The party is over for tax credits
The big tax perks after the pandemic are reduced this year. Parents won’t be getting checks, but they will still have a (smaller) credit to use against taxes owed.
The Child Tax Credit was boosted for the 2021 tax year to $3,600 for children younger than 5 and $3,000 for kids 6 to 17. For the 2022 tax year, the child tax credit will drop to $2,000 for all children 16 and under. Some low-income earners may receive a partial tax credit of up to $1,500. Children 17 years of age no longer generate a tax credit.
The Child and Dependent tax credit was also boosted in 2021 to a max of 50% of costs up to $8,000 per child (max 2 kids) but will drop in 2022 to a max of 35% up to $3,000 per child (max 2 kids). Last year, the credit was fully refundable, but for 2022 it’s non-refundable.
Further, tax deductions for charitable gifts will also be less generous. Many Americans depended on charities for food and other vital services when the pandemic was still in full swing. In response, lawmakers increased incentives to make cash donations, which are expiring. So if you’re used to giving, for better or worse, tax authorities may be taking more this time around.
The Earned Income Tax Credit was also expanded in 2021 but is set to decline in 2022. For the 2021 tax year, the qualifying age dropped from 25 to 19, but it’ll now return to 25. The maximum EITC credit for childless workers will also decline from $1,502 to $560.
Replace worn bicycle parts each spring
Early spring is a good time to replace bike parts that may be worn out so you can start the new season with critical components in top-notch shape. Here are six things you should do now.
Your tires: The knobs on mountain bike tires lose their edges, which reduces traction. Road bike tires, especially rear tires, lose their crown, making them feel clunky when transitioning in and out of corners. All tires age. Rubber gets harder.
The chain: Measure the chain stretch to determine whether your chain needs to be replaced, or alternatively, you can make the replacement part of your annual routine. An old chain is more prone to breakage, shifts poorly, and accelerates wear on the bike’s chain rings.
Check the cables: Cables are the wire cores, and housings are the outer covers through which the cables run. Your first indication of failing cables may be a “snap” followed by a loss of tracking or shifting.
Brake pads: Rim brake pads harden over time, diminishing braking efficiency. They also pick up bits of grit that grind against the rims. Disc brake pads pick up junk, which can gouge rotors.
Replacement pads come in many styles, including those for severe conditions and for specific types of rims, such as ceramic-coated and carbon fiber.
Cleats: Worn cleats are difficult to clip in and out and may release unexpectedly. New ones should be installed early in the season when your daily mileage is low.
4 foolproof vegetables for first-time gardeners
Gardening can seem intimidating for first-timers. Here are a handful of vegetables you can easily grow without much experience.
1. Carrots are hardy and grow well in cool conditions. They can be harvested in late July for baby carrots or after the first frost for large, sweet-tasting ones. Orange varieties are the most reliable growers.
2. Lettuce tolerates shade better than other vegetables and grows fast. You can enjoy a weekly harvest all summer long when sown in succession. Plenty of varieties exist, including romaine, iceberg, butterhead, and Batavia.
3. Radishes grow fast and tolerate cool weather. These low-maintenance plants can be grown in small gardens, making great gap fillers. As a bonus, their strong odor tends to deter pests.
4. Bush beans germinate quickly and aren’t susceptible to many diseases. Moreover, a small patch of bush beans can yield an impressive amount of produce — up to one pound per plant! Bush beans also return nitrogen to the soil to keep your garden healthy.
Pick up the seeds you need at your local nursery or garden center.
Expert tips for starting seedlings indoors
To ensure a productive harvest, gardeners in northern climates must start certain vegetable seedlings indoors four to eight weeks before the last frost. Here are a few tips for getting a head start on your garden.
• Buy seeds from a reputable seller
• Use a specialized seed-starting mix
• Purchase or reuse containers with proper drainage
• Plant seeds at the depth listed on the seed packet
• Prepare for some losses and plant more seeds than you need
• Water frequently but sparingly to keep the soil moist but not water-logged
• Use heat mats and tray covers to speed up germination
• Place sprouted seedlings in a sunny location or under grow lights
• Promptly transplant seedlings that outgrow their original pots
• Once the seedlings are big enough, gradually introduce them to outdoor temperatures to get them ready for transplanting
Growing plants from seed take time and dedication but are extremely rewarding.
4 steps to help you choose the right camp
Although there are still a few months left in the school year, it’s time to start thinking about where to send your child to camp on summer break. Follow these steps to choose a camp to make your child’s summer enjoyable and memorable.
1. Determine your needs
Would you prefer to enroll your child in a day or summer camp? Does your child need to be dropped only off for a few days, or must they be there for most of the summer? These two questions will help you narrow down the list of potential camps.
2. Talk to your child
Your child knows best what they want. For example, ask your child what activities they’d like to try this summer, like cooking, archery, and science experiments. The activities offered can vary greatly from camp to camp.
3. Narrow down your options
Research and identify camps that meet your needs and will appeal to your kids. Rule out camps that are too far away or don’t fit your budget. Don’t hesitate to contact the organizers for more information.
4. Ask your child to make the final decision
Unless only one camp meets your requirements and matches your child’s interests, make a list of possible choices. Invite your kid to make the final decision.
Don’t wait until the last minute to register your child for a camp. Spots fill up fast!
5 interior design tips to make your windows look bigger
If your home doesn’t have large picture windows, here are a few tips to make your modest windows look larger.
1. Hang the curtain rod strategically. If you want your window to appear taller and broader, install the curtain rod about four inches above the window trim. Moreover, the curtain rod should extend about eight inches off the window frame on each side. This will trick the eye into thinking the window is bigger than it is.
2. Invest in high-quality drapes. Choose a high-quality fabric made of thick, sturdy material to help hide the line between the wall and the window. Patterned fabrics also draw the eye upwards, making the window look taller.
3. Paint the wall around the window a dark color. If the window frame is white, painting your walls white may make it fade into the background. Consider painting the wall surrounding your window a cool, dark color to make it pop.
4. Put up a large mirror. Hang a large mirror on the wall across from the window to let more light into the room. This will give the illusion of a bigger window.
5. Place low furniture around the window. Place small or low-profile furniture pieces near the window when decorating your space so the scale tricks the eye.
Visit several interior design stores in your area to find suitable drapes for your home. You may also consider ordering custom window coverings for an upscale look.
Men’s spring fashion: ready to elevate your wardrobe?
Winter is finally coming to an end! The warmer weather often brings a desire to try something new. Does your wardrobe need an update? Are you wondering what styles and fashion trends are in for spring 2023? Here are some ideas to inspire you.
Made of soft, neutral-colored, lightweight fabrics, casual suits are stylish without being stiff. The wider trouser leg creates a refined yet slightly rebellious look, especially if you swap the belt for a cord. Complete the outfit with a loose, unstructured jacket for a chic, relaxed look.
Shirts, jackets, and jeans made from deliberately distressed — faded, frayed, or ripped — are back in full force this year. Do you want to exude masculine energy but like unconventional fashion? This trend is perfect for you.
This absorbent material isn’t just for towels and robes. During the pandemic, designers discovered terry cloth (ideally recycled) is an ultra-comfortable material. Dare to try it for pants or shirts?
This fun trend consists of wearing stereotypical cowboy clothes and accessories in bold, bright colors with sequins. Get ready to turn heads!
Visit your local menswear store to create flattering spring outfits. Don’t be afraid to ask a stylist for personalized advice.
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