Talk of the bay

By Times Staff
Published May 7, 2007

Tennessee to Floridians: Take a look at us

Tennessee, you really know how to rub it in. High home prices, combined with tax and insurance spikes, have sparked a minimigration to the Tennessee mountains. And now the people famed for Dollywood and the Grand Ole Opry have gotten uppity. In an ad published last week in St. Petersburg, the mountaineers enticed Sunshine Staters with such perks as Tennessee's low power rates, nonexistent income tax and four seasons. Sticking the dagger deeper, Tennessee bragged about "no hurricanes." That all may be true, but ever try to catch a few rays in January in Knoxville?

Almost history, Eckerd gets sued

Another ugly development has cropped up in the tortured finish of Eckerd Drug. Jean Coutu Group, the Canadian drugstore operator that's selling the last 1, 500 outlets of the chain once based in Largo to Rite Aid Corp., has been slapped with a $32-million discrimination suit filed by five Muslims in U.S. District Court in New York . Four Brooklyn, N.Y., Arab-American store managers and a stock clerk of Palestinian heritage allege their superiors "routinely" called them "terrorists" and "Bin Laden's brothers" before firing them after "falsely accusing" them of stealing from the company in a "Muslim conspiracy." The five complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which gave them permission to sue Coutu.

Now's your chance to get flood help

We try to say this every year about this time: Standard homeowners insurance does not typically cover flood damage. With hurricane season starting June 1, state and federal officials point out that there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a flood policy takes effect. Florida consumers can buy flood insurance from the federal government for up to $250, 000 for property damage and $100, 000 for personal contents. Information about the National Flood Insurance Program can be found at FEMA's Web site, www.fema.gov/business/nfip/.

Beware of the 'common law trust'

For those counting on the old "common law trust" ploy to save on income taxes, here's some bad news. Lake Worth tax preparer Wayne Ratfield faces prison, fines or both after being convicted of 50 charges of preparing fraudulent tax returns, obstructing IRS audits and criminal contempt of court. Ratfield sold trust packages and helped write a book, The Constitutional Common-Law Trust, which recommended reducing taxes by claiming deductions for food, clothing and ordinary living expenses and keeping two sets of business records.