Will be adding to this post as the day goes on, so check back for more information!
Hey everyone – looks like we are preparing for ROUND TWO, what might be The Great Winter Storm of 2010!!!
So, just wanted to repost what we are doing over at Chez Baughn, http://www.theprudentwife.com/blog/?p=385 (and yes, my dear hubby made it home from the last storm and our truck survived 24 hours on the icy side of the mountain in I-26, with nary a scratch. We are still praising the Lord!)
We have done more this time, including refill the propane in the grill, grab some propane containers ( we have camping stuff that uses propane) and we boiled eggs and are cooking a big roast for “cold leftovers.”
We have been eating out of the freezer all week to work through our supply of frozen meats and decided against cooking a turkey Sat, as that will act as a giant ice cube if we lose power. We have a few ice chests ready, in case something happens and papers printed that tell us how to properly store meat (those links are on my first blog post). We had several friends lose the contents of their regular fridges and their spare freezers in the last storm. Hard thing – we work so hard to FILL them with our bargains, summer veggies, etc and then to lose them!
If I could say one thing – FILL YOUR CARS WITH GAS, and CHARGE YOUR CELL PHONES before you get on the road! Pack blankets, water, food, extra shoes, hats, etc – as this one looks like it will hit around 5pm (the drive time home for many!
Hope this helps someone! Praying you are ALL SAFE!
Just a note to all of our readers! We are going through a TON of upgrades at www.ThePrudentWife.com, both on the website and in the equipment REQUIRED to keep up with huge technology changes!
Right now, we have new video equipment, audio equipment headed to our home in TODAY’S delivery truck! These simple changes will greatly enhance our video making capability and we can go back to bringing YOU videos that will help YOU save tons of money in your home!
We are looking forward to delivering loads of innovative ideas, practical how-to information, videos, and articles to help you win in 2010!
This is still in process…but our lights are flickering, so I am going to post this and release it and watch a movie with the family! It isn’t even edited properly…but time is OF the essence! Please send a link to anyone this might help! And do sign up for our free newsletter if you like this! Tomorrow, look forward to a post on ideas for keeping warm all winter in colder climates – with tons of super tips!
Hey everyone! We are getting our first REAL massive winter storm since moving to Tennessee. We have spent the day preparing for the possible storm and trying to think of anything we might need!
Our single biggest concern is electricity, since our home is 100% electric. Not comfortable with that fact, but that is what it is at this point in our lives. What would we do if we lost electricity and how can we prepare? How do we control the controllables and prepare with what we have! If you are caught in a storm, how can YOU control your controllables, and prepare!
The obvious QUICK solution is to go to a hotel and camp out there! However, in a winter storm, roads may be impassible and the whole area may be without power, so that is not necessarily an option. We live in the beautiful foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, so travel can be hazardous.
Hubby could not even make it home tonight, and his truck is stranded on the interstate! He began walking in the SNOW STORM home (8 or 9 miles) and was mercifully given rides from two generous strangers. We literally prayed him home, and the Lord was watching out for him. This is some storm, as a transplanted Southern Californian, it is all new to me! I am used to earthquakes and fires – NOT snow storms!
The best solution is how can we ALL make the best we can out of what we have at home, and prepare to cozy up, batten down the hatches and face this storm barreling down on our area.
To start with, we began washing ALL of our clothes early this morning, to make sure we would have clean clothes, no matter what happens! We made sure all of our fuzzy flannel pajamas were washed and we had plenty of ways to dress in layers if need be! Next came sheets and towels, which were on the laundry list to wash today anyway! I always feel so content when all of our clothing, sheets and towels are clean! We have plenty of extra towels and washcloths in the bathrooms, so we should be fine there.
Warmth would be our biggest concern, so we searched the garage for resources. In came the big bin of fleece fabric that we have, and we began throwing several loads of fleece, one after the other in the washer. Since fleece is the warmest “extra” fabric that we had, we chose that to wash first. Next came a few blankets that are warm, but the wrong sizes for our current beds.
How to light a dark house came next. I had my daughter get all of our candles out of the buffet, and gather the matches, putting them all into a pretty tray on the table. We already have our pretty crystal lamps on the table for Advent. Emily ran out and grabbed the extra lamp oil out of the garage, in case we need to refill everything. Flashlights were found and located near where we sit, so we can easily walk to the table and light candles if needed. Light secured!
Water is also a huge concern during a winter storm, in case you lose the ability to get clean water. We store two types, both regular water, and drinking water.
Throughout the day, we were pulling gallons of drinking water out of our reverse osmosis, filling coffee pots with water, tea pots, and making pitchers of iced tea. If we lose power, I will probably still want my iced tea! Washed the dog bowl and filled it to the brim with fresh water for ClaraBaughn! We also made sure we refilled all the water bottles we had. Yesterday, we made two huge pots of bone building broth, so we have lots of soup supplies ready.
Coming from earthquake prone California, I am fanatic about storing regular water for miscellaneous purposes. The garage has gallons and gallons of water, stored in everything from clean glass juice bottles, old soda bottles, and even old milk jugs. The point is not perfection – it is to have water to wash with IF needed. Begin building a supply!
Food is good to have on hand. Yesterday, I splurged at the grocery store and stocked up on toilet paper, tissues and lots of canned soups and foods. During the holidays there are always great buys, and we took advantage of coupons and sales. I did go over budget on food, but I am also well prepared as we face a weather forecast of 7 or 8 days of snow, out of the next 10!
In the all electric house, we do also have an alternative cooking source, and that is our BBQ. It has the regular grill surface and we always make sure we have a separate burner on it as well. It would be a little hokey to grill out on the back porch as it snows, but it is at least an option! In our camping gear, we also have two stoves, a Civil War stove that burns wood, and we have two different cook tops that use propane. I am sorry to say, we are out of propane, that is one thing I did not think of!
Phones were also high on our priority list, we went ahead and charged all of our cell phones up, then turned them off. We are looking at a cozy weekend at home, enjoying some family time. That way, we can turn the phones on IF needed, or to check for messages, and be reassured that if it snows for three days they will keep their charge. Our end is covered, but whether or not they will WORK is another matter. My husband was stranded on the side of the road a few hours ago, and all circuits were busy and I could not get through for hours.
All of our laptops are fully charged, so whether we have electricity or not, we will all have varying times on our batteries. Not sure if we will have internet, but again, we are controlling the controllables on OUR end!
Finally, we grabbed our sleeping bags off the shelf in the garage, and put them right outside the garage door. If we lose power, the last thing we want to do is stumble through the garage, trying to figure out WHERE our sleeping bags are! We just want to grab them and go!
I am going to include some resources here, for others who might like to prepare.
OSHA on Winter Storms article can be found here, with some ideas on how to cope with storms.
Ready.gov has information on assembling a winter safety kit here.
Wondering how to keep food safe in an emergency, here are some ideas here! Specific instructions on what to do with all your different food items, with food safety ideas covering ANY problem you face! Here is the PDF of the same information. I would highly suggest printing this information and keeping it in an emergency notebook.
How to remove odors from refrigerator after losing power for long periods of time.
While the news is continuously down and out, the recession is dragging on, this week Buffet said the US is a mess, there ARE some folks out there that are making a GREAT success out of it! Here are a few stories to encourage you!
CNN Money has a great set of folks “Recession: I’m Loving It!” They also ran a great artice on how a stay at home mom (fired from her job) turned her layoff into a 6 figure income! Great article!
Another article on a girl who grew up on a dollar a day in Africa, and how she is helping businesses soar in America!
Do these examples cause you to think about what you can do?
Are you buying all new curriculum and books each year? Do you wonder, in this fluctuating economy, with salary reductions and job layoffs rampant, food prices creeping up weekly, fuel costs all over the map, how you are going to afford homeschooling this next year?
The next two columns in “There’s No Place Like Homeschool” are going to deal with Frugal Homeschooling,an idea near and dear to my heart, so be sure to check back next month for more money saving ideas! You can always sign up for my free newsletter at www.ThePrudentWife.com for a great moneysaving email each month!
We all want to give our children the best education possible, with the best books, curricula, games, toys, etc. Attending homeschool conferences each year keeps us wanting to buy the newest, latest, greatest, new cover out there. Opening emails from our favorite publishers and magazines keeps us wanting new things, but is there a frugal alternative?
Absolutely! Why pay full price for educating your kids at home, especially in a slow economy, when there is a world of opportunity out there with a frugal homeschoolers secret weapon, the Used Book & Curriculum Sales!
5 Tips to Help You Get the Most out of the Used Book & Curriculum Sale
The first tip to make every dollar work harder is to make a list of what you are going to need the following year. Just like shopping for groceries, write it all down, both the absolute must haves, kids interests that year, pulling together a unique wish list. Like a shopping list, this willhelp you stay clear and focused, helping you avoid the curse of the homeschool mom, buying duplicates, and passing up books that you “think” you have, but don’t and end up paying full price for later. A wish list has it all there and helps you navigate the aisles, grabbing up the great deals and avoiding temptation! Don’t forget to put books on the list that will encourage Mom too, especially the homeschool help books often sold very affordably at used curriculum sales!
Second: Check out which of these books on your list you can get at the local library! Yes, the library, packed with books, video, music and inter-library loan is the single best resource for the frugal homeschooler. Figure out what books you can get at the library and can live without purchasing. The library also has used book sales, a phenomenal way for homeschoolers to get great books for their home libraries.
Third: Go through your books to determine what you have finished using. As kids graduate and grow older, you can resell books no longer needed. As you purge books, think about your children. What are their personalities, interests, and bents? Will you need this book again? Should you save it for younger kids? Or has it served its purpose and it is time to recycle and let it go on to another family at a great price?
Fourth: Save tons of money by going to used book sales and both selling and buying for the next school year! Selling books is easy, you would be amazed at how many people will want what you have. Throw what you no longer need on a table, and you can often make enough money to buy used what is on your wish list for next year.
Five: Check your list twice, marking off books you need, and books you have. Stash an extra copy in the car, until the Used Book Sale season is over.
There are tons of GREAT used book and curriculum sales in the Tri-Cities area, so put them on your calendar and plan to check out the website, especially if you plan to sell (some have different rules and ways of selling, others you just show up with books and sell)
All of these will be listed on my blog, with live links www.ThePrudentWife.com/blog and more information as it unfolds. Homeschoolers tend to put information out closer to the date, and I am writing this a month EARLY, so you can put it on your calendar!
Local Homeschool Curriculum and Used Book Sales
GraceEducators in Abingdon, VA will hold their sale on Monday, May 4th, at 7pm PleasantViewUnitedMethodistChurch in Abingdon. This is well worth the drive! It is easy to buy and sell.
KACHEA in Kingsport will be holding their sale on Monday, May 18th at BloomingdaleBaptistChurch on Bloomingdale Rd in Kingsport. Set up will begin at 5 and selling will be from 6-8. KACHEA has a great sale every year, with tons of bargains! It is easy to buy and sell.
The NETHEA/Used Book Curriculum Sale has the largest sale by far in the Tri-Cities. It is a huge operation and has some rules to make things run smoother for buyers and sellers, so you will definitely want to check out their website to make sure you can sell. Buyers just show up early on Saturday, May 30th to a huge gym full of books.
Library Used Book Sales (Contact the library for more information.)
The Johnson City Public Library will hold their annual sale April 17 & 18www.jcpl.net
Be sure to attend at least one to get the 2009-2010 school year off to a fantastically frugal start. Confirm dates and times and more shopping tips on my blog www.ThePrudentWife.com/blog. Don’t forget to read the column next month for more Frugal Homeschooling ideas.
Knoxville Area Sales! Only 2 hours away!
If anyone wants to sell: As long as their books are labeled for the NETHEA sale, this same label with the number will work for these 2 fairs. Those that sell will register their code number just like they do with NETHEA. So they need not have to relabel their books.
Who: SMHEA (Smoky Mountain Home Education Assoc.)
What: Used Curriculum Sale
When: May 9, 2009
Where: Knoxville Christian School
Times: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Physical Address: 11549 Snyder Road, Farragut, TN 37932
Can you sell?: Yes (Check info at <www.smhea.org> under Events or call 865-671-3059). Drop off will be Friday, May 8, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM. NOTE: You might wait a day on the web site. They are still getting the info edited to put on it.
Who: BHEA (Blount Home Education Assoc.)
What: Used Curriculum Sale
When: May 16, 2009
Where: Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Fellowship Hall
Times: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Physical Address: 860 Louisville Rd., Alcoa, TN 37701
Can you sell?: Yes (go to <www.bhea.net> for more info). Drop off is Friday, May 15, 2009, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM.
Food for thought. We were rear ended last week. My daughter Emily has had some strange neurological symptoms SINCE then. We took her to the ER and took her to the eye doctor – all tests showed nothing wrong. There is no answer for what is going on – and it is slowly resolving.
We felt a little silly going to the ER, and getting the eye check with her eye doctor, and I had this inner battle going on of “frivolous” waste (the police officer did not want to even write it up. In TN you can write up a “Traffic Accident Report” if you think it is less than $500. He was sure there was no damage and kept telling me nothing was wrong. It took 4 days to write the report. Note – I am in no way blaming this officer – merely pointing out facts) The car ended up with $1000 in damage and we have mounting doctor bills, co-pays, scans and expenses, from what seemed at first like a little “nothing event” as we left Sam’s Club. I am so thankful that I insisted we “write it up.”
As I read about brain injury, first with Five in a Row Steve Lambert’s recent fall on the ice, his brain trauma that showed up a month later, then Natasha Richardson’s simple fall, then death, I am convicted that it was ABSOLUTELY the RIGHT thing to do. But I really truly struggled with this entire thing, and felt like I was whining and dragging her around to be safe. And the officer who dealt with our accident completely dismissed anything being wrong, so you can add “disobeying authority” and “feeling like an insurance cheat” for even GOING to the doctor on top of it. I did not want to be thought of as being frivolous or wasting the insurance company’s money, for such a “minor event.”
I am simply writing this as food for thought and sending this article on so you will prayerfully consider what to do in a similar situation. We can brush these “minor” things off in our children, or ourselves, and they can be serious. We can also bow to the authority standing in front of us, whether that is a police officer, doctor, or insurance rep. We need to be an advocate standing up for those we love.
Emily’s injuries appear to be minor, by God’s sovereign grace. Lord willing, they will totally resolve with time. I send this as an encouragement to YOU to prayerfully seek treatment after a “minor” accident to the head, or even “possibly” hitting the head, especially with pain or any strange neurological signs. Better safe than sorry.
(CNN) — A blow to the head that at first seems minor and does not result in immediate pain or other symptoms can in fact turn out to be a life-threatening brain injury, experts tell CNN.
Immediate treatment is essential after a brain injury because damage caused by swelling is often irreversible.
It’s very common for someone who’s had a fall or been in a car accident to appear perfectly lucid just after the impact but then to suddenly, rapidly deteriorate, Dr. Carmelo Graffagnino, director of DukeUniversityMedicalCenter‘s Neurosciences Critical Care Unit, told CNN.
Actress Natasha Richardson was talking and joking after she fell Monday during a beginner ski lesson, according to officials at the Canadian resort where she was staying. But soon after she returned to her room she complained of head pain and was taken to a nearby hospital, then to a larger medical center in Montreal. She was flown by private jet Tuesday to a New York hospital. She died Wednesday, according to a family statement.
“A patient can appear so deceivingly normal at first,” said Graffagnino, director of DukeUniversityMedicalCenter‘s Neurosciences Critical Care Unit. “But they actually have a brain bleed and as the pressure builds up, they’ll experience classic symptoms of a traumatic brain injury.”
Such injuries are known as epidural hemorrhage. Blood gets trapped between the skull and the hard layer of skin between the bone and brain, known as the dura mater. As the blood flows from the ruptured artery, the fluid builds and punctures the dura.
Patients are often unaware they’ve fractured their skull. In these cases, the fracture generally occurs just above the ear, in the temporal bone. “There is an artery that runs above the skull and can get torn and begin to bleed above the lining of the brain.” Graffagnino says.
“At that point all the pressure is pushed on the brain, causing it to swell but there is often no room for it to move inside the skull cavity. And as the pressure continues, it reduces blood flow to the brain and a patient would begin to feel the symptoms.”
The condition is commonly referred to as “talk and die” syndrome among neuroscience physicians and surgeons, because the patient can decline so rapidly.
Graffagnino says the initial fall or injury doesn’t have to be hard at all. The delay in symptoms can range from five minutes to three hours after the accident.
If an individual isn’t medically evaluated after a car accident, sports injury, or just a slip in the driveway, recognizing the signs brain injury early is critical. Nausea, severe headache, glossy eyes, sudden sleepiness, are all common symptoms. Getting to a hospital within the first few hours is critical to prevent permanent brain damage, experts say. An emergency room team can quickly determine the severity of your injury. An emergency craniotomy — opening of the skull — surgery is often needed to stop the bleeding and control brain swelling.
Immediate treatment is essential after a brain injury because the initial damage caused by swelling often is irreversible.
“One of the things we teach to trauma teams, is if a group of people are in a car crash and someone dies, we have to assume everyone else has serious injuries–even if they look good, and say they feel totally fine,” Graffagnino said.
Certain medications can increase a person’s risk for hemorrhages, especially for the elderly. Doctors say even a small bump on the head can be dangerous for patients taking blood thinners, among other prescription drugs.
“Talk and die” syndrome also can result from a subdural bleed, which develops between the brain and the dura. These bleeds can “squish the brain,” Graffagnino said, and cause injury at a slower rate. A person can often feel normal for several days before feeling any symptoms.
“You don’t have to see external injury to have injury to the brain,” said Dr Philip Stieg, chair of neurosurgery at NYP/Weill Cornell. To evaluate a person’s response after a minor trauma, Stieg recommends checking the size of their pupils and asking questions such as the patient’s name and what year it is. In the hours following, Stieg recommends monitoring the person’s cognitive skills and to “bring them in to get a CAT scan” if there is a change in behavior.
The brain also can be bruised after an accident, leaving patients with no symptoms or signs of a bleed at first glance. But the nerves surrounding the bruise can begin to stretch, causing what is known as an axonal injury. “The brain is like Jell-O. Imagine if you dropped a bowl of Jell-O on the floor and it looks intact at first but when you examine it really close, you can see it has teeny tiny cracks all in it,” Graffagnino said. “Well the brain can have these tiny cracks that don’t show up on initial CAT scan but will develop into problems down the line.”
Once surgeons stop a brain bleed, the next step is to monitor brain activity and check for permanent damage. A patient typically spends up to a month in a neuro-ICU. Patients who survive often spend the next several years in physical and cognitive therapy to regain function, according to experts.
“The most important thing to do to lower your risk is to wear a helmet when you can, and don’t brush off an injury because you feel ‘fine’ at first,” Graffagnino said. “The thing that’s going to save a life is for friends and relatives to recognize the first glimmer of a symptom. The quicker we can stop the bleed, the better.”
Inspired by a Burger Cookoff we watched yesterday, while at the Holston Valley Medical Center ER! Gotta use your time wisely, as you wait for the Dr.!
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (I used sun-dried tomato and basil)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3-4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 bunch scallions, chopped
Combine all of the ingredients above. Mix well to make sure spices are well distributed throughout the meat mixture. Shape into patties and fry on a grill or BBQ until desired doneness!
Serve on top of spinach for an Anti-Inflammatory treat that is super low carb and GF!
Pardon our dust! We are redoing ThePrudentWife.com, with some upgrades. There may be technical difficulties through January as we work to bring you the most user friendly site, filled with money saving ideas, tips, great recipes and encouragement. We will let you know the moment we officially unveil the new site!
All current subscribers will have an additional quarter added to their current memberships as a way to thank you for our patience!
In just two hours on Sunday morning, you can have a hot, delicious, kid friendly breakfast waiting for you! Great with sausage or bacon and all the toppings you want.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ cups buttermilk (or 1 ½ cups milk with 2 teaspoons lemon juice)
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1-2 cups blueberries
Spray crock with non-stick spray.
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients well. Make a well in the center.
Whip the egg (just to mix it up) and add the buttermilk. Pour into the center of the well and mix well.
Pour pancake mix into prepared crock (non stick!) and smooth evenly across the bottom. Pour 1-2 cups of blueberries into the pancake batter and gently stir.
Cook on HIGH for about 2 hours. When a toothpick inserted into the pancake comes out dry, it is done.
The blueberries will settle to the bottom, and you can flip it upside down or fun. We tried it with butter, maple syrup and Knott’s Raspberry Syrup (my husband really liked the combination of berry flavors). We also thought whipped cream would make it taste great too.
Sign up for our newsletter at www.ThePrudentWife.com, to find out how to get your copy of the First Annual Slow Cooker Month Cookbook!
Over a decade ago, when we first began our business we had an unscrupulous CPA. We were young and dumb and did what anyone starting a business does “got a good accountant” then took his advice. We were part of the firms much heralded “business growth seminars and forums” and would go to the accounting office for fancy lunches and Power Point presentations. They seemed cutting edge, THE accounting firm in our Southern California area that was designed to make businesses get the best tax advantage. We thought we were doing things correctly. We had gone over tax strategy with them, and trusted THEM as the experts.
I was a homeschool mom that did the marketing and hated to deal with the bookkeeping side, but I did it. My job was to get the taxes together each year, and ready for the accountant. We had dropped off our tax information a day or two before.
As I bounced out of the library with the girls one day, happy with our books and how homeschooling was going, I was on the phone with my accountant. Figuring we would have to pay a little (quarterlies can be tricky, especially when starting a business) and all would be well. Instead, she told me that we owed $25,000.
$25,000? What did we do wrong? How did we blow it so bad? What kind of accountant are you? Why did you not explain this to us? How could this have been prevented? Why did you discourage us from incorporating?
I almost had a heart attack, even though I was in my mid-30′s. We owed $25,000? How would we ever pay that? To make matters worse, the tech industry was in a recession, our profit margin had decreased exponentially, and our nation had just been the victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. How would we ever make it past this hurdle?
And so our life has been in the grip of the IRS for the past 8 years. We have sought other accountants, went to the firms that “fix this stuff” (and got royally burned). So then we tried to fix it on our own. Two bad accountants is enough for one family! I have written letters, petitioned the IRS, researched, written more letters, more phone calls. We had a friend who was an IRS agent and he gave us advice (figured we could reduce that amount to about $7k with an Offer In Compromise) Meanwhile, the amount grows.
I spent 18 months doing an Offer in Compromise and lost. The amount grew. If we still lived in CA, it would have probably been reduced, but not in TN. I appealed. The amount grew more. I lost the appeal. I was told that my case was one of the best they had ever seen in over 25 years of appeals, that I had prepared a better case than most attorneys and CPAs and much better than the average firm that “specializes” in tax appeals. My documentation was practically flawless. I had dotted every “i” and crossed every “t.”
Our income was cut by 1/3. We had moved to TN and had a business failure. My husband’s new employer was going through a bankruptcy, after a takeover, and barely surviving. We were eating on $50 a week and selling everything we owned to make the mortgage payment. Our life had gone to zero on expenditures, cutting cell phones, all entertainment, travel, clothing purchases, haircuts (a friend began cutting my hair!) and even rationing food and cutting each days meals by 1/3.
None of it mattered. Bottom line, our numbers did not work out with their calculation for our area. We lost the appeal. They calculate an Offer in Compromise just like they calculate your taxes, a hard, cold formula, that did not take in to account individual circumstances. The amount we had owed had been on steroids, we now owed $87,000, and we had made years of payments already. The IRS agent recommended we file bankruptcy.
The week after the denial, we were told that we would lose the miracle baby we were carrying.
We met with a bankruptcy attorney who told us we could not file on the IRS until 3 years, due to their obscure rules. Meanwhile, our debt grew by about $1000 a month.
Life seemed despondent.
But we did not give up. The house went on the market, we took our first Financial Peace University class (Dave Ramsey’s awesome series) and we determined that we would go forward, no matter how long it took. We would pay off our failed business, and we would trust that somehow the Lord would work out the $87k we owed the IRS.
We have now led a Financial Peace Class at our church, moved into a home 1/3 the size of our old ones and Dave has transitioned into a company that is not going under. Now that we are settled in new numbers (living expenses/paycheck) we are ready to take on the IRS again, with a strategy asking them to lower the penalties. Perhaps I should reopen that Offer in Compromise. I am not sure.
As the economy has collapsed, people need help! Life is simply NOT the same for many of us. I am profoundly grateful to even THINK there might be an option for us, that “give the tax man a heart plan” might be true, and there might really be hope for those of us who owe the IRS money!
I will let you know!
IRS agents soften heart for delinquent taxpayers
Jan 6, 6:44 PM (ET)
By STEPHEN OHLEMACHER
WASHINGTON (AP) – As the nation sinks deeper into recession, the IRS is offering to waive late penalties, negotiate new payment plans and postpone asset seizures for delinquent taxpayers who are financially strapped, but make a good-faith effort to settle their tax debts.
IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said Tuesday that tax agents are being given new authority to work with victims of the nation’s economic woes who are struggling to pay their bills.
“We need to recognize that it’s an extraordinary, challenging time,” Shulman said in an interview. “We need to understand the taxpayers’ perspective. We need to walk a mile in their shoes.”
It’s unrealistic to expect some taxpayers to make timely payments in this economy, Shulman said. However, he cautioned that those seeking help will have to demonstrate their inability to pay. Those who fail to file tax returns, or who simply ignore collection notices, will not be eligible for help, he said.
“The most important thing for people to do is to get on the phone or walk into an IRS office,” he said. “The worst thing someone can do is go dark and not be in a discussion with us.”
Just last month, the agency announced a program making it easier for homeowners with an IRS lien on their property to refinance their mortgages or sell their homes.
With the filing season for 2008 tax returns opening this week, the IRS expects to process 250 million returns over the next few months, including 130 million from individuals.
The new leniency program is geared toward people who have paid their taxes in the past, but who are now having facing a financial hardship. “This is not a free ride for people who can actually pay their taxes,” Shulman said.
The IRS doesn’t know how many taxpayers might take advantage of the new program for stretching out payments on overdue taxes or even reducing their tax liability. But millions could be eligible.
In the fiscal year ending last Sept. 30, the IRS took enforcement action against more than 3 million taxpayers. The actions included property liens and asset seizures, including homes, cars, bank accounts and garnishing wages.
This year, even more taxpayers could fall behind in their tax payments as the economy continues to sour. Record numbers of homeowners are falling behind on mortgage payments and the U.S. economy is losing jobs at an alarming rate.
Since the start of the recession last December, the economy has shed 1.9 million jobs, and the number of unemployed people has increased by 2.7 million – to 10.3 million now out of work.
The leniency program is an extraordinary step by the IRS, said Ellis Reemer, head of tax litigation at the law firm of DLA Piper. IRS agents, he said, are generally well-meaning public servants who want to work with taxpayers but are often bound by policies that limit their discretion.
“This is not a normal course of events,” Reemer said. “This is an institutional determination that we are in very difficult economic times.”
The program was described as the “give the tax man a heart plan,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog group.
Ellis said the program makes sense given the state of the economy, but he cautioned that it should be closely monitored for consistency and fairness.
“You don’t want people to get off the hook and not pay their fair share,” he said. “They need to make sure that it’s consistent.”
The IRS is doing the same thing many private creditors are doing. She said the mortgage crisis, Wall Street meltdown and job losses have left many families unable to pay their bills, said Sharon Price, policy director of the National Housing Conference.
However, she worried that many taxpayers won’t know how to access the benefits.
“The problem is, will it be consistent and how will people find out about it?” Price said.
To help explain the leniency program, the IRS has posted answers to common taxpayer questions on its Web site, . The advice under “What if I can’t pay my taxes?” begins with some reassuring words: “Don’t panic.”http://www.irs.gov