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Michael Jackson’s Estate Reaches Tax Victory In Court Battle 

Michael Jackson’s estate won a major years-long court battle after a US tax court found that the IRS inflated the value of his assets and image at the time of his death. 

According to reports, “The IRS had put the value of three disputed aspects of Jackson’s worth at the time of his 2009 death at about $482 million. This led to an estate tax bill for his heirs that was far too high given the King of Pop’s financial situation when he died. In his decision issued Monday, Judge Mark Holmes put that figure at $111 million, far closer to the estate’s own estimates.”

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“We’re pleased. We always try to do the right thing. We tried from the beginning to follow the IRS rules and regulations, and relied on the best experts possible. It’s unfortunate that we were forced to litigate to protect ourselves,” co-executor John Branca told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The judge claimed to have mainly disagreed with the IRS over their value of Jackson’s image and likeness, which seemed to dwindle after multiple accusations of child molestation against the singer. The IRS gave an estimate of $161 million while Holmes ruled it was just $4.15 million. 

“Despite Jackson’s acquittal on all counts at his 2005 trial, the allegations continued to dog him, and while Jackson was selling out dates for a planned world tour when he died, he could not find a sponsor or merchandise partner. “The fact that he earned not a penny from his image and likeness in 2006, 2007, or 2008 shows the effect those allegations had, and continued to have, until his death,” Holmes wrote in the 271-page decision.

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After the two lawsuits involved in the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland” were dismissed this year, however, as well as the pandemic forcing many projects to be delayed, Jackson’s estate leaders feel like it will not be the perfect time to start promoting Jackson’s legacy. 

“We’re at an absolute turning point,” Branca said. “I think people have come to realize that Michael was innocent of any charges and unable to protect himself. We’ve got a wonderful Broadway play coming, we’ll be reopening our Cirque du Soleil show soon and we’ve got some surprises coming.”

The judge noted that the estate has received massive success following Jackson’s death through his shows, concert films and several strategic moves to sell his assets. However, he also claimed that “the IRS appeared to be factoring those successes into its decisions rather than considering only the circumstances at the moment of Jackson’s death, when things were considerably more grim after several years of waning popularity, poor management and reckless spending from Jackson.”

The judge went on to mock the estate’s initial valuing of Jackson’s image and likeness at only $2,000, however, they were also “putting one of the best known celebrities in the world, the King of Pop, at the price of a heavily used 20-year-old Honda Civic.”

Wealth

Study Finds 22 Men Own More Wealth than All Women in Africa

One of the major topics of political concern both in the United States and around the world is the problem of economic inequality, which continues to increase by the day. Oxfam International, a charity that focuses on alleviating global poverty, has released a study that found that economic inequality has become so severe that the world’s richest 22 men own more wealth than all 326 million women who live in Africa. According to Oxfam, much of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few billionaires, whose fortunes contribute little to society even as women and people of color are excluded from the economy because of biased economic systems. To address the problem, Oxfam has called on governments around the world to institute policies that ease the financial burden on women who care for children and the eldery, often without pay. Oxfam recommends that governments increase taxes on the wealthy in order to fund programs to support child care and health care.

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The report included a number of surprising statistics that highlight just how bad economic inequality has become. For example, it found that the world’s 2,153 billionaires have more wealth than 4.6 billion people; that the world’s richest 1% have over twice as much wealth as 6.9 billion people; that the value of unpaid care work by women is $10.8 trillion annually; and that the number of billionaires in the world has doubled over the past decade. The report links economic inequality with gender inequality, arguing that economic policies that have been instituted around the world are biased towards men, allowing them to dominate in business in government. As a potential remedy to this problem, Oxfam recommends that governments recognize the unpaid yet essential care work performed predominantly by women by expanding the public sector’s role in providing care to children, the elderly, and others who cannot care for themselves. As populations age and governments around the world cut access to public services, this problem is expected to worsen with time.

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Oxfam believes that the influence of the super-rich on governments is too great, as the wealthy have the power to influence governments to enact policies that benefit themselves at the expense of the world’s poor, which disproportionately affects women and people of color. There is much disagreement around the world as to whether or not the existence of billionaires is good for society. Some argue that the fact that billionaires exist is evidence of the success of the capitalist system that has raised millions of people out of poverty, whereas others say that increasing taxes on the super-wealthy would lead to a more fair, just, and equal world where fewer people suffer unnecessarily. According to Oxfam, the capitalist system is broken because of the massive and growing economic inequality it generates and how it allows wealth to essentially be taken from the poor and given to the rich.

Real Estate Investing

The Pros and Cons of Investing in Real Estate

Investments are a smart way to expand your wealth, as the returns on long-term investments can be substantial. However, when considering how to invest your money, it’s important to take into account various options. While investing in the stock market is common and relatively safe, it may be a better choice in some cases to invest in real estate instead. Buying land as an investment is fundamentally different from investing in stocks, and as such, before you make a decision, it’s best to consider how these differences are likely to impact your returns.

According to Andres Pira, the CEO of Blue Horizons Developments, there are many advantages to investing in real estate. When buying property instead of stocks, you have more control over your profits. Investing in the stock market requires buying stocks when they are low and selling them when they are high, and it can be difficult or sometimes impossible to predict how the stock market will behave. Real estate, on the other hand, is more fixed, as variables like size, location, and features remain in the buyer’s control. Additionally, when selling real estate, you have the power to negotiate your price depending on who you’re selling to, which you cannot do with stocks.

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Another advantage of real estate investments is found in their consistency. If you’re a landlord, you can expect a consistent cash flow in the form of regular monthly payments from your tenants. Generally, as time goes on, the cost of rent increases to match inflation, meaning that if you’re a landlord, you can expect monthly payments to increase with time. While the stock market offers the potential for an unexpectedly high payout, it carries with it a risk of losing a substantial amount of money, given the difficulty of predicting economic changes.

Investing in real estate is also unique in the sense that it enables certain tax advantages. For instance, real estate owners can take advantage of a depreciation expense, which allows them to save money on their taxes significantly and use those savings to reinvest, pay back loans, and more. Real estate can be a tricky market to invest in, however, and investors need to be careful about the property they choose to buy by putting substantial time and effort into research and other due diligence.

There are also a number of disadvantages to real estate investments. For one, property is very expensive; while you can invest in the stock market with a relatively small amount of money and still expect moderate returns on your investment in due time, properties that are worth investing in require a substantial down payment and other upfront costs such as improvements and repairs, as well as ongoing payments like property taxes, insurance, and more. 

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And while investing in the stock market can be as easy as signing up for an app, real estate investments take a substantial amount of your time, particularly if you’re new to the business, as there is a lot to learn when managing real estate investments, during which time mistakes can be very costly.

If you want to invest in real estate, you can be expected to be in it for the long haul, as the best way to invest in real estate involves taking advantage of a long-term strategy for maximizing profits. And while being a landlord seems to be an easy way to generate passive income, tenants can cause any number of problems, and sometimes even sue their landlords over disagreements about their living situation. To make matters worse, the law in many jurisdictions tends to favor tenants over landlords, as a tenant’s right to a suitable living environment is weighted against a landlord’s right to make money off their investment. For these reasons and more, it is essential to exercise good judgment and care when expanding your investment portfolio to include real estate, but managing properties successfully can be very profitable.

USA China Trade War 2

Promising Progress Made In US-China Trade War Negotiations

A new easing of trade tariffs between the US and China has sparked fresh hope that an end to the trade war between the countries could now be in sight.

Since Donald Trump was elected President, discussions with China’s Xi Jinping have remained tense. However, new revelations that some tariffs are to be rolled back has led analysts to predict real potential for growth in the coming months.

The stock market has also responded enthusiastically, and there has also been unprecedented steps by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to increase their global growth forecasts, should a deal to ease trade tensions come to fruition.

Although the details are yet to be finalised, it has been revealed that the deal will reintroduce the movement of US agricultural goods to China alongside a reduction in tariffs on Chinese imports entering the US. There are also suggestions that US poultry imports could also start flowing back into China.

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The first phase of the deal relies on the US rolling back tariffs on over $350bn of Chinese imports. If this is achieved, Xi Jinping will make the historic journey to the US to sign a partial trade deal with Donald Trump. Such progress is unprecedented and there has been excitement from investors, leading to a surge in stock markets and an all-time weekly high for the S&P 500.

Less than six months ago, further tensions were added as China announced new tariffs on $60bn of US imports, after warnings from Donald Trump against adding further fuel to the fire were ignored. Currently, China’s tariffs affect US imports of soybeans, beef, pork seafood, vegetables, liquefied natural gas, whiskey and ethanol. They range between 5% to 25%. The US currently levies a 15% duty on a range of Chinese imports, from meat through to musical instruments. According to Wikipedia, in 2018, over 1,300 categories of Chinese imports were listed for tariffs, including aircraft parts, batteries, flat-panel televisions, medical devices, satellites, and various weapons. In September, it was announced that China has implemented a 5% levy on US crude oil, the first time fuel had been affected by the ongoing trade battle.

Trump has long believed that China has been operating unfair trade practices which have significantly disadvantaged the US economy. He also accused them of intellectual property theft. The objective of the tariffs was to help boost sales to US companies by making imports more expensive. As overseas imports can often be much cheaper to produce, consumers have increasingly shifted towards the cheaper options, even if it takes a little longer for them to arrive. By focusing on making US products and companies more attractive to consumers, he hoped to give the economy a much needed boost.

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Unfortunately, this objective has not been easy to achieve, nor has it been supported by a wide range of industry experts. The reality is that the ongoing trade war is continuing to not only impact politics but wider businesses and consumers too. And whilst the intention may have been to encourage more sales towards American businesses, the tariffs could in fact have the opposite effect and prevent those same businesses from expanding their operations overseas to lucrative international markets.

With Singles Day fast approaching, this is likely to be the next major event impacted by the ongoing trade war. Similar to Black Friday in the US, Singles Day is a huge sale event which takes place on the Alibaba shopping platform. Most popular with young Chinese people, the event takes place on November 11th, chosen because the number 1 is thought to closely resemble a single person alone. Also known as ‘Guanggun Jie’, analysts have suggested that the ongoing trade tensions between the US and China could affect sales of US products on Singles Day, mainly driven by the loyalty of Chinese consumers, who could actively avoid purchasing products from US companies in retaliation for the way China has been treated.

This viewpoint is reflected in the findings of a recent survey by AlixPartners has revealed that 70% of respondents felt the trade war was influencing their purchasing decisions. Interestingly, over 50% stated that their national loyalty was preventing them from purchasing American brands, suggesting that these brands could see sales adversely affected on Singles Day due to the trade war struggles.

Although the future is still somewhat uncertain, the potential olive branches which are being presented by both parties are being taken as a positive sign that we could be entering a new phase of arrangements between China and the US. Any positive steps towards a renewed deal could not only help to reignite the flow of products between the two countries, but help to stabilize the stock market and provide an optimism across the wider global economy too.

USA China Trade War 2

U.S. and China Discuss Rolling Back Tariffs

President Trump has invoked a trade war between the U.S. and China, resulting in potential economic damage to both countries. After Trump imposed tariffs on goods imported from China, China retaliated in kind, driving up the prices of consumer goods. Now, the two countries have agreed in an initial trade deal to roll back some of the tariffs each country has opposed on the other, pending finalization of their agreement. This development represents a reversal of the Trump administration’s position on tariffs, which they instituted in the first place, forcing China to retaliate. If the deal goes through, the price of consumer goods could decrease, boosting an economy which by traditional measures is already quite healthy.

Though Trump has canceled a planned tariff increase, he has continued to threaten Beijing with additional tariffs if they don’t comply with America’s terms. The battle between Trump and Xi Jinping has lasted for 19 months so far, and has caused pain for businesses, consumers, and investors in both countries. Following this news, stocks soared, as investors anticipate an end to the protracted and arguably unnecessary trade dispute. According to Gao Feng, a spokesman for China’s Commerce Ministry, the two countries have discussed resolving their differences over the past two sides, and have agreed to cancel tariffs by stages. However, a timeline has not yet been publicly established.

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As the reality of a deal between the two countries becomes increasingly likely, markets have reacted with optimism, as the S&P 500 rose to more than 3,090, approaching a record closing high. The companies most positively affected by the news are ones that have close ties to Chinese manufacturers and retailers. Despite the positive reaction in the markets, however, other sectors of the economy continue to struggle. In particular, the trade war with China has negatively impacted farm belt states like Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, where economic growth has slowed considerably. Though the Trump administration claims that Americans do not experience the effects of tariffs, businesses and farmers disagree.

This is not the first time that the United States and China seemed close to reaching a deal to end the trade war.

As a result of Trump’s presidency, American tariffs now apply to more than two-thirds of imports from China, whereas Chinese tariffs affect 58 percent of their imported goods from America. Tariffs are paid by consumers in the countries imposing the tariffs, making the trade war destructive on both sides, leading economists to issue warnings about the long-term impacts of ongoing tariffs. The imposition of tariffs on Chinese imports has long been considered a bad idea by experts, who are now vindicated by the Trump administration’s reversal of policy under significant public pressure.

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Issues unrelated to tariffs factor into the negotiations. American officials want China to take more aggressive action on protecting American intellectual property rights, for instance and contend that the ultimate decision is up to Trump. Additionally, the United States wants China to encourage more foreign investment and purchase more goods and services from abroad. This preliminary agreement suggests that China will be willing to make these concessions, but the final details have yet to be ironed out.

This is not the first time that the United States and China seemed close to reaching a deal to end the trade war. In May, the two countries agreed upon a resolution to end the trade war, which included concessions from China to change some of their business and legal practices. President Jinping even gave a speech celebrating the achievement. However, when a draft agreement was sense to the United States, significant changes had been made to the plan, leading Trump to accuse Beijing of reneging on its commitments. The changes to the draft agreement, which included the removal of promises to change domestic laws, were thought to have been personally made by Jinping himself. Only time will tell whether this new agreement suffers the same fate.