My name is Russell Newquist. I am a software engineer, a martial artist, an author, an editor, a businessman and a blogger. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and a Master of Science degree in Computer Science, but I'm technically a high school dropout. I also think that everything in this paragraph is pretty close to meaningless. I work for a really great small company in Huntsville, Alabama building really cool software. I'm the owner and head instructor of Madison Martial Arts Academy, which I opened in 2013 less to make money and more because I just really enjoy a good martial arts workout with friends. I'm the editor in chief of Silver Empire and also one of the published authors there. And, of course, there is this blog - and all of its predecessors. There's no particular reason you should trust anything I say any more than any other source. So read it, read other stuff, and think for your damn self - if our society hasn't yet over-educated you to the point that you've forgotten how.
There are no men like me. There is only me.
Although business is doing quite well at the dojo, I now find myself managing a rather large building… that sits empty most of the day. I’d like to turn a dormant asset into revenue. Maybe you need space for your own micro business. If so, we should talk.
My facility has one 2400 square foot main room (40′ x 60′), separate men and women’s restrooms, separate men and women’s dressing rooms, and a waiting room with a nice window into the main room. It’s perfect for fitness classes. It would also work wonderfully for home school classes or other educational events.
The facility is already in use on weekday evenings, Sunday mornings and afternoons, some Saturdays, and from 8:30 to 9:30 AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Otherwise it’s wide open for scheduling. If you need a large space but only part time, and you don’t want to pay full rent for a large facility, this is the place for you!
I’m flexible on pricing, and I’m willing to work with you if you’re just getting a business off the ground. Drop me a line if you’re interested. The building is at 1604 Slaughter Rd in Madison, Alabama. Contact info is in the flier below.
Old school blogger Steven Den Beste has passed away. I realize that most of my readers will have absolutely no idea who he was – and that’s a tragedy. Steven’s old blog, “U.S.S. Clueless,” wasn’t just his original blog. It was one of the original blogs – and one of the very best. He stopped that blog nearly a decade ago due to health problems and switched to blogging about anime. Yet I still use examples he gave on that blog to explain concepts to others. I vividly remember others, such as the riotous story of how one of his smart-ass Dutch ancestors, when forced to choose a surname, literally chose the Dutch version of, “The Best.”
Steven’s blog was the single biggest inspiration that pushed me into blogging myself. You can either thank or blame him for this blog’s existence, both in this and its previous incarnations. I have seldom bothered to check his blog over the past few years, but every now and then who would turn out another one of his old masterpieces. The were always worth the time.
The world is diminished by his loss.
Advance Reader Copies for Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key by my friend S.D. McPhail will be going out in the morning. If you signed up for a copy, check your e-mail in the morning. If you’d like an advance copy yourself, it’s not too late! You can sign up for a copy here.
After an assassination attempt on his royal father, Prince Rasteem vows to track down the dastardly Chudreev the Viper. After he and his brother lead the Persian army to victory in an invasion of the mythical Dodrazeb, Rasteem begins to suspect that they may not be on the right track. As he searches for Dodrazeb’s fled King and his beautiful daughter, he learns that a powerful artifact has also gone missing. With the help of new allies, he must track down his father’s true assailant, and prevent him from recovering The Origin Key.
Here’s what others are saying about Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key –
This is the best third-century Persian historical sci-fi sword-and-science novel that I’ve ever read. Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key goes on sale on July 30th!
The files for the print version of Between the Wall and the Fire are off to the printer. The ebook version should be finished this evening. If you’ve requested an advance review copy, check your inbox tomorrow. If you haven’t requested an advance review copy, there’s still time. Hit the link and fill out the very short form. If you want to be one of the first to get your actual hands on an actual book, come see me and S.D. McPhail at the Catfish Literary Festival on Saturday, June 4th!
Reader praise for my last anthology of superversive science fiction and fantasy stories, Make Death Proud to Take Us, has been strong. Here’s a sample of what readers have said about it:
- “Each and every one of these stories is well written and the editing is also accomplished with perfection.”
- “From the first story till the last I was hooked. If you love adventure, courage, space, dragons, giants, elves, witches and knights….. ect, you will love this book!!!!”
- “Take a chance on this collection of short stories; I’m inclined to believe that this book will have something to interest nearly any person interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy.”
- “From the first story, I knew this was going to be good. The stories creates worlds of adventures for the mind to deliver magical dreams for feeding the souls of man.“
And if you loved this one, stay tuned. We’ll be announcing our next one very soon!
Like other big name charity donations before him, Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to donate 99% of his wealth to charity isn’t being done out of the goodness of his heart. It’s a tax dodge.
It’s quite simple once you know how it works. First of all, you have to get rich. That’s the only part of the process that’s actually hard. Once you’ve accomplished that, you form a non-profit corporation. You and I can do it for a couple of hundred dollars and an hour or so in line at the county courthouse. Someone like Zuckerberg will probably shell out a few thousand dollars to have some lawyers do some extra fancy setup for him because he’s got so much money that why not?
Now, a non-profit corporation is almost exactly the same as a for-profit corporation… except that you have to set things up just right in order to maintain your tax exempt status. It’s “purpose” (more on this in a minute) has to be one of the listed purposes approved by the IRS, and it can’t be a political organization primarily aimed at influencing elections or legislation. It’s “purpose” can’t be to benefit private interests. And any profits can’t get passed back to the shareholders.
Yes, you read that last sentence right. Being a non-profit organization doesn’t mean you can’t make a profit. It just means you can’t pass that profit on to the shareholders. There are also a few riders that a non-profit organization has to spend a certain amount of its net worth every year. Again… more on this in a minute.
About that “purpose” noted above. That’s the easy part. You just pick a cause. Or, if you have billions like Zuckerberg – and Bill Gates before him, whose model he’s following – you pick several. This is the nice part: they’re probably causes you legitimately care about and want to do something about. Easy and done. But this isn’t the actual purpose. It’s just the organizing purpose that you build the organization around. The actual purpose, of course, is to avoid a shitload of taxes.
Next, you “donate” all of your money to the non-profit organization. Of course, it’s not actually a donation. You’re just transferring your money (or stocks, bonds, or whatever other assets) from one account into another, or from one name into another. In reality, you and/or your spouse, children, family, friends, etc own 100% of the shares of the non-profit. So you’re really “donating” all of your funds to… yourself.
But the great thing is, this donation is, itself, a tax deduction. So you’ve transferred all of your wealth into another account and wiped out most or all of your actual income for the year (from a tax perspective) at the same time. It’s a good deal, right?
We’re just getting started.
Being a non-profit organization doesn’t mean you don’t pay your employees. So now, you, your spouse, your children, and other family and friends are all instantly employees of the non-profit organization. And it doesn’t mean you have to pay them poorly, either. Let’s make them officers, because we can. And officers at non-profit organizations routinely make six figure salaries. Some of them make seven figure salaries. But… we don’t want our salaries to be too high, because then we get into tax issues again. Remember, we’re trying to avoid taxes here. Not pay more.
So we set a decent salary, but not too high. But aren’t we just paying ourselves out of our own money? Ah – here’s where the real fun starts. Because no, we aren’t doing that. We just put together a “charity organization,” right? So we’re going to get a lot of other people’s money, too. And unlike a real business, we’re going to get it all tax free.
So what, we’ll go around like the Salvation Army or Children’s Miracle Network and ask people for donations to the cause, right? Sure. But that’s not where the real money comes from. The real money comes from doling out services and influence in exchange for payment… er, donations. All those six figure speaking fees that Bill Clinton collects? They don’t go to him. They’re donations to his charity. So they’re a tax deduction for the payer, and they’re tax free revenue on his side.
But now we’re still only getting that six figure salary, while all of the rest of our money languishes. We’re not paying taxes on it, but we can’t really do anything with it for ourselves, can we? Well, not exactly. And this is where the non-profit life starts to look a lot like the for-profit one.
Because your job requires you to travel around town a lot, for all kinds of functions. It’s required for a charity, right? You’ve got to mingle. So here’s a car, on the foundation’s dime. Oh, it’s not your car – it’s the foundation’s. You’re only using it. Except that you own the foundation and nobody else is ever going to ask you for it. And you really need a nice one, because your an executive at a very important foundation. Bam. $100k+ car that didn’t come out of your income. No taxes involved, other than sales tax and annual property taxes… which again, are paid by the foundation. And oh yeah, the insurance, maintenance and gas are paid for by that foundation, too.
But we’re not talking about a regular foundation here. We’re talking about Mark Zuckberberg. Surely he does a lot of real travel, too. We’d better have a private plane ready. And of course he’ll need a posh place to stay, at only the best hotels. He’s gotta eat while he’s out, but those big wigs he’s hobnobbing with only eat at the best places. So that’s gonna cost. And of course the foundation picks up the tab for all of it.
You definitely need that home office decked out with the latest communication and technology. Top end computers every year, new smart phones to keep in touch with all of your important charity work. Phone bill, internet bill, all paid for by the foundation. It’s a work expense. Health insurance? Paid for by your “employer” – but only the best, because you’re important.
You have to be careful with some of this, because the IRS actually does have guidelines to prevent “abuse” of this. But a little ingenuity can find substantial overlap between what the IRS allows and what you actually want to do. The foundation doesn’t need to pay for everything, either. After all, you’re still getting that six figure salary and you didn’t donate all of your wealth to it. But imagine how little money you’d actually need if your house is already paid for, your cars are bought and paid for by your employer, and all your vacation… um, I mean work travel is paid for by somebody else. And at the end of the day I’ve only scratched the surface of what you can get away with having the foundation paid for.
But wait a minute. Don’t we require charities to, you know, actually pay for charity? Yes, some. But nowhere near all of your assets. The tax laws on this – and on all of the sneaky ways to pad your own coffers – get complex. But that’s OK, because your “charity” has billions of dollars to pay all the best tax lawyers to be sure that you’re following the rules to the letter. Remember, the purpose here isn’t to break the law. The purpose is to avoid every penny of taxes that you can avoid legally and keep that money in your own pocket. I mean, your foundation’s pocket, of course. Right? Right.
And finally, we get to the best part. You set in your will, and in the foundation’s bylaws, that when a shareholder dies, the shares revert to the foundation itself. “Wait a minute!” I hear you saying. “Don’t you want all this wealth to pass on to your children?”
Yes, yes you do. Which is why you make them – at some point before you die, either at the formation of the charity or later – shareholders. You sell them the shares for some token fee, so that it’s not a “gift” and doesn’t incur taxes. And they can be minority shareholders – even slim minority shareholders. But when you die, your shares revert to the foundation instead of going to them – and hence incur no taxes – they already own their shares – and hence pay no taxes – but now their shares (combined) give them full ownership and control of the foundation.
At the end, you’ve avoided the biggest tax of them all: the 40% inheritance tax that kicks in on estates valued at over $5 million. If you believe nothing else I’ve written above, realize that by forming a foundation and “donating” his money, Zuckerberg manages to pass on all of his $45 billion to his daughter instead of paying 40% of that ($18 billion) to Uncle Sam.
And that’s why I call it the Zuckerberg Tax Dodge. He’s hardly the first to do it. Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Warren Buffet, and plenty of others have done it. The practice dates back at least to JD Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and Andrew Mellon in the nineteenth century.
But when the wealthiest of the wealthy “donate all their money to charity,” don’t call them saints. Follow the paper trail and see how they’re perpetuating their family wealth.
Extra Life is a 24-hour gaming marathon. But we’re not just having a blast and playing games. We’re also helping to save lives. We’re raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. If you don’t know, Children’s Miracle Network pays for life-saving treatment for terminally ill children.
The event runs for 24-hours. Some of us will stay the whole time. Others will come in and out as they like. You can do the same! Games begin at 8AM on Saturday morning and will continue until 8AM on Sunday morning. We’ll have all kinds of games. And if you’ve got a game you specifically want to play, bring it!
I’ve donated the location again, using my dojo to host. My friend Chris has donated his 10 foot projection screen again, and we’ll have plenty of game consoles and games to play on it! My friend Trevor of The Trainer Group has offered to donate refreshments this year. We’re talking to a few other folks about donations, and hope to have a few more announcements soon.
All of the money we raise – 100% of it – goes straight to the hospitals!
Come on out and join us for a great time and help support a great cause! You can join our official Extra Life team and get your friends and family to sponsor you. Or, if you’re not up for that, you can make a donation at the door!