As you should know by now, I write a column on taxes every January since that’s when we should all be starting to pull our paperwork together. If you have not done so before, be sure to take advantage of tax credits. In this community we have a lot of low- to moderate-income working families and individuals who qualify for some or all of these credits—many of whom fail to claim these credits. This is the time to mention to family, friends and neighbors they should look into this.
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While this time of year brings out many who are in the holiday spirit; unfortunately, there are plenty of Grinches out there who are ready and willing to take advantage. They vary from fictional tales of woe “it’s your grandson and I was robbed while in Mexico and can’t get home, please wire cash”, to complicated get-rich-quick-schemes, to “we can fix your roof for a $500 down deposit,” to “this is the IRS and if you don’t wire cash today, you’re going to jail,”—the list goes on and on.
As noted last column, October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Maybe November should be recognized as “Have You Thanked a Veteran” month. Between 2009-2013, the US Census reflects there were approximately 7,534 (of 70,818 pop., i.e., more than 9 percent) veterans in Grays Harbor County (Pacific 3,119 of 20,561 pop., i.e., more than 6.5 percent). Washington has the sixth largest percentage of veterans by state.
If domestic violence was becoming less common, I would stop writing about this every October. Unfortunately, people continue to physically and mentally abuse those they profess to love.
National Recovery Month is in its 26th year. Originally called “Treatment Works!” in 1989, it initially honored the substance abuse treatment professionals. In 1989, it became the National Alcohol &Drug Addiction Recovery Month to include those actually in recovery. It then became National Recovery Month in 2011 and expanded to more broadly cover behavioral health.
On Sept. 14, 2009, pursuant to RCW 82.14.460, the Grays Harbor County Board of County Commissioners passed Grays Harbor County Ordinance No. 382 to create a .1 percent sales and use tax for chemical dependency or mental health treatment services and therapeutic court programs. The Department of Revenue began collecting funds in January 2010 and the county receives the funds about every two months after collection. The fund collects about $800,000 each year depending on our spending on goods and services.
First and foremost, this column is just lil’ ol’ me writing — not in my employment role.
RED FLAGS: “Please provide your Social Security number.” “Can I get a get a copy of your Social Security card?” Stop! Think! More often than not — just say no.
Many of us will be a caregiver at some point in our lives—be it short-term (babysitting), long-term (being a parent), or something in between (caring for someone who is dying or recovering from a serious illness or injury).
Every January I write a column on taxes. It is remarkable how many folks don’t take advantage of tax credits. In this community we have a lot of low- to moderate-income working families and individuals who qualify for some or all of these credits—many of whom fail to claim these credits. This is the time to mention to family, friends and neighbors they should look into this.
Olympic Area Agency on Aging (often called O3A or OAAA) is a wonderful resource for Grays Harbor, Pacific, Clallam and Jefferson Counties. Their mission is to help seniors and persons with disabilities maintain their dignity, health and independence in their homes, through a comprehensive and coordinated system of home and community-based services.
When I woke up this morning it was 30 degrees and windy. It must be time to talk about utility issues as our heating bills are starting to rise (quickly!).
After peripherally following Scotland’s recent independence referendum, I am reminded, once again, how uninvested and uninterested much of our eligible electorate is in this country. For those interested, the voter turnout was 84.6%. Even on the day of the vote, news coverage waffled as to the expected outcome. Ultimately, over 55% of the voters concluded Scotland would remain part of the United Kingdom.
Seeing as this gorgeous summer weather is going to abandon us in the hopefully not-so-near future, it seems a good time to remind folks about being prepared for emergencies and disasters. The December 2007 storm occurred just a couple of months after I arrived to this community. I was very lucky to have a friend and neighbor who was amply prepared so frankly I enjoyed the paid week off. However, but for his assistance, I would have been in quite a pickle as I was not at all prepared.
As many have heard, the Honorable Gordon Godfrey, one of the three Grays Harbor County Superior Court judges, recently submitted his resignation, effective Oct. 1, 2014. Not originally from Washington, I was not very familiar with the process of filling a judicial vacancy, so out of curiosity I did a little research and thought I would share what I learned.
Media coverage has increased regarding the poor being unable to get out from under legal financial obligations. For various examples, go to columbialegal.org/modern-day-debtors-prisons-washington.
Northwest Justice Project did an extensive strategic planning process a few years ago. One targeted strategy was statewide advocacy on legal issues affecting/creating barriers to employment. In this region, with unemployment rates still nearing the top of the list, we know this IS a systemic problem.
If you have not experienced it, witnessed it, lived with it, been related to it, known a victim/survivor—you must live on the moon. I’m not overstating—child abuse is pandemic.
I sporadically observe local court dockets as part of my job. It is remarkable how often litigants undermine their cases by their courtroom decorum. I have written on this topic before, but clearly, every couple of years this topic is worth revisiting. I have recently been attending juvenile court pretty regularly; and frankly, the adults are often worse than the youth. Adults are texting on their phones; showing up in sweats looking like they just rolled out of bed, chewing gum, etc.
Medical debt can be overwhelming. If you are (or were) uninsured or underinsured, you may be one of those people who stack unopened medical bills on the table by the front door (or in a shoe box under the bed or “file” them in the garbage can).
For those of you itemizing tax-deductible donations, be sure to check the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website at http://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/ to confirm the entity to which you donate is in good standing. A law was changed in 2006-2007 requiring smaller tax-exempt entities to start submitting annual reports by 2009-2010. Notwithstanding outreach reminding these tax-exempt entities to start submitting these reports, many failed to do so and their tax exempt status has been revoked. Many revocations occurred quite some time ago and entities do not realize it has occurred and are continuing to accept donations that are no longer tax-deductible.
Whether you are an opponent or proponent of the Affordable Care Act, it is rolling out; albeit at best, clumsily. For those of you starting to explore this new health insurance landscape, Northwest Justice Project and its legal services partners have a statewide taskforce of advocates looking at many aspects of the new law, including the programs it is supposed to provide, the benefits and burdens it is creating and what rights citizens may have vis-à-vis these new programs. One thing is clear, we are all on (and likely will remain for some time) a steep learning curve.