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Can a candidate who uses his own money to fund a campaign deduct the full amount as a job-hunting expense? Or a business loss?

-- Harvey Roseff


Great election question. Better than the tiresome, "Who won Florida?"

None of the campaign-related expenses are deductible, says Martin Nissenbaum, director of income tax planning at

Ernst & Young

. Check out

Section 162(e)(1)(B) for more details.

So if you're wondering if

Jon Corzine

, the former

Goldman Sachs

honcho who spent approximately $60 million in his successful Democratic bid for a Senate seat from New Jersey, would end up with a big fat deduction, you can rest easy. He shouldn't get a thing for it -- at least on his tax return.

Typically, any expenses incurred while looking for a new job in your current field are deductible on

Schedule A

-- Itemized Deductions

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. If you are looking for a job in a new field, those associated costs are not deductible.

But, in this case, it wouldn't even matter if the candidate were running for re-election. The law specifically states that no deduction is allowed for "expenditures in connection with influencing legislation, participation in any political campaign, or any attempt to influence the general public with respect to elections," according to


, an information provider to tax professionals.

So Corzine, or any other candidate who dipped into the family funds, does not get to deduct those costs.

Trading in IRA, Take Two

Aside from the 10% penalty, which is charged on any withdrawals, are their any other downsides to trading and living off an IRA? Looks to me like the 10% withdrawal is not so bad as opposed to paying short capital gains on your trading profits. Of course, good money management is important and you should have a nest egg in another IRA for your old age. For those of us who do not qualify for trader status, using the IRA is the best way to go. -- Bill Lovett


Not having enough money set aside for retirement is the biggest hazard to trading and living off your IRA account. "It could end up being a recipe for disaster," says Bill Fleming, director of personal financial services for


in Hartford, Conn. So it is imperative that you have other funds set aside for your golden years.

As you stated above, if you trade exclusively in your IRA, you do not qualify as a trader for tax purposes. (See this recent

Investor Forum for more details.) So if you withdraw any of your IRA money before age 59 1/2, you will be smacked with a 10% penalty. That's in addition to the ordinary income tax you will owe on that money. But remember, your short-term capital gains rate is your ordinary income tax rate.

So when you make withdrawals from your IRA, you will owe both -- the taxes and the penalty.

There is a way to avoid the 10% penalty though.

At any time before 59 1/2, you may begin taking withdrawals penalty-free, not tax-free, from your IRA as long as you annuitize the payments, says Fleming. That means you must withdraw equal payments at least once a year based on the life expectancies of you and your designated beneficiaries. (See

Section 72(t)(2)(A) of the tax code for more technical jargon.)

There's a big catch here, though. If you choose to annuitize, you must continue to take these distributions for at least five years or until you reach age 59 1/2, whichever is


. If at any time you fail to take your scheduled payments, you will retroactively owe the 10% penalty on all your previous withdrawals.

But unless your trading activities can guarantee a certain amount of money each year, annuitizing may be too risky.

Check out

Publication 590

-- Individual Retirement Arrangements

for more details on annuitizing your payments.

The Bubble: One More Time

I bet reader

Eileen Landau

had no idea that her "You know it's a bubble when"

list would spark so much attention from our readers. Many of you wrote in with more additions to her list, so here are some of them.

You know it's a bubble when ...

Your in-laws are daytrading with a full-service broker, and their children think it's a great way to keep their minds active.

Every other financial advice columnist read: not this one explains why this is a "New Economy," in which the laws that governed the "Old Economy" for the last 100 years no longer apply.

Your grandfather sells Procter & Gamble and Philip Morris and buys Yahoo!.

Your paperboy's touting the potential of B2B.

Your best friend, who's a network administrator making $100,000 annually, with a young wife and two small kids, tells you he's quitting to become a full-time daytrader.

A disk-drive supplier on the verge of bankruptcy magically says it is transforming itself into a fiber-optics company.

You talk to architects or homebuilders about building a new home, and they tell you they can get to your project in, oh, about a year-and-a-half to two years!

When at least five out of 10 of the Nasdaq most actives are pieces of @#$% you've never heard of and everyone is piling into them because they're going up.

A friend gives you a stock tip but doesn't know the company's name or what it does; he only knows the ticker symbol.

When homes have multiple bidders and sell for $1 million over the asking price. (That's according to a reader in Palo Alto, Calif.)

And my favorite. You know it's a bubble when ...

Cramer starts a Rotisserie League on the sector.

Thanks to everyone for sending in some great tips to help us all spot the next bubble.

Send your questions and comments to, and please include your first and last names. Investor Forum appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

TSC Investor Forum aims to provide general investment information. It cannot and does not attempt to provide individual advice. All readers are urged to consult with a professional as needed about their individual circumstances.