May 17, 2013
Here are six things about summer jobs that the IRS wants students to know.
1. As a new employee, you’ll need to fill out W-4Form, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool to help you fill out the form.
2. If you’ll receive tips as part of your income, remember that all tips you receive are taxable. Keep a daily log to record your tips. If you receive $20 or more in cash tips in any one month, you must report your tips for that month to your employer.
3. Maybe you’ll earn money doing odd jobs this summer. If so, keep in mind that earnings you receive from self-employment are subject to income tax. Self-employment can include pay you get from jobs like baby-sitting and lawn mowing.
4. You may not earn enough money from your summer job to owe income tax, but you will probably have to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes. Your employer usually must withhold these taxes from your paycheck. Or, if you’re self-employed, you may have to pay self-employment taxes. Your payment of these taxes contributes to your coverage under the Social Security system.
5. If you’re in ROTC, your active duty pay, such as pay received during summer camp, is taxable. However, the food and lodging allowances you receive in advanced training are not.
6. If you’re a newspaper carrier or distributor, special rules apply to your income. Whatever your age, you are treated as self-employed for federal tax purposes if:
• You are in the business of delivering newspapers.
• Substantially all your pay for these services directly relates to sales rather than to the number of hours worked.
• You work under a written contract that states the employer will not treat you as an employee for federal tax purposes.
If you do not meet these conditions and you are under age 18, then you are usually exempt from Social Security and Medicare tax.
Visit IRS.gov, the official IRS website, for more information.
May 10, 2013
The two chairmen, “Max and Dave” on Twitter, cast their new effort as the modern-day equivalent of former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski’s request that people send him letters — “Write Rosty” — about their own problems with the tax code in 1985. At that time Rostenkowski got more than 75,000 letters, along with a wooden two-by-four with instructions to use it on any interfering lobbyists.
The following year, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 was enacted. This act was considered landmark legislation by drastically reducing the number of deductions and the number of tax brackets. Over a thousand pages long, this act is the most recent major simplification of the tax code by Congress.
Many people are once again calling for a major overhaul of our complicated tax code. As in 1985, perhaps now we can all make a difference by voicing our individual concerns, either by email or tweets for reform. But please, no two-by-fours.
May 1, 2013
Law Day had its origin in 1957, when American Bar Association President Charles S. Rhyne envisioned a special day for celebrating our legal system. On February 3, 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower established Law Day by issuing a Proclamation.
On April 7, 1961, Congress passed a Joint Resolution, Pub. L. 87-20, designating May 1 as Law Day, U.S.A. The Joint Resolution requests the President to issue a Proclamation each year and provides that Law Day:
“is a special day of celebration by the people of the United States … in appreciation of their liberties and the reaffirmation of their loyalty to the United States and of their rededication to the ideals of equality and justice under law in their relations with each other and with other countries; … for the cultivation of the respect for law that is so vital to the democratic way of life … inviting the people of the United States to observe Law Day, U.S.A., with appropriate ceremonies and in other appropriate ways, through public entities and private organizations and in schools and other suitable places.”
Each year Law Day events and programs are planned and carried out by bar associations, courts, and various educational entities. The American Bar Association (ABA) selects a theme each year for Law Day events. The ABA’s theme for 2013 is Realizing the Dream: Equality for All. In conjunction with this theme, on May 1st the Law Library of Congress will host a panel discussion and afterwards, display for thirty minutes, the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, handwritten by President Abraham Lincoln . The draft document was first read by President Lincoln to his cabinet on July 22, 1862.
April 22, 2013
No, not the Oscar statuette given to winners of the Academy Awards. This post is about OSCAR, the Online System for Clerkship Application and Review, the secure, user-friendly, online resource that streamlines federal law clerk and appellate staff attorney hiring.
This month the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts released an updated version of OSCAR. The major redesign of this popular online resource will make the federal law clerk application and review process more orderly, transparent, and fair for all.
OSCAR has helped judges and law clerkship applicants connect since 2005, automating the very paper-intensive processing of applications for clerkships in the federal courts. Judges and staff attorneys can post available positions, and applicants can find positions and electronically submit their applications on OSCAR. Seventy percent of all federal appellate, district, magistrate and bankruptcy judges have signed-up for OSCAR.
The OSCAR system will release all online third-year law school student applications on June 28, 2013 at 12:00 pm Noon (EDT).
April 8, 2013
Geared toward attorneys as well as social workers, this video is the latest addition to the FTC’s library of resources that explains not only how to recognize identity theft, but also how to report it and repair the damage it can cause.
The video promotes the Guide for Assisting Identity Theft Victims, a tool for people who work to help resolve the issues identity theft causes. The Guide is a complement to the do-it-yourself instructions in Taking Charge: What To Do if Your Identity is Stolen.
March 25, 2013
The end of the tax filing season is almost here. Even though your tax return is not due until April 15, you can make tax time easier on yourself by starting now. Here are 10 important tips to ensure a smooth process.
1. Gather your records. Round up any documents you will need when filing your taxes, including receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you will be claiming on your tax return. Store them in a safe place.
2. Report all your income. You will need all your Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statements, and 1099 income statements to report your income when you file your tax return. To ensure you don’t misplace them, add them to your other records.
3. Get answers to questions. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to find answers to your questions about tax credits and deductions.
4. Use Free File. There is at least one option available for everyone to prepare and e-file a tax return at no cost. Let IRS Free File do the work for you with brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. If your income was $57,000 or less, you qualify to use free tax software. If your income was higher, or you are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there’s Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms.
5. Try IRS e-file. IRS e-file is the best way to file an accurate tax return. It’s safe, easy and the way most taxpayers file their return.
6. Weigh your filing options. You have several options for filing your tax return. You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer. You may be eligible for free, face-to-face help at a volunteer site. Weigh your options and choose the one that works best for you.
7. Use direct deposit. Combining e-file with direct deposit is the fastest and safest way for you to get your refund.
8. Visit the IRS website. The IRS website is a great place to find everything you need to file your tax return. This includes many online tools, filing tips, answers to frequently asked questions, the latest tax law changes, forms and publications.
9. Remember number 17. Check out Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax,. It’s a complete tax resource that includes information such as whether you need to file or how to choose your filing status.
10. Review your return. Don’t rush. We all make mistakes when we rush. Mistakes slow down the processing of your return. Be sure to double check all Social Security numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors. If you run into a problem, remember the IRS is here to help.
Additional IRS Resources:
IRS YouTube Videos:
March 21, 2013
In 1969, the women and men of Seneca Falls, N.Y. created the National Women’s Hall of Fame, believing that the contributions of American women deserved a permanent home in the small village where the fight for women’s rights began. The Hall is currently housed in the Helen Mosher Barben Building, in the heart of the downtown Historic District.
The National Women’s Hall of Fame is the nation’s oldest membership organization dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the achievements of great American women. This esteemed group grows with each Induction Ceremony and as women continue to influence and shape the arts, athletics, business, education, government, humanities, philanthropy and science.
Check out all the Women of the Hall.
March 14, 2013
GPO started making Government publications available for sale in the 1920s with a retail bookstore and then established an online presence for selling publications in 1999. GPO has approximately four thousand Federal titles and more than 150 eBooks available through the agency’s online bookstore. The new website includes:
• Improved search capabilities and usability
• Option to browse for products by topic or by Government agency
• Enhanced product detail page that includes product image and description, suggested related items, reviews, author information and links to other available formats
• Option to sort products alphabetically, by date of publication, popularity, or price
“GPO has a long history of making Government publications available to the public through our retail and online bookstore,” said Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks. “The new bookstore website is more user-friendly and tailored to the needs of our customers. I am excited for GPO to offer this improved service to the public as we continue to carry out our mission of Keeping America Informed.”
March 13, 2013
The following post appears courtesy of Melanie Ann Pustay, Director of the Office of Information Policy at the Department of Justice and Lisa Ellman, Chief Counselor for the Open Government Partnership and Senior Advisor to the Chief Technology Officer at the White House. It originally appeared on The White House blog.
As President Barack Obama has stated, “Openness will strengthen our democracy, and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” This week, we celebrate Sunshine Week — an appropriate time to discuss the importance of open government and freedom of information, and to take stock of how far we have come, and think about what more can be done.
In the spirit of Sunshine Week, the White House will highlight one initiative a day which demonstrates the Obama Administration’s continued commitment to open and accessible government. Today, we will focus on progress made improving the administration of the FOIA. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In our democracy, FOIA, which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government.
As President Obama declared in his landmark Memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) issued on his first full day in Office: “A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency.” The FOIA – which provides the public with a statutory right to request and receive information from their government – is a key way in which government transparency is realized.
Over the past four years agencies have been working hard to improve their administration of the FOIA under guidance issued by Attorney General Holder. That guidance directed agencies to apply a presumption of openness in responding to requests and to make it a priority to respond promptly. Both the President and Attorney General stressed that it is also vital for agencies to make information available proactively, without the need to make a request, so that what is “known and done by their Government” is readily available to all. These directives are taking hold across the agencies and real improvements are being made.
In Fiscal Year 2012, the government as a whole:
•Processed more FOIA requests: Agencies processed 665,924 total requests. This is a 5.5 percent increase over the total number of requests processed last fiscal year.
•Decreased the FOIA request backlog: The efforts of agencies to increase the numbers of requests processed has paid off as the government was able to reduce its backlog of pending requests by 14 percent from last year. The current backlog marks a 45 percent reduction from the backlog that existed four years ago in 2008.
•Maintained a release rate above 92 percent for the fourth straight year: Of the 464,985 requests processed by agencies for disclosure, the government released records either in full or in part in response to 93.4 percent of these requests. For half of those requests all the information was released, with nothing withheld. This marks the fourth year in a row where the number of responses to FOIA requests providing a release of information either in full or in part exceeded 92 percent of the requests processed for disclosure.
•Improved average processing times: Agencies improved the average processing times for all categories of requests.
•Disclosed more information proactively: Agencies met public demand for information by posting a wide range of material on their websites, allowing the public to easily find information of interest without the need to make a FOIA request.
All of the detailed data on agency FOIA compliance from Fiscal Year 2012 is compiled and displayed graphically on the Department of Justice’s government FOIA website FOIA.gov, providing a clear picture of government FOIA administration and progress during the last fiscal year.
These are more than just statistics. They represent the efforts of agencies across the government to answer the call to improve transparency. They demonstrate that agencies are responding to requests more quickly and releasing more information when they do. Agencies are reducing backlogs of pending requests and helping eliminate the need to even make requests by proactively providing information online. The public is the beneficiary of this progress. While there is more work to be done, this past year demonstrates that agencies are answering the President’s and Attorney General’s call for greater transparency.
March 5, 2013
National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW) is a coordinated campaign that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. NCPW 2013 will take place March 3 through March 9, 2013.
The National Consumer Protection Week website offers consumers a wealth of tips and information from federal and state government and non-profit partner organizations.
Visit the website and check out the valuable resources and information available for the following subject categories.