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Posts Tagged ‘Bill’

Reduce Your Tax Bill by Deducting Medical and Dental Expenses

Many taxpayers find it beneficial to itemize their deductions on their federal tax return. One of the many deductions you can take are payments you made for medical and dental expenses. But a large number of taxpayers miss some expenses they could have claimed to lower their tax burden because they don’t know they can use it as a medical tax deduction.

What Medical Expenses Can I Claim?

Generally, you can deduct expenses for medical or dental care you paid for yourself, your spouse and any dependents. The most common expenses include:

  • Premiums paid for medical, dental or long-term care insurance
  • Insurance deductibles and co-payments
  • Fees paid to doctors, dentists, chiropractors, and mental health practitioners
  • Payments to hospitals, long-term care facilities and services, nursing services and lab fees
  • Cost of prescription drugs and insulin
  • Price of prescription eyeglasses or contacts, hearing aids and false teeth

Additionally, there are other expenses that many taxpayers don’t realize can be deducted from their taxes:

  • Payments for acupuncture treatments
  • Inpatient expenses at an alcohol or drug addiction treatment center
  • Costs for smoking-cessation programs
  • Participation in weight loss programs when they are related to a diagnosed disease, like hypertension or obesity
  • Fees for laser eye surgery, crutches, wheelchairs, and guide dogs for the deaf or blind
  • Transportation costs related to and necessary for qualified medical expenses

What Medical Expenses Are Not Deductible?

When itemizing your medical expenses, be extremely careful about what you deduct. Do not include any of the following expenses.

  • Amounts paid for nicotine gum or patches that do not require a prescription
  • Cost of purchasing diet food items or the cost of health club dues
  • Funeral or burial expenses
  • Over-the-counter medicines
  • Cosmetic surgeries
  • Premiums for life insurance, for policies providing for loss of wages because of illness or injury, or policies that pay you a guaranteed amount each week for a sickness (i.e. supplemental insurance)

How Do I Claim Medical Expenses?

To deduct your qualified medical expenses, first add up all the payments you made that were not reimbursed by any insurance policy. Be sure once you file your taxes, you keep these receipts and statements as proof of your expenses.

The Internal Revenue Service lets you deduct medical costs as long as they are more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). These costs will be reported on Form 1040, Schedule A. The easiest way to be sure your claiming the proper expenses and meeting the AGI requirement is to use an online tax preparation site. The site will ask you specific questions about your expenses and will calculate the amount of your deductions that meets the AGI minimum leaving less room for error or missed deductions. Making the most of your medical deductions will put you well on your way to lowering your tax bill.

Karin Velez PhotoAbout Author
File your taxes online quickly and easily at efiletaxreturns.com.

Senate Bill Includes Health Insurance Plan Mandate for Construction Workers

A centerpiece of the Senate’s healthcare reform legislation is the creation of health insurance mandates. These provisions require employers with over a certain number of employees to either provide a health insurance plan to their staff or pay a fine. Under the current system, a majority of Americans receive health insurance through the firm they work for; reform in both the House of Representatives and the Senate includes federal subsidies to allow others to buy a health insurance plan themselves. Democratic legislators had to balance their goal of insuring as much of the country as possible with minimizing costs. In order to do so, they had to ensure that companies wouldn’t take advantage of the subsidized health insurance exchange markets and drop their existing coverage.

However, those crafting the bills have acknowledged that many small businesses are unable to afford a group health insurance plan for their workforce. Many of these businesses do not currently provide insurance. Therefore, businesses with under 50 employees are exempt from the $750 excise tax. This tax would otherwise be levied on a per-employee basis, if any full-time worker who used a federal subsidy to buy a health insurance plan. Right before the Senate version passed, a new exception was added into the mix.

Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley proposed an addition to protect construction workers. In the construction industry, the majority of firms are smaller than the general threshold: 90 percent of them employ fewer than 20 people. Merkley’s provision limits the exemption for the industry to businesses with under five employees. Contractors who use union labor, regardless of their size, must often spend anywhere from 12.5% to 20% of payroll on a health insurance plan for their workers. Meanwhile, non-union contractors have the option of forgoing health insurance–this allows them to low-ball bids, which supporters of the exception claim will result in an unfair competitive advantage. Employees with the latter firms would have gone uninsured in the past, whereas now the federal government would pick up the tab for subsidizing their health care.

Tradespeople employed by contractors risk their health at a higher rate than typical office workers in other industries. Workplace injuries are more common for plumbers, electricians, construction workers, roofers, carpenters, and those in similar professions. While workman’s compensation insurance is a legal requirement for these firms, it often does not cover the complete expense associated with overuse injuries and other health problems not directly associated with an on-the-job injury. A quality health insurance plan may make them more effective employees in the long run.

Of course, some associations representing the building trades, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Home Builders, are unhappy with the last minute insertion. They believe that the mandate will result in tens of thousands of jobs lost, at a time when the unemployment rate is over 10 percent. Although small businesses will be able to take advantage of two years’ tax credits for buying a health insurance plan, trade associations believe that the credits will be insufficient. Republican Senators are also opposed to what they feel is a high amount of “pork”, or sweetheart deals for certain districts in exchange for votes. The Merkeley provision was, in fact, one of those 11th-hour deals struck by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The House rejected a similar proposal during its own negotiations last fall. With a smaller majority, the Senate needed to shore up union lobbyist support. That constituency is increasingly concerned with the impact health care reform will have on their existing plans: by extending the length of time insurers must allow adult children to remain on a health insurance plan, as well as eliminating lifetime and annual limits on coverage, their costs will increase significantly. Labor unions also oppose the tax that the Senate plans to impose on the generous “Cadillac” insurance plans more prevalent among union workers. Democrats claim that such a tax is necessary in order to pay for part of the cost of healthcare reform. It remains to be seen if construction workers remain a special case when both chambers of Congress are finished combining their respective bills.

(Image: billjacobus1 under CC 2.0)

Yamileth Medina PhotoAbout Author
Yamileth Medina is an up and coming expert on Health Insurance and Healthcare Reform. She aims to help people realize that they can find a quality health insurance plan right now. Yamileth lives in Miami, FL.

Bill Gates- Construction: Fore Word March!- An Excerpt from The Great Pumpkin Letters

Bill Gates: Fore Word March- An Excerpt from The Great Pumpkin Letters

In this installment of The Great Pumpkin Letters, Chief Crazy Captain Christo is hedging his futures on one certain Bill Gates. For those of you who have been under a rock, (Plymouth), Bill Gates is extremely extraordinary. Not because he is a Billionaire or that his fledgling company Microsoft is pretty much everywhere. No the reason he is extremely extraordinary is because he still acts like a kid at heart. That is pretty amazing wouldn’t you say? So with that said, let’s join up with a conversation you probably didn’t even know existed. Here it is! The conversation piece between Chief Crazy Captain Christo and Bill Gates. ( Authors note: Chief Crazy Captain Christo for reasons only known to him refers to Bill Gates as Big A.

C.C.C.Christo-” Hey Big A. How’s backward Slash treatin ya?”

Big A– ” You mean Slash the guitar God?”

C.C.C.Christo-” Yeah I mean Saul Ash! How about paying attention Big A. I’ve got a job for you and I would like to see an idea of mine come to PASS. Please do me a Big Favor and bring some of your rock and roll buddies to a summit in July 2010. Please invite Slash the guitar God ( smirk guffaw) and let Slash invite 1000 of his rock and roll buddies who are serious about contributing to the WORTHIEST cause on the planet. Since this is a one time event, with a two year WINDOW of opportunity to get involved, please only invite committed people who love Halloween and The Great Pumpkin.

Big A-” You mean like KISS, SLIPKNOT, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society, Slayer, …….” Big A continued for another twenty minutes reeling off bands names until finally Chief Crazy Captain Christo could contain his laughter no longer. With a huge pumpkin clown grin, the Good Chief Crazy Captain Christo replied,

C.C.C.Christo– ” You got it Big A. And hey Big A. Here is the kicker. Please invite some people who know how to shape wood! I have a construction project with a rock and roll theme and I would like part of the construction project to use Ash wood. White or Black Ash it doesn’t matter. I have the designs all ready to be viewed and then bid on in a public setting. So if you could be so kind as to bring fore word your brilliant mind, we could get this party started. I will fill you in on July 9th, 2010.

See you there Big A.”

And with that being said , Chief Crazy Captain Christo varnished from the scene and left Big A muttering something like, ” Hey I wonder if Warren Buffett would be interested in getting together on July 9th 2010. It sure would beat our bridge outings. We could organize at the Qwest in Omaha and then …..wait oh how do I get a hold of that crazy guy and tell him that would be flippin awesome!”

Chief Crazy Captain Christo wondered if he had gotten through to Big A. After all, he forgot to mention that all this construction to rock the house will need some teamwork and Chief Crazy Captain Christo remembered that Big A retired! Oh well, he thought, maybe Slash will show up any way. The show must go on. The Great Pumpkin will rise!

What Big A didn’t realize was that C.C.C.Christo was just getting started with the plans. The monumental task of arranging the right people is staggering. Seven minutes had expired on the clock when all of a sudden Big A turned to see C.C.C.Christo standing before him with a Crazy Cat-like expression and a funny gleam in his eyes. Like fire from the Sun, the words hit Big A like a ton of bricks.

C.C.C.Christo-” Windows Seven is like what your kazillionth version of your Operating System?”

Big A-” Uhh, I stepped down remember. I no longer run the show at Microsoft”

C.C.C.Christo-” Great! Then you should have no problem helping me out here. Big A, here is what you could do to help out big time. Please get a hold of Warren Buffett and friends for a get together in Omaha. We could discuss plans to put together a Trillion dollar empire for kids. Instead of calling you Big A I think I will call you Billy Kids.

Big A:-“Whatever hahaha”

The two business entrepreneurs became lifelong friends although it is only a rumour. The biggest rumour that is emerging is the association of Bing and Cherry for a fantastic restaurant desert menu for Hell’s Kitchen. But that’s another mile down the road. Stay tuned! This has been another installment of The Great Pumpkin Letters. The author insists that if you know any person or band mentioned in this installment, to forward this to them. Full disclosure is required for the function of construction. Great Pumpkin rules!

About Author
Christo Strom is the website owner of www.unitetwosites.com He is currently working on a new site that will be a membership site for a new Art , Music and Movie Studio being built in July 2010

The Climate Bill and the Building Industry

For years, scientists have been warning against the effects of global warming and claimed if greenhouse emissions were not reduced by 80 percent within 40 years, the earth would suffer devastating climate conditions and variations. These warnings seemingly fell on deaf ears, until now. The climate bill, or “American Clean Energy and Security Act”, barely squeaked by the House after a 219-212 vote last Friday. This history making piece of legislature proposes regulations intended to reduce the effects of global warming and implement long term energy saving policies.

Companies will be penalized (taxed) for generating an excess of greenhouses gases, such as carbon dioxide; 15% of electricity must come from renewable sources such as wind or solar power; and car companies will be rewarded for developing new energy efficient models. The policies will touch every sector of the economy and is expected to create a flood of jobs in related environmental fields.

Costs of energy and gas prices are also expected to rise as companies invest in new technology.

One of the biggest areas expected to be impacted by the climate bill is the building industry. Automobile emissions may be substantial, but buildings are responsible for more energy consumption in the U.S. than all combined areas of the transportation industry.

The bill intends to establish national energy efficiency building codes for new residential and commercial buildings. Up to three-quarters of existing structures in the U.S. should be new or renovated by 2035. The eventual goal is to reduce energy consumption by 75 percent. Enforcement of these regulations will probably not take place until about 2 years after a policy is put in place. Proposed reductions include:

30% reduction immediately (will not be enforced until 2012)

50% reduction for residential by 2014 and commercial by 2015

55% reduction for residential by 2017 and commercial by 2018

60% reduction for residential by 2020 and commercial by 2021

Increased reductions continue incrementally until 2029 when a 75% reduction is expected for residential and by 2030 for commercial building.

If, however, the Department of Energy decides that any of the above targets are not cost effective, they will set new targets.

How will this new bill effect the building industry?

At least initially, there will be a job boom in the energy industry. There will be a demand for energy advisors who perform blower door air leak tests, energy raters, insulation contractors, high efficiency window, furnace and appliance distributors, and other energy saving home products.

Utility company growth forecasts will have to be drastically reduced. Plans for expansion or budgets for new power plant construction may no longer be necessary.

To achieve the high levels of savings, renewable power sources such as solar or wind will have to be used. This will likely create more jobs, giving this industry a needed boost.

Builders will either sink or swim. If they don’t adapt to the new demands and technologies, they will lose out to others who will. They will be turning to energy building consultants to satisfy a growing need for education and technical advice.

Already we’re seeing a trend where home buyers are shying away from the McMansions and moving toward smaller, energy efficient housing. Energy Star rated appliances are common place as are heat pumps and other energy saving devices. The climate bill still has to pass the Senate, but it’s a beginning, and hopefully a trend toward promoting a more conscientious, building industry.

Lynn Bulmer PhotoAbout Author
View the many Washington D.C. homes for sale at LynnBulmer.com. Let Lynn be your guide to Kent DC real estate.

New Senate Bill to Curb the Rising Trend of Foreclosure Scams

Our current economic situation has dealt a double-blow to many homeowners across the country; not only have many of them become unable to keep up with their mortgage payments, but many of them have also become the victims of fraud by unethical individuals out to make a quick buck from other people’s misfortune and tragedy.

While many families are struggling to come up with strategies to keep a roof over their heads, their children fed, and their utilities paid, some unscrupulous individuals are taking this opportunity to engage in numerous instances of fraud and deception to horns woggle innocent families out of not only their meager funds but also out of their last chances to keep their homes.

Most of these defrauded families are in desperate need of help to refinance or renegotiate their mortgages and their reaching out for help has led them to some stunningly shocking results. There are two main types of fraud that seems to be occurring currently that is detrimental to our nation’s homeowners: title fraud and individuals misrepresenting themselves as financial assistance for homeowners.

With title fraud an individual often claims to be able to offer a family assistance with avoiding foreclosure on their home by transferring title of their home to the third party “temporarily” while the mortgage is renegotiated or some such excuse. Anyone who is working to help you retain ownership of your home will not ask you to transfer ownership of your home to them.

Another popular scam that’s become quite frequent is where someone approaches homeowners or publishes advertising to help people renegotiate their mortgages or save them from foreclosure for a fee upfront. The person then takes the money without providing the service promised and often leaves the homeowners to suffer with foreclosure because no one is helping them renegotiate their loans at all.

Thankfully, a new bill has been introduced by Senators Schumer and Kyl to provide funds to support a real estate fraud task force to investigate and prosecute scam artists. Many of these crimes have gone uninvestigated or prosecuted because there is just not enough money at present for the pursuit of these criminals. The bill would provide up to two hundred million dollars to fight real estate fraud crimes. Hopefully with this new bill there will be some well-deserved justice for these victimized families.

About Author
TheMejiaGroup.com is the most useful Birmingham Alabama real estate website, put together by an effective, professional staff of experienced Birmingham agents. Visit the website to find information and Homewood Alabama real estate.

Mortgage Investors Getting Protection From Obama’s Housing Bill

Thousands of homeowners who are struggling to meet their monthly mortgage payments or are already in default with their home mortgage cheered when they heard about the Obama’s new housing bill.  Many people have been holding their breath each month, praying they won’t be laid off and need to go through mortgage default on their home. The “Helping Families Save Their Homes in Bankruptcy Act of 2009” was initially advertised to help with the American ongoing foreclosure issue. The House approved bill grants judges the immediate authority to modify mortgage loans and lower monthly mortgage payments. This power is regarding both principal and interest rates for the entire term of the home mortgage loan. It was “sold” to the American people as help to halt foreclosures and is now being sent to the Senate for possible approval. Homeowners who may be interested in learning more about loan modification and this bill can visit http://www.loanmodificationhelpcenter.org for more information. 

However, there is more to Obama’s housing bill, as there always is with any politically motivated piece of legislature. In the fine print of the bill’s details are provisions which protect big investors from bankruptcy “cramdown” cases. This last minute addition to “Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009” protects senior mortgage investors. These pension funds, foreign banks and life insurance firms would be in better shape with a court-ordered modification than a voluntary one outside of the courtroom.

When a loan amount is reduced in bankruptcy court, the result is called a “cramdown”. This option is quite popular with those who feel the wealth should be spread around, even in home loans. In addition, even large lenders like Citigroup are supporting the idea after they got a bailout from the government. 

The reason protection for top-tier mortgage back securities was needed in Obama’s new housing bill was because without the language in the bill protecting them, these securities could be downgraded significantly. The results of a significant downgrade could include increased capital requirements for life insurers and a need to raise capital in unsteady economic times. While this seems to be a “rich person’s” issue, the truth is if this protection wasn’t included in the new Obama housing plan, every American could start seeing problems with their life insurance and getting insured would be even more difficult than ever before. Thus, it was essential to add this protective component into the language of this recently House-approved bill. 

While this bill may help some homeowners, those homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage right now may need immediate help. They can gain urgent assistance from The Feldman Law Center professionals by visiting http://www.FeldmanLawCenter.com These loan modification and foreclosure avoidance professionals can help negotiate with lenders and avoid home foreclosure. The services they offer are perfect for those under financial hardship and cannot pay their mortgage, those who have been a victim of predatory lending on their mortgage, owners who already have a foreclosure date or anyone who wants to avoid their credit being ruined for the next ten years due to foreclosure.

About Author
Alex is a famous author who writes about Loan Modification. FeldMan Law Center is a free resource for millions of people to find information regarding several topics related to loan modifications and resources to information.

Bankruptcy Loan Modification Bill Is Approved By House

Last week, a bill which allows bankruptcy judges to lower mortgage payments was approved by the house and will now be sent to the Senate. This bill is expected to show great relief to struggling homeowners unable to meet their monthly mortgage payments currently. Before the bill was approved by the House, major banks and lenders voiced their strong opposition stating the act of lowering mortgage payments would only drive up housing costs over time. Those homeowners interested in learning more about mortgage relief can visit www.loanmodificationhelpcenter.org for more information. This free website allows anyone to gather more information on load modification or the process of avoiding bankruptcy due to mortgage default.

Last year, mortgage defaults hit an all-time high of 5.4 million, according to national reports. In fact, a survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed nearly 12% of homeowners were in foreclosure or were behind in their mortgage payments as of the end of 2008. Thus, it is clear there is a real problem with homeowners being able to meet their monthly payment obligations at this time of American economic struggle.

As part of President Obama’s housing sector rescue program, this bill technically gives permission to judges to reduce any principal and interest rates on mortgages in trouble. Previously a bill was passed giving judges the authority to modify car loan and student loan payments, but mortgage modifications were not a part of that particular bill.

This mortgage modification bill is meant to persuade banks to help trouble borrowers more, by providing more arrangements and alternatives to bankruptcy. However, the bill’s critics still think the increase in current bankruptcy fillings will make mortgage rates higher and be more damaging in the long run of the housing industry.

As a compromise, Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan developed a compromise which includes the limiting of bankruptcy options for homeowners. This limit allows the bankruptcy option to only be available to those homeowners who have previously tried other methods of assistance. Thus, if a homeowner wants to file for bankruptcy loan modification, the homeowner must first approach the lender about other solutions. In addition, lenders shall get 30 days to draw up alternative offers and possible bankruptcy alternatives. This compromise also allows judges to look at each individual case to see if the terms from the lender fit within the housing plan of debt-to-income ratio of 31%.

While many of the nation’s representatives feel this bill is certainly flawed in some areas, most feel it ensures bankruptcy will be a homeowner’s last choice when it comes to their mortgage options. Those banks and lenders who choose to participate in this Hope for Homeowners loan modification program will get an incentive of federal insurance from $100,000 to $250,000, permanently.

Those homeowners who feel they need help negotiating with their lender because they’re behind on mortgage payments can seek assistance from professionals at The Feldman Law Center (www.FeldmanLawCenter.com). The Feldman Law Center can help answer questions for those homeowners who want to avoid foreclosure. 800-470-0865

About Author
Alex is a famous author who writes about Loan Modification. FeldMan Law Center is a free resource for millions of people to find information regarding several topics related to loan modifications and resources to information.

Will Senate Spit or Swallow The Cramdown Bill?

Struggling homeowners who’ve been considering filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy may soon receive good news. A new piece of legislation referred to formally as the “Helping Families Save Their Home Act,” or more commonly as the “cram down bill,” is on its way to the Senate.

Designed to complement President Obama’s strategies to quell the nation’s foreclosure and economic crises, the cram down bill would allow bankruptcy judges to modify the terms of a person’s mortgage if they face losing their property to foreclosure.

Under the proposed bill, judges could reduce the loan’s interest rate, lengthen the loan term, and decrease the principal amount owed. All of these actions would ultimately result in lower monthly payments for the homeowner, and allow him and his family to remain in the home.

Loan modification is not a new solution for distressed homeowners, but lenders currently only modify loans on a voluntarily basis. Lenders have all the power, and homeowners are subject to whatever agreement the bank sets out. With the new cram down legislation however, bankruptcy judges will be able to override stubborn lenders, and help families save their homes

While the cram down bill would certainly help those who are facing bankruptcy and foreclosure, the bill also has the potential to strengthen our economy as a whole.

Wherever there is a foreclosure, the property value of every home on the street is affected. This in turn upsets the economic viability of entire neighborhoods and communities, then states, then the nation.

With global markets in such dire straits as they’re currently in, it’s critical that the number of foreclosures in this country is quelled. The cram down bill is but one measure planned to help achieve this goal.

Mortgage companies, some moderate Democrats, and a large number of Republicans are opposed to the cram down bill, arguing that it’ll only make matters worse. Not only do lenders face the prospect of losing money on these modified loans, but some believe that a proposal like this only serves to reward the financially irresponsible, and punish those who practiced fiscal restraint.

While it is certainly true that many Americans purchased homes that were beyond their means, it is also true that lenders must own their share of the responsibility for issuing loans to people who had no reasonable hope of affording them. Regardless of who is to blame, the time has come to look forward. No one can change what happened, so it’s time to pull together and come up with practical solutions.

Banks and major corporations have received bail-out funds, so perhaps it’s time to bail out those who truly feel the brunt of the economic crisis—the average homeowner.

With layoffs occurring in record numbers and property values continuing to plummet in some regions, many Americans are feeling this recession with acuity. People are struggling to feed their families, fear is setting in, and the economy is slowing down even further. Perhaps the cram down bill will give desperate homeowners a much-needed break—a bail out if you will, so that they won’t end up on the streets. Perhaps with their new monthly savings, they can pump money back into the system, and invigorate this slumping economy. How novel a concept—economic revival from the bottom up.

The cram down bill is slated to be taken up by Senate after the April recess.

Andy Asbury PhotoAbout Author
For information about Minnesota lofts and condos, visit MinnesotaLoftsAndCondos.com. There you can search all loft and condo rentals in Minneapolis, in addition to getting the latest market information for the Twin Cities area.

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