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Get organized now for the 2021 tax year

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Each year, millions of Americans scramble to locate every receipt, form, pay stub, and scrap of documentation they need to maximize their income tax refunds, or at least minimize the amount that they owe to the United States government on April 15.

If this sounds like you today doing your taxes for the 2020 tax year, it’s time to adopt a new way to prepare for the 2021 tax year now.

According to Turbo Tax, the best way to maintain a good record of receipts and expenses is to handle them regularly, so you can avoid tracking down months-old materials. They recommend color-coded folders in an easy-to-access location. Folders might include home and office expenses, vehicle expenses and mileage, education costs, child care expenses, medical expenses, and other items, such as charitable donations, work uniform purchase and cleaning costs (for work-only attire), and work-related expenses. Turbo Tax also recommends that you scan each receipt and maintain both electronic and paper copies.

If the multi-folder system sounds like too much hassle, The Motley Fool recommends a simpler three-folder tax filing system.


Folder number one: Income. Log every penny you earn on a sheet in this folder. Store other related documents, like 1099 and W-2 forms in this folder as well.

Folder number two: Expenses and deductions. If you choose to itemize your deduction instead of taking the standard deduction that Uncle Sam offers to most taxpayers, you’ll need to maintain a file of every receipt, mortgage statement, investment-related expense, medical bill, child care costs, and other employment-related expenses. Be careful, though: This folder can get fat in a hurry, so it may be worth your time to organize it into more sub-folders or use envelopes for each expense category.

Folder number three: Investments. Use this folder for statements, purchase receipts, sales confirmations, year-end overviews, and dividend notices. You’ll probably want to create sub-folders for deductible/tax-deferred investments, non-deductible investments, and taxable investments.

Maintaining a year-round system for tax documents may sound annoying, but it pays off big. In 2015, taxpayers left about $1.4 billion in tax refunds on the table with failure to file returns and other tax mishaps, according to CNBC. With a little planning and experimentation you can save the frantic search of tax season — and maybe even get a bigger return.

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The benefits of fiber optic internet technology

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Fiber optic internet is becoming increasingly available for homeowners. If you want to learn more, here’s a brief overview of everything you should know.

What are fiber optics?
Optical fiber is a thin, flexible plastic or glass cable that allows light to be transmitted over very long distances without losing any speed. The cable is wrapped in a protective sheath that captures light and sends data to a specific destination.

How does it work?
Optical fiber uses the principle of light refraction. The protective sheath around the cable has a highly reflective interior, which causes light to ricochet in all directions. This allows data to travel from a transmitting element to a receiving end extremely quickly. Fiber optic cables can be installed directly to and from your home or connected to a copper network.

Reasons to opt for fiber optics
Fiber optic internet is the future of broadband. The cables use light signals to send data to and from your computer up to 1,000 times faster than copper alone. This allows you to instantly download large files, seamlessly play online games, participate in online forums and enjoy high-quality graphics.


To find out if you can take advantage of these benefits in your home, contact the internet providers in your area.

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What you should know about working for a co-op

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There are 29,000 co-operatives operating in every sector of the American economy, providing infrastructure, goods, and services to millions. If you’re looking for work, a position with a co-operative could be a good fit.

These types of organizations help communities meet common economic, social, and cultural needs. In addition, their members typically place people over profits and believe in being honest, open, and socially responsible.

Sectors
Whatever your interests or passions, there’s probably a co-operative in your area that’s dedicated to the issues you identify with. In fact, co-operatives can be found in several economic sectors, including:

• Agri-food
• Energy
• Culture
• Forestry
• Retail
• Housing
• Insurance
• Human services
• Financial services
• Telecommunications



Co-operative businesses tend to be community-focused and committed to sustainability. Consequently, they play an important economic role in generating jobs and growth in communities across the country. If you enjoy helping others, you may want to develop your skills and put them to good use within a co-operative.

Did you know?
Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. As such, all co-operative members have equal voting rights.

 

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150 years after the great fires: Everyone is responsible for fire safety

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One day in October of 1871, flames consumed millions of acres of city and country as fires swept through Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Today, 150 years later, the deadly, but coincidental events of the first week of October 1871 are remembered during Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 3-9, 2021.

The tragic history of the fires reminds us that everyone must take responsibility for fire prevention.

The most famous of these fires is the Great Chicago Fire — not the deadliest or the most extensive of the fires that week, but notorious after it left 100,000 homeless, 300 dead, and leveled the near north side. The fire started Oct. 8 and raged two more days, fueled by the wooden structures and roads and intensified by the dry conditions after a long summer drought.



The fire was widely believed to have started in a barn belonging to Catherine O’Leary when, as the lyrics of a famous ditty say, her cow kicked over a lantern. She was exonerated by an investigation in 1997 but the popular belief in her guilt ruined her life.

Less well-known was the Peshtigo, Wis. fire that started the same day and burned more than a million acres, including 12 towns. Still the deadliest wildfire in history, the Peshtigo fire is estimated to have killed from 1,500 to 2,500 people.

Small fires for land clearing in the area were common, but on the day of the Peshtigo fire, a cold front moved in from the west and produced strong winds that fanned the small fires and created a firestorm.

Meanwhile, in Holland, Manistee, and Port Huron, Mich., about 200 fires raged, consuming vast swaths of dry forest and reducing towns to ash. At least part of the cause was the severe drought that plagued the Midwest that summer.

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The impact of inflation

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Suppose it is 1950. You have $5 in your pocket and you have to buy groceries. You’ve got plenty:

Gallon of milk: 83 cents
Dozen eggs: 60 cents
Loaf of bread: 30 cents
Chopped beef: 53 cents
Frozen green beans: 24 cents
Apples: 39 cents
Peanut butter: 29 cents
5lbs potatoes: 26 cents
3 lbs. hamburger: 89 cents
2 lbs. cabbage: 12 cents
1 lb. bacon: 35 cents
Total: $4.80

If you lived in any of 10 states, there wasn’t a sales tax, so you could pocket that 20 cents.

Today, you aren’t going to make much of a dinner with your $5. You can buy bread for $2 and eggs for $1.54. Five pounds of potatoes cost about $3.


Of course, today you should have more than $5 in your pocket because wages eventually rise with inflation.

The exception: Anyone who lives on fixed savings. For them, inflation can lower their standard of living. That’s why when you retire, your savings and investments have to keep up with inflation.

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4 benefits of working for a small business

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When compared to working for a large company, small businesses offer several advantages. Here are four of them.

1. You’ll be close with your team. Typically, everyone in a small company knows each other by name and job title. Plus, it tends to be easy for small teams to form strong bonds, creating a solid, supportive and engaging work environment.

2. You’ll have a variety of tasks. Working for a small business often means that you’re expected to wear many hats. This allows you to quickly develop your skills and gain experience in several areas.

3. You’ll be valued for your work. If you finish a large project or receive positive feedback from a client, your efforts won’t go unnoticed by a small team. In fact, your colleagues will likely be happy to acknowledge and celebrate your wins with you.


4. You’ll be involved in decisions. In a small business, all employees tend to be encouraged to get involved. You’ll have the opportunity to express your opinions to maximize efficiency, solve problems and improve the products and services offered.

If you’re a strong team player who thrives in a rapidly changing environment, consider working for a small business in your area.

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October Celebrity Birthdays!

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Elisabeth Shue at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival 2

Elisabeth Shue, 58, actress (Adventures in Babysitting), Wilmington, DE,1963.

Do you share a birthday with a celebrity?

1 – Sarah Drew, 41, (Grey’s Anatomy), Charlottesville, VA, 1980.

2 – Lorraine Bracco, 66, actress (“The Sopranos,” ), Brooklyn, NY, 1955.

3 – Alicia Vikander, 33, actress (Oscar for The Danish Girl), Gothenburg, Sweden, 1988.


4 – Susan Sarandon, 75, actress (Oscar for Dead Man Walking), born Susan Tomalin, New York, NY, 1946.

5 – Jesse Eisenberg, 38, actor (Batman v Superman), New York, NY, 1983.

6 – Elisabeth Shue, 58, actress (Adventures in Babysitting), Wilmington, DE,1963.

7 – Lewis Capaldi, 25, singer, songwriter, Glasgow, Scotland, 1996.

8 – Chevy Chase, 78, comedian, actor (Caddyshack), Cornelius Crane at New York, NY, 1943.

9 – Brandon Routh, 42, actor (Superman Returns), Des Moines, IA, 1979.

10 – Ben Vereen, 75, actor, singer, dancer, Miami, FL, 1946.

11 – Cardi B, 29, rapper, television personality, born Belcalis Almanzar, The Bronx, NY, 1992.

12 – Carlos Bernard, 59, actor (“24”), Evanston, IL, 1962.

13 – Ashanti, 41, singer, actress, born Ashanti Sequoiah Douglas, Long Island, NY, 1980.

14 – John Dean, 83, lawyer (White House counsel during Watergate), Akron, OH, 1938.

15 – Tito Jackson, 68, singer, musician (Jackson 5), born Toriano Adaryll Jackson, Gary, IN, 1953.

16 – John Mayer, 44, singer, Bridgeport, CT, 1977.

17 – Norm Macdonald, 58, comedian, actor (Saturday Night Live), Quebec City, QC, Canada,1963.

18 – Freida Pinto, 37, actress (Slumdog Millionaire), Mumbai, India, 1984.

19 – Peter Max, 84, artist, designer, Berlin, Germany, 1937.

20 – John Krasinski, 42, actor, director (A Quiet Place), Boston, MA, 1979.

21 – Edward Charles “Whitey” Ford, 93, Hall of Fame baseball player, New York, NY, 1928.

22 – Jesse Tyler Ferguson, 46, actor, Missoula, MT, 1975.

23 – Emilia Clarke, 35, actress (Game of Thrones), London, England, 1986.

24 – Monica, 41, singer, born Monica Arnold in Atlanta, GA, 1980.

25 – Katy Perry, 37, singer, born Santa Barbara, CA, 1984.

26 – Cary Elwes, 59, actor (Princess Bride), London, England,1962.

27 – Roberto Benigni, 69, actor, director, Arezzo, Italy, 1952.

28 – Matt Smith, 39, actor, Northampton, England, 1982.

29 – Gabrielle Union, 49, actress (Honeymooners), Omaha, NE, Oct 29, 1972.

30 – Kennedy McMann, 25, actress (Nancy Drew), Holland, MI, 1996.

31 – Letitia Wright, 28, actress (Black Panther), Georgetown, Guyana, 1993.

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Upcoming Events

Oct
18
Mon
11:00 am Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 18 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Kindergarten and First Grade. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: Ages 5 and 6 Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at Strokes[...]
1:00 pm Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 18 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Grades 2nd and 3rd. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: 7 and 8 years old Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at[...]
Oct
21
Thu
10:00 am Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]
1:00 pm Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 21 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Art Class for 4th & 5th @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Grades 4th and 5th. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: 9 and 10 years old Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at[...]
Oct
23
Sat
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: History of Sky M... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: History of Sky M... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 23 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: History of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area.  During Fall Farm Days History Weekend, step back in time and see history come to life. Stroll through the Historic Area buildings, interact with our living historians and discover our links to historic[...]
1:00 pm Paint Class for Kids Ages 8 and up @ Strokes of Creativity
Paint Class for Kids Ages 8 and up @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 23 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Paint Class for Kids Ages 8 and up @ Strokes of Creativity
This is a painting class for children 8 years old and up. Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at Strokes of Creativity. Date: Saturday, October 23,[...]
Oct
24
Sun
11:00 am Fall Farm Days: History of Sky M... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Fall Farm Days: History of Sky M... @ Sky Meadows State Park
Oct 24 @ 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Fall Farm Days: History of Sky Meadows @ Sky Meadows State Park
Historic Area.  During Fall Farm Days History Weekend, step back in time and see history come to life. Stroll through the Historic Area buildings, interact with our living historians and discover our links to historic[...]
Oct
25
Mon
11:00 am Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Art Class for K-1st @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Kindergarten and First Grade. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: Ages 5 and 6 Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at Strokes[...]
1:00 pm Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 25 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Art Class for 2nd & 3rd @ Strokes of Creativity
This class is for Grades 2nd and 3rd. Perfect for home schoolers. Recommended ages: 7 and 8 years old Tickets: CLICK HERE Tickets are available through Square Up, or can be paid in person at[...]
Oct
28
Thu
10:00 am Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Oct 28 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]