Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Overview 1.5

“The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2000 from $1000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit …”

An overview of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) represents major changes our nation’s tax code.

Here’s a look at some of the more important elements of the new law that have an impact on individuals. Unless otherwise noted, the changes are effective for tax years beginning in 2018 through 2025. That’s right. The next seven (7) years.


  • Tax Rates.  The new law imposes a new tax rate structure with seven tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%,  32%, 35%, and 37%. The top rate was reduced from 39.6% to 37% and applies to taxable income above $500,000 for single taxpayers, and $600,000 for married couples filing jointly. The rates applicable to net capital gains and qualified dividends were not changed. The ‘kiddie tax’ rules were simplified. The net unearned income of a child subject to the rules will be taxed at the capital gain and ordinary income rates that apply to trusts and estates. Thus, the child’s tax is unaffected by the parent’s tax situation or the unearned income of any siblings.
  • Standard Deduction.  The new law increases the standard deduction to $24,000 for joint filers, $18,000 for head of household, and $12,000 for single and married taxpayers filing separately. Given these increases, many taxpayers will no longer be itemizing deductions. These figures will be indexed for inflation after 2018.
  • Exemptions.  The new law suspends the deduction for personal exemptions. Thus, starting in 2018, taxpayers can no longer claim personal or dependency exemptions. The rules for withholding income tax on wages will be adjusted to reflect this change, but IRS was given the discretion to leave the withholding unchanged for 2018.
  • New deduction for “qualified business income.”  Starting in 2018, taxpayers are allowed a deduction equal to 20 percent of “qualified business income,” otherwise known as “pass-through” income, i.e., income from partnerships, S corporations, LLCs and sole proprietorships. The income must be from a trade or business within the U.S. Investment income does not qualify, nor do amounts received from an S Corporation as reasonable compensation or from a partnerships a guaranteed payment for services provided to the trade or business. The deduction is not used in computing adjusted gross income, just taxable income. For taxpayers with taxable income above $ 157,500 ($315,000 for joint filers), (1) a limitation based on W-2 wages paid by the business and depreciable tangible property used in the business is phased in, and (2) income from the following trades or businesses is phased out of qualified business income: health, law, consulting, athletics, financial or brokerage services, or where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners.
  • Child and family tax credit.  The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2000 from $1000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit for a taxpayer’s dependents who are not qualifying children. The adjusted gross income level at which the credits begin to be phased out has been increased tp $200,000 ($400,000 for joint filers).
  • State and local taxes. The itemized deduction for state and local income and property taxes is limited to a total of $10,000 starting in 2018.
  • Mortgage interest. Under the new tax law, mortgage interest on loans used to acquire a principal residence, and a second home is only deductible on debt up to $750,000 (down from $1 million), starting with loans taken out in 2018. And there is no longer any deduction for interest on home equity loans, regardless of when the debt was incurred.
  • Miscellaneous itemized deductions. There is no longer a deduction for miscellaneous itemized deductions which were formerly deductible to the extent they exceeded 2 percent of adjusted gross income. This category included items such as tax preparation costs, investment expenses, union dues, and unreimbursed employee expenses. So, all of your auto expenses, for example, are no longer deductible.
  • Medical expenses. Under the new law, for 2017 and 2018, medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income for all taxpayers. Previously, the AGI “floor” was 10% for most taxpayers.
  • Casualty and theft losses. The itemized deduction for casualty and theft losses has been suspended except for losses incurred in a federally declared disaster. So, if you are renter, or a coop or condo or dwelling owner who lacks comprehensive coverage for your personal property, now is the time to purchase coverage.
  • Overall limitation. The new law suspends the overall limitation on itemized deductions that formerly applied to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income exceeded specified thresholds. The itemized deductions of such taxpayers were reduced by 3% of the amount by which AGI exceeded the applicable threshold, but the reduction could not exceed 80% of the total itemized deductions, and certain items were exempt from the limitation.
  • Moving expenses. The deduction for job-related moving expenses has been eliminated, except for certain military personnel. The exclusion for moving expense reimbursements has also been suspended.
  • Alimony. There is some truth in the old song, “It’s Cheaper To Keep Her.” For post-2018 divorce decrees and separation agreements, alimony will not be deductible by the paying spouse and will not be taxable to the receiving spouse.
  • Health care “individual mandate.” Starting in 2019, there is no longer a penalty for individuals who fail to obtain minimum essential health coverage. (This will probably lead to fewer Americans purchasing health insurance, and more states reducing or eliminating Medicaid contributions for health care plans.)
  • Estate and gift tax exemption. Effective for decedents dying , and gifts made, in 2018, the estate and gift tax exemption has been increased to roughly $11.2 million ($22.4 million for married couples).
  • Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption. The AMT has been retained for individuals by the new law but the exemption has been increased to $109,400 for joint filers ($54,700 for married taxpayers filing separately), and $70,300 for unmarried taxpayers. The exemption is phased out for taxpayers with alternative minimum taxable income over $1 million for joint filers, and over $500,000 for all others.

As you can see from this overview, the new law affects many areas of taxation. I plan to hold at least one (1) public seminars in Brooklyn, to ‘drill down’ into just how the new law will affect you. There will be a fee charged for attendance at these seminars to offset the cost of the venue, and painkillers.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a frequent presenter in the areas of personal insurance, personal income taxation,  and budget and credit strategies for many organizations, including, Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC, Inc., HCCI, Impacct Brooklyn, and Bridge Street Development Corporation. He is a New York State licensed insurance agent and broker, and  NYS Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor.

You can reach Eustace at [email protected], or 718-783-2722.


Someone Else’s Opinion

“Then, I just wound up viewing to a T. D. Jakes sermon. Next thing I knew, I was listening to him, Dr. Myles Munroe, and Dr. Jasmin Scurlock. I pulled out all of my old tapes by Les Brown, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, James Weldon, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and other speakers, and did nothing but listen to them, and read books necessary for the feeding of my soul, for about a month.

So, I arrive home from another long insurance and income tax preparation day at my office when, lo and behold, there is one car with it’s lights on and another where the owner-driver is getting ready to open his door.

Now the driver in the first car occupied a space large enough for two cars. Unfortunately, as many people tend to do, the driver was running the engine, wasting precious gasoline, and making their own contribution to global warming while checking messages and updating their social media sites (“I’m in the car, class was okay, too many interruptions while I was Pinning. On my way home. Weather is yucky””.

So, I waited for the other spot. Now this car had about 5 inches of clearance on either end of the car. No problem, those are the spots I usually slide into on the first try.

The driver, a Black man with an African accent., kept looking at me and finally walked over to my car and with the most condescending attitude proceeded to tell me how he didn’t think I would be able to get my car into the spot he should have been in the process of vacating.

As he walked back to his car, I prayed God would make the other person in the two-car spot leave quickly, because this fool needed a good talking to.

Well readers, the Lord answered my prayer and Social Media vacated their spot. I zoomed into it, leaving enough room for another vehicle, got out of the classic, and walked over to the human I named Captain Stupid Head.

He opened his window and I got right in his face. “Let me school you Bucko. I don’t know where the you’re from, or what they taught you about the American Black Man before you got here, but don’t you ever again in your life, never again in your life, think you have the right to tell another Black man what he can and cannot do. You don’t know me, you know nothing about me, but I’ll tell you this slick, my ancestors picked cotton in this country without the benefit of paychecks, pensions, vacation days, the ability to love and legally marry, the right to watch their family sold away, and without the right to even learn how to read the slave master’s Bible, and your trifling ass shows up here with a student visa and probably all kinds of funding to get a college education, the benefit of which you will never realize if you keep telling people what you feel their limitations are. You feel me dog?

“Now stop driving like a damn punk, get out of this spot and go home. And give thanks to whatever Creator you worship you ran into me and not some fool with a gun, a foreclosure notice, and a layoff notice. At least with me, you’ll get to go home tonight. Next time, you could come across the wrong one and you won’t be so lucky.

“Oh, and if you get any stupid ideas in that empty head of yours, I wrote down your plate number and I just got the year and make of your car from your window registration. So got straight home, and please pray my car doesn’t ever even catch a cold.

“Leave. Now.”

My apologies to the cars at either end of his – he got out real quick.

Was I wrong, even foolish, to approach his vehicle and spew my mild venom?



While many will agree with my yes, others, knowing what my life has been like the past few months, are happy I didn’t pick up his car with him in it and toss them both into the bushes.

I believe God made this particular meeting possible for three reasons. One, Captain Stupid Head needed to be put in his place, possibly for the sake of a family back home, depending on whatever he can send back.

Two, I released a ton of pent-up despair I didn’t know I had, or refused to acknowledge I had. And oh boy, am I feeling better.

Number three, he knew this one wouldn’t try to shoot or stab me.

Thank you, God.

In other words, a rather propitious meeting.

Sometimes in life, the words of others can destroy us. And yes, I do mean destroy us to the point of wanting to say to hell with this thing called life. Recently, while sitting in the office wondering where I’d gone wrong in life (don’t act so sanctimonious, I’m sure a lot of you wonder the same thing at times. If you can really be honest with yourselves), when I felt compelled to call a client I hadn’t spoken to in ages.

I called the number I had on file without success. Temporarily disconnected, the message said.

Don’t ask me why, but I went a step further and sent her emails to every one of her email addresses. Couldn’t figure out why. Just had this impelling need, for some inexplicable reason to connect with this lady. Wrote some of my funniest, off the cuff material. Don’t know why. Just felt good doing it.

About five minutes later, my phone rang and lo and behold, it was her. The first thing she said to me was, “If it had been anyone else, I’d of gone through with it … ”

“Gone through with what?

“Killed myself. I was so finished with this life, and you had to send me those emails, you had to make me laugh again, when all I wanted to do was cry myself to sleep. Forever.”

“Where you at?”

“My girlfriend’s house. I’m staying here now.”

“What about your apartment?”

“Gave it up.”

“Why? That was a great, huge, and rent-stabilized apartment.”

“Uhhhhh, duh?”

“Oh yeah. Tell you what, give me your girlfriend’s address, I’m on my way.”

We talked, went for the coldest walk I’ve ever endured, shared coffee at a café, shed some tears together.

“Why?” I asked.

“I thought he loved me, he told me he loved me, but he just decided one day he could do better.”

She turned and looked at me. “G, what did you do when your heart was broken?”

“When I stopped crying, I sent my heart out for repair.”

“What? Where do you send a heart for repair?”

“The Universal Twenty-Four Repair Shop. Always an open bay. No need to schedule an appointment, drive-in service is available twenty-four hours a day, no waiting. You see, whichever Creator you believe in knows just when you are coming in for some work. You don’t even need money. Just give thanks for the repair. Heck, they’ll even loan you tools to do your own tune ups after the initial maintenance.”

“And guess what? All of the work comes with a lifetime warranty.”

Tears started falling from her face,her body began to shake and quake, and she began to moan, “Oh God, oh God.” I just put my arm around her shoulder and waited.

After a time, her quaking and crying stopped. “Where do you find this repair shop to start the healing?”

“You already found yours. You called out his name. The work’s begun.”

“G, I don’t know last time I prayed, and I don’t know how to pray, but …”

“Hell, if there is one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that the same people who think they are qualified to tell you how to pray really need to go in for a refresher course on what real prayer truly is.”

“Tell you what, let’s hold hands, and you just talk to The Universal Power. Some say God, some Yahweh, some Jehovah, some Allah, and some Buddah. Just talk, that’s prayer to me. Pray for what you want, not what you have. Work from your imagination, not your history.”

“How do I start, G?”

“Just talk. Tell you what, start by giving thanks and gratitude for life.”

“G, that seems so easy.”

“Yep, no need for soaring theatrics, loud screaming, jumping up and down. It’s not a performance, just a simple talk. Such a beautiful, simple prayer.”

We sat for a time, just talking when she looked at me and asked, “How did you survive feeling like you were inadequate, you weren’t enough?

“One day I looked my daughter’s high school yearbook, and realized I did something right for her to be positioned for the Blessings she enjoyed, enjoys now,  and the many more she will enjoy. Then, suddenly, I found all the photographs of her at college, photographs I’d had trouble finding before.

“Then, I just wound up viewing to a T. D. Jakes sermon. Next thing I knew, I was listening to Dr. Myles Munroe. I pulled out all of my old tapes by Les Brown, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, James Weldon, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and other speakers, and did nothing but listen to them,  and read books necessary for the feeding of my soul, for about a month.

“What’s funny is I finally heard a quote, something Les Brown says every time he speaks. I mean, I’ve heard it at least 50 times, but I finally heard it for the first time.”

“What quote G?”

“Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” I would add though, “Unless their opinion of you speaks to your greatness,your kindness, your love, your glory, and your ability to use the unique gifts and purpose God has given you to positively affect his world.”

“Now, make me a promise.”

“Anything G. Anything.”

“Promise me you’ll obey the three-day rule from this day forward.”

“What’s the three-day rule?”

“When you are under attack, take the problem, put it aside for three days, and then examine it again. Chances are during those three days you’ll come up with a solution, the problem will resolve itself, or you’ll realize what you thought was a problem or a failure wasn’t that at all. It is just the way you reacted to what you thought was a problem, and you now recognize it for the Blessing it really is.”

“You sure must have listened to a lot of tapes, huh?”

“You mean still listen to daily. You’ve got to feed what feeds you. And these meals are delicious.”

“Does the hurt ever go away?”

“I’ll let you know when it does. In the meantime, you do learn who loves you for you, who truly values you for who you are and what you bring to the table. You will smile and laugh at good jokes, and your heart will learn to soar again as you watch a play or movie, or hear a choir sing. And, as Les Brown would say, if you’ve got to fall, then fall on your back, because as long as you can look up, you can get up.

“And remember, the only people who don’t feel pain, don’t know hurt, are dead. Or damn liars.”

“Thanks G. Wait a minute, isn’t this your cell number, a number more difficult to get than President’s Obama’s?”

“Yep. I save it for the really special people, people who may need to reach me, especially when Evil declares war on my buddies. And don’t you ever leave home without it.”


Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF, is a New York State licensed Insurance Agent and Broker, Income Tax Preparer, New York State licensed Continuing Education Monitor, and a Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor for Empire Safety Council.  You can reach him at 718-783-2722 or [email protected] to buy  flood, life, home, disability, condo, coop, renters, wedding, and long-term care insurance coverages you need to solidify your financial pyramid.

And, if you are his friend, he is available for the talk you never thought  you’d need.


Meet Marcia Clarke, 2017 President, Brooklyn Board of Realtors

“Last, networking and staying informed of new laws, developments, and marketing strategies are the mainstays of functioning like a professional. I consider it fundamental and it requires no batteries or internet. No matter how many years you’re licensed, you can always learn something new or discover how to do something you already know better.”

Meet Marcia Clarke, 2017 President, Brooklyn Board of Realtors

Marcia Clarke, 2017 President of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors addresses the audience after taking the Oath of Office


On January 10, 2017, another Presidential installation was held, one which those in New York City’s’ Real Estate industry feel carries more importance than the inauguration in Washington, D.C. For on that day, Marcia Clarke, Realtor, Owner and Principal Broker of M C Realty Consulting & Management, Inc., became the new President of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors.

Her installation ceremony was held at the Hudson River Yacht Club in Brooklyn’s Bergen Beach.

Richard Schulhoff,  the Executive Officer of both The Brooklyn Board of Realtors (TBBOR) and the Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service (BNYMLS) served as emcee, and Dawn Carpenter, respected Staten Island colleague and Marcia’s friend of many years in the real estate business, and the President-Elect for the New York State Association of Realtors, introduced Marcia.

Maryann Arbia, VP at Fillmore Real Estate Brooklyn


Richard Schullhoff, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors, and the Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service is the host with the most

Floodplains Outside Your Front Door

Unfortunately, for many homeowners, the answer they receive from their agent or broker will be “No, you don’t have flood insurance. You’re three and one-half miles from the nearest coastline. And if you recall we discussed adding flood insurance coverage to your insurance portfolio and you refused to spend money on a flood insurance policy when you lived in what you considered a very safe flood zone.”

Floodplains in Bedford-Stuyvesant? Bushwick? Brownsville? Park Slope? Fort Greene / Clinton Hill? Carroll Gardens? Getouttahere!

Floodplains are everywhere?

Who knew?

Picture this. It’s another beautiful day in the wonderful city of Brooklyn, New York. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and that annoying depression in the middle of the street halfway down the block (which happens to be right in front of your house), suddenly erupts into the most glorious of geysers. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water burst into the air,  land on the street and your sidewalk, and begins to pour into the first floor, garden level, and basement of your beautiful home.

Well, your formerly beautiful home. I mean, you can still use the upper floors.

You hope.

Strange how you never noticed your block is one of three forming a shallow valley. No matter which point you turn to on the compass, you realize adjoining streets and avenues all slope down to where you stand. In fact, it reminds you of the pictures you’ve seen of floodplains around the country. So that geyser spewing tens of thousands of gallons of water each minute from a broken underground water main, is filling up yours and the surrounding blocks as though they were one huge swimming pool.

And the water is getting deeper by the minute.

You suddenly realize what floodplains are, and your existence in one.

Thank Goodness For City Services

One real positive about living in New York City is how quickly the Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP), reaches your block and shuts off the main which gave life to the geyser, just an hour or two. Once they shut the water off, they set about pumping out the water which collected underground. After that they’ll invite each local utility with underground pipes, tubes and wires in the general vicinity of the water main break to come and check their equipment, making any necessary repairs.

Once this and other work, including repairs to the water main, are completed, the giant crater in the street is repaired, the water service restored, and all will be well with the world again.

Well, almost. You see, several major problems remain.

Property Owner, We Have A Problem

As the water poured into your home, you quickly called your homeowners insurance company to report the claim, only to learn your loss isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance policy.

Flood, as your insurance company’s customer service representative explained, is not covered by the typical homeowners insurance policy. This is clearly discussed in the Exclusions section of each homeowners insurance policy which reads,


a.    Flood, surface water, waves, wave wash, tidal water, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these, whether or not a result of precipitation; or driven by wind … “

So, even though your property located miles from the coast, and you are not in a high-risk flood zone, you suffered a loss caused by a flood.

Your basement is a disaster. You need to rip out and replace floors, ceilings and walls, and replace your hot water heater and boiler and the freezer. Where will you find the money going to come from for all of these unexpected expenses?

The customer service representative asks you a frightening question. “You don’t have a flood insurance policy with our company. Do you have a flood insurance policy with any other company?”

Will You Get Good News or Bad News?

Now comes the moment of truth. You call your insurance agent to see if you have a flood insurance policy.

Unfortunately, for many homeowners, the answer they receive from their agent or broker will be “No, you don’t have flood insurance. You’re three and one-half miles from the nearest coastline. And if you recall we discussed adding flood insurance coverage to your insurance portfolio and you refused to spend money on a flood insurance policy when you lived in what you considered a very safe flood zone.”

If you think this is wrong, look at the situation in Baton Rouge, where they recently suffered heavy rainstorms which lead to wide-spread flooding. In Baton Rouge and its surrounds, some 82% of the houses suffering flood damage lacked flood insurance.

To make matters worse, some 7,000 plus businesses in the affected area suffered severe flood damage, causing them to at least temporarily, close their doors.

Over 73,000 employees are now unemployed until the affected businesses can secure bank and federal loans to reopen. If they ever reopen.

And some 80% percent of the affected homes and businesses are located in “X” flood zones, the zone where you should only have to worry about floods every 500 years.

Climate Change, Anyone?

This and other past and future flooding events prove there is a new model of what is a “safe” flood zone. Here’s a hint: There are none.

New construction which places concrete and macadam on what was permeable ground, changes the very nature of a community, increasing the flood risk.

Aging infrastructure in the shape of bad roads places more stress on underground water pipes, which themselves are in serious need of replacement, causing more and larger water main breaks.

For properties closer the shore, rising sea levels, and a warmer Atlantic Ocean create hurricanes packing increasingly greater destructive power, resulting in more damage to sandy beaches and dunes, and the homes they were designed to protect.

And the hurricane season, which is ‘supposed’ to only run from the first of June until the first of November, seems to start earlier, and end later, each year.

So please take this simple bit of advice: “Hurricane Season” is no longer just a season, it is a year-round event.

Flood zones are just lines on a piece of paper, and water is no respecter of lines on a piece of paper.

We are all at risk from the danger of flooding, and the rebuilding costs which follow.

Stay dry.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an independent insurance agent and broker based in Brooklyn, NY. Call him today at 718-783-2722 to make an appointment for your personal insurance review of your home, auto, flood, renters, coop, condo, life and disability insurance policies.

You can also reach Eustace with an email to [email protected].

Tax Tips for Rental Property Owners , Part 1

Certain rental property expenses can be deducted from your rental property income to determine your profit or loss for a given tax year.

Time for Rental Property Owners to prepare for next year’s income tax return

With the end of the 2016 income tax filing season, it seems a good time to review two tax tips for rental property owners where there is partial personal use or not personal use of an owned dwelling.

This post will address which expenses are deductible. The next post will address the difference between repairs and improvements and how the different ways each can affect your income tax return.

What are deductible rental property expenses?

Certain rental property expenses can be deducted from your rental property income to determine your profit or loss for a given tax year. Some of the expenses you can deduct in the tax year you pay them are:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • Property insurance
  • Utilities
  • Cleaning and maintenance costs
  • Supplies  (For example, garbage bags, brooms and mops used only to maintain the rental property. No fair bringing your broom from home to take care of the rental property)
  • Pest control
  • Lawn care and landscaping
  • Trash
  • Repairs, including the cost of labor
  • Credit and employment checks for tenants
  • Management fees if you use the services of an outside property manager
  • Legal or professional fees
  • Travel expenses (Keep records of automobile mileage, and taxi, train, and bus fees for all of those trips to Home Depot or to your local hardware or plumbing supply stores)
  • Advertising (The cost of placing ads for rental apartments in local papers)
  • Utilities (National Grid, Consolidated Edison, New York City Water and Sewer, and payments made to your oil company.

Why you need a separate checking account for your rental property

Owning a rental property is completely different from owning a one-family home. To make sure your experience as a rental property owner is a profitable one, get a separate checking account which you will use only for all of your rental property income and expenses. This account will accomplish two important tasks:

  1. All income and expenses for the rental property will flow into and from this separate account, making it easier for you to track what you spend to maintain the property and the income you’re receiving. This is easier than trying to remember if a certain Home Depot entry was for the book-case in your living room, or a new ladder for your rental property.
  2. Once all the income and expense information for your rental property is in one place, gathering the information necessary to prepare your income taxes is much simpler.   Since the 75 days of income tax preparation season are not the time to finally try to make sense of your financial life for the past year, I give a small discount to those clients who come in with all of their expenses on one or two pieces of paper.. If I must do client recordkeeping, the client will pay a premium for the extra time and energy I must expend to complete their return.

The costs of maintaining your one-family personal home are not deductible.

It’s important to know how the owners of a one-family dwelling they personally occupy are limited about how certain expenses affect their personal income tax return. With a one-family home, you can only itemize your mortgage interest, and real estate taxes. It is imperative to keep records of any improvements made to the house as this will increase the basis when the house is sold, resulting in a lower possible tax bill.

You can find more about this subject in Publication 527 on the Internal Revenue Services website, .

Automobile Insurance Quote

Be honest and tell the tell the quoting broker or clerk if there are other drivers in your household, whether or not they will driving your car, or own their own cars. There are few things worse than being caught in a lie when looking for auto insurance.

Put The Car Behind The Automobile Insurance Quote.

Thinking about calling some insurance agencies for an automobile insurance quote? Looking for better coverage for your dollar, a less-expensive policy, or some combination of both?

Then do yourself and every broker or clerk you speak to a tremendous favor and prepare certain information before you make your first call for an automobile insurance quote.

Basic Information You’ll Need For Your Quote

  1. Your driver license because the broker will need the license number to order your motor vehicle record.  Yes, people do call for an automobile insurance quote and can’t find their driver license. What would they do if the police pulled them over and said “License, insurance card and registration”?
  2. Your date of birth.
  3. Your social security number.
  4. The age you were first licensed. 1
  5. The year you were first licensed. 1
  6. Has you driver license even been suspended or revoked for cause?
  7. Have you ever completed a Defensive Driving course? If so, what was the date you completed the course. 2
  8. The Vehicle Identification Number (s) of any vehicle you want to insure.
  9. Your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
  10. The cost of your vehicle when it was new.
  11. How the car or truck will be driven. In other words, will it be pleasure only, used for a short or a long commute to work, or will it be used in the course of your business?
  12. Your current address. If you haven’t lived at your current address for at least three (3) years, what was you last address, and how long did you live there?
  13. The name, policy number, and length of time you’ve been insured by your current auto insurer, and any other automobile insurance company you’ve been insured by in the last five (5) years.
  14. How many, if any, no-fault losses have you had in the past five (5) years? If any, when did they occur, and how much was paid for each claim? 1
  15. How many moving violations?
  16. How many accidents in the last five (5) years? How many were definitely your fault? 1
  17. When did they occur? 1
  18. How many points on your license? 1

Honesty Counts

Above all else, be honest. Tell the quoting broker or clerk if there are other drivers in your household, whether or not they will driving your car, or own their own cars and carry their own insurance. There are few things worse than being caught in a lie when looking for auto insurance.

For example, I recently tried to work with a young lady who, when our conversation began, confirmed she lived alone. There were no other people in her household.

This young lady then told me she had two (2) vehicles to insure. To insurance agents and brokers this is a sure danger sign, especially for someone who’d never had an automobile insurance policy before. So, I asked her whether she would be driving both vehicles, or would someone else drive the second vehicle. She said her husband would be driving the second vehicle. So, when I asked her if she and her husband lived together, she seemed slightly put off, telling me that of course she, her husband and their children lived together.

I asked why she didn’t provide this information when I first requested it and she admitted that a family member told her not to as this should get her a lower rate.

He must have some driving record. Little wonder why automobile insurance premiums are so high, especially here in Brooklyn and Queens.

Best of luck with your search.


1   All of this information can be found on your driving record, or driving abstract. To avoid a trip to their local DMV office, New York State licensees can go to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website,

  1. Click on “Top Online Services” under the heading, “Driver Licenses.”
  2. Click on “Get My Driving Record.”

You can order your abstract either through the mail using the MV-15 form for $10.00, or get it online for the fee of $7.00. You will have to create a “MyDMV” account to this.

Of course,  you can always get a copy of your driver license by simply going to your  local DMV office.

2 Defensive Driving courses provide automobile insurance premium discounts and driver license point reduction which last for three (3) years from the course date.

For 33 years, and since October 20, 1995 when he opened his own financial services agency, Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF has enjoyed providing his clients with the personal lines insurance coverages, income tax services, and defensive driving workshops they need to better their financial lives. 

Call him at 718-783-2722, or email him [email protected] for a competitive quote for your life, home, flood, disability, renters, coop, condo, long-term care, and automobile insurance, personal income tax preparation services, or the date of his next defensive driving class. 

Get Irritated, Get To Work, Be Greater!

Hard? This year the Prep For Prep program will probably test another four to five thousand kids for the vying for the opportunity to occupy one of those 225 seats.
Look, the world is not your oyster. Even an oyster doesn’t excrete the nacre which creates it’s pearl until it’s irritated. So, get irritated, and get to work. And as my young friend, Qadir Forbes, a brand-new graduate of Williams College now working in finance for Disney says, “Be Greater!”

Get Irritated, Get To Work, and Be Greater

James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers set off a firestorm of controversy this past summer when he made his son return summer camp trophies they’d received basically for just showing up.  Mr. Harrison took issue with this concept of “Everyone is a winner, whether you win or lose.” Why not be greater?

In my humble opinion, this culture of “Everyone is a Winner,” and, “There are no losers,”  created the crybaby culture we suffer with in this nation. And these crybabies are toddlers, pre-teens, teens, and 20, 30, 40, and 50 year olds.

I mean, Tee-Ball? One day these little ones will learn you don’t hit home runs in life from a stable stand. You’d better learn how to hit that pitch down and away over the fence. Those guys are the  ones who earn, not make, earn, the big bucks. And guess what, they fail more than they succeed. But when they succeed, entire stadiums stand as one to watch a little white ball land in the seats.

Children learn by playing games of every kind – Monopoly, Scrabble, Chess, Tag, sandlot football and baseball and basketball. When I played games with my daughter, she lost all the time.  At first, she’d get upset as only little ones can, dragging one fuzzy doll or another to complain to her mom. Sometimes she’d even act like she didn’t want to play when I’d set up a game board. Thing is, she kept coming back for more punishment until she figured out a way to win. And she did win, dang it. Beat me at chess when I wasn’t giving the game my complete and undivided attention. Her attention, and will to win caught up to and passed me.

The child crowed about that win for a week. Or two.

I won’t even tell you how she finally beat me in one of our nightly foot races. I will simply say, she cheated, sort of.

But the way she did it made me so proud. Also let me know that the thought of having more sneaky children was definitely out of the question.

When she and her dear departed mother played Monopoly, it was akin to blood sport. They would cheat each other, accuse each other of cheating, secrete caches of Monopoly money, hide property cards, I mean blood sport.

But win or lose, by the end of the game, (and their discovering I’d snuck out so I wouldn’t have to referee), they laughed about the game.

They’d enjoyed competing against each other. Even better, her mom, by this time, had adopted my mantra of “Win, or keep trying”, so Ashley knew it was no quarter asked and none given.

Children must learn that in this life there are times when you will be the  winner,  and others when you will be the loser. The trick is enjoying more of the former, and less of the latter.

If you don’t like the taste of losing, then work harder, learn everything you can about your passion, think about it, strategize about it, devote your life to the mastery of it. Then, if it’s a sport, practice until they have to drag you off the field or the court. School – study until your eyeballs bleed. Turn off the television, don’t even buy the Wii game. 

Did you know the kids who compete for the chance to win the Scripps Spelling Bee every year don’t waste time watching unnecessary or foolish television? They are engaged in increasing their personal vocabularies with words I never even knew existed. Talk about a great use of one’s time.  There was one two-time winner from Brooklyn whose family didn’t own a television. But books, the walls and floors were covered with books.

Real Housewives of Where? Grey’s What? The Bachelor?

I will never forget people from both sides of the family telling me I was mean and cruel for making Ashley spend two summers and Wednesday nights and all day Saturday in school with the Prep For Prep program. Even my Bajan father said I was cruel, and her maternal grandmother told me her book bag was too heavy for her.

“Good,” I told her. “The heavier the books, the smarter the brain.”

 She finished and attended Poly Prep Country Day School. From Poly Prep to Yale. The future? Bright, because she knows life gives you nothing. You work for what you want, and you’ll get it.

She knows that luck is nothing more than good fortune made manifest by opportunity meeting a mind prepared to take full advantage of all that opportunity contains.
And that program continues to this day. In late August, the latest survivors, the kids who cried but didn’t quit, commenced before attending some of the nation’s top private schools for middle and upper school. Fourteen months of what I once deemed academic hell, all for a glorious opportunity.

Opportunity. There goes that word again.

Hard? This year the Prep For Prep program will probably test another four to five thousand kids for the vying for the opportunity to occupy one of those 225 seats.
Look, the world is not your oyster. Even an oyster doesn’t excrete the nacre which creates it’s pearl until it’s irritated. So, get irritated, and get to work. And as my young friend, Qadir Forbes, a brand-new graduate of Williams College now working in finance for Disney says, “Be Greater!”

Thank you Mr. Harrison. I just hope more families follow your lead. Our nation, and our world, will be better for it.

And when your team loses to my NY Giants in the Super Bowl, I am sure you will work even harder.

Coach Tomlin hates, just hates, to lose.

Need More Chalk, Debbie?

… not only did Robert E Leach​ meet and marry a wonderful woman, they now are the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl.

Happy 62nd Birthday in Heaven, Debbie!

Debbie Brinson, a true Teacher

Just in case you’ve been extra busy teaching everyone in your heavenly classroom, let me bring you up to date:

Ashley, yes our little Ashley Greaves​, is a Rising College Senior. And, to top it off, the one who, when she did something absolutely wacky, would give rise to our saying, “That’s your child”, “No that’s your child”, “What a little bunko artist”, and “What a little actress!”, is an actual paid actress! She’s actually received her first paychecks as an actress for her role as “Girl with Afro, Number 2” on an upcoming Netflix series, “The Get Down”, which is set in a high school in the ’70’s. When she sent me a picture of her hair, (thank God for her wanting natural hair!), all picked out in a ‘fro, I got really choked up for a moment, because she looked just like you did back then. I continually give thanks to Poly Prep Country Day School, for helping her grow into one of her passions, and especially to Sonya Baehr, Monica Flory, Jill Bolstridge, Cynthia Babak, Josina Reaves, Lori Redell, Susan Beiles, Whitney Davidson, Dr. Gini, Caesar Fabella, and Liane Dougherty, just to name a few of the wonderful crew who also helped Little Bit become an outstanding young woman.

Must give the top props to Dana Catherine, though. We met Ms. Catherine when Ashley was still in Prep for Prep, (“What, my child is going to learn Latin? Wait, they still teach that?”), and I knew that even though boys attended the school, any school smart enough to employ this wonderful educator and classy lady was good enough for my child.

And Beverly Ffolkes-Bryant, your last boss? Wow, did she step up in a big way after you died. In fact, even though I take credit for it, she made me give her money and our child, and she’s the one who took her shopping for her fifth-grade prom outfit. Ashley was even able to wear the same outfit to the Prep For Prep Lilac Ball when our reality movie, “The Journey Begins.”

Just knew I shouldn’t have signed away those rights.

Virginia Cintron Heyward​, and your favorite “Bay Bay” Jacob are doing well. Their babies, Peanut and Orpheus , (sorry, I still see the little man in diapers drinking from his bottle) are all grown up with families of their own. I guess you’ve Orpheus leading services at his mega-church.

Martha Leach​, just became a new Grandma again, because, not only did Robert E. Leach​ meet and marry a wonderful woman, they now are the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. David DjDollar Bill Leach​, your other favorite Godson, is engaged to a wonderful woman, and his daughters are reaching milestones in their own lives. Martha is so happy nowadays, she just doesn’t know how to behave.

Everyone else is just fine. We miss you, share memories, and talk about you all of the time.

Yes, I know you know all of this, and even things we hope you didn’t know from your new vantage point.

You were so Blessed to realize your purpose while alive, I know God has you working overtime in heaven.

Again, from Ashley and I, we will always love you, we will always miss you, and we’ll never forget you.

No regrets. We shared a life. Love always,

Ashley, and Eustace

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., born and raised and educated in Brooklyn, NY, is the Owner and Principal Broker of The Bridge Insurance Agency, and the Owner and Principal Tax Preparer of Greaves Financial Services. Call him at 718-783-2722, or drop him an email to [email protected] to address your insurance and personal income needs.

While this post has nothing to do with insurance, taxes, or even defensive driving workshops, it does deal with life during life, and the lives of friends and loved ones after a mother, lover, partner, friend and confidant pass to the other side.
So, take time today to hug someone who loves you, I mean really hug them. Tell them you love them, kiss them the way you used to when you were pursuing them, and hold them real tight.

You just never know when it will be the last chance you will get.


Just One Last Chance

Then, once they discover the joy of sitting, reading, and pondering life, you suffer through the dreaded, ” I’ve got to go and she’s not giving up the seat!” times. And the lady at the supermarket laughs and says, “How many rolls of toilet paper this week, sweetie?”

Okay, am I nuts or what? You go through all of this for just one last chance?

They emerge from their mother, a bundle of joy who will have you lugging home bundles of Pampers, wipes, and cases of formula, and waking up at 3 am (or faking you’re asleep), for a few years. Not to mention keeping the national economy going by keeping your wallet empty.

And you tell yourself, one day, oh one day, I won’t have to do this anymore.

Then comes the dreaded toilet training, with the cries of “No, no! You just want to drown me! Mommy! Mommy, You’d better get in here quick because Daddy’s wants me to drown me in the toilet bowl!!” Then, once they discover the joy of sitting, reading, and pondering life, you suffer through the dreaded, ” I’ve got to go and she’s not giving up the seat!” times. And the lady at the supermarket laughs and says, “How many rolls of toilet paper this week, sweetie?”

And you tell yourself, “One day I shall regain the throne!”

Then you learn you have to lock the bathroom door when taking a shower when she comes in and rips the curtain back while you’re showering, just to see what you’re doing in there.

My downstairs neighbor still laughs about how I ” … screamed like a girl,” that night.

I mean, I thought she was asleep. She was supposed to be asleep.

That’s okay, you think, for one day I won’t have to lock the bathroom door, or wear a suit of armor while I’m relaxing at home.

Then comes the first day of “Big School”, a.k.a. kindergarten, and then Middle School. Before you know it, it’s on to high school, and the AP’s, PSAT’s and SAT’s and ACT’s and college applications. Then, one day in late March, they find out who accepted them (thankfully, the one she wanted the most said yes). And on a glorious day in June, you sit back at a long-anticipated high school commencement, hearing her name and watching her cross the dais as she collects her diploma.

And you say to yourself, “In just three months I will be dropping her off to college, and I get the apartment, the throne, the TV, everything, back! Ha ha! Mine, mine, mine!”

The day arrives when you take her to college. You tote luggage up three (3) flights of stairs (no elevator). You meet the roommates she’ll be seeing more than you for the next four (4) years, and attend meeting after meeting until, some Dean says, “Okay parents, you have 15 minutes to say goodbye to your kids. The rest of this meeting is just for them. Go home now.”

And one guy in the audience says, “I’m not going anywhere without my child,” and you realize everyone is looking at you.

I guess I did say it.

Dean was lucky I believe in a God that forgives.

So, you leave the campus (accompanied by the campus police, just because you tried to kidnap your own child and bring her back home with you), doing 90 on I-95, hoping you’ll be pulled over, so you can tell the State Trooper we have to go back to the college, because they kidnapped my child.

Yes, itt actually happened. I will never the forget the look on the campus police officer as he said, “Release the Yalie, sir. Time for you to go home.”

He’d better be glad I believe in a forgiving God.

But it didn’t work. You make great time getting home though. Back to having the throne room to yourself. Not having to lock the bathroom door. Watching whatever you want to watch. Walk around the apartment any way you want to.

You shed a tear, wishing you had just one last chance to change a diaper, or stumble out of bed for the 3 am feeding and review of world events.

Just one.

And you count the days until she comes home for Thanksgiving Break, because it’s no fun having it all to yourself.

10 Top Reasons You Need A New Tax Preparer |

“Some of you though really don’t know whether or not you are in any danger of an audit which will make your hard-earned money leave your wallet. You aren’t aware of the many subtle ways you can find yourself in hot water with taxing authorities, but you have this nagging ache in the pit of your stomach every time you sign your return. And the thought of taking a group picture while doing 2-5 for tax fraud really doesn’t appeal to you.”

10 Top Reasons Why It’s Time For You To Get A New Income Tax Preparer

Well, soon another new and exciting (Another Federal government shutdown, anyone?) income tax filing season will begin. And as visions of income tax refunds dance in your heads, it is a good time to think about who you will hire to prepare your income tax return next year.

From some of you, it’s a no-brainer: Your last preparer’s actions placed you on the IRS watch list which is akin to being on the world’s worst financial no-fly list.

Some of you though really don’t know whether you are in any danger of an audit which will make your hard-earned money leave your wallet. You aren’t aware of the many subtle ways you can find yourself in hot water with the taxing authorities, but you have this nagging ache in the pit of your stomach every time you sign your return.  And the thought of taking a group picture in stir while doing 2-5 for tax fraud really doesn’t appeal to you.

So here at the Afternoon Show Before My Nap with your host, Eustace L. Greaves Jr., I thought this was a great time to check  the 10 Top Reasons Why It’s Time For You To Get A New Income Tax Preparer!

Reason number 10:

You own and live in a two-family home. Your tenant pays you $12,000.00 in rent, and you have use of 75% of the house. Your tax preparer, knowing you need a big refund, depreciated the house at 100% and shows only $6,000.00 in rental income on your return.

Reason number 9:

You haven’t been to church, any church, in the last 20 years. Yet each year, your preparer says you can claim $10,000. For going to a Church named Church.

Reason number 8:

You receive certified, return receipted correspondence from the IRS. When you show it to your preparer, she smiles and tells you don’t worry, they just want to make sure you receive your thank you note.

Reason number 7:

You’re a receptionist at a medical center. You earn $30,000 each year. Your preparer, preparing Schedule A, gives you itemized deductions of $9,000.00 for uniforms, $3,000.00 for educational seminars, and  $2,000.00 for business-related travel.

Reason number 6:

Lost your 1099 Int and 1099 Div forms? “No worries”, says your preparer. “The IRS doesn’t worry about interest or dividends under $75.”

Reason number 5:

Your return shows three (3) brand-new dependents you’ve never met.

Reason number 4:

Your preparer guarantees you everyone qualifies for the Earned Income Tax Credit. “You earned an income last year, didn’t you?”

Reason number 3:

You ask your preparer if they have a PTIN and they tell you they’ve never liked certain foreign sports cars.

Reason number 2:

Your preparer relocates each year. Luckily you find them. Again.

And now the number one reason Why It’s Time For You To Get A New Income Tax Preparer is:

Your preparer tells you, “Don’t worry, my system never fails. I know how to get you the best refund you’ve ever gotten.”

Thanks for reading. And just in case you don’t understand why these are bad things, you can watch this blog for more information,  give me a call at 718-783-2722 or send me an email at [email protected].

Eustace L. Greaves Jr., is a business owner who provides integrated insurance and income tax strategies and solutions for his clients. He does, however, hate telling you your last tax preparer’s errors have you owing the IRS really big money.

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