EITC Receivers get Extra Credit

by JERRY COON

jerrycoonIncredibly enough, our Michigan legislature is giving a credit on this year’s tax return that it can ill afford. Michigan’s tax revenues are decreasing by the minute and in approximately the same proportion that the unemployment rate is increasing. However, they have still found it in their hearts to give out a very large tax break.

Starting this year, all taxpayers receiving a federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are going to also receive a refundable credit on their Michigan tax return equal to 10% of the federal EITC. I didn’t realize the Treasury had several millions of dollars in a rainy day fund in Lansing just waiting to be refunded as tax returns are filed. In fact, if what they are telling us is true, they don’t have several millions of dollars in any fund anywhere. The reality of the situation is that this refunded money is most likely going to cause some other program to be shorted. I’m doing a little complaining here because I’m afraid our schools might just be the ones that could get shorted, and that is just not right. In any event, the rules are the rules and I will get off my soap box.

This particular rule says taxpayers who receive a federal EITC will receive an additional 10% credit on their Michigan tax return. So be it. In that light, what I really need to discuss, then, is how someone qualifies for the federal EITC. There are three sets of requirements. The first set of requirements applies to all taxpayers who wish to claim the EITC. The second set applies to taxpayers who do not have qualifying children. The third set applies to taxpayers with qualifying children. The requirements that apply to all taxpayers are as follows.

The first and most important requirement is the taxpayers must have earned income. For those filing single, head of household, or as a qualifying widower with no qualifying dependents, the income range (IR) to receive a credit ranges from $1 up to $12,880. For those with one dependent, the IR is from $1 up to $33.995. For those with two or more dependents, the IR is from $1 up to $39,646. For taxpayers who file using the married-filing-joint status with no children, the IR is from $1 up to $15,880. For joint filers with one dependent, the IR is from $1 up to $36.995. For joint filers with two or more dependents, the IR is from $1 up to $41,646.

Second, the taxpayer must have a valid Social Security Number and be a U.S. citizen or resident alien all year.

Third, the taxpayer must not have investment income such as interest, dividends, and capital gains of more than $2,950.

Fourth, the taxpayer must not be filing using the married-filing-separate status.

Fifth, the taxpayer must not be filing a Form 2555, which excludes certain foreign earned income.

Sixth, the taxpayer must not be a qualifying child of another taxpayer. “Qualifying child” in this context means this taxpayer cannot qualify another taxpayer to receive EITC.

The second set of requirements applies to taxpayers who have no qualifying children. First, the taxpayer must be at least 25 but also must not have attained the age of 65 as of December 31, 2008. Sounds like age discrimination to me. Attaining age 65 really doesn’t have anything to do with anything and that person might actually need the financial help that EITC provides.

Second, the taxpayer’s principal household must be located in the United States proper for more than half of the year. “Proper” does not include U.S. possessions such as Guam and Puerto Rico.

Third, the taxpayer must not be a dependent of another taxpayer. “Dependent” in this context is a much broader term than “qualifying child.” For example, a dependent can be claimed by another taxpayer even though the dependent does not have to live in the U.S. at any time during 2008. However, by living outside of the U.S., that same dependent could not be used as a qualifying child for EITC purposes.

The third set of requirements applies to taxpayers with qualifying children. The definition of qualifying child is worthy of an article of its own, and I will devote next week’s article to that subject.

All of this discussing EITC is due to the fact that the maximum EITC amount for 2008 is $4,824 for a taxpayer with two qualifying children. This is entirely refundable and is in addition to all other credits the taxpayer might qualify for. Remember also that taxpayers receiving the $4,824 of federal EITC will also receive $482 of refundable dollars on the Michigan return. With that much money on the line, knowing the qualifications and getting the return properly done is very important. This is Jerry Coon signing off.

Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent.
He owns Action Tax Service on Northland Dr in Rockford.
His email address is jcoon@actiontaxservice.com

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What’s Cooking – Great 20-Minute Meals

Jeanne Briggs

Jeanne Briggs

by JEANNE BRIGGS

In the time it takes to spin a globe, your family can enjoy flavors from around the world with these quick entrees. Take advantage of timesaving food products to stay within the 20-minute time limit. No matter which culinary journey you choose to make, it won’t take very long to get there.


Linguine with Clam Sauce

1 package fresh linguine
4 bacon slices
2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Pinch crushed red pepper
Ground pepper
2 (6-1/2-oz.) cans minced clams, drained
1 (8-oz.) bottle clam juice
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt. Drain. While pasta cooks, place bacon in large skillet and cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, and crumble. Reserve 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add garlic and basil; sauté for 30 seconds. Add bacon, lemon juice, and the next 4 ingredients (lemon juice through clam juice); cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine pasta and clam mixture, and toss well. Sprinkle with cheese. Serves 4.


Cashew-Crusted Chicken on Basil-Pineapple Rice

1/2 cup cashews
2 tablespoons garlic-seasoned breadcrumbs
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
Cooking spray
1 (3-1/2-oz.) bag precooked long grain rice (such as Success)
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 450F. Place nuts and breadcrumbs in a food processor, and pulse 10 times or until the crumbs are evenly ground. Pour nut mixture into a shallow dish. Brush chicken with egg white; dredge chicken in nut mixture. Spread the pineapple in an 11×7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange chicken over pineapple, and bake at 450F for 15 minutes or until chicken is done, turning after 7 minutes. While chicken is cooking, prepare the rice according to package directions. Remove chicken from dish. Stir rice, basil and salt into pineapple. Serve with chicken. Serves 4.


Sesame-Crusted Salmon

1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Cooking spray
1-1/4 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked couscous
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat broiler. Combine sesame seeds, rind and salt in a shallow dish. Drizzle sesame oil over the fish. Dredge fish in sesame mixture. Place the fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. While fish is cooking, bring water to a boil; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Stir in onions, juice and salt. Serve with the fish. Serves 4.


Pork Chops with Lemon Spinach

3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch ground red pepper
4 boneless cut center-cut loin pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 package fresh spinach

Combine first 5 ingredients in a shallow dish. Dredge pork in flour mixture. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pork, and cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Stir in wine and lemon juice, scraping pan to loosen browned bits, cook 2 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add spinach, tossing 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Serve with pork. Serves 4.


Moroccan Chicken Thighs

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup dried figs
1/4 cup chopped green olives
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
3 tablespoons sweet Marsala or Madeira
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, cook until browned. Stir in the chopped cilantro and remaining ingredients; reduce heat to medium and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serves 4.


Spicy Chicken Soup

1 (7-oz.) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast strips
2 (14-1/2-oz.) cans low sodium chicken broth
1 (14-1/2-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, undrained
1 (11-oz.) can whole-kernel corn with sweet peppers, drained

Remove one chile from can; reserve the remaining chilies and sauce for another use. Mince chile. Heat the oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onions, garlic and cumin; sauté 4 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Stir in minced chile, chicken, broth, tomatoes and corn. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Serves 4.

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Kimberly responds to reader’s accusations

Dear Editor,

As a mother of two young women and the owner of Kimberly’s Boutique in downtown Rockford, I want to defend any store owner who reports a shop lifting experience (with a reputable witness) to the proper authorities.

I will also defend strongly our police department, who execute their training to assist the victim of a crime.

It might surprise many to know that thousands of dollars in merchandise is stolen from downtown Rockford stores by your sons, daughters, moms, dads, aunts and uncles. It does not matter the size, weight, color, or value of an item. It is an item stolen. It is against the law!

What would you have the police officers do but investigate to protect the victim. This is not a “witch hunt,” but normal police procedures. None of us should presume to advise the police professionals how to execute their job.

Shame on you for the mention of race. Shame on you for mentioning the unknown value of the item as if that should make a difference.

If my children were continually let down and disappointed with coaches, teachers, shop owners and other authority figures, as you stated they were, I would look within myself to see if the guidance I was giving was appropriate. That much disappointment for any one child is not normal. Look to that child and teach them that life isn’t always fair. Sometimes they are at fault. Teach them common sense (if there is any left in our world). Teach them truth, trust, discretion, responsibility and reason. We all need to erase the “I know my rights,” “I want it now,” “Someone else is to blame,” and “I’m a victim” mentality.

While you are raising your children, give the rest of us a break – we, too, are trying to do our best.

Kimberly Smith,
her family and staff

 

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What’s Cooking – Wine and Dine with Friends at Home

by JEANNE BRIGGS

jeannebriggs2006Matching the right wine to any dish can be the ultimate way to share a wonderful meal with friends. My new column sponsor, “Rockford Dry Dock” on Courtland St., is waiting to provide you with the wine and I’m here to give you the food to put with your choice. Dry Dock owners Bill and Sue Ten Broeke have a vast array of wines and spirits to meet your needs for entertaining. I will give you several of their new wines each time to pair with something special from your kitchen to make the meal memorable. Bon appetit!


Chicken with Fresh Pineapple

12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium green sweet pepper, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1-1/2 cups)
Hot cooked rice
1/2 cup chopped cashews

Cut chicken into thin, bite-sized strips. Set aside. For sauce, in a small bowl, combine pineapple and orange juices, and cornstarch. Set aside. Add oil to a wok or nonstick skillet. Heat to medium-high. Stir-fry garlic in hot oil for 15 seconds. Add green pepper and onions for 1-1/2 minutes. Remove vegetables. Add chicken to wok. Stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until no longer pink. Push chicken from center of skillet. Stir sauce; add to center of skillet. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return cooked vegetables. Add pineapple pieces. Stir until heated through. Serve over cooked rice. Sprinkle with cashews. Serves 4. Serve with Domanie Lafage “Cote d’Est” wine.


Chicken Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

2 cups each: torn leaf lettuce, torn radicchio, torn arugula
1 medium Belgian endive, cut up
1 roasted chicken from the store, boned, cut up
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
2 oranges, peeled and sliced
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, sliced lengthwise
1 pink grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
2 green onions, thinly biased sliced
Raspberry Vinaigrette

Vinaigrette: In blender, combine one 10-oz. package thawed red raspberries, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 1 clove garlic, minced. Cover and blend till smooth. Use a sieve to strain dressing; discard seeds. Cover and chill until serving time.

In a bowl combine first 4 ingredients. Toss and cover to chill for up to 2 hours. Cool chicken slightly and slice into 1/4 inch strips. On each plate, arrange greens. Top with chicken, oranges, avocado, and grapefruit. Sprinkle onions over all. Drizzle with Raspberry Vinaigrette. Garnish with raspberries, if desired. Serves 4. Serve with Man Chardonnay wine.


Steak Provencal

4 beef sirloin, tenderloin, or ribeye steaks, 6 ounces each
5 tablespoons butter substitute
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped large capers
1/4 teaspoon each: salt and pepper
2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Grill steaks to desired doneness. In a skillet, melt the butter and cook garlic, stirring occasionally; add tomatoes, capers, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until mixture is saucy. Stir in parsley. Serve over hot steaks. Serves 4. Serve with Conquista Malbec.


Beef Stroganoff

1 pound top sirloin steak
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup beef broth
1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Trim meat for excess fat and cut diagonally across grain into thin strips. In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add half the beef and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a dish and repeat with remaining beef. Add butter to skillet, and stir in mushrooms and onions. Cook until mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes. Add sherry and boil 2 to 3 minutes to reduce slightly. Combine beef broth and cornstarch and blend well. Add to skillet and cook, stirring, until mixture boils and thickens. Stir in sour cream and mustard until blended. Return beef to skillet and heat through 1 to 2 minutes, but do not boil. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 4. Serve with Artazuri Navarra Grenache.


Friends: Be sure to tell Bill and Sue when you visit Rockford Dry Dock that you saw them in The Rockford Squire. Thanks.

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Rotarians give $5,000 for world water project

Rockford Rotarian Jim Bodenner spearheaded a world water relief effort that has gone global. On Tuesday, September 9, the cause was aided by a significant donation from visiting Rotarians.

Guests to Rockford, Dr. Reinhart Köhler and Charlie Hillecke of German’s Wolfsburg-Gifhorn Rotary club, amazed Rockford Rotary with a $5,000 check for the world water efforts.

The visit was part of a bi-annual event since 1993. This year German Rotarians came to Rockford. In two years Rockford Rotarians will visit the German club. The check was presented during one of the many outings the Rotarians shared while visiting.

“We want to help poor people around the world,” said Köhler of the generous donation.

Bodenner has been promoting world-wide use of a biosand filter, acknowledged by the World Health Organization as the best of several methods to treat water in poor countries to make it safe for human consumption.

The Rockford Rotary club adopted the project as one of their many efforts to improve the lives of people around the world.

“They are very generous in world-wide donating for the health of people everywhere,” said Rockford Rotary President Dave Spencer. “Safe water is so important for quality of life.”

Bodenner is working with the Pentagon to have American soldiers take the filters with them on aircraft carriers and other ships. They will then be able to distribute them to ports of call, doing humanitarian work along with their regular duties.

At a hoedown at Herman’s Boy Coffee Ranch on Tuesday, the German Rotarians enjoyed a wonderful meal and fellowship after presenting the check. They also sponsor a nursing home in the Dominican Republic and donated $5,000 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

“Rockford and Wolfsburg-Gifhorn Rotary have been working hand-in-hand for many years to promote international aid and understanding,” Spencer said.

The Wolfsburg-Gifhorn Rotary is located in the birthplace of the Volkswagon. Their group is 54 members strong, very close in size to the Rockford club. According to Köhler, each member was asked to give what they could for the donation.

“If the world had more friends like the Wolfsburg-Gifhorn Rotary, the world would be a better place,” Spencer said. “Our Rockford group is awed by the generosity and compassion of our brother German Rotarians.”

In addition to the hoedown, the group went to a Rockford High School football game, tours and sightseeing.

Rockford Rotary is a service group that meets every Tuesday at noon at the Community Cabin, 220 Monroe in downtown Rockford. The group welcomes visitors of fellow business professionals and weekly enjoys lunch, guest speakers and a commitment to local and international projects.

Rotary raises money for projects with an annual fruit and nut sale and chicken barbeque sales during Harvest Festival. For more information about Rotary, stop by Tuesdays to enjoy a free lunch and conversation.

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