Seen on Sunday morning: March 9th

March 9, 2008 9:31:32 AM PDT
CASH BACK PROGRAM, LET'S DANCE, ESTATE PLANNING, WELLNESS GEDGETS and BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEAS-----CASH BACK PROGRAM-----

Helping you with your taxes no matter your walk of life, Cash back is an anti-poverty initiative from citizens committee for New York City, working to help low-income residents and those filing for the first time. Joining us this morning with the details is Peter Kostmayer, president of Citizens Committee for New York City.

What is Cash Back?
Cash Back is an anti-poverty initiative from Citizens Committee for New York City designed to help thousands of first-time filers and other low-income earners take advantage of tax credits and free tax preparation. Citizens Committee partners with grassroots throughout the city to provide tax help to New Yorkers in every walk of life.

Who is eligible to get help at Cash Back?
First time filers and low-income New Yorkers in every borough -- including new immigrants -- are eligible to utilize Cash Back if they earned less than $40,000 in 2007.

How does Cash Back increase the amount of money New Yorkers can receive in tax returns?
Cash Back offers free professional help to first-time filers and low-income New Yorkers to help them take advantage of federal, state and local tax credits -- including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) -- to put money that is rightfully theirs belong back in their pockets. Many tax benefits often go unclaimed because filers are either unaware, or are daunted by the complexity of the paperwork.

What type of tax credits are available, and who is eligible to take advantage of them?
A4- Earned Income Tax Credit is available to New Yorkers who make $38,348 or less and depends on if they are single or have children

  • New York City Child Care Tax Credit is available to New Yorkers with children under the age of 4, and make $30,000 or less.
  • Education Credits are available to New Yorkers in enrolled in college or continuing education courses
  • Saver's Tax Credit is available to New Yorkers who make retirement contributions at work, etc. The maximum deduction is $1000.

    Does Cash Back offer other financial help in addition to free tax advice?
    In addition to free tax preparation help, Cash Back offers the assistance of specially trained individuals who will screen and enroll eligible residents for food stamps and health insurance, including Medicaid.

    Who has taken advantage of Cash Back's free help so far?
    In the last two years through its Cash Back campaign, Citizens Committee helped 11,000 hard working New Yorkers get more than $10 million in tax refunds.

  • Here's a Cash Back success story: a non-English speaking immigrant and domestic abuse survivor, who is a mother of two teenagers and a first-time tax-filer filed her returns for the years 2003, 2004 and 2005. With the help of the Cash Back program, she received almost $7,000 in tax refund.

    How long will Cash Back be in effect?
    Tax services will be available from now through April 15.

    Is help available in languages other than English?
    Assistance is available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, Urdu, Pashto, Dari, Punjabi, Bengali, Hindi, Korean, Cantonese, and Mandarin.

    Are there any upcoming Cash Back mobile sites scheduled?
    Cash Back offers tax preparation assistance at 25 locations throughout the city. Mobile sites are also available for first-time filers, which offer the help of trained volunteer tax preparers at community centers. Translation services are also available.

  • 15 mobile sites are currently scheduled for March. More information is available through the Cash Back Hotline.

    How can I find out more about Cash Back, including the location of a mobile site near me?
    New Yorkers can call the Cash Back Hotline -- 212-822-9584 - for more information or referral to the nearest site where free tax help can be provided.

    -----LET'S DANCE-----

    The newest health and wellness book, "Let's Dance," also helps you master any dance in minutes with the help of dance instructor, Cal Pozo. Cal joins us this morning with tips and a demonstration from the book.

    Why did you write this book?
    Since the 1994 release of my last Learn to Dance In Minutes video series I have received countless e-mails from people wanting to know more about social dances and tips on leading and following than we can show on a DVD. By writing a book where readers can learn everything from the history of a dance to how to lead and follow beginner steps plus also have a DVD that can show them what to do with their feet, their bodies, their hands and how to stay on the beat of the music I think I have accomplished the best beginner partner dance guide in the market.

    The book focuses on partner dancing, but is the book still helpful without a partner?
    The book is divided into chapters that cover each dance and show a bird's eye view the direction of each foot movement as they make a dance pattern. The first thing everyone wants to learn is 'what to do with their feet.' So each of the chapters on the book and on the DVD are divided on steps for men to learn on their own, and on steps for women to learn on their own as well. This allows both to learn the dance steps without need of a partner. Then, once they memorize these steps the next lesson teaches them how to lead and follow the steps as a couple and finally to the beat of the music.

    What is the easiest dance to learn and why?
    At a social level, the easiest dance to learn is the foxtrot which is often referred to as the "two-step" because that is all it takes to learn it. Two steps side to side or forward and back, etc.

    When and why did you start dancing?
    I was born with a deformity in my ankles that required me to wear orthopedic braces until I was eight. Both of my parents were doctors and decided to start me on dance classes for physical therapy to strengthen my legs when I was eleven years old. Today, I have been working with dancers and teaching dance for 43 years.

    -----ESTATE PLANNING-----

    Estate planning is no longer considered a luxury, exclusive to the wealthy or elderly. Joining us this morning with tips for getting your financial house in order is Alan Kahn, the president of AJK financial group.

    Q1)Why is Estate Planning So Important?

  • Estate Planning will ascertain that your assets go to your intended heirs.
  • Puts your affairs in order.
  • You do not leave behind an Administrative Nightmare!!

    Q2)What Should We Be Thinking About to Begin the Estate Planning Process?

    Wills

  • Review & update wills to make sure assets go to intended heirs
  • Guardians for your children -- 'Who will care for your children' and 'Who will manage your money for your children.'
  • Health Care Proxy Form -- This form gives the person you choose as your agent the authority to make all health care decisions for you.

    Life Insurance

  • Has coverage been updated and reviewed...how much is enough?
  • Has beneficiary designations been updated?
  • Review ownership designations--should a trust own your life insurance?

    Retirement Assets

  • IRA's, 401k's, Pension: (Pass by operation of law---outside of probate---Not by Will!!)
  • Review primary and contingent beneficiaries!
  • Retiring or Leaving Employer--------Trustee to Trustee Transfers Make sure Pension rollovers are done correctly! Could save thousands in taxes and penalties!

    Q3)How Can We Make the Process Easier?

    Prepare Emergency List for Family Members

    A) List Advisors' Names, Addresses and Phone Numbers

  • Attorney
  • Accountant
  • Financial Advisor

    B) Summary of Insurance & Assets

    C) Location of Important Documents

  • Wills, Trusts, Health Care Proxies, Powers of Attorney

    -----WELLNESS GEDGETS-----

    Gadgets that help you relax and unwind. Joining us this morning to give us a few ideas is Diana Perdomo of etronics.com.

    Therapist Select Shiatsu Plus Massaging Cushion with Heat - $130 by HoMedics

    What could be more relaxing than a soothing shiatsu massage? This programmable massage cushion fits most chairs and provides a rolling massage that transmits heat up and down the back.
    Other features include:

  • 30-second heat-up penetrates sore muscles
  • Soft spot shiatsu targets just the area that aches
  • Programmable control with 6 different programs
  • Comes with a demonstration feature to show you how to melt away tension, muscle pain and fatigue

    QuietCare HEPA Air Cleaner - $105 by Honeywell

    Experts suggest taking a deep breath of fresh air when you feel the stress piling on, and this new air purifier will allow you to do so in the comfort of your own home. The QuietCare air purifier removes almost 100% of common household particles. Other features include:

  • Convenient, energy-saving, and programmable
  • A remote control is included for added convenience
  • QuietCare sound reducing technology for ultra quiet operation

    Clock Radio Sound Spa iPod Charger - $80 by HoMedics

    Even if you can't physically get away, you can feel like you're out in a stunning, scenic destination with this Sound Spa radio from HoMedics. Features include:

  • iPod® docking station with premium speaker quality
  • Alarm function: so you can wake up to the soothing sounds of nature
  • Dual alarm with snooze function

    Pedicure Spa Salon Footbath - $50 by Homedics

    After a long day on your feet, nothing is more relaxing than a revitalizing foot massage. This pedicure bath features:

  • Pull-out pedicure tool for professional results
  • 5 spinning attachments: callus exfoliation, gentle exfoliatior, cleansing brush, nail file, nail buffer
  • A warm bubble massage
  • Easy tote handle to carry & empty with ease
  • Sea grass massaging floor inserts
  • Soft spot gel foot rest
  • Soothing heat helps maintain warm water temperature
  • Accu-pressure massage nodes

    Travel Manicure Kit - $70 by Axis

    Taking some time out to pamper yourself is one of the best ways to de-stress and this brand new, take-anywhere manicure set from Axis will help you do so in style.
    The Travel Manicure Set comes in a beautiful leather case so you feel like you are truly treating yourself to a luxurious experience. The stainless steel tools make for a precise manicure every time. It's also a great gift for the consummate "stressed out" traveler.

    For more information, go to etronics.com

    -----BIRTHDAY PARTY IDEAS-----

    Just a little planning ahead can make your next child's birthday party fun and easy for you at the same time. Joining us this morning with some ideas is Sonal Dutt, the lifestyle director for Every Day with Rachael Ray.

    The Menu:

    Jumbo Cupcake:

  • Supersize this cupcake by topping an angel food cake with a regular cake and piling high with frosting, "supersize sprinkles" (Mike & Ike or Good & Plenty) and a large candle.
  • For the recipe and instructions, check out RachaelRayMag.com.

    Banana Split Mega Milkshake:

  • Blend together bananas, chocolate milk, and chocolate ice cream and serve in a large glass vase.
  • Top with whipped cream and a "cherry" - a glazed donut hole wrapped in a fruit roll-up. Use a chocolate licorice twist for the stem.
  • Serve with lots of straws!

    Humungo Hamburger:

  • This massive burger serves 8 and you can slice it up and serve it like pizza.
  • All you need is a round loaf of bread, some ground beef and pork, and lettuce leaves. Just cook the meat patty in a large skillet like you would cook an individual-sized burger.

    Broccoli Trees:

  • Serve whole crowns of broccoli with a side of ranch for dipping.
  • Position toy dinosaurs around the broccoli "jungle."
  • The kids will be so excited about eating these giant broccoli trees with their hands that they'll eat their veggies without even putting up a fuss!

    The Games and Music:

  • Games and a downloadable playlist are available at RachaelRayMag.com/March

    For more information, go to www.rachaelraymag.com


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