Michigan’s Winter Free Fishing Weekend slated for Feb. 13-14

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) reminds everyone that Winter Free Fishing Weekend is scheduled for February 13-14. On that weekend, everyone—residents and non-residents alike—can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations apply.

Michigan has been celebrating Winter Free Fishing Weekend annually since 2000 as a way to promote natural resources awareness. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of river and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing are a natural match.

“Fishing is a great way to connect with our natural resources,” said DNRE Director Rebecca Humphries. “It’s a perfect way for families to spend time together while celebrating the bounty of Michigan’s wonderfully diverse outdoor heritage.”

A number of activities at state parks and state fish hatcheries have been scheduled to coincide with the weekend, while clubs and conservation organizations stage events, too. Many provide free equipment and bait. The events often include experienced anglers willing to introduce novices into the joy of fishing.

For a list of Free Fishing events scheduled across the state, visit www.michigan.gov/dnrfishing.

The DNRE is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural resources for current and future generations.

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February 6—17

Leah Mawby


Barry Bell Jr., Robert Carter, Jim Swanland


Ed Ault, Marie Ault, Kathy Klawieter, Mark Palmer, Gloria Spalding


Kris Nylaan


Louise Campbell, Sue Swanland


Ethel Steakley


Betty Cantile, Dolly Kronemeyer, Shanna Smallegan

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Main Street — by Roger Allen, publisher

Phil’s okay!

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had concerns that the annual Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney, Penn., was stressful for Punxsutawney Phil, the centerpiece groundhog. They wanted to replace him with some kind of robot.

Well, I know Phil. I visited him at his home in the library window in downtown Punxsutawney. He sends word that he enjoys the visits of local townspeople who drop by, and he’s flattered by the attention on Groundhog Day. He loves his job.

It’s nice that PETA is concerned about the welfare of animals, but Phil lives better than any other groundhog in his family. He was happy to celebrate his day as usual this week.

Not likely

A man goes out golfing. He’s on the second hole when he notices a frog sitting next to a tree. He thinks nothing of it and is about to shoot when he hears, “Ribbit! Nine iron.”

The man looks at the frog and decides to prove it wrong. He puts his own choice of club away, and grabs the nine iron.

Boom! The ball lands 10 inches from the cup. The man is shocked. “Wow, that’s amazing,” he says to the frog. “You must be a lucky frog!”

The frog replies, “Ribbit! Lucky frog.”

The man decides to take the frog with him to the next hole. “What do you think, Frog?” asks the man.

“Ribbit! Three wood.”

The guy takes out his three wood and, wham! hole in one. The man hardly knows what to say. By the end of the day, the man has golfed the best game in his life and asks the frog, “Okay, where to next?”

The frog replies, “Ribbit! Las Vegas.”

They go to Las Vegas and the guy says, “Okay, Frog, now what?”

The frog says, “Ribbit! Roulette.”

Upon approaching the roulette table, the man asks, “What do you think I should bet?”

The frog replies, “Ribbit! $3,000, black 6.”

Now, this is a million-to-one shot to win, but, after the golf game, the man figures what the heck. Boom! A pile of cash comes sliding back across the table. The man takes his winnings and buys the best room in the hotel. He sits the frog down and says, “Frog, I don’t know how to repay you.”

The frog replies, “Ribbit! Kiss me.”

The man figures why not. After everything the frog did for him, he deserves it. With a kiss, the frog turns into a gorgeous girl. “And that is how the girl ended up in my room, Elin. So help me God or my name is not Tiger Woods.”

The keyboard solution

Wouldn’t it be nice if, whenever we messed up our life, we could simply press “Ctr Alt Delete” and start all over?

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The Tax Attic with Jerry Coon

Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent

Jerry Coon, Enrolled Agent

What exactly can be done if you receive a 1099-MISC as a subcontractor when you think you should receive a W-2 as an employee? Receiving a 1099-MISC is not always a negative, but as my discussion of last week pointed out, we just have to say the tax implications are immense. But, regardless of the tax consequences, does the Internal Revenue Service have a procedure to follow if you are convinced that you should have received a W-2? The answer is yes. It is a common problem, because it is almost always advantageous to a payer to report payments made to someone as a subcontractor instead of an employee.

Why is it more advantageous to call a recipient a subcontractor and not an employee? First, payments to an employee are subject to a matching Social Security and Medicare tax of 7.65%. Payments to a subcontractor are not subject to this 7.65%, so the payer instantly adds 7.65% to his bottom line.

Second, payments to an employee are subject to federal and state unemployment tax. The federal unemployment tax rate is normally 0.8% of the first $7,000 of wages, or $56 per person. Since Michigan owes the federal government billions of dollars, there is a 0.3% surcharge, or $21, added for the year of 2009. Michigan unemployment rates are variable, but a new business will pay 2.7% of the first $9,000, or $256. The maximum rate is 11%, so $256 could be very low. Payments to subcontractors are not subject to these two taxes. This adds a few more hundred dollars to the bottom line.

Third, payments to subcontractors are not subject to workman’s compensation insurance. For construction employers, that rate of insurance could be as high as $30 per thousand of payroll.

Fourth, employees are quite often covered by those items called fringe benefits. They might be covered by health insurance, receive paid vacation and personal time off, receive time-and-a-half pay for hours worked over 40, be paid a premium amount for working on weekends and holidays, receive an automobile as part of their compensation package, and be paid for continuing training, etc., etc. A subcontractor receives none of these benefits.

Fifth, the employer might have some type of retirement plan set up. An employee participates in this plan. A subcontractor does not.

Add all of these differences up and it can be a whole lot cheaper to give a person a 1099-MISC and say he is a subcontractor even if he is really an employee. It happens often enough that the IRS has developed a form to submit when a person receives a 1099-MISC when he thinks he should receive a W-2.

The form, an SS-8, is entitled “Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding.” It can be obtained at the forms link on the IRS’ website at www.irs.gov. It is a three-page form that goes through several factors to determine employee-versus-subcontractor status. The factors are grouped into four major headings, Behavioral Control, Financial Control, Relationship of Worker and Firm, and For Service Providers

or Salespersons.

As the form is completed, it will indicate how much control the company has over the taxpayer. The more control a company has over the person, the more it will look like the taxpayer is an employee. Less control will look more like a subcontractor. The SS-8, by answering a variety of questions, will indicate that a person is an employee or a subcontractor.

If the IRS receives an SS-8 from an individual taxpayer, it will be processed as one side of the story. The identified company will be sent an SS-8 and the company will get to tell the other side of the story. As we all know, there are usually two sides to most stories. In these cases, the IRS is the judge. If they find that the taxpayer is indeed an employee, there are a whole lot of employment forms that have to be amended and a whole lot of payroll taxes that have to be paid.

Of course, the IRS is not always the final judge. The company can appeal to a tax court judge and, from time to time, there are some very large court cases that come down the pike. As you might imagine, if there are 500 people involved, the payroll tax implications could run into the millions of dollars.

By the way, the IRS estimates that it takes 23 hours, 58 minutes to complete the three-page SS-8. It’s not an easy form to fill out and, of such things, court cases are made. This is Jerry Coon signing off.

Jerry Coon is an Enrolled Agent. He owns
Action Tax Service on Northland Drive in Rockford.
Contact Jerry at his website at www.actiontaxservice.com.

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Letters to the Editor — February 4, 2010

Reader thanks Craig James

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank Mr. Craig James for casting some light onto the activities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is nice to know when the public is being manipulated. It’s disconcerting to hear that a world-renowned and respected authority on climate change admits to publishing claims “purely to put political pressure on world leaders.”

With all of the speculation today about global warming and climate change, it would be nice to find a reliable and even honest source for factual, creditable and scientifically supported information, free from political slant and ulterior motives. Due to recent misleading statements and invalid claims, the IPCC clearly does not fit the bill.

Molly Mueller, Rockford resident

Resident laments Community Education cuts

Dear Editor,

The intent of this letter is neither to criticize nor condone the recent actions (December) taken by the Rockford Board of Education and Superintendent Shibler regarding budget cuts. Their main focus is to preserve programs for school children with little or no disruption to classrooms.

What a lot of Rockford residents don’t realize is the huge loss seniors will feel in the job cut of Marcia Stotz, coordinator for the group Rockford Seniors Unlimited. This is a woman who loved her job and reached out to seniors in Rockford plus many nearby surrounding communities including Grand Rapids. She acted as counselor, teacher, advisor helping those in need of these services. Through Marcia and her work, seniors could socialize with well-planned day trips, luncheons, bingo and other activities. Longer trips created new friendships and continued learning. Without someone like the beloved Marcia organizing these activities, many seniors will be left out of important aspects of their lives they have come to expect and rely on.

I can’t say enough about the Rockford Seniors Unlimited Program. Seniors in this community will be losing a loyal, trusting friend in Marcia. She was someone many seniors could count on for motivation in healthy, happy living. She will be sorely missed in her capacity as coordinator.

Hopefully the state legislature will restore some education funding so all Rockford school employees can retain their jobs. Is there hope in the new year?

A concerned citizen and voter,

Eileen Behnke, Rockford resident

Story recalls old friend


Dear Editor,

It has been a while since we have been back to Rockford. I thought that we might be making the trek down state more often, but it is sometimes a complicated process getting off this island, especially in the winter. We can make a plane reservation, but weather plays a big part.

For now, I meant to get back to you months ago on this cute story. Back in the Squire’s July 9, 2009 edition, you had a quick blurb on Mr. John Kaiserlian celebrating his 80th birthday. I looked at the name and instantly recognized it—not the name John so much, but his last name. When I was 4 years old, way back in 1947, I had a portrait of me painted by a woman named Ruth Kaiserlian. From the day I sat for that portrait until I saw your article on John, I never saw that last name, Kaiserlian, anywhere, ever. Not being shy yet very curious, I called John on the phone. As I started my conversation with John, I could tell he was a bit suspicious and cautious at first to continue talking to me. He probably thought I was a fast-talking telemarketer. I finally was able to ask him if he was by any remote chance related to a woman named Ruth Kaiserlian. He said, “Yes, Ruth was my younger sister.” I must say I was pleased, startled and surprised all at the same time. I asked if Ruth was still with us, but he said she had passed some time ago. I promised John that I would send him a picture of me then and now. I am finally getting around to it!

Keep up the good work. I really enjoy getting the paper. I will write to you again about life here on the island. It is a whole different world. I have to tell you about the big closet job I did last summer on Mackinac Island. Meeting the customer, the designer, getting the tools and materials to the island and then the job site was quite amazing.

Tom Wybranowski, Michigan Shelf North, Inc., Petoskey, Mich.

Pearce responds to opinion

Dear Editor,

Thank you for your note and Cliff and Nancy Hill’s story regarding Cinco de Mayo’s liquor license request.

Please know that I was not aware of the restaurant’s difficulties until I read about it in the paper. Upon further investigation, it became known that State Senator Mark Jansen has been working with the restaurant and other involved parties in an effort to expedite the process. My office has been assured by Senator Jansen’s office that the correct information has since been submitted and the process is under way.

Again, I thank you for your letter. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future regarding other legislative issues of importance to you.

Representative Tom Pearce, 73rd House District

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