Jun 7

Unemployment benefits in the U.S. are a collaborative payment system by the Federal and state governments to compensative income for those who lost their employment. All 50 state as well as the District of Columbia, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico implements the unemployment insurance. The Social Security Act of 1935 encouraged all states and territories to establish the current unemployment benefits system through insurance.

The current program provides benefits up to 99 weeks for those out of work employees and the benefits will expire at the end of the specified period. Each state decides the length of time of benefits subject to Federal guidelines. As a result, most states now provide benefits only for 26 weeks and extended benefits may kick in at the end of the initial period. States also set the maximum amount of benefits which is paid on weekly basis.

Expiration of benefits not only impact individuals who received it but also widespread economic impacts due to reduce consumption, credit constrains, reduce demand and additional layoffs. Some argue that benefits encourage the unemployed to stay on benefits for the longest possible time.

Unemployment benefits are included as income for the beneficiary and therefore, taxable under the Internal Revenue Code.

Apr 17

April 17, 2012 is the deadline to file your 2011 tax return. Most of the states followed the IRS deadline and made that its deadline to file your state tax return. We thought this is an appropriate time to remind you about some tax facts.

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The number of audits of individual tax returns by the IRS is increasing steadily. In 2000 the IRS audited one in every 203 returns. This number has grown to one in every 90 returns in 2010 increasing your chance of an audit by the IRS. During the same period audits by mail increased accordingly and face to face interviews somewhat slower than “by mail” audits.

The IRS is also issued more liens to collect back taxes. From 1999 to 2011, the number of liens issued by the IRS increased by 521 percent. However, the amount collected from liens increased by 4 percent during the same period. In a bankruptcy, a recorded tax lien can be collected at the time of the change of ownership of the property. However, the collection of tax liens depends on the number of liens on a property, whether they are senior to the tax lien, and whether the property is over encumbered.

Jan 23

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has a dividend yield of 2% compared to almost 5% for the European stocks and about 2.5% for the Japanese.  U.S. companies are able to pay higher dividend due to strong earnings in an otherwise challenging market.  This does not mean that you look into foreign stocks for yield.

Choices at home for investors are very limited.  Bonds and short-term deposits are yielding next to nothing or near zero.  Yields are near 50 year lows.  Corporations are opting for buybacks instead of paying dividends.

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What should investors who are retired and on Social Security look for?  If you are depending on higher yields on your investments, you should look for higher dividend paying stocks of US companies for income.

Look into the companies in the telecom sector.  On average, they pay about 5.5% yearly dividends.  Another sector that has an average of 4% dividend yield is utilities.  Also, there are individual stocks to consider.  Time Warner increased its annual dividend to 4%.  AT&T pays an annual dividend of 5.8%.  Other stocks to consider: Lockheed Martin (4.8%), Merck (4.3%), NYSE Euronext (4.4%) and Pfizer (4%).

Dec 30

In the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney’s tax returns were the subject of contentious debate. Namely how he could take home more of his money than the average secretary. There was suggestion that Romney was a borderline tax evasion artist, but the reality is that carefully structured donations and money management helped Romney maintain his wealth.

If you want clear, legal strategies to manage your money then read on for a simple tip that has helped the wealthy for generations.

Give Things Away

Your charity can have a strong impact when the tax man calls his due, effectively lowering the income that you claim each year. Visit a tax relief attorney to figure out which donations would be most beneficial to your tax rates.

When you own property, it comes with an intrinsic value. Let’s say the government claimed your house as eminent domain. You would receive compensation for your home based on the fair market value of the property. Charity works on a similar level, but the act of giving effectively lowers your income for the year. It’s like you never made that money to begin with.

Why not sell?

You wouldn’t give away a home, especially not after you’ve put your own money out of pocket to cover the costs of repair. Selling is also hampered by fair market value, which is hard to find in this day and age. As an example:

Say that you pay the highest marginal tax rate of 35%. If you had an antique that was appraised for a higher value than what you bought it for, you try to sell it at that price.

An income tax attorney might suggest that you donate instead. The sale price of $10,000 would be a part of your income for the year. If you decided to donate the dresser, you could get the same market value applied to your taxes. Assuming your appraisal was conducted by a certified appraiser. The result might shave off a few percentage points from your tax bill. En masse, you’re looking at big discounts.

So when does selling make sense?

Mostly, selling makes sense when assets are liquid. There are many in the higher income brackets who would opt for selling just to pocket the extra revenue, especially in situations where there are back taxes owed. Sure, the income is taxable, but the gains may outweigh the costs at the end of the year.

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This guest post on tax benefits was written on behalf of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. Kahn is a tax attorney specializing in helping clients get in compliance with the offshore voluntary disclosure program.

Dec 10

Posted by Samuel Phineas Upham

Have you ever wondered when and why we started raising fish in farms?  The article “Aquaculture’s Troubled Harvest,” by Bruce Barcott is all about the Aquaculture industry; how it started, why it’s booming, and why so many fisherman and environmentalists want it to stop.

According to the article, while Aquaculture seems to have many benefits, it ends up making a mess of the environment. Barcott follows the story of one area that has been negatively affected by fish farming: the Broughton Archipelago, Canadian islands and home of “one of the richest pockets of biodiversity on the North American coast.” Due to fish farming in the area, the killer whales have been driven out, shrimp fishermen started to pull out traps full of “farm muck,” and wild salmon began to contract a fatal disease they caught from the farmed fish. And the problems don’t end there.

However, despite its problems, the writer suggests that, “aquaculture is not going away.” “We’re eating more fish even as the oceans and rivers run dry.”

Read the entire article: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2001/11/aquacultures-troubled-harvest

Nov 1

In business, minimizing waste is one of the biggest goals of an organization, whether it’s materials or manpower. Some industries are inherently wasteful, but one area that is shockingly efficient is the foam industry.

With most materials, mistakes, runoff, and scraps are all wasted costs, thrown away in the garbage. With foam, many scrap pieces are able to be made into new products. A chunk of foam sawn off the end of a topper can become multiple keyboard typing pads, or a mis-cut mattress can be diced up into multiple pillows. While these mistakes rarely happen with the automation of manufacturing these days, when they do, it isn’t cause for panic.

What’s more, the smallest pieces and most irregular cuts of foam can be reused, even if they can’t be repurposed into a new product. For these scraps, foam shredders turn what’s left from a foam-cutting job into fluffy, comfortable filling. Shredded foam has enough uses that virgin foam sheets are routinely shredded to meet demand, but foam scraps get added into the batch as well. “Scrap” shouldn’t carry a negative connotation either, since in every case, the chunk being shredded was only a saw blade’s width away from being part of a mattress, pillow, or cushion.

Shredded foam is then turned into pillow stuffing, beanbag chair filler, and carpet padding. With this kind of versatility, foam is one of the most efficient products on the market, in any industry!

Article submitted by The Foam Factory, an online source for a wide range of durable, well-made foam products, from mattresses to shredded foam filling.

Oct 1

When dealing with acoustical foam tiles, there are two varieties of the material that are more popular than other tile designs; wedge and pyramid.

A mixing or listening space is one where people spend a substantial amount of time, and for that reason, aesthetics are an integral part of a room layout, in addition to the sound performance of a space. With its clean lines, sharp angles, and vibrant colors, wedge and pyramid foam tiles can help individuals decorate their room in a fashion that is both pleasing as well as functional. Wedge foam is able to be mounted in linear patterns, or arranged in a perpendicular, alternating pattern to break up the design. Pyramid meanwhile, is uniform side-to-side, so you always know the look you’re getting with that tile design.

Wedge and pyramid foam are not just attractive though, they’re very functional pieces of acoustical treatment, that while similar, each provide their own unique benefit to the room they are installed in, aside from their good looks.

Wedge foam, with its long ridges across the panel, offers a slight advantage in overall absorption of sound. With a greater amount of physical product in wedge foam tiles than pyramid, it is able to stop more sound, along the mid- and high-frequency range.

Pyramid foam is formed with two passes through the machine that creates the wedge foam; one run creates the wedge design, while a second pass with the foam turned 90 degrees results in the pyramid look being created. There is less foam in a pyramid tile than wedge, making it slightly less absorptive. However, the greater surface area created by the individual peaks makes for a slightly more diffusive tile. Going with either style can give you a great-sounding and great-looking room, no matter which pattern you go with.

Sep 18

Author bio: Guest post is provided by Hoists Direct Inc., a principal company in every hoist from the electric hoist to the hand chain hoist.   Go to their website for more information.

Hoists are very powerful and heavy pieces of equipment.  One of the biggest complaints when it comes to hoists is the difficulty to maneuver them.  Luckily, there are other types of equipment that can help you move your hoist around.

Many different types of projects and industries require a hoist that can serve various functions, but the hoist can often be limited to the space it’s placed in within a building or construction space.  One of the easiest ways to move a hoist to a new location is through the use of a hoist trolley.

There are different types of hoist trolleys but most of them work on a track system.  Generally, trolleys work on a track that’s suspended for either the ceiling or poles.  Hoist trolleys are particularly helpful moving incredibly heavy items, especially when an industrial hoist is being moved.  This takes a huge burden off of the workers which is a major plus.

There are hoist trolleys for both manual and electric hoists.  There are trolleys that can work with hoists of all sizes and weights.  Hoist trolleys can vary in their appearance, but normally they include a steel shell accompanied by contain rollers which slide over the last part of an I-beam.  Trolleys also have the part that connects to the hoist.  This part is a clasp on the end of the steel shell.

Other important accessories to make using your hoist easier include tele-radios and clamps.

Sep 10

For DIY fans, foam is incredibly popular due to its versatility, availability, and ability to be cut with tools most of us have in our homes. Because of this, making a DIY cushion, seat pads, or even a foam bed has become a project that’s able to be done at home.

For some projects, the foam you’re working with isn’t large enough to handle the job in a single piece. When you need to combine multiple pieces together to complete a project, spray adhesive is used, and there are a few rules and tips to abide by when bonding two pieces of foam.

The first thing to cross off the checklist is identifying the type of foam you will have to glue. This sounds fairly obvious to most people, but different kinds of foam are composed of different materials that may or may not have different reactions to the chemicals in adhesive. As an example, polystyrene can be melted by certain types of spray adhesive that aren’t formulated for use with EPS. Fortunately, different adhesives are made that work with almost every type of foam, and chances are slim that you wind up working with a material you can’t find a usable adhesive for.

For smaller pieces being glued to a larger cushion, the process is very simple; preparing an area to spray, coating both sides of the foam, squeezing the pieces together, and holding them in place for a couple minutes. Larger pieces may not be as easy to reach around to compress from both ends, so for bonding larger sections like window seats, firmly pinching as you go down the perimeter of the seam will ensure a strong bond for your project.

To mount some varieties of foam acoustic treatment, you can spray the foam with adhesive and apply it directly on the wall. A light layer on only the foam forms temporary bond, while a heavy coating with more on the wall forms a stronger bond.

Aug 30

Running a sweepstakes business is a great way to make easy money. Sweepstakes are popularized by large companies such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola in an effort to promote their products. The McDonalds Monopoly game has been introduced time and time again due to popular demand. In this game, participants can win prizes as small as a free drink and as large as cash prizes worth thousands or millions of dollars.

It is estimated that 60 million Americans play some kind of sweepstakes game every year, a quarter of them playing more than 4 times a year.  Although the odds of winning a sweepstakes game are less than being knocked off a bridge by an airplane, Americans love lottery style games. The question burns in their minds, the possibility that THEY could be the winner. Although the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes estimate that there is only one winner in five hundred million, Americans participate anyway. They dream what they could do with large cash prizes and figure paying for a product for a chance to win is a small price to pay.

The truth is the entity that truly wins a sweepstakes game is the one who runs it. That one ticket that only costs a few bucks is purchased by hundreds, thousands, even millions of people. The dollars start to add up. This is why becoming a promotional sweepstakes software partner is a powerful tool to make money–it’s a mathematical fact. With some guidance, running an internet cafe business with installed sweepstakes software proves to be a great way to earn extra cash with minimal effort.

Aug 20

Adding decorative crown molding to your home is one of the smartest ways to give it an injection of attractiveness and value without an over-the-top approach that comes off as too bold. Crown molding is an architectural trim placed in the joint where wall meets ceiling, giving a space a classic, understated elegance that gently impacts an entire room’s ambiance.

Created in all kinds of styles and sizes, crown molding makes a room feel larger than it actually is by smoothing the transition over the static joint at the top of a room. Molding was traditionally made from wood, but is now manufactured in more user-friendly materials like polyurethane foam. Foam molding is much easier to trim and squeeze into place than traditional materials, while offering a greater margin for error. With wood, the smallest miscalculation or cut can leave you with gaps and bad angles.

Custom molding services make replicating pre-existing patterns in a home simple, especially if you are able to provide foam manufacturers with a sample to pattern-match with. Companies also sell pre-made kits, with stock patterns that guarantee you can add more matching molding down the road if you so choose.

Crown molding isn’t solely for interior applications décor either. Many individuals add architectural designs to the exteriors of their homes for a regal and stately look. Exterior architectural trim is often more labor intensive to install due to the heights and size of external walls, but can also make a significant difference in the appearance of your home, as well as the way you feel about it. Exterior foam molding is typically made from polystyrene, due to its water resistant characteristics and durability once sealed and painted.

Aug 7

There are a few things that can be complex in the court system, including expunging a criminal record and putting together a defense in a DUI case.  DUIs are not as black and white as you may think though.  There are certain situations in which the defense can build a strong case.  Depending on the situation, here are a few defense options for DUI cases.

  •  Probable cause: An officer cannot simply pull you over for no reason.  An officer has to have probable cause for suspecting that you’re driving intoxicated.  That means that when they stop, detain, or arrest a suspect, they must have probable cause for doing so.  Pulling you over without probable cause can serve as a possible defense.
  • The Miranda Warning: An officer must read you your Miranda rights at the correct time.  If they forget or don’t do so in the proper order of things, your drunk driving lawyer can argue to have the charges dropped and anything you said can be removed from the record.
  • Blood-alcohol concentration: There can be problems and inaccurate readings with breathalyzers which can sometimes make for a strong defense.
  • Chemical tests taken during the absorptive phase: The body can take as little as 30 minutes or up to 3 hours to fully absorb alcohol.  That means that if chemical testing is performed during this stage, the reading may be inaccurate.
  • Witnesses: If there is a witness present during the incident, the witness can testify and state that the individual didn’t appear to be drunk.

Every DUI case is different.  There are different defenses that may be applicable to your specific situation.  It’s important to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer in order to know how to proceed.

Jul 31

Speaking to a tax lawyer or IRS lawyer will be the first, and best thing you do if you find yourself in a situation with the IRS. They will be able to help you understand what the IRS is looking for and why they are searching for it. They also will know what it’s like to have the IRS on your case with intimidating phone calls and notices.

An IRS attorney may examine some tax returns in order to see if income, credits, and expenses are being reported accurately. Throughout the audit, the IRS may propose adjustments for the tax return if they uncover any inaccuracies. Most of the time taxpayers will agree to these adjustments and the case is closed. However, if a taxpayer does not agree with the adjustments put forth by the IRS, they are allowed to appeal any proposed change. You must appeal and contact your local Appeals Office, within 30 days of receiving the letter notifying you of the changes and your right to appeal.

While there’s seldom a full victory when appealing the IRS, with the help of a tax lawyer you can procure some savings. However, it is important to act fast if you do decide to appeal an audit because interest will continue accrue while you’re appealing. It is also important to understand that appealing an audit, the IRS may uncover other inaccuracies unrelated to the proposed adjustments, and those will lead to more audits.

Guest post is provided by the Law Offices of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C., a trusted tax lawyer in San Francisco. View the website for more details.

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