Small, nonfarm businesses in 23 Oklahoma counties and neighboring counties in Arkansas and Texas are now eligible to apply for low-interest federal disaster loans from the US Small Business Administration (SBA), according to a media release.

These loans offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds and tornadoes in the following primary counties that occurred May 1 through June 30, announced Director Tanya N. Garfield of SBA's Disaster Field Operations Center-West.



Health Republic Insurance of New York, the Affordable Care Act insurer that got $265 million in US loans, will stop selling policies and eventually cease operations under orders from New York and federal regulators.

The insurer will be wound down because regulators found that it was likely to become financially insolvent, according to an e-mailed statement Friday from New York's Department of Financial Services. The decision was made jointly by DFS, New York's health-insurance marketplace and the federal Centers for Medicare amp; Medicaid Services.

"Given Health Republic's financial situation, commencing an orderly wind down process before the upcoming open enrollment period is the best course of action," Anthony Albanese, New York's acting superintendent of financial services, said in the e-mail. Sixteen other insurers will sell health coverage on New York's ACA marketplace this year, according to the statement.



With interest rates at historic lows--for the time being--wealthy families are turbocharging their estate-planning strategies by pairing intrafamily loans with trusts.

In late 2009, a businessman sold his $30 million family limited partnership to a trust he created, all on the advice of Mosaic Advisors in Houston. Because tax rules permit illiquid shares in a family partnership to be transferred to a trust at a discount that's often around a third, it was a tax-efficient way of transferring ownership in the business to his kids. No gift tax is owed because the transaction is considered a sale. The businessman got a note from the trust in return for the sale, and the note's interest payments of a few million dollars gave him cash for living expenses.

It gets better. The note has a fixed value, regardless of how much the underlying asset grows, which froze the businessman's net worth in the eyes of the taxman. The asset doesn't have to appreciate much to make the low-cost loan worthwhile. His business is now worth $250 million, and has been growing tax-free inside the trust for his kids' benefit. "This sale was a huge win," says Brandon Henry, Mosaic's director of estate planning. "We'll end up saving on the order of $40 million to $60 million in estate taxes today, and over $100 million if he lives to his actuarial age."

As long as interest rates stay low, many families with taxable estates can similarly benefit from cleverly structured trusts and intrafamily loans. But beware: Intrafamily loans have their own rates and rules. Set them up wrong or lose the paper trail, and you could end up undermining the play.

In August, the rates on intrafamily loans--set by the Treasury Department and called the applicable federal rate, or AFR--were just 0.48% for short-term loans (up to three years), 1.82% for mid-term loans (three to nine years), and 2.82% for long-term loans (more than nine years). That's a terrific deal. Parents can lend their kids cash for everything from buying a house to starting a business at rates far lower than a comparable commercial loan.

They're also great as part of a broader wealth-transfer strategy. Let's assume an aging millionaire funds a trust for his children's benefit. He seeds the trust with a $100,000 gift, and then loans it $900,000 at the allowable 1.82% interest rate for five years, which, we'll assume, the trust invests wisely. The trust makes regular payments on the loan, and then repays Daddy Warbucks his principal in full at the term's end. Any investment gains over that extremely low interest rate stays tax-free in the trust for the next generation. "It's all legal, and all great planning for the client," says Mela Garber, chair of the trust and estates group at accounting firm Anchin, Block amp; Anchin.

There are added benefits for using the oddly named intentionally defective grantor trust, which is considered an irrevocable complex trust for estate-tax purposes (the assets transferred to it are out of the individual's estate) but a grantor trust for income-tax purposes. By paying the income taxes on the trust's income, the patriarch leaves more for the next generation.

Anchin's Garber points to a New York family that lent money to an intentionally defective grantor trust at the short-term rate below 1%. The trust--which benefits the family's four children--then bought part of the family's real estate business, while making small payments on the loan. As real estate soared, the business returned 15%, giving the trust substantial funds, at least for three years, to reinvest above its low cost of funds. "The parents," Garber says, "pay all the income taxes on the rental income, so the children end up with a 15% return, tax-free."

THE BIG CATCH is making sure that the loans are, well, loans. If they're gifts in the eyes of the IRS, you could owe gift tax at 40%. (The annual gift-tax exclusion is currently $14,000; the lifetime gift-tax exemption is $5.43 million.) To ensure it's a loan, you'll need documents detailing the terms and interest rate, and payments must be made on time. Terms are ironclad; payments still have to be paid, even if a trust's investments sour. "The fuzzy line is when you are so casual about it that it starts looking like a gift," says Doug Rothermich, a managing director of wealth planning strategies at TIAA-CREF.

A new Mosaic Advisors client, a business owner with a net worth of $100 million, set up a trust for his children's benefit in 2010, and made a loan to it, while cutting his real estate deals inside the trust.

A closer look, however, revealed that the man hadn't properly documented the loan or paid interest on it; thus it could be considered a gift for tax purposes. To fix the problem before it blew up, his advisors documented the loan arrangements and the accrued interest, then prepared tax filings of more than 500 pages. "Lending to the children's trust was the best thing he could have done," Mosaic's Henry says, "but it was complex."

So when you're planning your wealth transfer, think about pairing a loan and a trust--but do it right from day one.



Its no secret that mobile money is the primary banking tool of choice for many Africans. This year alone, $33 billion is expected to change hands via mobile services on the continent. Thats almost much as the GDP of Ghana.

A recent survey done by SOKO Insight, a research firm, looked at mobile-money usage in Ghana and Kenya, where almost two-thirds of mobile owners now have mobile-money accounts.

And where it was once mainly a tool to send and receive cash, mobile money has also become an increasingly common way for people to pay their bills, receive their wages, and even get loans:



The loans will be doled out four weeks after workers apply and will be paid back over the following 12 months through wage deductions. The program is being launched with help from British housing and homelessness charity Shelter and Starbucks expects to be handing out the first batch of loans within three months.

The average deposit for a UK rental properties reached £1,226 ($1,862) in 2014, according to Mydeposits, which provides deposit government-backed protection schemes. The UKs Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors forecast in September that rents would increase in the near term, with housing prices seen rising 6 percent across 2015.

Starbucks new deposit program is a result of more than a year of staff consultations, where housing and education were identified as some of the biggest financial challenges facing employees. After speaking with some non-governmental organizations, the coffee giant decided to directly adopt the loan model offered by Shelter to its own employees.

A total sum hasnt been set aside for the loan deposit scheme and Engskov stressed it was a definitive program without a set shelf life. He added that it was the only loan program of its kind across the company, which currently operates 22,519 stores across 65 countries, but it may not be the last.

This is a UK first, and frankly a global first for us in terms of addressing rent and housing -- and Im sure other markets are watching, he said.

Earlier this year, Starbucks started to roll out full four-year college tuition for qualifying US staff and Enskov told CNBC that the UK business could adopt a similar scheme as part of its apprenticeship expansion.