Opinion: Preparing for the ‘Fiscal Cliff’

first_imgby Brendan Walsh. A phrase that has found its way into our daily lexicon this year is fiscal cliff. It refers to a combination of Federal government spending cuts and expiring tax cuts that many fear could be a serious drag on the U.S. economy beginning at the start of 2013. These scheduled spending cuts and tax increases have many economists concerned that if nothing is done legislatively to change current plans and avoid the cliff, a recession could result due to consumers having less to spend just as government reduces its own spending. Changes on the docketThe estimated impact on the economy comes from a combination of expiring tax cuts, new taxes and automatic spending cuts. The most direct effect on individuals has to do with tax changes. They include: â ¢     The expiration of the Bush era tax cuts of 2001 and 2003. Most notably, this would raise income tax rates for most people to levels that were in place prior to 2001. It would also change other tax provisions, including an increase in taxes on dividends and capital gains, a decrease in the child tax credit, and a reinstatement of phasing out some itemized deductions and personal exemptions for higher income individuals.â ¢     The end of the payroll tax holiday that reduced an individuals Social Security taxes by two percent.â ¢     Less benefit from the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provided up to $2,500 per student in credits (a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes) to offset qualified higher education expenses. In 2013, income limits to qualify for the credit which will revert back to its prior name, the Hope Scholarship Credit are lowered and the maximum credit is reduced to a projected $1,950.â ¢     The loss of the patch that allowed many middle income Americans to avoid exposure to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).â ¢     A drastic reduction in the exclusion amount for the estate tax from $5.12 million per person to $1 million, and an upturn in the highest maximum estate tax rate, from 35 percent to 55 percent.â ¢     The implementation of a higher income threshold to qualify to deduct out-of-pocket medical costs as an itemized deduction. Currently, expenses valued at more than 7.5 percent of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) can be deducted. The threshold rises to 10 percent in 2013 for most taxpayers. For those at least age 65, the higher threshold phases in through 2016.â ¢     The addition of new taxes that will apply to individuals earning higher incomes as part of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The effect these changes would have on individuals over the next year could be dramatic, anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars or more in increased taxes for 2013 depending on individual circumstances. The other aspect of the fiscal cliff is scheduled federal government spending cuts that are due to take hold in 2013 another potential blow to the economy. These include:â ¢     $110 billion in spending cuts agreed to in the Budget Control Act of 2011â ¢     $26 billion from the expiration of emergency unemployment benefitsâ ¢     $11 billion in reduced Medicare reimbursements for physiciansâ ¢     $105 billion in other scheduled changes to revenue or spending. What should you plan for?Nobody can be certain what policymakers in Washington may choose to do or not do to limit the potential economic shock created by the confluence of events that have led to the fiscal cliff. They could vote to alter the planned changes to tax laws and government outlays in order to temper the impact. However, any action in that regard may not occur before late this year or into 2013. In the meantime, be prepared for what may come. It appears likely that the amount of taxes you pay in 2013 will be higher than what you paid in 2012. Whether it will be as severe as what exists under the currently scheduled changes remains to be seen. Despite this, changes to the national economy or your personal financial circumstances will not occur overnight. The tax changes would take place all at once, but from a personal perspective, they would have a gradual effect. It could be dramatic over a years time, but it will be applied in smaller increments such as through wage withholding. Even the governments spending cuts will be implemented gradually over the year. The situation will create challenges and should not be taken lightly. But it also offers the opportunity to carefully review your finances, everything from day-to-day spending to investment strategies and tax planning, to determine the best way to limit the impact on your own bottom line and move forward with your best financial strategies.AUTHOR: Wm. Brendan Walsh, CFP®, CLTC, CLU®, is a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Colchester, VT. He specializes in fee-based financial planning and asset management strategies and has been in practice for 18 years.  His office is located at 905 Roosevelt Highway, Suite 220, Colchester, VT 05446. Phone: 802-654-8800. Website: www.ameripriseadvisors.com/william.b.walsh. Walsh is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of VT, VA, NH, MD, AZ, NY, MA, RI, OH, FL, CA, PA, ME, CT, TX, NJ, NC.last_img read more

1 200 tonne bridge launched at 7 mm a second

first_imgUK: A steel bridge 71 m long and weighing 1 200 tonnes was positioned across Borough High Street in central London on April 29-May 1. It forms part of a 507 m viaduct being built to remove a major rail bottleneck at the west end of London Bridge station.Network Rail said finding space has been a challenge, and in some places the viaduct is just 160 mm from existing buildings. ‘A project of this scale taking place in such a heavily built-up area required outstanding planning and innovation’, said Project Director Martin Jurkowski. ‘Our solution was to build the new bridge on top of the new viaduct, which offered best value for money and minimal disruption’. A complicated operation saw the bridge moved an average of 7 mm/sec using specialist machinery before being lowered into place. The bridge is a significant local landmark and a vintage double-decker bus was positioned to allow local people to observe the works. The £59m viaduct is being built as part of the Thameslink Programme to upgrade the north-south commuter route through central London. The main contractor for the viaduct is Skanska, and the bridge was supplied by Watson Steel.last_img read more

Buko House in Leyte depends on people’s honesty for profit

first_imgTACLOBAN CITY – After Supertyphoon “Yolanda’ devastated Eastern Visayas, 72-year-old Ricardo Cortes Jr. or “Mang Jun” from Baybay City, Leyte, put up a small “buko” (young coconut) stand just outside his home and called it the Honesty Buko House for a reason. HONESTY BUKO HOUSE — Honesty is the best policy in buying young coconut from Mang Jun’s store in Barangay Hilapnitan, Baybay City Leyte. (PHOTO VIA MARIE MARTICIO/ MANILA BULLETIN)Mang Jun is not there to tend the buko store 24 hours. Thirsty travelers who want a drink of freshly harvested young coconut juice need only to scoop it from the containers or chop the coconut himself, and drop the payment on a PVC pipe. Believing in the honesty and goodness of heart of people despite the rampaging coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Honesty Buko House, located in Barangay Hilapnitan, is a self-service store serving its clients 24 hours. “May tiwala ako sa Diyos at sa mga kababayan ko dito sa Leyte. Nasa tao lang ‘yang kung magbabayad ba sila o hindi. Nasa konsensiya na din po nila. Nandiyan naman ang Panginoon nanonood (I believe in the honesty of the people of Leyte. So it’s up to them whether they pay or not. It’s up to their conscience. Anyway, God is watching over),” he said when asked why he decided to open an honesty store. “Mayroong iba na hindi marunong magbiyak na buko kaya kami na lang ang nagbubukas. ‘Yung iba gusto nila sila lang magbiyak ng buko at kapag walang tao sa amin sa bahay ihuhulog lang nila ang bayad sa PVC pipe. Sakto naman din ang bayad nila at open ang aming tindahan 24 hours walang sarado-sarado at nandoon na din sa tadtaran ang ‘Sundang’ [machete] (Some do not know how to open the coconut that’s why we do it for them. But others want to open it themselves. When no one is in the house, customers just drop their payment in the PVC pipe. They pay the exact amount. Our tore is open 24 hours),” he said. Mang Jun added that his only business is helping him send his youngest of eight children to school. He also sells papaya, banana, jackfruit, vinegar, shrimp, and other produce from his neighbors so he help them. Although his income has decreased from ₱400-₱500 daily to sometimes ₱100 due to the lockdown, Mang Jun is grateful that his business has started picking up as quarantine measures are eased in Leyte. A big coconut sells for ₱25, while a smaller one sells for ₱15. Joggers and bikers such as Vice Governor Carlo Loreto were inspired by Mang Jun’s Honesty Buko House. “Mighty nice to rediscover bits of inspiration and hope along the road. The Honesty Buko House of Mang Jun defies conventional business models. It depends on the honesty of people for its profit. No CCTV cameras or security guards or cashiers to make sure payment is made. Just a receptacle on which customers will drop their payments for the coconuts thus partaken,” Loreto shared. In the past weeks, the Vice Governor has been inviting biking enthusiasts in Baybay and its nearby towns to patronize the Honesty Buko House and help Mang Jun in his advocacies. A similar honesty store first became famous in Ivana, Batanes. Another honesty store was put up at the Manila Police District headquarters but eventually folded up. SIGN UP TO DAILY NEWSLETTERCLICK HERE TO SIGN-UPlast_img read more

FIFA-facilitated Futsal referees’ workshop concludes

first_imgTHE Guyana Football Federation (GFF) wrapped up a five-day FIFA-facilitated Futsal Referees’ Workshop at the National Resource Centre last Sunday, with the presentation of certificates of participation.At the workshop, which began on December 5, 13 match officials from Berbice, Linden, Georgetown, West Demerara and Essequibo participated and were engaged in theory and practical exercises.In giving brief remarks at the closing ceremony, GFF president Wayne Forde said he was pleased that the referees have stayed the course and completed the programme especially in light of the upcoming yearend futsal tournament. He urged the referees to invest in continuous personal and professional development.“The referees have gotten much better for the duration of the course. Their knowledge has improved and they’re better suited to do the upcoming tournament,” FIFA Instructor Shane Butler said.“There’s still some work and practice to be done on the mechanics/techniques but I have no doubt that they will be a success in the coming weeks.“Basic football knowledge is high but areas which require additional work include positioning, mechanics and signals, which are outside of the book, they have not seen before. It will not be perfected overnight. It’s a gradual learning process and the more repetition is done, the better they will become.”Butler, who was on his first international assignment as Instructor, said it has been a satisfying experience, pointing out, “I think it has been a great success and I look forward to more events and hopefully return to Guyana and see their knowledge and mine get better and we all grow and learn the game together.”The practical sessions were held on Friday and Saturday at the National Gymnasium.last_img read more