West Side News & Notes
Earned Income Credit campaign kicks off
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic helped kick off the campaign to encourage local taxpayers to take advantage of the Akron Summit Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program last week.
At a press conference Jan. 9 at the Akron Community Foundation, Plusquellic and Malcolm Costa, CEO and president of Akron Summit Community Action, touted the EITC program as a way for low- to moderate-income working families to get their full tax refund of up to $5,891 in as little as seven days or less using direct deposit.
Taxpayers eligible for the program may have their taxes prepared and filed for free at one of four local sites starting Jan. 23. They are Akron Summit Community Action Inc., 670 W. Exchange St. in West Akron; Georgia W. Daverio School of Accountancy, The University of Akron, 259 S. Broadway St. in Downtown Akron; Barberton Parks and Recreation Active Adult Division, 500 W. Hopocan Ave. in Barberton; and Akron Summit Community Action Inc., 1367 Doty Drive in Springfield.
For an appointment, eligible residents should call 866-861-7401.
Sharon trustees approve temporary appropriations
SHARON — The Sharon Township Board of Trustees met Jan. 6 for its annual organizational meeting.
They worked on the township’s annual appropriations, appointed new officers and discussed potential projects for 2013, according to Trustee Brian Guccion.
Trustees set temporary appropriations for the year, totaling $3.9 million, including $1.2 million for the General Fund, $1 million for roads and bridges and $1.4 million for the Fire Department, according to Fiscal Officer Anita Haas.
Permanent appropriations for the year are to be set by trustees in March, she said.
All township employees were granted 2 percent salary increases, according to Guccion. Trustees and the fiscal officer, whose salaries are determined by the state of Ohio, were not included in that increase.
Guccion will serve as the board’s chair this year, and Trustee Ray Lurtz is vice chair.
In 2013, trustees are considering the following potential projects:
• paving State Road and the Signature of Sharon subdivision;
• purchasing a new pumper truck for the Fire Department; and
• purchasing a new 1-ton dump truck for the Service Department.
Trustees cancelled their regular meeting, which would have been held Jan. 8, due to the organizational meeting. They will next meet Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building on Sharon Circle.
Falls requires no forms when filing city taxes online
CUYAHOGA FALLS — Mayor Don Robart has announced an enhancement to the Online Income Tax Preparer service available on the city’s website.
Residents filing their city income tax online and owing no taxes and having no overpayment will not have to mail their returns or documentation.
Residents can visit www.cityofcf.com and click on “Income Tax” under the “Departments” tab, then click on “Income Tax Preparer,” which will be available Feb. 1, according to the website. From there, enter the required information into the Income Tax Preparation Form. Most calculations will be performed automatically. Once the resident has entered all information, he or she can review the data and go back to correct mistakes if needed. There is no requirement to submit any forms or tax documentation.
The tax information is transmitted to the Income Tax department, where the information is cross-checked with federal data to ensure accuracy. If taxes are owed or it is a business return, the return must be printed and sent to the Income Tax Department with supporting tax documentation.
During this process, income tax information is only being stored in the user’s webpage. Once the user leaves the webpage, the information is gone. The information entered is completely secure through a digital certificate, which means no one else can have access while the user is entering his or her tax information, according to city officials.
The city recently partnered with CCA for assisting in collecting delinquent taxes, and part of the service is to supply the city with federal data to electronically cross-check city returns for accuracy, thus eliminating the need for paper forms and documentation.
“This is another example of the benefits of the eGovernment initiative implemented back in 2004,” Robart said. “By simplifying processes and, therefore, increasing productivity, we are able to continue our goal of providing online services to our residents.”
Flu-related hospitalizations climbing, vaccinations available
COLUMBUS — Flu activity remains a concern across Ohio, as well as across the country this winter. Ohio Department of Health (ODH) officials are reminding all Ohioans that it’s not too late to get vaccinated against the flu.
According to the ODH, there have been 1,922 influenza-associated hospitalizations reported so far this flu season. That total number compares to 175 in the 2010-11 season and 86 in the 2011-12 season. In addition, one influenza-associated pediatric death has been recently reported. Last season, no pediatric deaths were reported, and one was reported in the 2010-11 season.
“Flu season got an early start in Ohio, but it’s not too late to get your flu vaccination,” said Dr. Ted Wymyslo, director of the ODH. “We also want to help Ohioans understand more about the protection offered by the flu vaccine. There are a lot of myths out there, such as the misconception that the flu shot makes you sick.”
According to the ODH, disease experts outline several reasons why people may commonly link the influenza vaccination to their illness:
• The vaccine takes about two weeks to build up immunity, so you could catch a flu virus in the meantime.
• You could get a virus that is not in the flu vaccine, although the strains the ODH is seeing seem to be a good match for the vaccine. There are also many nonflu viruses circulating in Ohio this time of year, including some that cause colds or stomach illnesses.
• The vaccination doesn’t give every person 100 percent immunity to those flu strains. However, many times having a flu vaccination can reduce the severity of the flu and can also help curb the spread of flu from person to person.
“We’re hearing from our local health departments and also private distributors that Ohio has an adequate supply of flu vaccine still available,” said Wymyslo.
In addition to getting a flu vaccination, the ODH and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers the following tips to help stay healthy this flu season:
√ Wash your hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based sanitizer when you are unable to wash.
√ Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, since germs are often spread this way.
√ If you get sick, stay home from work and keep sick children home from school or child care.
√ Get plenty of rest. Sleep is shown to help your body fight off illness.
√ Keep your body healthy: Eat a balanced diet including plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole grain products; drink plenty of water and go easy on salt, sugar, alcohol and saturated fat; and exercise regularly because 30 or more minutes of physical activity most days of the week can help boost your immunity.
For more information, visit www.flu.ohio.gov.
Akron Children’s Hospital seeking Change Bandits
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron Children’s Hospital is seeking Change Bandits to support the 14th annual “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” radiothon presented by 98.1 WKDD. This year’s radiothon will air Feb. 7-9.
The Change Bandits campaign is a grassroots fundraising effort for children treated at Akron Children’s Hospital. During January and the first week of February, volunteers collect spare change from family, friends and co-workers, which is donated to the hospital during the radiothon.
Serving as a Change Bandit gives everyone, from elementary students to those in corporate offices, the opportunity to raise money for Akron Children’s. According to hospital officials, 100 percent of the money raised by Change Bandits, as well as the money raised during the radiothon, benefits patients treated at Akron Children’s Hospital.
Since it began in 2000, the “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” radiothon has raised nearly $7.3 million to benefit medical research, education and patient care programs at the hospital.
“Change Bandits can collect money in a variety of ways. In addition to collecting change and cash donations, we also offer online giving,” said Nicci Avalon, Children’s Miracle Network program manager at the hospital. “More than 700 Change Bandits donated more than $200,000 of the $789,000 raised during the 2012 radiothon.”
Prizes will be awarded to the top Change Bandits in five categories: individuals, schools/organizations, small companies (fewer than 100 employees), large companies (more than 100 employees) and hospital departments. Change Bandits are given a fundraising goal of $100 for individuals and $250 for groups. The change collected by Change Bandits jump-starts the tote board when WKDD personalities Keith Kennedy and Shannon Steele go live Feb. 7.
Anyone interested in becoming a Change Bandit can register online at akronchild rens.org/changebandits or fax their name, address and phone number to the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation at 330-543-4335.
Annual inflation adjustments announced for 2013
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced annual inflation adjustments for tax year 2013, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes from the recently passed American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
The tax items for 2013 of greatest interest to most taxpayers, according to IRS officials, include the following changes.
• Beginning in tax year 2013 (generally for tax returns filed in 2014), a new tax rate of 39.6 percent has been added for individuals whose income exceeds $400,000 ($450,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return). The other marginal rates — 10 percent, 15 percent, 25 percent, 28 percent, 33 percent and 35 percent — remain the same as in prior years. The guidance contains the taxable income thresholds for each of the marginal rates.
• The standard deduction rises to $6,100 ($12,200 for married couples filing jointly), up from $5,950 ($11,900 for married couples filing jointly) for tax year 2012.
• The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 added a limitation for itemized deductions claimed on 2013 returns of individuals with incomes of $250,000 or more ($300,000 for married couples filing jointly).
• The personal exemption rises to $3,900, up from the 2012 exemption of $3,800. However, beginning in 2013, the exemption is subject to a phase-out that begins with adjusted gross incomes of $250,000 ($300,000 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $372,500 ($422,500 for married couples filing jointly.)
• The Alternative Minimum Tax exemption for tax year 2013 is $51,900 ($80,800 for married couples filing jointly), set by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which indexes future amounts for inflation. The 2012 exemption amount was $50,600 ($78,750 for married couples filing jointly).
• The maximum Earned Income Credit amount is $6,044 for taxpayers filing jointly who have three or more qualifying children, up from a total of $5,891 for tax year 2012.
• Estates of decedents who die during 2013 have a basic exclusion amount of $5.25 million, up from a total of $5.12 million in 2012.
• For tax year 2013, the monthly limitation regarding the aggregate fringe benefit exclusion amount for transit passes and transportation in a commuter highway vehicle is $245, up from $240 for tax year 2012 (the legislation provided a retroactive increase from the $125 limit in place).
Details on adjustments are contained in Revenue Procedure 2013-15, which will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2013-5 Jan. 28. Other inflation adjusted items were published in October 2012 in Revenue Procedure 2012-41.
Kathleen Folkerth, Ariel Hakim, Stephanie Kist and Maria Lindsay contributed to these reports.
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