“Dodge the Government’s Secret 65% Retirement Tax” Taipan

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, January 10, 2009

Today I thought we’d also take a look at a recent teaser from Taipan …

Here’s how this delightful little ad begins:

“Urgent Post-Bailout Wealth Protection Alert: How to Dodge the Government’s Secret ‘65% Retirement Tax’

“This safe, easy and 100% LEGAL way to shield your retirement savings from Washington’s ‘hidden tax’ is available now, but only to the select few receiving this letter…”

Since it’s a new year, I should probably dispense with the traditional Stock Gumshoe sarcasm that would force me to mention that the “select few” reading the ad includes the select group of every single email address that Taipan could get their hands on.

And I’ll just mention off the top here, as well, that there is of course some truth to this hyperbole … even if they have to put “retirement tax” in quotes for good reason.

So what’s the reality? Let’s dig in a bit …

The copywriters get us all hot and bothered about the fact that we’re going to lose what little money remains in our retirement accounts …

“… this is a completely hidden – and yet legal – drain on your retirement savings, mandated by the U.S. Government.

“And the worst part is that for the last five years, without fail, this “tax” has increased.

“In fact, at the current rate, over the next five years, you could be in line to shell out as much as 65% of your total retirement portfolio!”

Well, that should have everybody worried just a bit, no? It is a sad sign of the times that so many ads now have to rely on fear — the last six months have taught us how cruelly a portfolio can be treated when you’ve got greed in your heart, so I guess it’s no surprise that they’ve gone to the flip side in marketing their services.

Over the years it has mostly been the promise of wealth that has spurred investors to subscribe to newsletters for great insight or advantage — it seemed for all the world like a base part of human nature, and, to some degree, a reassuring optimism that lies in our hearts.

Is that dead forever? Will greed no longer turn your head and give you the urge to subscribe to a newsletter to find the next breakout idea for great wealth? I wouldn’t count on it — I imagine a few months of licking our wounds, and we’ll be right back in there, looking for great gains … perhaps that’s even part of the reason for the bounceback of the last month or so, a bounce that has coincided with still more bad news, including yesterday’s depressing unemployment report.

But now, apparently, the marketers think that many of us are more worried about protecting what little wealth we may still have. Which is a long way of saying that right now, they’re hoping that fear sells.

So what are they selling?

Well, first they have to get you mad, in case you’re not there already — so they tell you that yes, you’re already paying too much in taxes. And that “Washington” is nefariously keeping this secret tax hidden from you …

“It’s criminal really, and you’ve got every right to be outraged. I know I was when I discovered how much I was losing.

“But here’s the thing: if you do manage to uncover the government’s secret “retirement tax” before it’s too late, you’re STILL not getting