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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 02:08 PM   #81
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by lets-retire
Exactly. Where they once were able to fend for themselves and make a decent living, now they are forced to work for someone else. Farming traditionally does not make a lot of cash, all of the value is in the land. These people lost their farm, not because of market forces or poorly running their enterprise, but because the government forced them to pay estate taxes on the value of the land. As I said, I think the estate tax should not include the value of a family run business in the tax.

As far as the value of the property, it has little value as a house, due to being in the flight path of the local airport and being next to a major highway. As commercial property it has some value, but only to the Red Roof Inn or McDonald's, as a parking lot. The lot is too small to build any type of reasonable business on it.
I've heard this argument many times and think it's baloney. The kids in this case are sitting on a goldmine yet complaining about having to pay any taxes on it. The land has gone from $2K/acre to $20K and acre. So if they had to pay taxes on a 100 acre farm, even with a 50% estate tax (and that's probably double the actual rate) they get $1 Mil after taxes, or enough to buy 500 acres of farmland somewhere else, maybe nearby.

Even if they are not sitting on a goldmine, they can mortgage the land to pay off the taxes. Any farmer with a 50-75% head start on every other farmer who borrowed 100% to buy his land and still can't compete deserves to go out of business. Which is a good argument FOR the estate tax: prevent inefficiencies from some competitors having a giant head start over others. Instead, making it just a big head start. Seem fair to me (someone who will, hopefully a long time from now, inherit a family farm and be happy to pay the taxes on it).

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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 02:17 PM   #82
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by brewer12345
So us employees should subsidize (via payroll, income and RE taxes) these marginally successful farmers who pay little in income or real estate taxes?
They paid their income tax and real estate tax, but we're not talking about those we are talking about estate tax. They were not the recipients of any farm subsidies. From the conversations I remember, they were complaining that they were too small to be eligible for them when they were implemented.

Martha--The farm has been closed for many years now, so I don't know if the loan issue was available when the owners died. The last time I remember the farm being up and running was about 20 years ago. Each generation worked the farm and most went into some kind of farm/nursery type job when they were old enough to leave the nest. The biggest problem with this farm was they bought it in the middle of nowhere then the city moved out to them.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 02:20 PM   #83
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Re: Estate taxes

I was speaking more generally, lets. No real interested in opining on the specifics of an anecdotal case where we know relatively little.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 02:46 PM   #84
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by HelpMeRhonda
You miss the $$#$ point.... Yes, they are left with a house. And how does that house produce income (which after all is what they needed from the farm). Their only option is to sale the house to a McDonald's nightshift manager and find a new line of work. What part of that is fair.....

Spoken by someone who doesn't seem to be able to relate to the effected party.
Sell the house & land. Buy some farm land 50-100 miles out of the city. Pocket the Millions in profits. And keep right on farming if that's what you like. Is it fair? Consider this. If the farmer can trade shoes with a land owner who has had 50 years of zero appreciation, would he?
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 03:08 PM   #85
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by Martha
You will own shares in the corporation that will have to be valued when you die. I have done succession planning with small business owners where the primary owner gifts shares of stock in the business over a period of time in order to minimize estate taxes. All sorts of interesting valuation issues occur and opportunities to fight with the IRS. For example, the original owner may gift non-voting shares that don't become voting until the original owner dies. The parties will argue that the gifted stock is of relatively low value because it is non-voting and also subject to minority discounts.
I have seen some plans like that to reduce estate taxes. I suppose, if you get all your ducks in line, it works. Personally, I would not want to be in a position to explain to the IRS why I did something that seemed to lower the value of my interest an estate (but I'm not a lawyer). I am sure it can be done, there are case law precedents I am told. But, the people who would be advising me are not the ones that would be on the hook. That worries me.

When it comes to stuff like that, and the uncertainties of future tax laws, I like the KISS principle. Annual gifting to the max that the estate is comfortable with seems like the simplest, lowest risk plan. And charitable giving, to the extent that you wish. I can't see any downside, other than the estate giving away too much money, and ending up unable to care for themselves, but that just needs to be managed properly.

What really bothered me, is the planners that proposed these complex methods, did not propose annual gifting as at least part of the plan. No money in it for them is what I suspect. But then, I'm the suspicious type when it comes to people advising others about their money.

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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 03:20 PM   #86
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by ERD50
I have seen some plans like that to reduce estate taxes. I suppose, if you get all your ducks in line, it works. Personally, I would not want to be in a position to explain to the IRS why I did something that seemed to lower the value of my interest an estate (but I'm not a lawyer). I am sure it can be done, there are case law precedents I am told. But, the people who would be advising me are not the ones that would be on the hook. That worries me.

When it comes to stuff like that, and the uncertainties of future tax laws, I like the KISS principle. Annual gifting to the max that the estate is comfortable with seems like the simplest, lowest risk plan. And charitable giving, to the extent that you wish. I can't see any downside, other than the estate giving away too much money, and ending up unable to care for themselves, but that just needs to be managed properly.

What really bothered me, is the planners that proposed these complex methods, did not propose annual gifting as at least part of the plan. No money in it for them is what I suspect. But then, I'm the suspicious type when it comes to people advising others about their money.

-ERD50
The succession planners I know talk about charitable giving.

When valuing gifts we support the valuation by appraisal (which can be very very expensive when closely held stock is involved) and we know the case law concerning minority discounts and other discounts from FMV. And we inform our clients as to the risks.

But I understand you point on keeping it simple and I certainly don't favor pushing the limits on "fancy."
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 04:10 PM   #87
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by lets-retire
Exactly. Where they once were able to fend for themselves and make a decent living, now they are forced to work for someone else. Farming traditionally does not make a lot of cash, all of the value is in the land. These people lost their farm, not because of market forces or poorly running their enterprise, but because the government forced them to pay estate taxes on the value of the land. As I said, I think the estate tax should not include the value of a family run business in the tax.
If my parents got 500 acres for $10,000 and due to expansion of the nearby megalopolis it is now worth $20M (a la Martha's case) should they be able to pass that to me tax free as distinct from their city friend who bought Microsoft for $10K and it is now worth $20M? Both parties are "owners."

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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 04:40 PM   #88
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by Martha


Estate taxes just arent a problem for family farms. The real problem is that the next generation often doesn't want to farm so they sell. Plenty of problems with family farms and difficulty in competing with big operations, but the problems have nothing to do with estate taxes.

I don't know what the taxes were, but when my grandparents died none of the four children wanted to be a farmer.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 04:54 PM   #89
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by Martha
Wasn't this the generation skipping transfer tax exemption? IIRC they worked with Bob Dole to reduce estate taxes. It didn't just apply to them, but to everyone.
No, from what I remember there is a special exemption for people born between X and X and something else... and the only people who qualify were the Gallo's... or at least the only one's who mattered...
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 04:57 PM   #90
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by brewer12345
So us employees should subsidize (via payroll, income and RE taxes) these marginally successful farmers who pay little in income or real estate taxes?
We do... it is called FARM SUSIDIES.... we pay for them NOT to grow something, or a floor price for something that nobody wants.... remember the 'free' cheese a number of years back??
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 05:06 PM   #91
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Re: Estate taxes

Best estate plan I ever saw or heard of was set up in the late 1800s... It is a partnership where the interest in the partnership is passed down to the children etc... BUT, the partnership agreement has a stipulation that it can buy the partner's interest back at book value... well, book value for most of the land that produces timber and oil and gas and have apartments on it and shopping centers etc etc etc. is from the 1800s... I know when I was dealing with it, they sold land for $20 million and had a $2,000 basis... so you can see the percent discount..

The IRS can not do anything to break this parnership agreement as it predates the tax code... so they live with it. It saves millions of dollars in estate taxes over the years...
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 06:18 PM   #92
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by Texas Proud
No, from what I remember there is a special exemption for people born between X and X and something else... and the only people who qualify were the Gallo's... or at least the only one's who mattered...
This was bugging me because I remembered something too about the Gallos and estate taxes. I think I found it. The Gallos in the late 70s got their congressman to pass a law that saved them about a 100 million in estate taxes by allowing payment over a period of years. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...ers/gallo.html

They contributed to the campaigns of then-Congressman Leon Panetta, US Senator Alan Cranston, and California Governor Pete Wilson. In 1978, Cranston pushed an amendment custom-tailored to allow the family to spread inheritance tax payments out over several years through the Senate.

The Gallo family has done a lot to support cutting or eliminating estate taxes.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-13-2006, 09:40 PM   #93
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Re: Estate taxes

If the estate tax is motivated to alleviate the unfairness of poverty, what is this poverty and is it always unfair? Is it always simple lack of material wealth? Or is lack of material wealth sometimes a symptom of a deeper poverty that money won’t alleviate? Some of the poor earn their poverty. If we use someone else’s money to buy off the consequences of their decisions and behaviors, how do we discourage continuation or increase of the habits that produce poverty? (And how do we encourage those who make a lot of money, to keep doing so, usually by activities that spin off prosperity for others as well, once they know that it won’t be theirs to dispose of as they see fit?) Of course some do inherit poverty that they didn’t earn. Inherited poverty is a terrible misfortune and one that especially engages our sympathies because it falls on children. But does the estate tax help them? I don’t know. If nutritious meals provided for neglected children would disappear without the estate tax, then it’s helping them. But I’m skeptical.

And how does poverty differ from “disparity in income?” It seems to me that concern over “disparity of income” the “gap between have and have-nots” is not quite the same thing as sympathy for the poor. Sympathy for the poor leads to a desire to help them. What leads to the desire to seize the wealth of the rich? Envy is a poor motivation for public policy. Telling oneself that it’s actually a concern for justice and fairness doesn’t make it any less corrosive to the conscience. Not many among us would claim to be 100% free of envy. Be we’re better off facing it as a fault to be overcome rather than trying to disguise it as a virtue while we point judgmental fingers at the rich.

Those who want to have an estate tax applied to their own estate can achieve that end without forcing everyone else to do as they prefer. They can donate their entire estate to the government any time they wish, and allow others the freedom to dispose of their estates as they wish.

Those who say they want an even playing field must know it’ll never happen. Our rights are equal, but our abilities, fortunes, and outcomes are not. Some us are born geniuses, others idiots; some beautiful to look at, others hideous; some smell nice, others stink; some are athletic, others paralyzed; some are born in Florida, others in North Dakota, some are born to loving families, others to neglect, some to money, others to lack thereof. And many of our unequal inheritances are of greater consequence than money.

We all start out in life with things we didn’t earn. Some of those things are good, some bad, some trivial, some tragic.

On the other hand - if you can really pass along 2 million free of tax - that's a lot of money. I'm not going to argue too passionately about it. Won't be happening with my estate anyway. Does anyone know how much revenue is actually generated from it and how much it costs to collect it?
I'll tell you what, let's elect some representatives to a legislative body and let them argue over it.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-14-2006, 06:53 AM   #94
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by donheff
If my parents got 500 acres for $10,000 and due to expansion of the nearby megalopolis it is now worth $20M (a la Martha's case) should they be able to pass that to me tax free as distinct from their city friend who bought Microsoft for $10K and it is now worth $20M? Both parties are "owners."
My position is, if they are using the land in a business then no tax should be paid on the business. The tax code could read you have to keep it up and running for x amount of year before selling it or closing or you have to pay the estate tax on the value of the company when it was inherited. Simply owning shares of a corporation or a large tract of land not being used for business should be taxed in an estate.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-14-2006, 08:00 AM   #95
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by Average Joe
Of course some do inherit poverty that they didn’t earn. Inherited poverty is a terrible misfortune and one that especially engages our sympathies because it falls on children. But does the estate tax help them? I don’t know. If nutritious meals provided for neglected children would disappear without the estate tax, then it’s helping them. But I’m skeptical. ...

And how does poverty differ from “disparity in income?” It seems to me that concern over “disparity of income” the “gap between have and have-nots” is not quite the same thing as sympathy for the poor. Sympathy for the poor leads to a desire to help them. What leads to the desire to seize the wealth of the rich? Envy is a poor motivation for public policy. Telling oneself that it’s actually a concern for justice and fairness doesn’t make it any less corrosive to the conscience.

I speak only for myself. I don't know what other self proclaimed "liberals" may think. But I don't espouse universal health care, social security, and other safety nets out of some do-gooder sense of guilt. To me it is a self interested sense of what is practical and desirable in human society. I remember driving to work at UPS on Chicago's south side shortly after Martin Luther King was murdered. Buildings were still smoldering and with my pale white face in the car window I felt like a target waiting to be shot -- don't think that can't happen again. I don't believe the richest country in the history of the world needs the kind of disparity that leads to the riots that occurred throughout the late sixties. Other developed countries have income disparities of around 25X from entry level to CEO, in the US what is it - 450x?

You ask if the estate tax helps starving children. My answer is that our Government policies determine whether starving children will be helped - the source of the funds for Government are not determinative. I have not studied tax policies well enough to have a strong opinion on whether estate taxes should be higher or lower, whether income taxes should be flatter or more progressive. I just know that, overall, we seem to moving a a bad direction when the gap from bottom to mid-top is increasing exponentially and when the hard working, self sufficient bunch on this board is awake nights worrying about whether they will loose everything they saved because they roll snake eyes on diabetes or a stroke.

I will continue to support policies that appear to me to be oriented towards a more level playing field and not towards enriching the top 1-2%. What I find strange is that many of the liberal voices who espouse what I am saying are, like me, in that top group that will be negatively effected. Many of the voices on the other side are not and have almost no prospect of ever being in it.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-14-2006, 08:06 AM   #96
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Re: Estate taxes

What donheff said nicely sums up how I see things.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-14-2006, 08:37 AM   #97
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by donheff
But I don't espouse .... safety nets out of some do-gooder sense of guilt. To me it is a self interested sense of what is practical and desirable in human society.

well said doheff - I have sometimes viewed the disparity thing in 'selfish' terms also - a large, frustrated poor class could become a threat to others. Not that you need exclude a conscience from that view - but I do look at it both ways.


Quote:
I don't believe the richest country in the history of the world needs the kind of disparity that leads to the riots that occurred throughout the late sixties. Other developed countries have income disparities of around 25X from entry level to CEO, in the US what is it - 450x? .....

I just know that, overall, we seem to moving a a bad direction when the gap from bottom to mid-top is increasing exponentially
I keep seeing it repeated that the gap is increasing - is this really true? I don't have a ref, and statistics on this could be tricky. And I mean comparing something like quartiles, not just the very top richest (outliers). I thought I read once, that the statistics are misleading because some of those classes are seeing an increase in standard of living across the board. And I think maybe our definition of 'poor' is shifting? I know many people in this country are in dire straights and in need of help, but I tend to think the median 'poor person' may be far, far better off than the median person (including all classes) in many countries in the world. Again, I don't have a ref, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that the median 'poor person' in the US has more than enough calories each day, has heat or air conditioning and maybe a color TV. Maybe I'm wrong on that - I don't even know where to find decent data. But, I do know a young man that taught in one of the poorest school districts in NYC - he said every kid had a fancy cell phone (not bottom line like me) and really nice sneakers. I will attribute that to education - I don't think they really know how to budget whatever money they do have.

Quote:
I will continue to support policies that appear to me to be oriented towards a more level playing field and not towards enriching the top 1-2%.
I support policies to help the lower class improve themselves also - I think that is a good use of my tax dollars. I just don't care to see it done by 'handouts' (although for some, that is all you really can do). But real steps to improve them, help with education, training - help create real job opportunities, etc. My main charity contributions are to Heifer.org,, I like their approach of helping people help themselves (hopefully, it really works and is not all window dressing).

-ERD50

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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-14-2006, 08:54 AM   #98
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Re: Estate taxes

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Originally Posted by ERD50


I keep seeing it repeated that the gap is increasing - is this really true? I don't have a ref, and statistics on this could be tricky. And I mean comparing something like quartiles, not just the very top richest (outliers). I thought I read once, that the statistics are misleading because some of those classes are seeing an increase in standard of living across the board. And I think maybe our definition of 'poor' is shifting? I know many people in this country are in dire straights and in need of help, but I tend to think the median 'poor person' may be far, far better off than the median person (including all classes) in many countries in the world. Again, I don't have a ref, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that the median 'poor person' in the US has more than enough calories each day, has heat or air conditioning and maybe a color TV. Maybe I'm wrong on that - I don't even know where to find decent data. But, I do know a young man that taught in one of the poorest school districts in NYC - he said every kid had a fancy cell phone (not bottom line like me) and really nice sneakers. I will attribute that to education - I don't think they really know how to budget whatever money they do have.


Here are a couple of thread on class, mobility, and disparity between rich and poor.

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...p?topic=9398.0

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...46166#msg46166

There are poor in the US living in real tough conditions. Look at the homeless. If you don't have children, and are not disabled, there is no safety net for you. No welfare check. Tough to get medical care. But once you are an adult, you are responsible for your lot.
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Re: Estate taxes
Old 12-14-2006, 08:59 AM   #99
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Re: Estate taxes

When it comes to the value of land and houses though, do you pay an estate tax on it when you inherit it, or do you just pay a capital gains tax on it when (if) you sell it?

For example, with the house I'm in, my grandmother simply put my name on the title as a 1/3 owner, with her being a 1/3 owner and my uncle being a 1/3 owner. Then when she passes (presuming she's the first to go..you never know, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow!) it becomes mine and my uncle's 50/50. And then, finally, when he passes, it's 100% mine.

But my impression was that I'd never have to pay a tax until the place got sold. And then the way they'd figure it would be:

The ~33% my grandmother gave me would be valued at HER cost basis, which is probably zero, because she inherited it back in 1961 and rented it out, most likely depreciating it to zero.
the ~17% I'd inherit when my grandmother passed away would be valued at whatever its value was when she passed away.
The final 50% I'd inherit from my uncle would be valued at whatever it was worth when he passed away.

So is that more or less the way it would work, or am I off-base?
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Old 12-14-2006, 12:42 PM   #100
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Re: Estate taxes

Andre, here is the publication that should answer your questions: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p551/ar02.html

There is a good chance that the entire property will have a step up in basis when your grandmother dies, if neither you nor your uncle contributed anything to purchase your interests or improve the property. If your grandmother has a taxable estate, the estate may have to pay estate taxes but you personally won't pay any taxes until the property is sold.
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