Tax time is tough, there’s no question about it, but it’s even more challenging when you’re self-employed and trying to deal with the sometimes confusing rules and recordkeeping that can go hand in hand with running your own show. The Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA) answers some of the most frequent questions about taxes and self-employment and offers tips that can help you lower your tax bill.
I was honored to be invited to attend a recent event at the Woodbury/Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church, which promised to be a discussion about “bullying prevention legislation.”
Going in, I knew it would be a community gathering and that there would be speakers sharing their stories of having experienced bullying, along with a question and answer period. I was invited to make a few remarks, and I planned to give an update on where the Safe & Supportive Schools Act stands in the legislative process, as well as make a few points about what’s included in the bill. There’s been a lot of confusion, and I’ve been surprised by constituents who have expressed concerns about things that aren’t actually included in the bill. This was the time to clarify any misunderstandings.
Over the past several years, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been working to decrease the exposure to perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in the East Metro. Red flags were raised after studies of PFCs in animals found associated health effects. In the mid-2000s, the MDH found that some public and private drinking water sources in the East Metro were polluted with PFCs as well. Shortly after,steps were taken to reduce the risk.
Will your tax bill this year include taxes on your Social Security benefits? About 55 million people receive monthly Social Security payments and some of them pay taxes on up to 85 percent of those benefits, depending on their financial situation. Will you have to ante up to Uncle Sam when you begin to collect Social Security? If you’re not certain - or if you’re currently being taxed on your benefits - the Minnesota Society of CPAs (MNCPA) offers advice on ways to minimize your outlay.
Researchers studying chaos theory should leave the lab and try coaching fourth-grade basketball.
If you want a good look at how random elements affect dynamic situations, look no farther than a basketball tournament for 10-year-old boys. Check out a game sometime: You’ll find 10 beginners attempting to play basketball, but succeeding primarily in developing a hybrid of rugby and amoeba soccer, where everyone keeps stealing the ball from one another and at any given time half the players are laying on the court crying. You’ll also find two sets of coaches popping Advil like Skittles.
About 10,000 baby boomers retire every day. With the aging population, many people are thinking of estate planning. The best course if you want a will or estate plan is to hire an experienced local attorney. You should steer clear of “living trust mills,” which hold themselves out as estate planning specialists but churn out boilerplate documents for a high fee, all to get their foot in the door to sell you annuities or insurance products later on.
Frequently in juvenile court we judges see cases of vandalism from minor egg-throwing to major wanton acts of property destruction in the tens of thousands of dollars. I have never been able to understand the mindset of the juveniles involved in such incidents. Sometimes the juveniles explain that they didn’t plan on doing any damage and that it was their friends that goaded them into participating, i.e. peer pressure. Surveys have shown that the typical vandal is a young male middle school student acting in a small group.
Who knew awarding the winter Olympics to a summer resort town would result in problems?
So thought the International Olympic Committee, apparently, when it awarded this year’s Games to Russia eight years ago. I’m sure no rubles exchanged hands over this deal, which resulted in Sochi getting picked over Salzburg, Austria. You know, a place that actually has winter.
People often express concerns about “plea bargains” in criminal cases. They wonder, “Why should a criminal get a bargain? Doesn’t anyone take crime seriously?” In fact, everyone in the criminal justice system takes it very seriously.
Now that’s a very good question! The Norwegian musical group Ylvis seems to be pondering that very question in their 2013 song of the same name. The YouTube video of the song has been hugely popular. Toddlers to grannies recognize the tune. The riddle of what the fox says is never solved in the song.