FOURTH OF JULY IS FOR FIREWORKS!
The Early Adventures of a Lifelong Pyromaniac
You probably wouldn’t guess it just by looking at me, but underneath the suburban dad surface, I’m actually a bit of a pyromaniac, and nothing brings that out quite like the Fourth of July! Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had a fascination with fireworks. Back then, M-80s, firecrackers, and bottle rockets were near the top of my list, but as I got older, I got into the bigger stuff — not just fountains and ground spinners but also missiles, rockets, and the aerial repeaters. Growing up in Wisconsin, someone in my neighborhood was always able to procure the illegal fireworks around the Fourth of July, and we had a great time celebrating, even though the police were called on our festivities several times! I’m not sure about all of the rules and regulations today, but back when I moved to California in 1982, fireworks and firecrackers were also illegal. My chance of celebrating a typical Fourth of July was slim to none. To get around this, my buddy and I had the brilliant (or in retrospect, not so brilliant) idea of smuggling in a big shipment of fireworks from a manufacturer he’d found in South Dakota. Our thought was to have the $2,000 worth of fireworks delivered to my parents’ home in Wisconsin, then have my mom send them via UPS to California. Of course, that didn’t quite work out as planned. My mom found out what we were plotting and refused to help, and if I’d thought about it, I would have realized that UPS would never have taken explosives anyway. Still, my buddy and I weren’t going to give up that fast! We bought the fireworks anyway and had them sent to my parents’ home in Wisconsin. After I finished my first year at Michigan State University, I was going to be heading back out to California for a summer internship at Poppy Hills Golf Course on the Monterey Peninsula. I loaded the fireworks into my pickup truck and drove them back to the Golden State. My friend and I had the brilliant idea to sell the fireworks on the black market when the Fourth of July came around and double our profits, in addition to lighting a few off ourselves, so we had to store them in the meantime. My brother wouldn’t let me stash them in his garage because he was worried they were a fire hazard, but my buddy said we could store them in his garage because his dad wouldn’t care. It seemed like the perfect plan.
fireworks! The $3,000 or $4,000 of profit we had in our sights went up in smoke, and that was the end of my little dream of getting rich as a fireworks smuggler.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I can see how hairbrained our scheme was, but I haven’t lost my love of fireworks. Every year, I drive to the fireworks stand about 15 minutes from my house and buy a few hundred dollars’ worth to light off for my family, friends, and neighbors. Once, I doubled down and set off fireworks at midnight on New Year’s Eve, too, but usually I just stick to the Fourth. With the stress of the pandemic and all of our local Fourth of July parades and fireworks shows being canceled, I’m really looking forward to a night of explosions, fun, and pretty lights to indulge my inner pyromaniac. Hopefully I get my wish!
Here’s to a fantastic Fourth,
Unfortunately, our good luck didn’t last. A few weeks later, my friend left his garage door open one night, and somebody snuck in and stole all of our
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BEWARE OF THESE CORONAVIRUS EMAIL SCAMS THEY’RE STILL AROUND!
SPELLING AND GRAMMAR MISTAKES This is usually a dead giveaway. While genuine, official updates about the coronavirus will be meticulously checked for spelling and grammar, scammers aren’t as careful. Missing periods, misspelled words, and wacky syntax errors are all hallmarks of scam emails. Make sure you carefully read any email you’re not sure about. If you can spot spelling and grammar mistakes, delete the email. Much like the coronavirus will remain in the American psyche long after cases and deaths have peaked, scammers will continue using it as a means to steal from honest, hardworking Americans. But, if we keep our guard up, we can make sure they get absolutely nothing from their efforts.
While it seems like the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic might be behind us, that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down completely — especially when it comes to internet scams designed to prey on the fear and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. It’s no surprise that scammers have found ways to use the coronavirus scare as an opportunity to steal personal information from the vulnerable. Fortunately, you can spot coronavirus scammers using the same techniques that help identify otherwise run-of-the- mill phishing scams. REQUESTS FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION When the federal government started distributing relief checks, several scammers sent out unsolicited emails, disguised as legitimate instructions, asking for personal information
from people in order to receive their $1,200. Since many people have now received their checks, this particular scam may become less common, but always be suspicious of emails that ask for personal information, no matter the circumstances. SUSPICIOUS LINKS AND EMAIL ADDRESSES During the past few months, people’s email inboxes have been littered with advertisements for fake coronavirus tests and cures, fake alerts from government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and fake coronavirus updates. If you get an email containing an unusual link in your inbox, do not click on it — even if the email address looks legitimate. Scammers use links to spread malware on computers, which helps them get your personal information.
ARE YOUR WAGES STILL BEING GARNISHED?
The Ins and Outs of Current IRS Suspensions
CHILD SUPPORT According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child support garnishments are active and were not suspended because of the pandemic. State agencies are also still processing payments. If you're paying child support through wage garnishments, your employer should be using the IRS Electronic Income Withholding Order process to do so. If they haven’t been doing this, you could be in for trouble down the line. STUDENT LOANS As of March 13, and until at least July 15, the government is not accepting wage garnishments from people with student loan debt. This encompasses all student loans, both private and federal. However, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act extended that suspension through Sept. 30 for payments taken under the Higher Education Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. To ensure your employer
isn't still mistakenly garnishing your wages, check with their HR department. TAX LEVIES Due to the IRS People First Initiative, new levies issued by field revenue officers and automatic levy actions are suspended through July 15. State- issued levy payments are also suspended until July 15. However, the rules are different for current levies of wages and assets — those are being assessed on a case-by-case basis. Chances are good that the IRS is going to double down on collections as soon as the July 15 deadline is here to make up for lost time. That’s where a tax resolution specialist like me can help. If you’re struggling to make sense of this complex situation or stay on top of your payments, call Francetic Tax Resolution. The sooner you reach out or point your confused friend or family member in my direction, the better. Together, we can make sure you’re taken care of during this unique time.
At the time I’m writing this, the federal government has suspended specific tax actions, including some wage garnishments, until July 15 due to the pandemic. However, there's a lot of false information about these suspensions circulating online, which has caused a lot of confusion among my clients, their friends, and their families. What makes the situation even more concerning is that depending on the type of garnishment, regulations differ drastically.
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IF YOU OR YOUR BUSINESS OWNS PROPERTY, LOOK INTO THE SECTION 179 DEDUCTION FTR TAX TIP OF THE MONTH
Do you own a property used by a business or trade, or do you have a business entity that does? If so, you could potentially save thousands of dollars of taxes upfront by taking the Section 179 deduction on your tax return.
THE BEST GRILLED SUMMER VEGETABLES
With this deduction, a taxpayer can elect to recover all or part of the cost of a qualifying property used in a trade or business, up to a certain limit. If you own the property yourself, you simply deduct the cost in the year it was placed in service by claiming the Section 179 deduction. The total amount you can deduct under Section 179 is subject to a maximum dollar limit ($1,020,000 for 2019), investment limit ($2,550,000 for 2019), and business income limit (this involves a calculation). This is an alternative to recovering the cost by taking depreciation deductions over a period of years. Thanks to the new tax laws that went into effect in 2018, the Section 179 deduction can also be used to fully deduct the cost of “improvements” to a property owned by a business or trade. These improvements can include a new roof; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); fire protection and alarm systems; and security systems. Before 2018, such improvements had to depreciate over their useful lives — typically 20 years or more. One caveat to electing the Section 179 deduction for property improvements is that rental activities aren’t eligible unless the rental activity is leasing the property to a corporation for business purposes. If you’re renting a single or multifamily home or apartment building to tenants, that won’t qualify for the Section 179 deduction. Instead, any improvements will have to depreciate over a period of several years. There are a few other limitations as well. For example, you must have purchased the new or used property you’re deducting and not received it as a gift. Some properties excluded from the deduction include barns, bridges, buildings and their structural components, elevators and escalators, fences, investment property, land and land improvements, paved parking areas, and properties purchased from a related party. If you think the Section 179 deduction might be helpful for you or someone you know, or if you have questions about how to use it to reduce your tax obligations, I’m here to help. You can reach out to me at any time for a consultation.
Inspired by DinnerAtTheZoo.com
Contrary to popular belief, vegetables are delicious. Most of our parents just didn’t know how to prepare them well. This summer, revolutionize your cookout with a serving of delicious, colorful veggies.
• • • • •
1 tsp salt
onion, red bell peppers, baby carrots, and yellow squash are great on the grill)
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
• • •
5 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs assorted vegetables, trimmed and halved (asparagus, mushrooms, red
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic. 2. Brush vegetables with olive oil and place in a large bowl. Top with lemon juice and seasoning mixture. Toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes but no longer than 2 hours. 3. Prepare the grill at medium-high heat. 4. Grill vegetables in batches, cooking 3–5 minutes on each side until browned and tender. (Carrots will cook longer, 6–9 minutes per side.) 5. Remove from the grill, sprinkle with parsley, and serve hot.
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Listen to Paul Saturday mornings at 7 a.m. on channel 1050 WLIP-AM or stream online at WLIP.com!
The Early Adventures of a Lifelong Pyromaniac How to Spot a Coronavirus Scam Email Are Your Wages Still Being Garnished? How a Little-Known Deduction Can Save You Thousands The Secret to Delicious Grilled Veggies Enjoy July With These Fun Facts
WHAT DO JULIUS CAESAR AND BUFFALO WINGS HAVE IN COMMON?
Most Americans associate July with Independence Day and everything the holiday entails, including traditional barbecue cuisine, fireworks, and summer vacations. However, in addition to the Fourth of July, this midsummer month has a rich history and offers fun opportunities for everyone to celebrate. ‘WHAT’S IN A NAME?’ You’ve likely heard of Julius Caesar, the famous Roman dictator and general known for changing the Roman Empire’s political structure, innovating war tactics, and eventually dying after a legendary assassination. But did you know that July, Caesar’s birth month, wasn’t always called that? It was initially named Quintilis , which means “fifth” in Latin, because it was the fifth month of the ancient Roman calendar. Shortly after Caesar’s death, the month of Quintilis was renamed July in his honor. Of course, Caesar’s legacy didn’t end there. Before he died, he implemented the Julian calendar, which he based off of the Egyptian solar calendar, and it remained in place for over 1,500 years until the Gregorian calendar was introduced in the 16th century. RED, WHITE, AND WHO? Similar to the Declaration of Independence for the U.S., Canada’s Constitution Act of 1867, signed on July 1 of that
year, marks the birth of Canada. The following year, Charles Monck, the 4th Viscount Monck and Canada’s first governor-general, signed a proclamation requesting that everyone in Canada celebrate their country’s independence on July 1. However, it wasn’t until 100 years later that the date officially became Canada Day. Most celebrations include fireworks and red and white attire, much like how Americans celebrate the Fourth of July. GOT WINGS? While chicken wings are a staple of Southern dining, they actually originated in upstate New York. In 1964, Teressa Bellissimo, co-owner of the Anchor Bar, started cooking leftover wings dipped in hot sauce for her son and his friends. After receiving enthusiastic feedback, Bellissimo put them on the menu. Over the next few years, the recipe’s popularity spread, and in 1977, former Buffalo mayor Stan Makowski declared July 29 to be National Chicken Wing Day. The reputation of the famous Buffalo wings continued to spread nationwide, and in the early ‘90s, wings became an international hit when McDonald’s, KFC, and Domino’s Pizza began selling them in the variety of flavors we know and love today.
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