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Why I Love Tax Season (and why Congress should keep making it lovable)

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For most people, tax season has passed. For me, it’s not.

As a freelance journalist based between CA, USA and Taipei, Taiwan, each year I have to file taxes in two countries. The tax day in the States is April 15, but in Taiwan it’s May 31.

So the tax season is not yet over for me.

This is the season that I love the U.S. government the most. This is the season I feel that as a U.S. taxpayer, my family and I are really being taken good care of. This is the season I feel that I’m really lucky to raise my child in this country.

This year, thank to the Child and Dependent Care Credit, I saved $400. How far can $400 go? For my family, it equals to one week of mortgage, or two weeks of groceries, or five weeks of gasoline. It may not sound much, but is indeed very helpful. 

Head Smacker: House Gives Millions of Dollars More to Wealthiest 5,000 Families

On April 16, the House voted (270-179) to give millions of dollars more to heirs of the wealthiest estates in America and to add the $269 billion cost of doing so to our growing deficit, all while continuing to claim they care about poverty reduction, inequality, and reducing our debt.

By repealing the estate tax, the House effectively gave $2 million to heirs of the wealthiest 5,400 estates in the U.S. – the only estates that are subjected to the tax. The richest of the rich – those inheriting the 318 estates in 2016 worth $50 million or more – will receive a tax break averaging $20 million each. As we noted in a blog last week, only estates worth more than $5.4 million for a single owner ever had to pay estate taxes. For a couple, their estate had to be worth more than nearly $11 million. This means only 0.2 percent of all estates in the country were ever subjected to this tax. Or, to look at it another way:

Why I'm glad to pay my taxes

This week found my husband and I scrambling to make sure we had all of our I’s dotted and our T’s crossed as we hurried to make sure we had our taxes filed on time.

As he sat watching us from the couch, my almost ten-year old remarked about what a bummer it is to have to pay taxes. His sister stopped doing cartwheels across the living room long enough to agree and opine that she was glad that she didn’t have to pay them out of her allowance.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. Anti-tax rhetoric is everywhere in the weeks leading up to tax day. Just that morning on the way to school the deejay on the morning radio show was talking about how much he hates paying taxes.

But their remarks were enough to make me stop my hunt for receipts and pull the kids onto the couch to talk to them about why —as a parent and a part of this country —I don’t mind paying taxes. In fact, I see it as part of my duty as someone who loves this nation and benefits every single day from the investments we make as a society. And why, as a parent, I feel especially grateful for the investments we make in our children.

Two Years After West Disaster, Are Communities Any Safer?

Two years ago today (April 17th, 2013), a fertilizer plant explosion devastated West, Texas. Fifteen people died, including 12 volunteer firefighters. The blast demolished an apartment building and nursing home, and damaged three nearby schools. In the two years since, there have been over 350 other preventable chemical accidents.

To this day, the EPA has failed to take action to protect our communities from future preventable chemical disasters.

President Obama acted immediately, issuing an executive order that called for better safety and security standards for chemical facilities. “The handling and storage of chemicals present serious risks that must be addressed,” he noted. Yet, federal agencies’ response has been lethargic, at best. The EPA won’t begin rulemaking until September 2015 and they’ve set no date for completion.

#FoodFri Tweetchat: Tips to Establish Healthy Eating Habits at Home

This week's tweetchat is one I am looking forward to! From supermarket shopping to healthy meals ideas, it's sure to be lively. Even better, it will be conducted in English and Spanish. So, please feel free to join in whichever language you feel most comfortable in.

Join #FoodFri on Friday, April 17, 2015, at 1pm Easten, as we chat with @SaludToday and the @NicheParent Blogger Network.  Read more about our panelists below.

We'll share real Mom tips, as well as science backed wisdom, on how to shop for healthy foods, read food labels, get picky eaters to eat, and more! Ask questions and chime in. We want to hear from YOU. Because it really does takes a community to raise a healthy familia/family!

RELATED: The Sour Truth about Added Sugar and Our Health: And What Food Companies Are Doing to Hide It

Spread the word and invite a friend (or two!).

 

Walking Backwards Through the Grocery Store

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Yesterday my son  and I went for a bike ride to the park and decided to swing by the grocery store on our way home to pick up a few things. When we went to check out I realized that I didn't bring my wallet to the park. We put back our groceries and my son was laughing about how it was his first time to go backwards through the grocery store.

 

He doesn't remember the times when he was little that we did the same thing - not because I forgot my wallet, but because our food stamps had run out or because the electric bill cleared a day early. Walking backwards through the grocery store was part of my childhood as well.

 

I don't work any harder now than I did then, or harder than my parents did when I was a kid, but chances are my kiddo will never have to walk backwards through the grocery store again (unless his forgetful mama forgets her wallet at home). Being a medical student is hard, but being a poor and single mom was much harder! 

 

The Hidden Facts of Tax Day

Today is Tax Day, and millions of Americans are trying to get their taxes doen before the deadline.  As you send in that check to the IRS or eagerly await your tax refund, have you stopped to think about what the federal government is doing with that money?

Many Americans don’t, and for good reason: it's pretty difficult to find out how your tax dollars were spent, or to understand how your tax dollars fit into the overall picture of federal revenue that funds the essential programs, infrastructure, and services we rely on.

Here are four things you should know:

1. The government spent a significant amount of your federal income tax dollars on the Pentagon and war.

Food Choices Alter Children’s Palate, Memory and Learning

Walking through a farmer’s market, I’m captivated by what I see.  Mothers (and fathers!) push carriages, and hold toddlers’ hands, as they walk between a kaleidoscope of fruits and vegetables.   I watch as the children munch on bananas, watermelon and mangos. “This is how it should be,” I think. Making healthy foods the first choice, the easy choice for children, should be as easy as 1, 2, 3.

And, it can be. 

During children’s formative years, consistency is key. At this time childrens’ palate, as well as food memories and preference, are being established. According to a study published in the Appetite journal, by Dr. T. Bettina Cornwell from the University of Oregon, taste preference plays a key role in the obesity epidemic; as a result, addressing the development of palate and the preference for foods must begin at an early age.

Tell Congress: Tax breaks for working families, not corporations!

Tax Day is TODAY (April 15th).

And while you’re filing your taxes, rushing off to the post office, and taxes are on the top of your mind—it’s the perfect opportunity to also remind your U.S. Representative and Senators to be sure to protect tax breaks that boost working families and our economy—in particular the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC) —NOT corporate loopholes.

**Write your members of Congress TODAY and ask them to support, protect, and strengthen the EITC and Child Tax Credit! http://action.momsrising.org/sign/EITCChildTaxCredit/

My Wage Gap as a Mom and Daughter- #EqualPayDay

As a woman working a low-wage job, it can be a struggle to make it paycheck to paycheck. When my younger daughter needed surgery at the same time that my elderly father needed immediate medical attention, times were tough. If not for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), I would not have been able to take time off from work to care for them. But having to take time off unpaid was an enormous financial burden for me. I had to choose between paying rent and caring for my family. I needed to make sure they had medications and healthy meals. After not paying rent and utilities, it took me four months to get partly caught up with my bills.

 

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