Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Real Sarah Palin Scandal

Labor Day brought us an ugly media feeding frenzy when it surfaced that Sarah Palin's teenage daughter is pregnant. But the real scandal for John McCain's V.P.-to-be is the flurry of stories that as a politician in Alaska, Palin had a voracious appetite for the very congressional earmarks and pork barrel spending that John McCain has made a signature issue of trying to stamp out.

As mayor of Wasilla, a suburb of Anchorage, Palin hired one of Alaska's most connected lobbying firms to secure almost $27 million in federal appropriations for her constituents, according to the Washington Post. Wasilla benefited mightily from Palin's decision: federal earmarks for $900,000 in municipal sewer repairs, $1.9 million for a local transportation hub, and $15 million for a rail link, among other pet projects. For a town of just 6,700 people, this amounted to thousands of dollars per resident in federal largess. And the lobbying firm, Robertson, Monagle, & Eastaugh, wasn't just any band of wannabe legislators. The firm is closely linked to Alaska's two most notorious pork barrel Republicans, Senator Ted Stevens and Representative Don Young (Stevens was indicted this summer for accepting and failing to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from VECO, a now-defunct oil services firm).

It gets worse. The McCain camp has made much of Palin's supposedly principled decision as governor to decline federal money to build the "Bridge to Nowhere," a national symbol of pork barrel spending run amok. In her speech accepting the position as McCain's running mate, Palin recalled: "I told Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks,' on that bridge to nowhere....'If our state wanted a bridge,' I said, 'we'd build it ourselves.'"

Stirring stuff. But as USA Today reports, Palin was actually for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it. Campaigning for governor in 2006, Palin trumpeted her support for the $233 million bridge to reach an island of just 50 inhabitants. And displaying an unnerving understanding of how the dirty appropriations game is played, she even urged quick action to build the bridge while Alaska's congressional delegation (i.e., Stevens and Young) was well-positioned to secure the necessary federal tax dollars. Only when the bridge became a public relations debacle did Palin flip positions and declare that Alaska didn't need it after all.

We've been told by the McCain camp to overlook Palin's thin résumé because she's an insurgent pork-busting reformer in the mold of John McCain. We've been misled. Palin was looking for federal handouts just like every other self-interested politician that John McCain excoriates. Take that card away, and what does she really offer?

That's the real scandal about Sarah Palin.

Monday, September 15, 2008

State Back Taxes Settlement

Having an outstanding tax income and attempting to come to some kind of state back taxes settlement varies from each of the different fifty nifty. As a point of fact there are actually only 41 states that collect resident individual income taxes, 35 of which based their system on your returns from the federal government. Now what do you do when you have state owed taxes? The answer is essentially the same. All of the regular resources, specifically your tax professionals and the government that issued the taxes are your best bet to help settle the state taxes.

Of course to file state back taxes you need to locate or request copies of your tax information as well as the prior years state tax forms. Finding tax forms from your job (W-2, 1099) or jobs may require some digging but the website for your state will have information for its department of revenue detailing whether or not they have the forms online for print or efile. From the department of revenue find out what the deadlines are for the taxes and particularly what penalties can be incurred. The three year deadline to collect back taxes refund that the IRS practices is often in practice with the states. If you have state taxes owed that are getting ready to hit the expiration mark for refund eligibility, file that year first so you can capitalize on your refund. In the event that you are due a refund then there are no penalties owed. It is best to file all of your subsequent state taxes at the same time, however in different different packages so as to minimize opportunity for clerical error and to avoid the likelihood of an audit. If you should have both a refund and a debt and it is not automatically held, the former to pay the latter, by all means use the refund to pay off the debt as quickly as possible.

Should you have taxes owed that are coming up on their expiration date for refund collection it may even be in your best interest to take this return information to a tax professional to help you get all the appropriate exemptions and credits so you do not owe for that year. Every time you have state taxes with a refund then there are no penalties to draw on and the less you have to worry about paying. Each time you file on time, you want to be meticulous and try to get a refund or break even so that you don't incur any debt. A tax professional will also know all of the little nuances that are indicative to your state to help you get the most benefit of your returns. Even if your back taxes have past the point of collecting a refund, evidence that you would have earned a refund that year will keep you from owing. Paying your state taxes as timely as you can also decreases future penalties and interest that you will be charged by the state.

To find more solutions for problems with back taxes visit: State Back Taxes Help is a site dedicated to helping people settle state back taxes by providing all relevant information as well as connections with tax specialists.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Government Grant Program To Aid Minority Students

African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and other promising minority students intent on pursuing the agricultural field as a career option can attain their goals with a government grant.

Sadly, many minority Americans are finding it difficult to enhance their academic potential due to financial constraints. Fortunately, the government is exerting extra effort and allocating funds to enable bright, young minority students to fulfill their dreams. One such initiative is the Higher Education Multicultural Scholars Program that aims to assist promising students from marginalized backgrounds excel as agri-science or agri-business specialists. This minority grant provides much-needed student financial aid to undergraduate minority students funneled through colleges and universities that offer a variety of agricultural courses. In essence, this scholarship grant provides a valuable window of opportunity to diversify the work force in the field of food & agricultural science, forestry, natural resources and other related agricultural fields. More than $900,000 has been estimated to be earmarked for 2008 to benefit minority Americans, with grant funds ranging between $20,000 to up to $80,000 to be awarded.

Aside from education assistance, a typical grant search will yield thousands of sources of non-repayable grants that are awarded for virtually any worthwhile purpose. Citizens should take advantage of these funds to improve their present situation in the areas of housing, medical assistance, transportation, employment, and so much more. Millions of dollars of grant money is left unclaimed each year since many Americans are not aware of such or have no idea where to look. The Multicultural Scholars Program though is available that will greatly benefit poverty-stricken minority undergraduates seeking well-deserved professional careers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who Gives Away Free Money?

The federal government gives out the most. To qualify, students and parents must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. (FAFSA). Most federal grants, such as Pell grants, are awarded strictly on the basis of financial need. But some new programs, such as the Academic Competitiveness Grants and Smart Grants, are awarded to low-income students who also have good grades. State governments give out lots of money, too. Some states, such as Florida, New Mexico, and Tennessee give out grants solely based on grades. Others, such as California, give out money based on financial need and grades.

Government Can Help You Buy a 'Fixer-Upper' Home

You want to buy a house that needs repairs -- a "fixer-upper." Unfortunately, you cannot borrow the money to buy the house, because the bank won't make the loan until the repairs are done, and the repairs cannot be done until the house has been purchased. Can you say "Catch-22?" Don't give up. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a loan program that might just get you that house.
HUD's 203(k) program can help you with this quagmire and allow you to purchase or refinance a property plus include in the loan the cost of making the repairs and improvements. The FHA insured 203(k) loan is provided through approved mortgage lenders nationwide. It is available to persons wanting to occupy the home.

The downpayment requirement for an owner-occupant (or a nonprofit organization or government agency) is approximately 3 percent of the acquisition and repair costs of the property.

The HUD 203(k) loan involves the following steps:

A potential homebuyer locates a fixer-upper and executes a sales contract after doing a feasibility analysis of the property with their Realtor. The contract should state that the buyer is seeking a 203(k) loan and that the contract is contingent on loan approval based on additional required repairs by the FHA or the lender.

The homebuyer then selects an FHA-approved 203(k) lender and arranges for a detailed proposal showing the scope of work to be done, including a detailed cost estimate on each repair or improvement of the project.

The appraisal is performed to determine the value of the property after renovation.

If the borrower passes the lender's credit-worthiness test, the loan closes for an amount that will cover the purchase or refinance cost of the property, the remodeling costs and the allowable closing costs. The amount of the loan will also include a contingency reserve of 10% to 20% of the total remodeling costs and is used to cover any extra work not included in the original proposal.

At closing, the seller of the property is paid off and the remaining funds are put in an escrow account to pay for the repairs and improvements during the rehabilitation period.

The mortgage payments and remodeling begin after the loan closes. The borrower can decide to have up to six mortgage payments (PITI) put into the cost of rehabilitation if the property is not going to be occupied during construction, but it cannot exceed the length of time it is estimated to complete the rehab.

Escrowed funds are released to the contractor during construction through a series of draw requests for completed work. To ensure completion of the job, 10% of each draw is held back; this money is paid after the lender determines their will be no liens on the property.
For a list of lenders who are offering the 203(k) Rehabilitation Program, please see HUD's 203(k) Lenders List. The interest rate and discount points on the loan are negotiable between the borrower and the lender.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Government Grants Can Help You Consolidate Debt

If you have found yourself in a situation were you are having trouble paying your monthly credit card bills then you should look into the many options that are available to you so that you can consolidate your debt. A Government Grant can be a great way to get help with eliminating your debt so that you do not have to have the added stress of credit card bills.

It is hard now for many people to keep up with the increasing price of food and gas so many of us have used our credit cards to purchase those things that we need. The major issue with using your credit card to purchase items we can not really afford is that when it comes time to pay those credit cards we find that our incomes have not increased at the same rate as the things we are purchasing have and it makes it hard to pay those credit card bills.

Getting a Government Grant to pay off those bills can be a great option for you because every year there is grant money that is available that goes unused. You need to know were and how to apply for this money because it is important to get out of debt and get your finances in order.

When searching for a Government Grant keep in mind that they are looking for someone who is in need of the money. If you have got in a situation were this is your only option to get out of the debt then you stand a great chance of qualifying for the grant money.

Remember that you want to get rid of your credit card debt and finding a Government Grant to help you do so can be a great option for you.

Government assistance

A single mother is tasked with the responsibility of performing the role of mother in addition to the father role. Fortunately there is government assistance for single mothers through various programs available.

A single parent has a harder task than any two parent family. Most of the single parent head of households are females. Many single mothers have not had the opportunity to get a good education nor sufficient housing.

Food and funds are often insufficient and the single woman, in many cases cannot afford child care nor can she afford a home. Consequentially, she requires assistance in order to for basic provisions for her children.

There is a government program called WIC which is designed for single women or qualified parents with children five and under. Food such as milk, cereal, cheese, juice, beans, peanut butter and eggs are the main foods that are provided.

Each month the qualified parent or parents are given vouchers which are to be use at any time before the expiration date. The above listed foods are all rich in vitamins and nutrients necessary good health. This program is offered by the Department of Children and Families.

Another program offered by the Department of Children and Families is called TANIF. This two parents or single mother government assistance program offers temporary financial assistance for needy families. Monetary funds are provided to qualified families. The parent or parents must meet all of the income and need criterion.

Grants and housing vouchers are also part of a single mother government assistance program. The housing authority will house a single mother and her family for a fraction of the cost of basic apartment.

Food stamps are also provided for a single mother. Over ten years ago food stamps came in the form of paper vouchers. Now single mothers use a card similar to a credit card to make all of her purchases. Each month, depending on a single mother's situation and income, she is awarded a specific dollar amount of food stamps.

For medical assistance, there is Medicaid or various other healthy kid programs. Children can receive medical care at not cost if they qualify. Depending on the single mother's income, a small co-payment may be charged. Every state has similar rules and regulations that apply to single mother support programs. For more information on single mother government assistance, visit your local Department of Children and Families.