00BLAME THE MEDIA

It’s a sad occurrence whenever we have one of these massive shootings in Las Vegas, at a church, at a school and anywhere else. Of course, all of the decent-minded citizens of the United States are upset, and rightly so.

However, anytime one of these horrible acts is perpetrated on the unsuspecting public the media, mostly TV and Internet, think it is their duty to publish or post the incident on all of their programs whatever they may be.

The problem, as I see it, is they continue to “harp” on each incident over and over for five to 10 days every hour and all day long (unless something more terrible comes along). It’s fine to relate the news, once or possibly twice, but all they are succeeding in doing with their relentless harping on the subject is instill into the minds of the people out there that are already on the mental breaking point another good idea to become famous and get their 15 minutes of fame.

To make my point, just think of how often these incidents occur now. In the past, we were subjected to an occasional shooting of maybe two or three people at a time and these occurrences were fairly well spread out. Then the media would mention it almost as an afterthought.

It seems now that the media turns each occurrence into a circus sideshow, stressing how many people were killed or injured and going so far as to mention a particular occurrence was a record. Each subsequent nut case now has something to set his or her sights on.

I don’t know about other people, but I feel the media is partially to blame for some of these acts.  

~  RELLIS SMITH

VIA EMAIL

START PLANNING NOW

People have asked: “Will the Republican tax plan affect me this year?” and “What can I do to reduce my taxes?”

The short answer to the first question is no, the Republican plan will not affect your 2017 tax filing and there are no plans to make the act retroactive. If a version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act does become law by year’s end, under the House version most of the provisions would take effect Jan. 1, 2018, and be reported on your 2019 return, while the Senate version would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, and be reported on your return in 2020.

To answer the second question, you can reduce your taxes for the 2017 tax year by following through on your year-end tax reduction plan based on the current laws — continuing to deduct such items as your state income or sales taxes, property taxes, mortgage interest and charitable contributions, and by taking the dependent deduction.

If you are new to tax planning, some simple strategies to reduce your tax liability include making a charitable contribution to your favorite charity, increasing contributions to your retirement account, prepaying your property taxes, doubling down on your mortgage interest, accelerating your medical and dental expenses, and taking advantage of the annual gift tax exclusion on gift and/or estate taxes.

You can also consider giving gifts through a 529 education plan to help save for college. The tax code allows up to five years of gift tax exclusions in a single year, which is as much as $70,000 per recipient or $140,000 per recipient for married couples.

Plan to file for the refundable federal earned income tax credit of up to $6,500 if you earned less than $56,000 — even if you are not required to file because you do not meet the minimum income requirements to file. Every year, $1.8 billion in federal refunds go unclaimed, and upwards of $100 million in state refunds go unclaimed and are deposited into the state general fund. Last year my office helped seniors and qualified working families claim upwards of $14 million in tax credits, and we will continue to support the program this year.

~ JEROME HORTON

CALIFORNIA BOARD

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