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May 25, 2011     Sentinel Tribune
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May 25, 2011

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE V .lr- -,,l=.., WPOINT Wednesday, May 25, 2011 Page 4 W.C.A. Tax Clinics Western Community Action Tax Clinics Have Their First MILLION DOLLAR SEASON For the fifth year Western Community Action has eompleted the regular season of free tax prepa- ration services for low to moderate income taxpayers, and the results this year were even better than last? This year, our Marshall site served 556 taxpayers and assisted them in receiving $934,354 in tax refunds. This is an all-time high? In addition, Western Community Action operated a site in Jackson again this year, and that site expand- ed the number served by over 50 percent from last seasoI b Open only one night per week, that site served approximately 68 taxpayers, and assisted those taxpayers in receiving $142,937 in refunds. This is nearly double the refunds of last year! So combined, we reached a milestone when our tax clinic refunds totaled $1,077,291! These are funds that will largely be spent right here in our own communities. In fact, the number one thing people listed when asked what they will do with their refund was "paying bills." The success of the tax prepara- tion sites was largely due to our partners and our volunteers. There were a total of 50 volunteers in Marshall, giving over 1800 hours of service again this year. In Jackson, there were only 8 volunteers, but they gave nearly 200 hours of ser- vice. Volunteers came from a vari- ety of backgrounds. Thanks to the Southwest MN State University Accounting Department and Dr. Will Thomas, Western Community Action was fortunate enough to be furnished with over a dozen volun- teers who were required to partici- pate as part of their senior Capstone course. In addition to the students, we also had faculty and staff of SMSU volunteering. Others volun- teers include people who: work for local non-profits, work for banks or other businesses, and some who were retired. All volunteers mainly hoped to give their time to make a difference, and they did! In addition to our volunteers, Western Community Action was also very fortunate to have many partners. These include: United Way of Southwest Minnesota, AccountAbility MN, MN Department of Revenue, Internal Revenue Service, and the Marshall Financial Empowerment Collaborative. Many local busi- nesses supported our tax clinic this year by helping feed our volunteers, most who came straight from work each evening to volunteer. Appreciation to our volunteers and community partners in making this year a wonderful success! For more information about free tax preparation services or for informa- tion on how to volunteer, please contact Angela Larson at 507-537- 1416 or 1-800-658-2448 Or via email at Important information for public employees By Elizabeth Anders SS District Manager We have important information that should be of interest to public employees. If you work for an employer who does not withhold Social Security taxes from your salary, such as a government agency, the pension you get based on that work may reduce your Social Security benefits under the "Windfall Elimination Provision." This provision affects how the amount of your retirement or disability benefit is calculated if you receive a pension from work where Social Security taxes were not taken out of your pay. We use a modified formula to calculate your benefit amount, resulting in a lower Social Security ben- efit than you otherwise would receive. Why a modified formula? The law requires we determine Social Security benefit amounts with a formula that gives proportionately higher benefits to workers with low lifetime earnings. Before 1983, people who worked mainly in a job not covered by Social Security had their Social Security benefits calculated as if they were long-term, low-wage workers. They had the advantage of receiving a Social Security benefit representing a higher percentage of their earnings, plus a pension from a job where they did not pay Social Security taxes. Congress passed the Windfall Elimination Provision to remove that advantage. In addition to the Windfall Elimination Provision, there is another reduction that could make a difference in benefits a spouse, widow, or widower can receive. If you pay into another pension plan and do not pay into Social Security, any spouse, widow, or widower benefits available through Social Security may be subject to a Government Pension Offset. Generally, if government employment was not covered by Social Security, any Social Security ben- efits must be reduced by two-thirds of the government pension amount. Why? Benefits we pay to wives, husbands, widows and widowers are "dependent's" benefits. These benefits were established in the 1930s to compensate spouses who stayed home to raise a family and who were fmancially dependent on the working spouse. Now it's more common for bo spouses in a married couple to work, each earning his or her own Social Security retirement benefit. The law has always required that a person's benefit as a spouse, widow, or widower be offset dollar for dollar by the amount of his or her own retirement benefit. Similarly, if this government employee's work had instead been subject to Social Security taxes, any Social Security benefit payable as a spouse, widow, or widower would have been reduced by the person's own Social Security retirement benefit. Even if you do not receive monthly benefits based on your spouse's work, you still can get Medicare at age 65 on your spouse's record if you are not eligible for it on your own record. To learn more about the Windfall Elimination Provision, please read this fact sheet: To learn more about the Government Pension Offset, please read this one: LETTER TO EDITOR Letter Carriers annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive Saturday, May 14 was the National Association of Letter Carders annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive. This is the largest one- day food drive that occurs in the U.S and this is the 19th year. Last year, the 230,000 letter carriers col- lected 77 MILLION pounds of food. The letter carriers picked up the food at the various mail stops on their route and brought the food back to their local post office. None of us are immune to hunger and the need for food could come upon us at a moment's notice. A storm, a tornado, a flood, a work accident or an unforeseen fmancial situation. This year's big surprise came on Monday afternoon when I (Harry Baulisch) received a phone call from the Jeffers Postmaster, Janet Wilson. The Postmaster was trying to figure out how she was going to get all the food that the local rural carriers had collected on Saturday to a place called Mary & Martha's Pantry. At first, I quickly thought about how we could easily get the drivers for the Jeffers Meals on Wheels program to bring the food to the Westbrook Community Center when they picked up their meals on Wednesday in Westbrook. Jan's comment, "But, there's over 200 pounds of food!" Scratch that plan, I thought to myself. Tuesday morning, I drove over to Jeffers, backing up my pickup truck to the Post Office doors and with the Postmaster's help, we loaded the 205 pounds of food into the truck to be sorted and put on the shelves of Mary & Martha's Pantry. The attached picture does not do justice for the amount of food col- lected. The mail totes were filled with canned soup, meats, fish, veg- etables and fruits. Boxed goods (such as cereal), skillet dinners, pasta and rice. It is always refresh- ing to see the generous support coming from the different commu- nity areas that not only use the Pantry for their food needs but, provide the money and food dona- tions necessary to keep the Pantry up and running. The Westbrook Post Office pro- vided an additional 9 1/2 pounds of food that was collected at the Post Office. The Storden Post Office had nothing since their carriers come from Jeffers or Westbrook. Many of you probably know that I had an opportunity to talk to the Jeffers Mayor. and Council Members in March about the Pantry and the families we help in the Jeffers area. Since that meeting, the Pantry has enjoyed an outpour- ing of generosity from the Jeffers area in both food and money. My appreciation to the many people in Jeffers who have contributed towards the task of feeding those in need and helping us to fight the battle against hunger. Harry Baulisch AI Bait... "Stories from the BaH Cave" Eatin WP comes to food, we're all on the frontline. The first time I ate chicken fin- gers, the question mark over my head was visible for miles. I had no idea chickens had fingers. As I watched a family member carving the ham while one per- son reminded him that he was doing it improperly and anoth- er lectured him on the benefits of vegetarianism, a lifetime of meals flashed before my eyes. I once dined at a fried chicken shack advertising the best legs in town. The waitress told me that the sign referred to her and not the chicken. She said that the most fattening part of any meal is the silverware and that fingers were here before forks. I ate the chicken with my fingers for fear of incurring a 15-yard penalty for improper silverware usage. A fellow diner named Rufus told me that each of his family meals was like the Watergate hearings. People don't always get along during meals. I asked Rufus if watch- ing his mother and father at the meal table taught him anything. Rufus replied, "Yup. To never get married." I was a picky eater when I was a lad. A king had a royal food taster. I wanted one of those. I didn't want him to just taste things; I wanted him to eat most of them. I wanted to eat nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and breakfast cereal, rd build a barrier of cereal boxes around my place at the table. Plenty of good reading on those boxes. I knew how much riboflavin I was getting in my diet. I was deter- mined to avoid all foods that were suspect. I wanted to estab- lish autonomy. There is no food critic like a kid. Meals become whining and dining. An entire meal of cookies makes perfect sense to a child. Some people are obsessed with eating foods. Others are obsessed with not eating. I had third grade class- mates who had never been seen eating any part of a meal. My mother reasoned with me, telling me the importance of a balanced diet. When all was said and done, there was a lot more said than done. We had leftovers without ever having the original meal. If survival of the fitness holds true, some of the leftovers were in unbelievably good shape. Mother abandoned any hopes of me joining the Clean Plate Club. She wanted me to become a member of the Eat Your Lima Beans Club. That made for an awkward meal of cringeworthy food. My father loved lima beans. He'd smother them with pep- per and grin like a goat eating thistles while he chowed down. My mother would feed me lima beans and have the audacity to expect me to eat them. Lima beans! Come on! My life flashed before my eyes. She asked me to consider all the starving chil- dren in China. I considered them. I'd offer to mail the lima beans to China. I'd stare at the odious lima beans with loathing. I'd try to wish them away. My dog was of no help. She didn't like lima beans (butterbeans) anymore than I did. I was sincere in my desire to eat the beans, but lacking in effort. Morn reminded me to eat my vegetables so that I would grow up to be someone who would eat my vegetables. Some kids are genetically pro- grammed to avoid eating veg- etables. They hate vegetables for no other reason than they are "icky and yucky." I ate most vegetables, but I didn't like lima beans. They are the lutefisk .of the bean world. Mothers become short order cooks trying to get each child to eat. If mothers can't get you to eat things like lima beans, they rely on subterfuge. Mothers attempt to sneak food that is good for their children into the youngsters' diets. They resort to treachery by slipping the stuff into casseroles or hotdishes. Each child comes to the table with an agenda. Some food tum- bles from the plate accidentally on purpose. Eating too much. Not eating enough. Eating too slow. Eating too fast. Spilling. Talking with mouth full. They're not food fights. They're feuds over foods. It causes fathers to bury their faces in their hands and make their eyebrows look like a long, frustrated caterpillar. Tastes changes. One day, yucky foods aren't so icky. Don't worry, moms, one day, your kids will brag to others, especially their spouses, as to how good a cook you were. I solved the lima beans prob- lem by spilling them on my lap. I'd rather wear lima beans than eat them. AI Batt 2011 71622 325 St. 1-1, MN 56042 Mission Statement The Sentinel Tribune serves the residents and business com- munity of Cottonwood, Redwood, Murray and Lyon County and southwest Minnesota by applying its available resources to accurately and consistently produce a quality newspaper which thoroughly covers the news of the area, stimulates thought and conversation, delivers advertising messages in a timely manner, and provides information of general value to its public. In so doing contributes to the overall quality of life and economic health of its readers, advertisers and community in general while stimulating the professional development of its employees. 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