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Hidalgo County Herald
Lordsburg, New Mexico
December 9, 2011     Hidalgo County Herald
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December 9, 2011

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HIDALGO COUNTY HERALD FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16,'2011 9 "As I Remember" by Allen "Hook" Hill Allen Hook Hill Editor's Note: Longtime Lordsburg resident, historian. storyteller and poet Allen "'Hook" Hill has written hundreds of stories and poems. Back in the 1980s he began writing a col- umn entitled "As I Remember." With his permission, these columns have been dusted off and will appear in the Hidalgo County Herald from time to time. Hook, who is 90. still lives in Lordsburg. This column ap- peared in the Lordsburg Liberal on December 25, 1987. By ALLEN (HOOK) HILL There were some tough Christmases for our 'parents dur- ing the early 1930 depression days. I've wondered many times over the years how they managed anything at all for us during those times. I remember getting my hands on a Wards or Sears catalog and picking out a big white cowboy hat, chaps, a saddle, bridle, etc.. etc. No thought entered my mind as to whether Santa or the folks could afford such items. Of course, Santa was just as poor as our folks were in depression days. My dad was out of a job for the better part of a year and I assume now that Santa had been unem- ployed, too. but who thought about such things then? It's immaterial what any of us got for Christmas in those days. Certainly there were no saddles or bridles or ten-gallon Stetsons. There might have been a sloppy white hat but nothing to rival Tom Mix or Hoot Gibson Whatever we got it's still a mys- tery to me where any of it came from. One year my younger brother. Cal. got a ~ used bike from Santa. How Santa ever came up with that. I'll never know. We were poor but we younger kids didn't know it. However. we were never too poor to share with our neighbors and with Santa at Christmastime. My mom always took little dishes of homemade goodies around to the neighbors and she put popcorn balls, cookies, candy, or some such out for Santa on Christmas Eve. We'd all be thrilled to find it gone the next morning. Those were hard, but good. times, too. in some ways. In most cases conditions are much different now. for which I am grateful. I, for one. hope we never see depression days again. If we do see hard times once more, I trust we'll have the moral fiber to see ourselves through them. Right now it would be nice if those'of us who have even a small amount of extra would share it with some of those who are expe- riencing their own depression days in the middle of our pros- perity. Acts of kindness can cre- ate fond memories for both the giver and the receiver. Merry Christmas. Hook hook june @ hotmail, corn Poverty Creek WUl prescribed fire planned on Black Range Ranger District Submitted by GILA NATIONAL FORESTI Silver City The Black Range Ranger District on the Gila National For- est is planning on using pre- scribed fire to treat approximately 126 acres adjacent to the Corrk- munity of Poverty Creek. Project Thanksgiving Raffle Winners La Escuelita"Thanksgi'ving'-Basket Raffle winners wereAngela- Calderon and James Tarango. Thank you to everyone who do- nated. Courtesj/ photo Implementation will start in mid- December. Project duration will vary depending on current weather and on-site fuel condi- tions, and wilt" typically occur from Monday through Friday. This prescribed fire project is located north of Poverty Pines Subdivision within the Poverty Creek Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). The northern boundary is NM State Highway 59. western boundary is the pri- vate property of Poverty Pines Subdivision. southern boundary is Poverty Creek. and eastern boundary is Forest Service land which is identified with flag- ging. Project goals are to reduce combustible fuels on the ground created by a thinning project in the spring of 2010. This is the last block within the Poverty Creek WUI to recetve an initial fuels treatment. Future me- chanical and prescribed fire treatments will help maintain desirable conditions around the Cgmmu,mt~ .Of Poverty, .Creek,,. When driving within the project area. please exercise cau- tion as fire personnel and equipment will be present and working on or near NM 59. Drivers are also advised to use caution as smoke may reduce visibility along area roads. For further information on the Poverty Creek WUI Pre- scribed Fire Project, please con- tact Dennis Fahl, District Fire Management Officer on the Black Range Ranger District at (575) 894-6677. 575-574-5382 for upcoming By KATY ESTRADA, CPA, Hidalgo County resident While most of us think of the -Holidays as a time of family gath- erings, food and shopping, [ think it is the perfect time to think about your taxes. The Bush tax cuts are in place through 2012. That helps to makes your tax decisions easier. The key for your 2011 tax strategy is to look at the overall impact on the next two years. Below are" some major tax strategies and highlights to be aware of before the end of 2011. CONTRIBUTE TO CHAR- ITY - And save your receipts! This helps others and helps your tax bill (if you itemize). Clean out the clutter! Give your un- loved clothes, household items and furniture. Goods must be in good condition to qualify. Giv- ing cash? Do it by check! But don't sacrifice contributing to your o~vn retirement. I highly recommend contributing as much as possible first to your retirement and then charity. MILEAGE RATES The IRS increased the standard mile- age rates for the business use of vehicles. Beginning January 1, 2011, the standard mileage rate for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) is: 51 per mile for business miles driven, 19 per mile driven for medical or moving purposes and 14 per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, Note: Businesses can deduct mileage expense" OR your actual expenses. Once you choose a deduction method, you must use that method for the life of the ve- hicle. Also, if you itemize on your personal return, provide your tax preparer with the miles you drove to donate goods, vol- unteer, go to doctor visits or pick up prescriptions. This could add up to a great deduction. CHILD AND DEPENDENT CARE TAX CREDIT - You can claim up to 35% of their care ex- penses, up to $3.000 for one child or $6.000 for two or more. AMERICAN OPPORTU- NITY CREDIT (formerly the Hope credit) - For undergradu- ate students this has been ex- tended through 2012. Individu- als with incomes up to $80,000 ($160,000 for married couples) who pay at least $4,000 in col- lege tuition in 2011 can claim a tax credit of up to $2,500. If you haven't spent enough to capture the full credit,-pay~ your student's tuition for spring semester in De- cember. EARNED INCOME CREDIT - The income limits were increased slightly for 2011. Your Adjusted Gross Income must be less than: $43,998 ($49,078 mar- ried filing jointly) with three or more qualifying children $40,964 ($46,044 mar- ried filing jointly) with two quali- fying cl~ildren $36,052 ($41,132 mar- fled filing jointly) with one quali- taxpayers must meet certain re- quirements and file a tax return, even if they do not have a filing requirement. ENERGY TAX CREDIT - The 2011 Credit rate is 10% of the cost of qualified energy effi- ciency improvements. Energy ef- ficiency improvements include adding insulation, energy-effi- cient exterior windows and doors and certain roofs. The cost of in- stalling these items does not count, only materials. The credit can also be claimed for the cost of residential energy property, including labor costs for instal- lation. Residential energy prop- erty includes certain high-effi- ciency heating and air condition- ing systems, water heaters and stoves that burn biomass fuel, Note: The credit has a life- time limit tO be aware of. If the total of non-business energy property credits taken in prior years since 2005 is more than the limit allowed, the credit may not be claimed in 2011. Homeowners going green should also check out the Resi- dential Energy Efficient Property. Credit, designed to spur invest- ment in alternative energy equip- ment. The credit equals 30 per- cent of what a homeowner spends on qualifying property such as solar electric systems, solar hot water heaters, geothermal heat pumps, wind turbines, and fuel cell property. No cap exists on the amount of credit available except for fuel cell property and gener- ally, labor costs are included when figuring this credit. ACQU.IRE NEEDED BUSI- NESS ASSETS - If you are think- ing of buying assets for your busi- ness, you still have several weeks to place them in use and qualify for bonus depreciation for 2011. This allows you to deduct 100% of the cost in 2011. Bonus depre- ciation can be claimed on new assets with useful lives of 20 years or less, including machinery, equipment and land improve- ments. Another option is to stock up on office supplies, i.e. paper, ink etc. and write this off in 2011. RETIREMENT CONTRI- BUTIONS remain unchanged from 2010 amounts. Traditional and ROTH IRA contributions are the lesser of $5.000 or 100% of earned income. The annual 'catch-up" contributions if you are age 50 and over remain at $1,000. SEP (Self-employed Plan) IRA contribution limits ,are 25% of tlae emproyee's salar'f ~6r up to $49,000, whichever is smaller. You may set up and fund a SEP as late as your tax-return filing date, including extensions. IRA's must be funded before April 15t". REQUIRED MINIMUM DISTRIBUTIONS - If you are 70 V2 or older, you must take distri- butions from your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account by De- pen for cember 31 or face a stiff penalty: '50% of the amount you failed m withdraw. (If you turned 70 V2 this year, you have until April 1, 2012, to take your first distribu- tion.) IRS AUDIT RED FLAGS - Claiming too many deductions - Your return might be flagged if you claim large deductions for business travel and entertain- ment, take a large home office deduction or show a large over- all loss. Retain all receipts for business meal and entertainment expenditures of $75 or more. For expenses less than $75, keeping a detailed diary is sufficient. In addition, the IRS employs a pro- gram called discriminate index function (DIF), which compares taxpayer deductions to others in the same income bracket. If the IRS's DIF data finds, for example, that the average taxpayer in your income tax bracket claims $1,000 in charitable donations, and you claim $10,000, it's a likely red flag. In-home office deductions - Any area in your home desig- nated as office space must be used exclusively and regularly for ad- ministrative or management ac- tivities of your trade or busi- nesses. WHAT CAN I DEDUCT? - To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and neces- sary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A neces- sary expense is one that is help- ful and appropriate for your trade or business. An expense does not have to be indispensable to be considered necessary. My rule of thumb is to ask yourself "Did I spend this money to help create future income?" Note: If you have an ex- pense that is partly for business and partly personal, separate the personal from the business por- tion and deduct only the busi- ness portion. Don't just think about your tax liability once a year. With careful tax planning throughout the year, you will .be better aware and possibly reduce that liabil- ity. Pursuant to- requirements for practicing before the Inter- nal Revenue Service, any tax advice contained in this article is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for purposes of (a) avoiding penalties imposed under the United States Inter- nal Reventle Code or (b) pro- moting, marketing or recom- mending to another person for any tax-related matter. Each tax- payer has unique facts and cir- cumstances in relation to the applicability of the above laws. You are strongly advised to con- sult with a tax professional to determine the applicability of the law to your circumstances. hristmas fying child $13,660 ($18,740 mar- ried filing jointly) with no quali- fying children Note: The Earned Income Tax Credit or the EITC is a re- fundable federal income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and fami- lies. Congress originally ap- proved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the bur- den of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit. To qualify, and New Year As usual Lord's Living Water Lighthouse will be open for Church Services on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. 10:40 AM Each Day Messages: Christmas: "The Manager in the Manger" New Year's Day: "You Can Begin Again!" All are Welcome - Dress is Casual 807 Duncan Highway, Lordsburg ' We have all the tools to keep your Business oft r Pro ssional Services all aspects of 'our small business! Including: Payroll Monthly, Quarterly &.Annual Tax Preparation Financial Statements Bank Reconciliations 575-542-3125 212 E. Motel Drive * Suite A * Lordsburg Ages 6 Weeks-12 Years ALL Full Time & Partd dTime Slots Available Af EAioE@fd /ST Mon_ay-Fri.ay . Tf?AINEo pa/to p,. stot . 'tnte ' We follow a daily curriculum and serve qaz t. Breakfast, Lunch & Snacks approved by ll, ll' lE l' the State of New Mexico. Our goal for the infants and children are to provide a safe and comfortable environment for them while away from their parents. We provide many activities for them that nurture their innate abilities, opens their minds to new possibilities and challenges them to go on to the next level. Come check us out at 201 East 'A' Street in Lordsburg or call Serena May at 575-542-3006