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Finance

Wall Street Gone Wild

Managing financial investments can be daunting even in the best of times, and volatile markets can terrify even the most savy of investors. Wall Street has been on a wild ride these last few days and you probably have questions about how to best protect your money. Here is a list of books designed to help you protect your investments in times of economic uncertainty:

Storm proof your money: weather any economy, rebuild your portfolio, protect your future by Brett Arends

Crash proof 2.0: how to profit from the economic collapse by Peter D. Schiff with John Downes

Michigan Tax Amnesty In Effect Until June 30th

The State of Michigan is offering delinquent taxpayers the opportunity to pay past due state taxes and have penalty charges waived. Taxpayers who qualify would also avoid criminal prosecution by the Michigan Department of Treasury. To be eligible, all taxpayers must submit the complete amnesty application and full payment, including interest, by June 30, 2011. Visit mitaxamnesty.org for more information.

Finance Books for Women

Personal finance books are abundant, but not all of them address the unique issues women face when trying to manage their money. These five titles offer gender specific advice for women looking to build wealth, make investments, reduce debt and balance the family budget.

The real cost of living: making the best choices for you, your life, and your money by Carmen Wong Ulrich

Women & money: owning the power to control your destiny by Suze Orman

Chicks 4 Charity offer Scholarship Opportunity

Canton's Woman’s Life Society Chapter 827, Chicks 4 Charity, is currently offering scholarships totaling $2000 for both full ($1,000) and part time ($500) college students. Applicants must reside in Canton, Plymouth, Belleville or Westland and be enrolled in a 2 or 4 year accredited Michigan college, university or trade school in the fall of 2011. Application Deadline to apply is June 13, 2011. Winner will be notified by July 18, 2011. For more information see the attached application form.

Social Security Suspends Annual Statements

Effective April 1, 2011 the Social Security Administration has suspended annual statements to all workers. At present, this mailing cost the government $70 million dollars. SSA estimates they will save $30 million this year and $60 million dollars next year when they resume mailing, but only to those 60 years and older. An online Social Security benefits estimator is available as well other retirement planning information.

Talk Back to Lansing

Michigan State Capitol BuildingThe Center for Michigan is providing opportunities for citizens to speak out.  "Talk Back to Lansing" forums are scheduled in Wixom (April 20), Grand Rapids (April 25) and Lansing (April 27).  Register today.

Let your voice help shape Michigan's 2012 Budget.

Mint Launches "Quest for Money" Game

Parents, are you looking for a fun way to teach your kids and teens about saving money? Have them try out the new game from Mint.com called Quest for Money. Its goal is to teach money management in a fun and entertaining way. Learn more about the game or jump right in to playing it. Enjoy!

Tax Help for Canton Seniors

Free Tax Counseling for Canton's Senior taxpayers with low to moderate income is available at the Canton Senior Center in The Summit. Morning and afternoon appointments are available, however joint returns scheduled for the afternoon must have both taxpayers available. Please call the Canton Senior Center at (734) 394-5485 to schedule an appointment.

Getting Fiscally Fit

SOFA, The Society of Financial Awareness, will share tips for getting yourself financially fit. SOFA is a volunteer organization of licensed financial planners who donate their time to educate the public on the finer points of making your money grow and work for you. Please join us on Thursday, March 31 at 7:00PM in the Community Room for this interesting program. No registration is needed.

Free Tax Services

The Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency and the Wayne County Asset Building Coalition are offering free tax preparation services for families with incomes under $48,300. Call (734) 284-6999 for a list of participating locations or to schedule an appointment.

Libraries Save Families Money

Libraries are a valuable resource in area communities as illustrated in a March MetroParent article. Families can save money by borrowing free DVDs, attending library programs, using online databases, downloading eBooks & audiobooks, etc. Many of the resources mentioned are available here at the Canton Public Library. So come visit and start saving today!

How to Choose a Tax Preparer

Here's what you need to know if you pay someone to do your tax return:
  • Steer clear of anyone who won't discuss fees in advance
  • Avoid big talkers
  • Check credentials
  • Don't be afraid to ask for references
  • Look for stability

For more information visit irs.gov.

IRS Ready to Accept All Returns

The IRS announced today that it is now ready to accept all income tax returns. "The IRS is now accepting all the 1040 forms," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said. "We worked hard to update our systems and get the changes in place as quickly as possible. We appreciate the patience of those impacted by the delay. We urge taxpayers to use e-file with direct deposit, and they can get their refunds within days." In late December 2010, the IRS announced it would delay processing of some tax returns in order to update processing systems to accommodate the late tax law changes.

The New Frugality

The new frugality : how to consume less, save more, and live better by Chris Farrell — Are you looking for small changes you can make in your everyday life to save money? Perhaps to streamline things so that life feels less complicated? This book has many great tips based on a philosophy of living with a "margin of safety" and living a more sustainable lifestyle. Many of the ideas here seem like common sense but that you might not have thought about.

Dollars and Sense

Four quick things every citizen should know from Governor Rick Snyder's new Dollars & Sense: How State and Local Governments in Michigan Spend Your Money guide to the public's checkbook. State Treasurer Andy Dillon says Lansing is about to experience "shock therapy."

Free Tax Prep This Friday

The United Way of Southeastern Michigan is hosting free tax preparation services at two Detroit and one Taylor locations for those who earn less than $48,000 a year. Details are available on the United Way site.

Tax Forms

The IRS and the Michigan Department of the Treasury have announced that they will no longer mail paper income tax packages to individual and business taxpayers. These tax packages contained the forms, schedules and instructions for filing a paper income tax return. They are taking this step because of the continued growth in electronic filing and the availability of free options to taxpayers, as well as to help reduce costs.

Because forms are so readily-available online, the Canton Public Library will severely limit the number of tax forms we provide in paper format and encourage patrons to print forms from the IRS and Michigan sites at home or in the library for a cost of $.10 per page. Instruction booklets will be provided for use in the library only.

For further information about forms you may contact:
Federal [website] or by phone at 1-800-829-3676 after January 10
State [website] or (517) 636-4486

Living Large on Less

Living large on less: a guide to saving without sacrifice by Christina Spence — Just about everyone is doing more with less these days, and this book is a great guide to many aspects of balancing one's personal budget and making the most of the dollars we do have. One of the most important steps here is to make a budget that actually works for you. You can use spreadsheets, personal finance software, or an online service like Mint.com to track your spending and make some of the adjustments suggested here. The ideas range from quick fixes to challenges that offer a trial run at a larger change.

Late Changes in Tax Law Delay Tax Season for Some

The start of the 2011 filing season will begin in January for the majority of taxpayers. However, last minute changes in the law mean that the IRS will need to reprogram its processing systems for three provisions that were extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 that became law on Dec. 17. Only three specific categories of taxpayers are affected by this:
  • Taxpayers claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A
  • Taxpayers claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction
  • Taxpayers claiming the Educator Expense Deduction
The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the late tax law changes.