It’s the dead of night. Something wakes you from a deep sleep. It sounds like popcorn. Is someone in the house? Now you are alert. You grab your phone, open the door and head for the sound. It’s coming from the kitchen. At the same time, the smoke hits you AND the smoke alarms go off. Now is the time to act, and improving your survival comes from thinking about what you need to do….long BEFORE it happens.
Learn from the experts
Do a review of your situation now. Here are links to two great sources:
This includes smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and proper fire extinguishers all in the proper places and all in working order.
The top causes of home fires are cooking, heating, electrical, smoking and candles. Knowing this, you can reduce the risk of fire by creating an awareness trigger when engaging in these areas. For example:
Know how to handle different types of cooking fires both inside and outside.
Know where shut off valves are for gas.
Unplug when not using electrical devices.
Never smoke inside.
Only buy candles enclosed in glass.
Have an escape plan and practice it!
When a fire occurs, you have two minutes to get out. Create a plan, provide two methods of escape, and practice the plan every six months. Know where you are going to meet so everyone is accounted for after you exit. This is especially important for kids as they may need to escape without your help. Also think about overnight guests and grandkids at sleepovers. This is where reviewing plans from experts can help.
Get out. Stay out. Call for help.
Make this your mantra when in the midst of a fire emergency.
Review this I wish list.
Hindsight is 20-20, and especially so when it comes to fires. Here are some tips from those who have gone through it:
I had a go bag. This is a small bag of essentials stored in your bedroom to grab if you need to leave in a hurry. It contains a change of clothes, coats, or other emergency items for the kids.
I had a good inventory. After the fire, you are going to spend a significant amount of time with insurance adjusters. Periodically review your policy and develop an inventory of your household items. Take videos, document models and ages of major appliances, autos, other equipment, and valuables.
I had a where to go plan. If you cannot return to your home, where will you stay? How will you pay for it? Figure this out ahead of time.
I had a remote backup of my computer and phone. Remote backups can be invaluable in getting you back up and running.
I had an emergency fund. It will take a while to get your life back in order. What if you need to take time off from work? Having 6 months of emergency funds can make all the difference as you recover from your disaster.
The purpose of this article is not to act as an expert in fire safety, but rather to help generate awareness in this often overlooked subject. If, however, you need expert advice with your financial and tax affairs as you navigate this or other disasters, please call for help.
In the back of every Form 1040 instruction booklet there’s a section that shows where our federal government gets its money and where it is spent. As taxpayers, it makes sense to know this information. Here is the data for the government’s fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, as reported by the IRS in the 2020 instruction booklet for Form 1040. Please note that this spending is prior to COVID-19 relief bills.
FY Ending 2019
Personal Income Taxes
Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment Taxes
Borrowing to Cover Deficit
Excise, Customs, Estate, Gift and Misc Taxes
Corporate Income Taxes
Social Security, Medicare, & other retirement. These programs provide income support for the retired and disabled and medical care for the elderly.
National defense, veterans, and foreign affairs. About 15% of outlays were to equip, modernize, and pay our armed forces and to fund national defense activities; about 4% were for veterans benefits and services; and about 1% were for international activities.
Social programs. About 15% of total outlays were for Medicaid, SNAP (formerly food stamps), TANF, SSI; and 6% for health research and public health programs unemployment compensation, assisted housing, and social services.
Net interest on the national debt (at historically low interest rates).
Physical, human, and community development. These outlays were for agriculture and environment; transportation; aid for education and college assistance; job training; deposit insurance, commerce and housing credit; and space, energy, and general science programs.
Law enforcement and general government.
SOURCE: IRS publication i1040gi, P.110, 2020 Tax Year
What You Need To Know
Deficits of $1 trillion are not sustainable. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, annual deficits of $1 trillion cannot be sustained. And remember, this information is detailing a pre-pandemic deficit. It may be several more years before the annual deficit gets back down to this level, if at all.
Government borrowing hurts all taxpayers. In 1990, $50,000 worth of Certificates of Deposits (CDs) earned a cool 8% interest, or $4,164, each year. Today, that same $50,000 earns just 0.6%, or $301. What happened to the other $3,863? Your interest income is now helping to cover money borrowed by the government in the form of lower interest rates. Look at 2019…almost ¼ of the money spent by the federal government was borrowed!
Low interest expense risk. Look at the percentage of money spent on interest expense in 2019. It’s 8% with interest rates hovering around zero. So what happens when rates actually start to go up? As a percentage of overall expenditures, interest expense could double to 16%…and potentially go even higher than that.
Make a difference. Whether we should spend more or less is not the issue. It is that spending more than you bring in will cause big problems…eventually. Money doesn’t just magically appear on printing presses. That money has to come from someplace and that someplace is from everyone. So make your voice heard…it’s your money!
Handling employment taxes can be complicated, especially when you’re required to file important tax documents throughout the year. Here’s a quick recap of the most vital payroll tax forms and what you can do to make your payroll life easier heading into 2022.
Important Payroll Tax Forms
Form 941 — Employer’s quarterly federal tax return. This form is used to report income tax withheld from employees’ pay and both the employer’s and employees’ share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Employers generally must deposit Form 941 payroll taxes on either a monthly or semiweekly deposit schedule.
Form 940 — Employer’s annual federal unemployment tax return (FUTA). This return is due annually at the end of January. However, FUTA taxes must generally be deposited once a quarter if the accumulated tax exceeds $500.
Form W-2 — Wage and tax statement. Employers are required to send this document to each employee and the IRS at the end of the year. It reports employee annual wages and taxes withheld from paychecks.
Make payroll easier
Remind employees to review withholdings. January is a great time to remind your employees to check their paycheck’s tax withholding amounts. Various life events in the preceding 12 months can potentially lead to one of your employees owing a different amount of taxes in 2022 than they owed in 2021. And no matter how hard you try, employees will ask for your help. So get ahead of the curve with this simple review reminder.
Create a payroll forecast. Be prepared for how much you’ll spend on salaries and wages in 2022 by creating a payroll expense and benefit forecast. In addition to base salaries and wages, include the following in total salary and wage expenses: Your share of an employee’s Social Security and Medicare taxes; health insurance premiums paid on behalf of employees; and any other benefits you provide to employees.
Ask for help. Payroll compliance involves many moving parts at the local, state and federal levels. Please call if you have any questions about your business’s payroll tax compliance, and how to properly account for payroll expenses on your financial statements.