Thankful Two new things I’m thankful for this year: 1) I personally don’t have to make the tough decisions about the war in Afghanistan; 2) The president who must make those decisions is weighing all the pros and cons carefully, gathering information and insight from the experts. Thankless President Obama faces a classic example of the thankless task. If we withdraw, the warlords and tribal chiefs will likely put the Afghan people under their thumbs. And the president’s political enemies will surely scream, “Cut and run!” But many across the political spectrum have noted that our dilemma in Afghanistan resembles the Vietnam war. There are places we shouldn’t be and causes we cannot win. Much as we might like to, America can’t protect the whole world. Sixty years ago I served with the army in South Korea. We still have 10,000 troops there. Surely we don’t want to be in Afghanistan 60 years from now. Free at last One evening, a blonde went to a seafood restaurant for dinner. When she saw the tank where they kept the lobsters, she asked a waiter, “Why are those creatures in that tank?” “They’re the lobsters we serve our customers,” answered the waiter. “You mean you’re going to kill them?” asked the blonde. “Absolutely,” said the waiter. The blonde was so upset that she immediately left the restaurant. She drove to a nearby store, bought some strong bags, and returned to the restaurant to accomplish her covert mission. There she waited until the moment was right. She snatched all of the lobsters out of the tank, threw them in bags, and hightailed it out of the restaurant. Later she went to the woods to set the poor animals free. Parenthood For her 41st birthday, a woman received, among other presents, an extravagantly expensive wrinkle-removing cream from her teenage daughter. “Nice!” said a friend who was visiting. “And what did she give you last year?” The mom’s reply without hesitation was: “The wrinkles.” Grandparenthood A grandfather was telling his little grandson what his own childhood was like. “We used to skate outside on a pond. I had a swing made from a tire; it hung from a tree in our front yard. We rode our pony. We picked wild raspberries in the […]
28th Heather Barton 29th Angie Bandemer, Mycah Heintz, Zoey Heintz, Paulene Stegehuis 30th Pat Breihof, Jill Fowle DECEMBER 1st Rosie Priebe, Bonie Rewa, Gerrit TenBrink 2nd Barry Bell, Nadine Hayes, Barb Ohnsman, Joan Wainright 3rd Sarah Barton, Stephanie Barton, Taylor Hone, Houston Moyer 4th Esther Haynes, Winnie Knight, Rick Sivings
Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent Five items most affect returns this year Boy, there sure is a lot going on in the tax arena this year. I have written about this regularly and previously, but it bears repeating: virtually by the minute, our tax system is getting more complicated. I attended a two-day seminar last week that was attended predominantly by Enrolled Agents, such as me, and Certified Public Accountants. In theory, and in my judgment, these tax professionals are the best informed and educated tax professionals in the market, but even these people were surprised when the manual of topics to be covered was handed out at the registration desk. It was over 800 pages long. The topics covered included not only the tax laws that were passed this year but also the tax laws passed last year that went into effect this year, as well as the myriad of courts cases and Internal Revenue Service rulings and publications that will affect returns prepared this coming tax season. Even to us veteran tax professionals, it’s mind-boggling. What are some of the items that will affect the largest amount of returns we will file this year? Here is the list as I see it right now: 1. Residential Energy Credit. I wrote a few weeks ago about the energy credit that is available on purchases of golf carts. That was fun to write about, but it’s really important to remember that purchases of energy improvements made to our personal residences can result in a credit of up to $1,500. Remember to keep those receipts and take that credit on this year’s return. 2. Homebuyer’s $6,500 Tax Credit. Any taxpayer who owned and occupied a personal residence for five out of the last eight years and now buys a new personal residence will qualify for a refundable credit of $6,500. The closing has to have taken place after November 6, 2009. The previous residence doesn’t even have to be sold. Stay tuned for more clarifications, but this is a huge credit. 3. New Hope Tuition Credit. The Hope tuition credit was substantially expanded. The old Hope credit was up to $1,800 per year for up to two years, was non-refundable, and began to phase out at the relatively […]
Event looks to ‘shake off the Grinch,’ donate Toys for Tots Byrne Electrical Specialists Inc, a local manufacturer privately owned and operated for 40 years by Norman and Rosemary Byrne, has decided to “shake off the Grinch” this holiday season with its bi-annual Christmas party to be held Saturday, Dec. 5, in downtown Grand Rapids. The company plans on more than 450 in attendance. Started in 1979 with a small celebration at the company’s headquarters in Rockford, the event focuses on celebrating four main facets of its business: employee, customer, and supplier appreciation, as well as giving back to the community. “We have been blessed with loyal employees, customers and suppliers throughout the years. Being a local partner with global value is a modest value we all share,” stated Managing Director Dan Byrne. “Part of being a good neighbor is giving back to those that are in need. It’s a culture that we enjoy with all of West Michigan.” The theme of this year’s party, “The Grinch Who Couldn’t Steal Christmas,” was developed as a play off of the famous Dr. Seuss tale that tells of a grumpy hermit that hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville. Guests are asked to dress in their best Whoville-style attire or color scheme. Most importantly, all guests are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to donate to Toys For Tots. “We thought, given all the ‘doom and gloom’ being reported out there, we want to celebrate the gifts we share” said Byrne. “With 450 or so expected, that’s a lot of young children being helped in our community.”
This holiday season, wouldn’t it be nice to know the gifts you purchase for your loved ones are directly helping change the lives of others? This Christmas, Women At Risk (WAR) International has a couple ideas to help you do just that! The Grand Rapids-based nonprofit is founded on a passion for creating circles of protection around at-risk women both in the United States and overseas. Their main focus involves rescuing women and children from slavery, offering them a safe place to heal, and empowering them with the gift of work—finding that when a woman makes something beautiful with her hands, she feels beautiful herself. This holiday season, there are a number of ways you can help WAR make a difference. The funds raised go directly to their programs, rescuing and protecting as many women and children as possible. First, you could host a WAR tree. Are you a health care professional in the West Michigan area? If so, WAR International would like to invite you to partner with them by hosting a tree filled with beautiful hand-blown glass ornaments from Egypt in your waiting room. These ornaments fund the rescue of women and children from the fastest-growing arm of organized crime, human sex trafficking. Joining the fight against this evil tells your patrons you not only care for them, but an entire world in need. For more information about partnering with WAR this holiday season, contact Jennifer McDonald at (616) 855-0796 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Second, visit the WAR Chest Boutique in downtown Rockford. Take a stroll down Courtland Drive and see the store-front filled with beautiful ornaments and handmade jewelry. The store gives patrons a permanent location to come in and be an active participant in this great cause and allows them to “shop with a purpose.” Third, if you are not a business owner or near Rockford, you can visit WAR’s ebay store or website to purchase these stunning items from afar. Visit www.warinternational.org to order gifts, donate money, join their prayer circle, or just learn more about this wonderful cause.