Disaster Preparedness

As the East Coast works to recover from Super Storm Sandy, and closer to home, Duluth and other areas of North East Minnesota do the same after last spring’s significant, unexpected flooding, now seems a good time to go through a few tips for preparing for what you hope never happens.

  • Keep important documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, Social Security Cards, and titles to cars and homes in a portable fireproof safe.  If you live in an area prone to flooding, be sure to store it in a high place, such as an attic.
    • If you live in a place where you are likely to need to evacuate, such as flood plains or areas prone to wild fires, keep your financial and legal documents in the safe as well.  Also consider scanning them and keeping a USB flash drive loaded with them in a safety deposit box or with trusted family outside the potential danger zone.
    • Keep the receipts for your major purchases, such as cars, furniture, appliances, electronics and sporting equipment in the same manner.  These can help if you need to file an insurance claim.
  • Keep copies of tax returns, as well as the documents to support them, in a waterproof container.
  • Take the time to make a “video tour” of you home, and keep it offsite in a safe location. Narrate the video to describe the makes and models of your valuables, and be sure to record things like valuable landscaping or upgrades that might be easy to miss.
  • Discuss flood insurance with your insurance agent, and be sure you understand what is, and isn’t, covered under your current policies.  Also be sure to keep your insurance for personal possessions (everything inside your house) up to date over the years.

Giving Thanks

Our annual post for the week of Thanksgiving.

The holidays seem to blur together just a bit more each year.  Still, Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to take time and be thankful for what we’ve been given throughout the past year, and for the gift of family and friends.

Here are a few inspirational quotes to help spur you in your pursuit of the attitude of gratitude.

“Reflect on your present blessings- of which every man has many- not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens, Writer

“I cannot tell you how to be rich. But I can tell you how to feel rich, which is far better, let me tell you firsthand, than being rich. Be grateful. It is the only totally reliable get rich quick scheme.” – Ben Stein, Actor

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero, Roman philosopher

Vacation Donation – Hurricane Sandy

After large scale natural disasters, many companies allow employees to donate the value of unused vacation time, sick time, or general paid time off (PTO) to a charitable organization.

In the case of Hurricane Sandy, the IRS has announced that donations made to qualifying charities for hurricane relief prior to January 1st, 2014 will not be considered income to the employee.  Since the employee does not pick up the value of time donated in income, there is no charitable contribution deduction allowed on the employee’s tax return.

Also, in this case, the employer deducts the value of the donation as  a charitable contribution rather than as salary expense.

Election Day

Today’s blog is a short one.  After many months of campaigning from all sides of elections from the President on down to local officials, today is the day Americans decide who will lead the country in to the future.

Based on the outcomes of today’s elections, we’ll likely see some significant action on expiring and expired tax provisions once the new leaders are sworn in.  We’ll keep an ear to the ground to see how this all plays out.