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Category: work

01/29/10 06:26 - ID#50933


Someone (e:messaged) me about my comment to (e:metalpeter,50910) - since I'm not sure who, I'll just make a new post.

1. Don't go to H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt or Liberty Tax. If your return is actually complicated, you should have a real accountant (enrolled agent, CPA, lawyer). If it's as simple as most people's returns (W-2 income, maybe 1099s, a mortgage, child care, student loans) then you should be doing it yourself using one of the excellent online filing applications.

2. Absolutely do not get an "instant refund" or "refund anticipation loans." They are predatory loans with fees and interest representing an annual percentage rate of 50-500%.

You now not only paying H&R Block an obscene amount of money to do a few simple data entry tasks, now you're paying them an even more obscene amount of money to give you your own money! You lent the government your money interest-free during the year when your employer collected payroll taxes from you. Your refund is YOUR money! You deserve ALL of it!

Instead, file and wait the 8 or so days that it'll take for the IRS to deposit your refund into your checking or savings account.

In general, the effective annual percentage rate (APR) for a RAL can range from about 50% (for a $10,000 RAL) to nearly 500% (for a $300 RAL). If a $40 add-on fee is charged and included in the calculation, the effective APRs range from about 85% to nearly 1,300%. An average RAL of $3,300 carries an APR of 72%.

National Consumer Law Center (PDF)

(More refs: Kiplinger Tax Girl and an excellent report by the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina (PDF) )


New York state free file options: I've used Taxslayer and I-Can EFile

(not free NY options: )

The IRS will also help you find a company to free file or efile with. I've used TaxAct (one of the paid versions) for about eight years. Pennsylvania's direct efile site is pretty easy, and free!

Free Tax Help Available Nationwide

R-2010-15, Jan. 29, 2010

WASHINGTON - Nearly 12,000 free tax preparation sites will be open nationwide this year as the Internal Revenue Service continues to expand its partnerships with nonprofit and community organizations performing vital tax preparation services for low-income and elderly taxpayers.

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program offers free tax help to people who earn less than $49,000. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program offers free tax help to taxpayers who are 60 and older.

I'm happy to rant about this if you'd like me to continue :-) Everyone should have a basic understanding of what their paystubs say, how payroll taxes work, W-4s and their annual income taxes. This should not be a big mystery or intimidating.

If you don't have a bank account to direct deposit your refund into, you should (unless you're trying to stay off grid, of course). This helps you build credit history and legitimacy. There are several good area banks that help contribute to a healthy local economy by keeping investment here, including First Niagara, Northwest, Lake Shore, and Five Star. (Thanks to (e:dcoffee) for this link) Another option is the Buffalo Coop Credit Union if you're a member of one of the participating coops, such as the Lexington Coop.

Hope this helps!
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Permalink: Taxes_.html
Words: 635
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: work

01/24/10 08:47 - 44ºF - ID#50900


I bought myself a printer a few weeks ago (thanks (e:enknot) & (e:terry) for bringing it upstairs and starting the setup!). I finally got it set up today - the book instructions were pretty bad and I had to resort to the extra network setup manual on the CD. I managed to destroy my wireless network in the process and had to reset that, too! I was feeling pretty technically incompetent.

But it works now! I've got it set up on my laptop and desktop.


Brother HL-3070cw color wireless printer. It uses LED technology, not laser.


I don't know if my Asus EEEpc with its odd linux distro will ever connect to it, but I might try.

I'm in town a lot over the next few weeks - let's do stuff! Classes don't start until 2/4.

Don't forget Mardi Gras 2/16 @ Nietzsche's. (artvoice: ) I had a blast last year. I made it a meetup for the Buffalo Queer Women group, but I want to invite all the (e:peeps), too! Lagniappe's is planning an alligator roast, according to Chris' facebook page.

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Permalink: Printer_.html
Words: 192
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: work

01/21/10 10:41 - 26ºF - ID#50878

Save North Penn High School? Check.

(A follow up to (e:heidi,50116) and (e:heidi,50510) )

I'm sorry I can't do some nifty (e:video) trick, but here's some interesting news coverage of my town and our successful effort to save our high school (and you get to see Jill):
Such a cute little town! I'm tickled by the video images.

NYS has a moratorium of sorts on drilling in the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation, but PA doesn't. I find it really interesting that the headline for the Syracuse-based News Ten Now Time Warner Cable channel is about how great the gas drilling is for our area, but this article in the Elmira (NY) Star Gazette doesn't mention gas at all: Since I don't watch local news and only follow the loudest NYS news, I don't know what the current media landscape looks like wrt to the Marcellus Shale gas play in NY but this looks like a political point about how it could be benefiting small NY towns if only the gas companies were allowed to drill.

This article in the Williamsport (PA) Sun Gazette has a more balanced approach that mentions the impact gas well drilling is having/going to have on school enrollment yet also shows some of the work the community put into saving the school.

The best article is from our weekly county newspaper but they don't web publish all their content, just article teasers:

I've been working on this project since mid-October and it's been eating gobs of time & energy. I wasn't expecting a vote until Feb. 8 - when I wouldn't have been able to attend the meeting - so I'm happy that I got to be there and that my campaign plan was so successful, but it feels weird to have had a plan that doesn't need to be followed through on because we won! early!
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Permalink: Save_North_Penn_High_School_Check_.html
Words: 343
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: politics

01/15/10 12:31 - 35ºF - ID#50819

Take Back the Night Rally @ Days Park

Two well-publicized homophobic attacks occurred on New Years. Others go unreported or under-reported far too often.

Enough is enough. We are encouraging as many as possible to rally at Days Park on Friday, January 15 at 7 PM to take back our city from bigots.

We will then march down the sidewalk of Allen Street to Main Street at about 7:15 to 7:30.

If you are able, please bring candles, and if you are also willing, please wear rainbow and/or hot pink items. We want to be as noticeable as possible.

Flyer, feel free to print off and post:

More details will come soon.

If anyone is interested in joining a neighborhood watch for Allentown, please join this group:

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Permalink: Take_Back_the_Night_Rally_Days_Park.html
Words: 212
Location: Buffalo, NY

01/08/10 02:45 - 17ºF - ID#50771 pmobl

Pink Nisha cuteness

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I woke up this morning sandwiched between a fat black cat and a little grey
poodle. Cuddling luxury! She's cold from our adventures this afternoon, so I
left her coat on.

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I woke up this morning sandwiched between a fat black cat and a little grey poodle. Cuddling luxury! She's cold from our adventures this afternoon, so I left her coat on.

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Permalink: Pink_Nisha_cuteness.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY

01/01/10 06:28 - 26ºF - ID#50718

Thank you!

Thank you, (e:tinypliny), for making cookies and biscuits with me! And thank you for the beautiful vest.

We made the lace cookies from (e:jenks,50610) as well as these biscotti-like speculoos that I didn't like but many others did - the plate was almost empty. And we made my and (e:jim)'s fav molasses crinkle cookies (e:heidi,48165).

Thank you, (e:pmt), for hosting yet another awesome party! It was so cool to finally meet (e:leetee), (e:uncutsaniflush) & (e:himay). Alisha teaching (e:tinypliny) to salsa and meringue was so cute.

I hope everyone has a fun-filled, goal-achieving 2010!

(e:tinypliny)'s new userpic:

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Permalink: Thank_you_.html
Words: 112
Location: Buffalo, NY



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