kansas enacted a similar law.  (Watch for a post on this soon.)

Conclusion: read the fine print (e.g. rules for personal service firms) to see if there are any opportunities you can exploit.

Estate taxes

The credit before estate or gift taxes are due is doubled to $10,000,000, indexed for inflation.

Conclusion: you may want to postpone your year-end gift planning.


Carefully review any income and deductions that you can still shift to see if moving will lessen the total taxes you pay for 2017 and 2018.

Good luck and best wishes for the holidays!

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Holiday Planning Series with the Squash Brothers, part III, debt management

Watch our Holiday Planning Series, Part II, as Steven and the Squash Brothers discuss debt management so you do not overspend and end up with credit card debt you can’t pay off.

Thanks for watching our series!

Holiday Planning Series with the Squash Brothers, part II, cash management

Watch our Holiday Planning Series, Part II, as Steven and the Squash Brothers discuss cash flow planning so you have more to spend (or to save!).

Next time, debt management.