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Protect Yourself from 2013 Tax Hikes with 2012 Tax Planning PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 15 October 2012 14:26
3 Tips for Taking Advantage of This Year’s Lower Tax Rates

Income taxes are going up next year, and not just for those who earn more than $200,000 a year.

“Taxes are likely to be higher for everyone” says financial planner Rick Rodgers, author of The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning (www.RodgersSpeaks.com).

“We all know about the expiring Bush tax cuts, which may or may not be extended for everyone or just some,” he says. “There are also new taxes that were part of the healthcare reform law passed in 2010; the expiring payroll tax cut; the alternative minimum tax that already expired in 2011, and many other provisions that have expired or will expire at year end.”

Nearly everyone should prepare to pay more, Rodgers says.

The good news is you still have time to take advantage of 2012 tax rates, which may turn out to be the lowest we will see in some time. Rodgers offers these strategies that can be implemented before the end of 2012:

• Roth Conversion - No one knows for sure what will happen to the tax code next year, which is why a Roth conversion is one of the best tax-planning strategies available. Converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA creates a taxable event in 2012. All future earnings in the account will be tax-free, as long as you wait five years and are age 59½ or older when you take withdrawals. The biggest advantage to the Roth conversion strategy is the ability to “undo” the transaction as late as Oct. 15, 2013. Should the new Congress pass a major tax reform bill next year that lowers tax rates across the board, you can put the money back into your IRA. It will be like the transaction never happened.

• Harvest capital gains - Harvesting gains is similar to harvesting losses. Sell appreciated securities that you’ve held for at least 12 months to realize the long-term gain for tax purposes. You can immediately repurchase the same asset because there is no wash sale rule for realizing gains. This allows you to pay tax on the gain in 2012, when rates are low, and establish a new cost basis in the asset to minimize increased gains that may be taxed at higher rates.  This strategy should appeal to anyone in the 15-percent tax bracket because capital gains are taxed at zero and may jump to 8 to 10 percent in 2013 if the tax cuts expire. The strategy is also appealing to anyone subject to the Medicare surtax. If the current tax laws expire, the tax rate on long-term capital gains will jump from 15 percent to 23.8 percent (21.8 percent for assets held more than five years).

• Pay medical expenses - Anyone who normally itemizes medical expenses on their tax return should accelerate those expenses into 2012 if they can. Medical expenses are deductible only if they exceed 7½ percent of adjusted gross income (AGI). This means if your AGI is $50,000, you can deduct only medical expenses over $3,750.  Next year the threshold jumps to 10 percent of AGI.  Pay your January medical insurance premium in December to move this deduction to 2012.  Any routine eye exams or dental visits should be moved up to December.  Paying with a credit card would give you the deduction this year and delay the actual payment until 2013.

Rodgers warns that a common mistake is to wait and see what happens.  It has not been uncommon for Congress to make significant changes to the tax code late in December, leaving taxpayers little time to react.  He advises a diversified approach to tax planning.  Make a partial Roth conversion, harvest some capital gains but don’t wait until it’s too late to do anything about rising taxes.

Take a proactive approach to tax planning this year to cushion any fall from the fiscal cliff.

About Rick Rodgers

Certified Financial Planner Rick Rodgers is president of Rodgers & Associates, “The Retirement Specialists,” in Lancaster, Pa. He’s a Certified Retirement Counselor and member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisers. Rodgers has been featured on national radio and TV shows, including “FOX Business News” and “The 700 Club,” and is available to speak at conferences and corporate events (www.RodgersSpeaks.com).

 
Fairmount Branch Library Open Sundays through April PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Hart   
Monday, 15 October 2012 14:25

The Davenport Public Library Fairmount Branch (3000 N. Fairmount Street) is now open on Sundays from 1 PM – 4 PM through April 2013.  This is a great opportunity for people to checkout a few items, read the paper, use a computer, and spend a relaxing afternoon in the comfort of your Fairmount Branch Library.  This is also a great time for people taking classes at the new Scott Community College West Davenport Center to visit and work on their academics.

In addition, there will be a dance program offered the first Sunday of the month for all ages at 1 PM.  This program will offer everything from Salsa to Hip-Hop to Ballroom dance, taught by instructors from local dance studios.

The Main Street Library (321 Main Street) and the Eastern Avenue Branch Library (6000 Eastern Avenue) will remain closed on Sundays.  The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center (RSSC) at the Main Street Library will be open on the second Sunday of the month and for special Genealogy Night at the Library events.  Call the library’s RSSC Center at (563) 326-7902 to register and find out where to enter for these special events.  Public computer sessions and the rest of the Main Street Library will not be available for use.

For more information, visit www.davenportlibrary.com or call (563) 326-7832.

 
National Fire Prevention Week is upon us PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Joseph King   
Friday, 12 October 2012 07:29

Tampa, Fla. (October 12, 2012) – As temperatures begin to drop and consumers turn to alternative heating sources to stay warm, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers guidance on ways to avoid home fires this fall and winter during National Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 7 -13).

“While space heaters, fire places and wood-burning stoves can help consumers reduce energy bills during the colder months, it is critical that they be used properly,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO.

Heating fires account for 36 percent of all residential home fires in rural areas every year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA). The majority of residential heating fires (87 percent) are started by a confined fire, such as from a chimney or fuel burner, according to USFA. Take the following precautions to stay safe:

Fireplace

  • Have the fireplace inspected and cleaned annually by a professional chimney sweep.
  • Have a removable cap installed at the top of the chimney to keep out debris and animals.
  • Install a spark arrestor that has 1/4 inch mesh.
  • Maintain proper clearance around the fireplace and keep it clear of combustible materials such as books, newspapers and furniture.
  • Always close the screen when in use, but keep glass doors open during the fire.
  • Use a fireplace grate.
  • Never burn garbage, rolled newspapers, charcoal or plastic in the fireplace.
  • Avoid using gasoline or any liquid accelerant.
  • Clean out ashes from previous fires and store them in a noncombustible container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep the container outside and away from the house.
  • Make sure the fire is completely extinguished before closing the damper.

Space Heaters

These appliances can be an affordable option for heating a small space, but they also are the leading source of house fires during winter months.  Follow these guidelines when using space heaters:

  • Look for products that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratory (UL).
  • Buy a model with an automatic shutoff feature and heat element guards.
  • Maintain a 36-inch clearance between the heater and combustible materials, such as bedding, furniture, wall coverings or other flammable items.
  • Do not leave a space heater unattended.
  • Electric heaters should be inspected prior to use.
  • Check the cord for fraying, cracking and look for broken wires or signs of overheating in the device.
  • Use only heavy-duty extension cords marked with a No. 14 gauge or larger wire.
  • If the heater plug has a grounding prong, use only a grounding (three- wire) extension cord.
  • Never run the heater cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting.
  • Liquid-fueled heaters must be operated using only the fuel recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Never use gasoline or any other substitute fuel.
  • Allow the heater to cool down prior to refueling.

Additional details can be found in IBHS’ Alternative Heating Sources guide.

Electrical Fires

According to USFA, electrical home fires in the U.S. claim the lives of 280 people and injure 1,000 more each year, while home electrical problems account for $1 billion in property losses every year. Use the following information to reduce the risk of an electrical fire:

  • Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring for frayed wires or cords.
  • Promptly replace any cords that are frayed or damaged.
  • Avoid overloading an outlet.
  • Replace any electrical tool that causes even a small electrical shock, overheats, shorts out, or emits smoke or sparks.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters.
  • Don’t allow children to play near electrical appliances.

for more information about how to make your buildings more resistant to a variety of disasters, large and small. Follow IBHS on Twitter at @DisasterSafety and on

# # #

About IBHS
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices.

 
Cross-Continental Bike Tour to Travel Through Iowa PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Christian Newswire   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:15

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Oct. 10, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Cyclists are signing up for the ride of their lives next summer, seeking to end the cycle of poverty in North America and around the world.

The Sea to Sea 2013 Bike Tour is a nine-week, 3,900-mile cycling trek across North America designed to raise awareness and funds in support of those living in poverty around the world. The tour is hosted by the Reformed Church in America, Partners Worldwide, and World Renew--an agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

The tour begins June 21, 2013, in Los Angeles and ends nine weeks later in New York City. Stops include Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Chicago, Pella, Grand Rapids, Toronto, and Montreal. Organizers expect this will be the largest bicycle tour to ever cross the United States and Canada, and applications are already coming in. Riders have the option of going the full distance or registering for one to five week segments. It is recommended that riders register by December 1, 2012.

The challenge includes nine weeks on the road, cycling an average of 68 miles per day, and resting only on Sundays. Each rider is also required to raise at least $10,000 toward the cause.

The 2008 tour, which rode through the U.S. and Canada, sent over $1.5 million to local, national and international agencies fighting poverty.

"We have been able to make a difference in fighting poverty, locally and abroad, before. But there is so much more to do. The needs today are greater," said Claire Elgersma, chair of the tour's steering committee.

Funds generated through the tour will be used to support new or ongoing initiatives in the areas of business and community development, and will provide people around the world with access to clean water, immunizations, and other vital medical services.

Additionally, 35 percent of the tour proceeds will be distributed to local programs that assist the poor.

For more information about Sea to Sea, go to www.seatosea.org.

 

Christian Newswire

 
Halloween Health and Safety: Checklist and Tips PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - General Info
Written by Megan Anaya   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 12:41

Review this list as the sun rises on Halloween and make sure all are checked before dusk. (Many thanks to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta)

Home

  • Remove hazards from front porch and yard, such as pots, branches, candles and hoses.
  • Confine household pets, and make sure they are wearing collars.
  • Leave jack-o-lantern carving to adults and use battery-powered lights.

 

Food

  • Talk to children in advance about boundaries for how many pieces of candy will be eaten Halloween night (three to five recommended).
  • When choosing candies to give on Halloween, select ones with nutritional value like chocolates (the darker the better) or candies with nuts.
  • Send kids trick-or-treating on a full stomach by planning an easy meal, like a bowl of whole-wheat pasta or a quick peanut butter and banana sandwich.

 

Costumes

  • Make sure masks have eyeholes large enough for full vision.
  • Check for loose clothing that could easily brush up against jack-o-lanterns.
  • Read labels to make sure fabrics are flame resistant—remind to stop, drop and roll.

 

Accessories

  • Test props to make sure they are flexible and confirm face paint is non-toxic.
  • Add reflective tape and stickers if costumes are not bright.
  • Ensure kids carry a flashlight and cell phone.

 

Route

  • Chaperone children age 13 and younger.
  • Remind kids to stay on sidewalk; walk facing traffic and avoid shortcuts.
  • Set a rule to visit only well-lit houses and remain on porch.

 

FOR KIDS: Halloween Safety and Health Tips from the Experts

 

Included:

  • Safety
  • Nutrition and Health

 

SAFETY:

Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for children because they can dress up in elaborate costumes and act out of character. However, as the sun goes down and trick-or-treaters start roaming the streets of your neighborhood, there are several things to worry about as a parent or guardian. Potentially hazardous costumes or accessories, tainted candy and crossing the street at night without supervision are only a few concerns that should be addressed prior to a child leaving the house.

Children ages 5-14 are four times more likely to be killed while walking on Halloween evening compared with other evenings of the year. Falls are the leading cause of injuries among children on Halloween. Halloween is a fun time for children, but it also is an important time to be extra vigilant for possible safety hazards—so that your children have a fun and safe Halloween.

 

  • Avoid costumes with excessive flowing fabric, such as capes or sleeves. Loose clothing can easily brush up against a jack-o-lantern or other open flame, causing your child’s costume to catch on fire.
  • Make sure your child’s costume fits properly. Oversized costumes and footwear, such as clown or adult shoes, can cause your child to trip and fall, bringing them home with more scrapes and bruises than candy. Avoid wearing hats that will slide over their eyes.
  • Accessorize with flexible props, such as rubber swords or knives. Inflexible props can cause serious injury in case of a fall.
  • Apply face paint or cosmetics directly to the face, and make sure it is non-toxic and hypoallergenic. A loose-fitting mask can obstruct a child's vision. If a mask is worn, be certain it fits securely. Cut the eyeholes large enough for full vision.
  • If possible, choose a brightly colored costume that drivers can spot easily. If not, decorate his costume with reflective tape and stickers.
  • Always supervise children under the age of 13. Older children should trick-or-treat in a group, and a curfew should be established for them. Attach the name, address and phone number (including area code) of children under age 13 to their clothes in case they get separated from adults. Have each child carry a cell phone or some loose change in case they need to call home or get lost.
  • Children should only go to well-lit houses and remain on the porch within street view. Teach your child to cross the street only at crosswalks or intersections. Make sure he understands never to cross between parked cars and to always look both ways before crossing. Remind your child to stay on the sidewalk, if possible, and to walk facing traffic. Children should walk, not run, and avoid using shortcuts across backyards or alleys. Use flashlights when trick-or-treating in the dark.
  • Remind your child not to eat any treats before you have a chance to examine them thoroughly for holes and punctures. Throw away all treats that are homemade or unwrapped. To help prevent your children from munching, give them a snack or light meal before they go trick-or-treating.
  • Parents of food-allergic children must read every candy label in their child’s Halloween bag to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation for the child.

 

HEALTHY:

Kids Consume 1.5 Cups of Fat, 3 Cups of Sugar and 4,800 Calories at Halloween Time

Many of us spend hours decorating the house and creating the perfect costume for a spooky Halloween, but the spookiest part of Halloween is not the scary costumes or the spider web on your front porch – it’s the amount of fat, sugar and calories consumed by trick-or-treaters.

By visiting 15 houses, the average trick-or-treater can collect up to 60 pieces of “fun-size” candy on Halloween night. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta looked at the calories, fat and sugar content of a bag of typical Halloween treats and found it to be equivalent to 4,800 calories, one-and-a-half cups of fat and three cups of sugar.

“Allowing your child to consume three cups of sugar is like standing by and watching them eat 200 packets of sugar,” said Dr. Stephanie Walsh, Medical Director of Child Wellness at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. “Halloween and candy are synonymous, but it’s important to provide sweets in moderation and focus on the fun and family time of the event – not the candy.”

According to Dr. Walsh, candies with rich ingredients such as chocolate and peanut butter have the highest sugar and fat content. And many specialty Halloween candies, such as candy corn, contain unhealthy amounts of sugar if not consumed in moderation.

Childhood obesity has become a threatening epidemic in Georgia. Weighing in just below Mississippi, Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the United States. Nearly one in three children ages 10 to 17 in Georgia is considered to be overweight or obese (National Survey of Children’s Health, 2007), and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is continuing to witness a steady rise in obesity cases at all three of its hospitals.

To combat this chronic illness, Dr. Walsh offers several tips to help Georgia’s families have a fun and healthy Halloween:

  • Offer to “buy back” the candy from your kids in exchange for a small toy.
  • Provide plenty of water with the sweets, and set aside time to be active to help burn the extra calories consumed.
  • Provide a nutritious meal that includes fruits and vegetables before going to gather candy. This will lower your child’s appetite for the sweets they are about to collect in the hours to come.
  • Distribute candy with lower sugar and fat content to trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood.
  • Talk to children in advance about boundaries for how many pieces of candy will be eaten Halloween night (three to five recommended).
  • When choosing candies to give on Halloween, select ones with nutritional value like chocolates (the darker the better) or candies with nuts.
  • Send kids trick-or-treating on a full stomach by planning an easy meal, like a bowl of whole-wheat pasta or a quick peanut butter and banana sandwich.

 

About Tips Provider:

Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric healthcare systems in the country, is pleased to offer Health and Safety Tips for parents and children. You can view a variety of expert tips at www.choa.org/healthandsafetytips.  Children's is a not-for-profit organization that benefits from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community. Operating three hospitals with more than half a million patient visits annually, Children’s is recognized for excellence in cancer, cardiac, neonatal, orthopaedic and transplant services, as well as many other pediatric specialties. Visit our Web site at www.choa.org to learn more about Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

 
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