Deal Promotes GA Tax Changes

Gov. Nathan Deal is pushing House Bill 918 which amends the Georgia tax code in light of recent federal tax reforms. The proposed bill would allow Georgia taxpayers to take the increased standard deduction at the federal level while providing flexibility to take either standard or itemized deductions at the state level. Another component of the legislation would enhance personal exemptions by 25 percent. “This legislation provides more flexibility and fairness to Georgians to decide what’s best for their families,” said Deal. “It will allow taxpayers to take full advantage of federal reforms while ensuring the fiscal health of our state long-term. This legislation will keep more hard-earned money in Georgians’ pockets and is an important step forward in modernizing state law to conform with federal reforms.”

Source: Tifton Grapevine

Tax Tip IR-2018-30 Brought To You By Tatina’s Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers who have changed tax software products that they may need information from their 2016 tax return to complete their taxes this year. It’s always a good idea to keep copies of previously-filed tax returns. That recommendation is more important this year because, for some taxpayers, certain data from the 2016 tax return – the adjusted gross income — will be required to validate their electronic signature on their 2017 tax return due April 17. Taxpayers often call or visit the IRS seeking their prior-year tax transcript, which is a record of their tax return. But the days around Presidents Day mark the busiest time of the year for the IRS, and there are online options that are faster and more convenient for taxpayers. Taxpayers can avoid the rush by always keeping copies of their tax returns, generally for the past three to six years depending on the type of return filed. Alternatively, taxpayers may try to locate their 2016 tax return from their previous year’s tax preparation software or tax return preparer. Or, they may use online tools to access their tax transcript. The electronic signature is the way the taxpayer acknowledges that information on the tax return is true and accurate. Validating the electronic signature by using prior-year adjusted gross income is one way the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry work to protect taxpayers from identity thieves. Generally, for returning users, the tax software product will carry over the prior-year information and make for an easy, seamless validation process. However, taxpayers using a new tax software product for the first time may be required to enter the information manually. Here’s the way the electronic signature and signature validation work: Taxpayers sign their returns electronically by creating a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN), also known as a Self-Select PIN. To validate that e-signature PIN, taxpayers must enter their birthdates and either their adjusted gross income from the prior-year return or the prior-year Self-Select PIN. If taxpayers have kept a copy of their prior-year tax return, completing this task is easy. On the 2016 tax return, the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is on line 37 of Form 1040; line 21 on Form 1040-A; or line 4 on Form 1040-EZ. If a copy of their 2016 tax return is not available, taxpayers may be able to obtain a copy from their previous year’s tax preparation software or previous tax preparer. Taxpayers may also obtain a tax transcript online from the IRS. Use Get Transcript Online to immediately view the AGI. Taxpayers must pass the Secure Access identity verification process. Select the Tax Return Transcript and use only the “Adjusted Gross Income” line entry. Use Get Transcript by Mail or call 800-908-9946. Taxpayers who fail Secure Access and need to request a Tax Return Transcript can use the mail option.  Allow 5 to 10 days for delivery. Use only the “Adjusted Gross Income” line entry. Taxpayers who have been issued an Identity Protection (IP) PIN should enter it when prompted for an IP PIN by the software. The IP PIN will serve to verify the taxpayer’s identity. If the taxpayer has never filed a tax return before and is age 16, enter zero as the AGI. As the IRS, state tax agencies and the tax industry have made progress against tax-related identity theft as part of the Security Summit effort, cybercriminals try to steal more personal information to file fraudulent tax returns. They know that just stealing a name, address and Social Security number is not enough information to commit tax fraud. This is one reason why some states in recent years have required taxpayers to enter their driver’s license number on electronically-filed tax returns. States can match taxpayers to the driver’s license database and help validate the return.  Many software companies, working in conjunction with state authorities, require taxpayers to answer the request for a driver’s license number in one of three ways: 1) provide the information as requested, 2) indicate that the taxpayer lacks a driver’s license or state-issued photo ID, or 3) indicate that the taxpayer chooses not to provide the information. Taxpayers must complete the field with one of these three answers.  The IRS does not require a driver’s license number on a federal tax return. When taxpayers or tax professionals are prompted for additional information, such as a driver’s license number, providing this detail will help stop tax-related identity theft. Identity validation and identity proofing are keys to ensuring that refunds go only to the legitimate taxpayer.

Source: IRS.gov and Tatina’s Taxes

Seed Cotton Program Good for Georgia Agriculture Richey Seaton, Georgia Cotton Commission

In the wee hours of February 9, 2018, both houses of congress passed the Bi-Partisan Budget Agreement of 2018, which the President signed later that morning.  Within this legislation, a safety net program for seed cotton, the unginned cotton that producers harvest, was established.  This makes cotton a covered commodity under Title 1 of the Farm Bill, of which cotton had been left out in 2014. In 2017, cotton was planted on over 12 million acres of land in the U.S., making it the 4th most widely planted row crop in the nation behind soybeans, corn, and wheat.  In Georgia, cotton was planted on 1.27 million acres in 91 counties across the state.  This production brings in roughly $1 billion into Georgia’s economy and supports 15,000 direct jobs.  Cotton, along with yarn, is exported through the Port of Savannah.  Cotton is one of the crown jewels of American agriculture, as well as here in Georgia, and supports a wide number of jobs in states beyond the cotton belt in a variety of segments. Under the original 2014 Farm Bill, existing cotton base became “generic base”, a last minute addition to the bill to give cotton base value rather than leaving producers completely out.  This allowed producers to plant those base acres with another covered commodity and get safety net protections for their operations.  While agriculture was glad to have that protection, cotton, as one of the leading row crops in the U.S., needed protections from an extremely depressed market.  Cotton producers made their case to congressional leaders for quite some time before this passed, including multiple cotton provisions failing on the house floor.  Inclusion of cotton at this time leads to cotton having a seat at the table as the negotiations for the next Farm Bill begin in earnest. President Trump’s signature makes cotton producers eligible for Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs.  Cottonseed prices will be averaged with cotton prices to develop the seed cotton price for this program.  Generic base will be converted one of two ways: one, the greater of 80% of generic base into seed cotton or average acres planted of cotton from 2009-2012; two, 100% of generic base transferred into seed cotton and other bases of commodities planted from 2009-2012.  Research done by University of Georgia economists Dr. Don Shurley and Dr. Adam Rabinowitz shows that farmers would have been paid in six of the last ten years had this program been the law of the land.  In 2017, current estimates show a roughly $25/acre payment.  This will significantly help farmers keep their businesses sustainable while commodity prices are so low, and most importantly put cotton back on par with other commodities. In conclusion, this program will be good for Georgia’s farmers and good for agriculture as a whole.  This will lead to greater economic health on the farm and will provide support to the large cotton infrastructure here in Georgia during price troughs like we are currently in.  Furthermore, this action will better protect the existing commodity programs for other commodities that give Georgia’s farmers a safety net.  Protection of Georgia’s number one row crop will be extremely helpful to rural communities when markets create times of stress. The Georgia Cotton Commission is a producer-funded organization located in Perry, Georgia. The Commission began in 1965. Georgia cotton producers pay an assessment enabling the Commission to invest in programs of research, promotion, and education on behalf of all cotton producers of Georgia. For more information about the Georgia Cotton Commission please call 478-988-4235 or on the web at www.georgiacottoncommission.org.

WCHS Held It’s College and Career Fair

WCHS students in 11th and 12th grades had the opportunity to talk with multiple colleges and many representatives from different careers at the 2018 WCHS College and Career Fair. Almost 40 different colleges, technical institutes, state and local businesses, and representatives from the United States Armed Forces were present to talk with our students.  WCHS is very thankful to those who came and shared information with the students.  The WCHS Guidance Department organized the event.  Each student was given a Scavenger Hunt created by the Guidance Department that included many different questions to help the students engage with the presenters.  This was helpful as students made their way around the Worth Community Center visiting each presenter’s table.  Presenters shared their knowledge and hand-outs about their college or career.  WCHS greatly appreciates the sponsors for today’s event: City of Sylvester, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Phoebe Medical Center, Piggly Wiggly, RCI Electric, Sylvester Walmart and Worth County Board of Commissioners. 

Source: WCSD Web Page

WCES Library is a Little More Colorful Now

What a beautiful piece of work that now catches the eyes of all the students at Worth County Elementary School. Because of an anonymous donation, WCES was able to have local artist, Allison Kilcrease, paint this beautiful mural of popular book characters and other fun animals and quotes in the media center’s story pit. Thank you, Allison, for bringing the library to life with this colorful mural. WCES would also like to thank the person or people who made this donation to our school to make all of this possible!

Source: WCSD Facebook Page

~ Dates to Remember ~

February

17th – 24th ~ National Entrepreneurship Week
19th ~ Presidents Day
19th ~ Best Friends Day
19th ~ City of Sylvester Council Meeting
19th ~ WCHS Intervention Day
19th ~ WCMS Intervention Day
19th ~ Winter Break for Worth County Schools
20th ~ Winter Break for Worth County Schools
20th ~ City of Warwick Council Meeting
20th ~ Love Your Pet Day
20th ~ Fireant Festival BINGO
21st ~ Kiwanis Club Meeting in Sylvester
21st ~ Winter Break for Worth County Schools
22nd ~ National Margarita Day
22nd ~ National Chili Day
22nd ~ Winter Break for Worth County Schools
22nd ~ Annual Chamber Dinner for Ashburn – Turner County Chamber of Commerce
23rd ~ Winter Break for Worth County Schools
24th ~ Accel Cycling Studio Open House
24th ~ Miss Fireant Festival Pageant
26th ~ Read Across America Week Kicks Off
26th ~ WCMS Soccer Game Home
26th ~ National FFA Week
27th ~ Read Across America Week
27th ~ National FFA Week
27th ~ 8th grade students will tour WCHS
27th ~ Sylvester – Worth County Family Connections Meeting
28th ~ Read Across America Week
28th ~ National FFA Week
28th ~ Lunch and Learn at Turner County Chamber of Commerce
28th ~ Kiwanis Club Meeting in Sylvester
28th ~ WCMS Soccer Game Home

Do you have an event that needs announced?
Please email your questions or event listings to info@themartinnews.com
and we will get them listed on the calendar.
Thank you for your support to The Martin News.

U.S. 82 Lanes To Be Closed Overnight In Downtown Tifton , Work Expected To Begin Monday

Part of U.S. Highway 82 in Downtown Tifton will be closed overnight beginning Monday for up to two weeks as highway crews repair ruts and cracks in the road. Heavy trucks braking and stopping at a downtown intersection have damaged the asphalt, a problem about to be solved with the addition of concrete on U.S. 82/State Route 520. Ruts in the wheel paths and cracks in the asphalt have repeatedly formed at the traffic signal at Highway 82 and U.S. Highway 41/SR 7 — South Main Street, according to the Ga. Department of Transportation (GDOT). Highway crews resurfaced the area four years ago, but it needs repair again, GDOT said. Concrete, which holds up longer than asphalt under these conditions, is going to be used to top the pavement immediately east and west of the South Main Street intersection. GDOT has awarded an $817,827 maintenance service contract to Reeves Construction Co. for pavement preservation. Reeves expects to begin work Monday, provided the weather remains warm and it doesn’t rain. The work will require lane closures, but will be done between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. to avoid interfering with daytime traffic. It is expected to take one to two weeks to complete, depending on weather and the contractor’s schedule. The area affected will be between the intersections of Commerce Way and Tift Avenue. The contractor will be putting four inches of concrete pavement on the two through lanes and the left turn lane of U.S. 82 going westbound. Concrete pavement will be put on the two eastbound through lanes. The other lanes between Commerce Way and Tift Avenue will be milled and resurfaced with asphalt, including the intersection. Milling is the removal of the top layer of asphalt prior to resurfacing. Traffic loop installation and striping will also be done, GDOT said. Traffic loops, sensors buried in the road, detect the presence of traffic waiting at the signal, which can reduce the length of time a green signal is given to an empty road. The most recent statistics available show the annual average daily traffic count was 18,800 on Highway 82 near Tift Avenue. About 11 percent was truck traffic, but that was in 2016. It is expected that the numbers have since increased since.  The annual average daily traffic count is the total volume of vehicle traffic for a year divided by 365 days. 

The History Of Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government according to history.com. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present. The story of Presidents’ Day date begins in 1800. Following President George Washington’s death in 1799, his February 22 birthday became a perennial day of remembrance. At the time, Washington was venerated as the most important figure in American history, and events like the 1832 centennial of his birth and the start of construction of the Washington Monument in 1848 were cause for national celebration. Presidents’ Day: The Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The shift from Washington’s Birthday to Presidents’ Day began in the late 1960s when Congress proposed a measure known as the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Championed by Senator Robert McClory of Illinois, this law sought to shift the celebration of several federal holidays from specific dates to a series of predetermined Mondays. The proposed change was seen by many as a novel way to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers, and it was believed that ensuring holidays always fell on the same weekday would reduce employee absenteeism. While some argued that shifting holidays from their original dates would cheapen their meaning, the bill also had widespread support from both the private sector and labor unions and was seen as a surefire way to bolster retail sales. The Uniform Monday Holiday Act also included a provision to combine the celebration of Washington’s Birthday with Abraham Lincoln’s, which fell on the proximate date of February 12. Lincoln’s Birthday had long been a state holiday in places like Illinois, and many supported joining the two days as a way of giving equal recognition to two of America’s most famous statesmen. McClory was among the measure’s major proponents, and he even floated the idea of renaming the holiday “President’s Day.” This proved to be a point of contention for lawmakers from George Washington’s home state of Virginia, and the proposal was eventually dropped. Nevertheless, the main piece of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in 1968 and officially took effect in 1971 following an executive order from President Richard Nixon. Washington’s Birthday was then shifted from the fixed date of February 22 to the third Monday of February. Columbus Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day were also moved from their traditionally designated dates. (As a result of widespread criticism, in 1980 Veterans’ Day was returned to its original November 11 date.) Presidents’ Day: Transformation. While Nixon’s order plainly called the newly placed holiday Washington’s Birthday, it was not long before the shift to Presidents’ Day began. The move away from February 22 led many to believe that the new date was intended to honor both Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as it now fell between their two birthdays. Marketers soon jumped at the opportunity to play up the three-day weekend with sales, and “Presidents’ Day” bargains were advertised at stores around the country. By the mid-1980s Washington’s Birthday was known to many Americans as Presidents’ Day. This shift had solidified in the early 2000s, by which time as many as half the 50 states had changed the holiday’s name to Presidents’ Day on their calendars. Some states have even chosen to customize the holiday by adding new figures to the celebration. Arkansas, for instance, celebrates Washington as well as civil rights activist Daisy Gatson Bates. Alabama, meanwhile, uses Presidents’ Day to commemorate Washington and Thomas Jefferson (who was born in April). Washington and Lincoln still remain the two most recognized leaders, but Presidents’ Day is now popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all of America’s chief executives. Some lawmakers have objected to this view, arguing that grouping George Washington and Abraham Lincoln together with less successful presidents minimizes their legacies. Congressional measures to restore Washington and Lincoln’s individual birthdays were proposed during the early 2000s, but all failed to gain much attention. For its part, the federal government has held fast to the original incarnation of the holiday as a celebration of the country’s first president. The third Monday in February is still listed on official calendars as Washington’s Birthday. Presidents’ Day: Celebrations and Traditions. Like Independence Day, Presidents’ Day is traditionally viewed as a time of patriotic celebration and remembrance. In its original incarnation as Washington’s Birthday, the holiday gained special meaning during the difficulties of the Great Depression, when portraits of George Washington often graced the front pages of newspapers and magazines every February 22. In 1932 the date was used to reinstate the Purple Heart, a military decoration originally created by George Washington to honor soldiers killed or wounded while serving in the armed forces. Patriotic groups and the Boy Scouts of America also held celebrations on the day, and in 1938 some 5,000 people attended mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City in honor of Washington. In its modern form, Presidents’ Day is used by many patriotic and historical groups as a date for staging celebrations, reenactments and other events. A number of states also require that their public schools spend the days leading up to Presidents’ Day teaching students about the accomplishments of the presidents, often with a focus on the lives of Washington and Lincoln.

IR-2018-20 Tax Tips

With the 2018 filing season in full swing, the Internal Revenue Service today offered taxpayers some basic tax and refund tips to clear up some common misbeliefs.  Myth 1: All Refunds Are Delayed: The IRS issues more than nine out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Eight in 10 taxpayers get their refunds faster by using e-file and direct deposit. It’s the safest, fastest way to receive a refund and is also easy to use. While more than nine out of 10 federal tax refunds are issued in less than 21 days, some refunds may be delayed, but not all of them. By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds for tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) before mid-February. The IRS began processing tax returns on Jan. 29. Other returns may require additional review for a variety of reasons and take longer. For example, the IRS, along with its partners in the state’s and the nation’s tax industry, continue to strengthen security reviews to help protect against identity theft and refund fraud. Myth 2: Delayed Refunds, those Claiming EITC and/or ACTC, will be Delivered on Feb. 15: By law, the IRS cannot issue EITC and ACTC refunds before mid-February. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or debit cards starting Feb. 27, 2018, if these taxpayers chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with their tax return. The IRS must hold the entire refund, not just the part related to these credits. See the Refund Timing for Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Filers page and the Refunds FAQs page for more information. Myth 3: Ordering a Tax Transcript a “Secret Way” to Get a Refund Date: Ordering a tax transcript will not help taxpayers find out when they will get their refund. The IRS notes that the information on a transcript does not necessarily reflect the amount or timing of a refund. While taxpayers can use a transcript to validate past income and tax filing status for mortgage, student and small business loan applications, they should use “Where’s My Refund?” to check the status of their refund. Myth 4: Calling the IRS or a Tax Professional Will Provide a Better Refund Date: Many people mistakenly think that talking to the IRS or calling their tax professional is the best way to find out when they will get their refund. In reality, the best way to check the status of a refund is online through the “Where’s My Refund?” tool at IRS.gov or via the IRS2Go mobile app. The IRS updates the status of refunds once a day, usually overnight, so checking more than once a day will not produce new information. “Where’s My Refund?” has the same information available as IRS telephone assistors so there is no need to call unless requested to do so by the refund tool. Myth 5: Calling the IRS is the Most Convenient Way to Get Answers to Tax or Refund Questions: The IRS encourages people to check IRS.gov first before calling. The official IRS website – IRS.gov – provides many self-service tools for individuals, businesses and tax professionals. For example, taxpayers can view their tax account, get answers to common questions such as eligibility for a tax benefit or find free tax preparation help. Myth 6: The IRS will Call or Email Taxpayers about Their Refund: The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. Recognize the telltale signs of a scam. See also: How to know it’s really the IRS calling or knocking on your door. The IRS will NEVER Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail a bill if taxes are owed. Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have people arrested for not paying. Demand that taxes be paid without giving the taxpayer opportunity to question or appeal the amount owed. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. For more information on tax scams see Tax Scams/Consumer Alerts. For more information on phishing scams see Suspicious e-Mails and Identity Theft. Help for Taxpayers: The IRS reminds taxpayers they have a variety of options to get help filing and preparing their tax return on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can also, if eligible, receive help from a community volunteer. IRS.gov/filing provides complete information on filing options and assistance. About 70 percent of the nation’s taxpayers are eligible for IRS Free File where IRS partners offer free brand-name software to individuals and families with incomes of $66,000 or less. Free File Fillable Forms provides electronic versions of IRS paper forms to all taxpayers regardless of income. Before starting, please visit our Fillable Forms User’s Guide & Help page. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) offer free tax help to people who qualify. Go to IRS.gov and enter “free tax prep” in the search box to learn more and find a nearby VITA or TCE site, or download the IRS2Go smartphone app to find a free tax prep provider in your community. The IRS also reminds taxpayers that a trusted tax professional can provide helpful information and advice about the ever-changing tax code. Tips for choosing a return preparer and details about national tax professional groups are available on IRS.gov.

Source: IRS.gov and brought to you by Tatina’s Taxes

‘CHOC-ING IT UP’ In Tifton

Attendees at the 2018 Choc-It-Up for Literacy selected Tifton’s best chocolate Tuesday night at the sixth annual February fundraiser for Literacy Volunteers of Tifton-Tift County at Spring Hill Country Club. First-time competitor Nakia McCoggle and her crew at K&K Custom Creations was the crowd favorite, taking “Best Taste,” “Best Presentation” and “Best in Show.” Another first-timer, Maggie Torres, pastry chef with Fresco Italiano, won “Most Original” with crème brulee, tiramisu and other unique desserts.  Hilton Garden Inn employees, a longtime competitor, won “Greatest Variety.” Other chocolatiers receiving votes in all categories were Cakes by Audrey, Ruby Tuesday of Tifton and Edible Arrangements. BJ Smith at Springhill staffed the event and provided linens, utensils and staff help as a donation to Literacy Volunteers. Espresso 41 provided coffee and cookies. “Our local chocolatiers made this event delicious, exciting and elegant. We are so happy so many people came out to bid in the silent auction and live auction, and make Choc-It-Up 2018 a success for Literacy Volunteers,” said Victor Pires, president of the nonprofit organization. LVTTC helps adults improve their reading and math skills and prepare for the GED test. It also supports Southern Regional Technical College in its Adult Education program and English Language Learners classes and has scholarships to help eligible students pay for GED test fees.  “Whenever we are able to help a student increase his or her educational level, we benefit our community,” Pires said. For information on GED or other tutoring opportunities, contact Literacy Volunteers at 229-391-2527 or email tiftlv@gmail.com. The office is located at Southern Regional Technical College, Tifton Campus, 52 Tech Drive, Tifton GA 31794.

Source: Tifton Grapevine