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Tag Archive | "tax"


E – The Environmental Magazine

Dear EarthTalk: What is the “National Food Policy” that environmentalists and foodies are asking President Obama to enact by Executive Order, and how would it affect American diets?

  — Justin Brockway, Los Angeles, CA


Existing federal guidelines for the U.S. diet, known as MyPlate, recommend that half the food we eat should be fruits and vegetables, yet these foods are granted less than one percent of farm subsidies.

Existing federal guidelines for the U.S. diet, known as MyPlate, recommend that half the food we eat should be fruits and vegetables, yet these foods are granted less than one percent of farm subsidies.

A November 2014 op-ed piece in The Washington Post entitled “How a National Food Policy Could Save Millions of American Lives” makes the case for President Obama to sign into law an executive order establishing a national food policy for managing the nation’s food system as a whole.

Authored by food writers Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan, along with Union of Concerned Scientists’ Ricardo Salvador and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, the op-ed states that because of unhealthy diets, a third of our kids will develop Type 2 diabetes—a preventable disease that was formerly rare in children.

“Type 2 diabetes is a disease that, along with its associated effects, now costs $245 billion, or 23 percent of the national deficit in 2012, to treat each year,” the authors note. “The good news is that solutions are within reach—precisely because the problems are largely a result of government policies.” The authors cite Brazil and Mexico—countries they consider “far ahead of the United States in developing food policies”—as examples for positive change: “Mexico’s recognition of food as a key driver of public health led to the passage last year of a national tax on junk food and soda, which in the first year has reduced consumption of sugary beverages by 10 percent and increased consumption of water.”

While the White House has not responded in any way to the suggestion thus far, the article’s message that the current food system has caused “incalculable damage” remains alarming.

Whether or not to pass our own tax on junk food and soda in the U.S. has been the subject of much debate in recent years. Some say it’s deceitful to suggest that a tax on sodas is necessary to curb obesity and Type 2 diabetes when numerous other unhealthy options like sugary caffeinated beverages, candy, ice cream, fast food and video games that promote sedentary behavior would still be widely available. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Public Economics suggests that soft drink taxation leads to a moderate reduction in soft drink consumption by children and adolescents; however “this reduction in soda consumption is completely offset by increases in consumption of other high-calorie drinks.” Furthermore, in 2010, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg stated that “an extra 12 cents on a can of soda would raise nearly $1 billion,” which suggests that government officials expect people to continue buying soda despite the tax.

Even though passing a soda tax has proven to be controversial, The Washington Post op-ed clearly points out the federal government’s contradictions concerning food. Existing federal guidelines for the U.S. diet, known as MyPlate, recommend that half the food we eat should be fruits and vegetables, yet these foods are granted less than one percent of farm subsidies. Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of subsidies go toward corn and other grains. The result, the op-ed states, is the “spectacle of Michelle Obama warning Americans to avoid high-fructose corn syrup at the same time the president is signing farm bills that subsidize its production.”

EarthTalk® is produced by Doug Moss & Roddy Scheer and is a registered trademark of Earth Action Network Inc. View past columns at: www.earthtalk.org. Or e-mail us your question: earthtalk@emagazine.com.

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Eight tips for deducting charitable contributions

Charitable contributions made to qualified organizations may help lower your tax bill. The IRS has put together the following eight tips to help ensure your contributions pay off on your tax return.

If your goal is a legitimate tax deduction, then you must be giving to a qualified organization. Also, you cannot deduct contributions made to specific individuals, political organizations and candidates. See IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions, for rules on what constitutes a qualified organization.

To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A.

If you receive a benefit because of your contribution such as merchandise, tickets to a ball game or other goods and services, then you can deduct only the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit received.

Donations of stock or other non-cash property are usually valued at the fair market value of the property. Clothing and household items must generally be in good used condition or better to be deductible. Special rules apply to vehicle donations.

Fair market value is generally the price at which property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither having to buy or sell, and both having reasonable knowledge of all the relevant facts.

Regardless of the amount, to deduct a contribution of cash, check, or other monetary gift, you must maintain a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written communication from the organization containing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution and amount of the contribution. For text message donations, a telephone bill will meet the record-keeping requirement if it shows the name of the receiving organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount given.

To claim a deduction for contributions of cash or property equaling $250 or more you must have a bank record, payroll deduction records or a written acknowledgment from the qualified organization showing the amount of the cash and a description of any property contributed, and whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift. One document may satisfy both the written communication requirement for monetary gifts and the written acknowledgement requirement for all contributions of $250 or more. If your total deduction for all noncash contributions for the year is over $500, you must complete and attach IRS Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, to your return.

Taxpayers donating an item or a group of similar items valued at more than $5,000 must also complete Section B of Form 8283, which generally requires an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.

For more information on charitable contributions, refer to Form 8283 and its instructions, as well as Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. For information on determining value, refer to Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. These forms and publications are available at http://www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

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Get what you deserve with Peterson Tax & Accounting

“Professional knowledge with personal service.” That’s what you’re getting when you see Lucinda Peterson of Peterson Tax & Accounting. Lucinda has the knowledge that most people don’t when it comes to tax preparation and returns. As a registered IRS tax preparer with a business degree, she’s been doing tax preparation since 1983. With 28 years of experience, she keeps up on the newest tax regulations and credits. She can make sure that you get all you’re entitled to. Peterson Tax & Accounting can handle either business or personal tax returns or prepare taxes for any state and also offers free pick up and delivery to home or office! She also serves as treasurer for the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce.
Are you getting all you deserve? Peterson Tax & Accounting, located right in downtown Sand Lake (38 E. Lake St.,) is also a bonded Notary with the State of Michigan. They offer “flat rate” fees without the “extras” according to Lucinda. To make an appointment, call (616) 636-5266. Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

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