January 12 2012

THE TAX ATTIC with Jerry Coon

January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

Review of tax changes It may seem like I am beating this topic to death, but since it is now 2012, I think it is important to review one more time all of the Michigan tax changes that took place on January 1, 2012. I have been preparing Michigan tax returns since 1978 and there may be more changes that took effect on January 1 than perhaps all of the previous 33 years combined. Not one tax form is untouched. Almost every calculation is affected. Multiple forms became obsolete. About the only item that will not change is the actual tax rate. It will remain at 4.35%. Of course, it was slated to be lowered to 4.25% so even that technically was changed. Many of those changes will result in either a tax increase or a refund decrease. Most businesses will see a tax decrease and many individuals will see a tax increase or a refund decrease. For purposes of this article, I am concerned with individuals who will see a tax increase or a refund decrease. I emphasize the “will” because these changes will affect a large percentage of the tax filing public. The most visible change that was made was to the taxability of pensions. Now, for most people, all pensions—whether the pension comes from the state government, from the federal government, from a private company, from an insurance company, or from an individual retirement account—are lumped into the same basket and called “pension income.” Previously, the taxability of the pension depended upon who paid the pension. Now, age of the recipient is extremely important. Except for seniors born before 1946, it makes no difference where the pension is coming from. For those taxpayers born before 1946, the 2011 rules will continue to apply. Only for taxpayers born before 1946, public pensions paid by a state government or the federal government are totally non-taxable. Only for taxpayers born before 1946, the first $45,842 for singles and $91,864 for joint filers of private pensions paid by a private company, from an insurance company, or from an individual retirement account is not subject to income tax. For taxpayers born between 1946 and 1952, all pensions are thrown into the same basket and the first $20,000 […]

BIRTHDAYS—January 14–20

January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

14 Jerry Ayers, Brian Hills, Florence Kramer, Susan Phillips, Hazel Stahl 15 Lora Greenland, Kathy Lindhout, Ann Rutter 16 Nichole Brinkman, McKinsey Reeds 17 Patrick Dean, Barb Gard, Rix Landhear, Carol Purcey 18 Mary Bell, Bekah Cutler, Tom Doane, Darlene Elder, Krystle Gerenda, Jeanette Rieckman, Marc Tidey Jr. 19 Shea Caverley 20 Juliette Gauss, Christine Girardot, Carter James, Kenzee Palazzolo


January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

MacGregor votes to protect strong schools, provide choices for parents Education options increased for students, parents State Rep. Peter MacGregor recently voted for sweeping reform legislation approved by the Michigan House giving parents, without any other choice, more education options for their children by allowing more charter schools to open their doors. Senate Bill 618, supported by MacGregor, allows for the phase in on the number and location of charter schools in Michigan, and requiring increased conditions and more accountability on all public school student performance. “All Michigan students should have access to the best possible education and parents should be able to determine the best path for their children, not the government, and not by what zip code you live in” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “Lifting the charter cap is not a threat against our public school, in fact, I don’t anticipate my district being affected a great deal as we have some of the best public school districts in the state.” The bill approved Wednesday, Dec. 14 was strengthened by House Republicans by adding provisions that require: •            additional guidelines for authorizers to consider when granting charter contracts; •            the creation of a bipartisan legislative workgroup to develop quality measures for all public schools by March 30, 2012; •            student growth made toward academic goals before expansion; •            all accreditation and progress report information to be posted on school websites for transparency; and •            a gradual elimination of the charter cap. Currently, more than two-thirds of Michigan’s 232 charter schools have waiting lists, according to the Michigan Association of Public School Academies. “We have many excellent public schools in the area,” MacGregor said. “This bill increases educational competition in Michigan while also keeping our best schools on a continuous path to improvement. I studied this issue and listened to my district. At the end of the day, I voted my conscience—my vote was about improving the lives of kids, not maintaining the status quo for school systems.” Senate Bill 618 received final approval Thursday, Dec. 15 by the Michigan Senate and now heads to Gov. Snyder for approval.


January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

Study Better, Not Longer by ADAM BURKHOLDER Assistant Principal Rockford High School Quite often, when working with both parents and students, you hear and perhaps you have experienced, “I studied for two hours and still didn’t perform well on the test!” The question that should then be posed is how did they study? Students more times than not are quick to own up to and identify the fact that they did not study when poor results are yielded on an assessment. A student’s frustration does not stem from having not studied, but rather having spent time and energy on something and not experiencing success. Although not always the case, when I ask students how they studied, the response tends to be, “I read my notes and the materials over and over, thought I knew the information, and still struggled on the test.” Read, then reread habits may work in some cases, but as curriculum becomes more rigorous, students lose the ability to relate to the material on a personal level and retention becomes more of a process. In research that has been conducted by neuroscientists, cognitive scientists and educational psychologists, there is insight that can make studying more productive for students. Spaced repetition is the first technique for a stronger relationship between a learner and the information being studied. Rather than sitting down for an extended period of time, research shows that students will recall information better if they study in smaller increments of time. My suggestion for students has been to study for 15 to 25 minutes and then get up, move around, do something that they want to do for 5 to 10 minutes, and then go back to studying. In a recent article published in The New York Times, studies have shown that students who used this technique had double the retention rate compared to those peers who simply studied in large segments of time. Spaced repetition may still take as much time as studying in large increments, but it is more effective. Above and beyond spaced repetition, students need to do something with the information at hand. Simply reading the notes/pages of the text is not the best approach to studying. Every time a memory is retrieved, it fortifies that specific […]

Rockford wrestlers dominate Muskegon

January 12, 2012 // 0 Comments

Shorthanded Rams struggle at Howell Invitational by TIM COOPER The Rams wrestling team started the new year on a good note by shutting out Muskegon on Wednesday, Jan. 4. Though the Rams were missing three seniors, they showed depth by defeating the Big Reds 76-0. The Rams pinned 10 of the Big Reds’ 11 wrestlers, with only one of the matches going the full six minutes. Nate Rojas, wrestling up two weight classes at 135 pounds, defeated his opponent 14-3, in what was the closest match of the evening. “This is a nice kick coming out after the break. A real nice start to 2012,” Coach Brian Richardson said. “We set three goals for January. We want to be better hand control, be better in the down position, and pin more people. We did a great job at all three of those tonight.” A depleted Ram squad traveled to Howell on Saturday, Jan. 7. Wrestling with 10 underclassmen in the lineup, the Rams struggled in three of the five dual meets. The Rams fell to Stevensville Lakeshore 49-16 in the first round, 45-10 to Howell in the second, and 49-25 to seventh-ranked Rochester in the fifth round. The lone victory for Rockford was a 51-18 win over Plymouth. “We had great leadership from our seniors today,” Richardson said of the Rams on Saturday. “The freshmen and sophomores responded well to the challenge. It was nice for them to gain the varsity experience.”

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