“Facing a Hobson’s Choice” ( JofA, Sept.00, page 57) was an excellent and timely article. The importance of making decisions in connection with IRA distributions and beneficiaries cannot be overstated, and CPAs are taking on awesome responsibilities in this area. Thanks for publishing the story.
I did find the title unfortunate, and it is disappointing that the JofA editorial staff was not familiar with Mr. Hobson’s operations. According to the Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins definition, Thomas Hobson required customers at his Cambridge livery stable to take the horse nearest the door. He tolerated no picking and choosing. Thus, if we were truly in a “Hobson’s choice” situation, there would have been no need for the article.
Joe Richardson, CPA
Editors’ Note: We agree—not every choice an IRA owner faces is a Hobson’s choice. However, we felt the term accurately described the spirit, if not the letter, of the limited options some IRA owners had. Taking distributions over the owner’s life expectancy without recalculation might not be the option “nearest to the door,” but under some circumstances it would be the only choice available.