IRS Tips on What to do After the Tax-Filing Deadline

Source: Internal Revenue Service  |  2017-05-10

Tax day has come and gone for most people, but some taxpayers may still be dealing with their taxes. The IRS offers these tips for handling some typical after-tax-day issues:

Didn’t File by April 18?

There is no penalty for filing a late return after the tax deadline if the taxpayer receives a refund. Penalties and interest only accrue on unfiled returns if taxes are not paid by April 18. Anyone who did not file and owes tax should file a return as soon as they can and pay as much as possible to reduce penalties and interest. IRS Free File is available on IRS.gov to prepare and file returns electronically through October 16.

“Where’s My Refund?”

The “Where’s My Refund?” tool is available on www.IRS.gov, IRS2Go and by phone at 800-829-1954. Taxpayers need specific information to use the “Where’s My Refund?” tool. That information includes the primary Social Security number on the return, the filing status (Single, Married Filing Jointly, etc.) and the amount of refund.

Changing Withholding?

Events – like a change in marital status – during the year may change the exemptions, adjustments, deductions or credits a taxpayer expects to claim on next year’s return. Employees can use the IRS’s online Withholding Calculator to figure and then adjust their withholding by filling out a new Form W-4, normally with the company’s personnel office. Taxpayers who do not have taxes withheld from their pay or don’t have enough tax withheld, may need to make estimated tax payments. Taxpayers who are self-employed normally need to make estimated payments that can be adjusted to avoid a balance due in the future.

Need to View a Tax Account Balance or Make a Payment?

Taxpayers who owe taxes can view their balance, pay with IRS Direct Pay, by debit or credit card or apply for an online payment agreement. Before accessing your tax account online, you must authenticate your identity through the Secure Access process. Several other electronic payment options are available on www.IRS.gov/payments. They are secure and easy and taxpayers receive immediate confirmation when they submit their payment.

Need to Fix an Error on a Return?

Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, must be filed by paper and is available on www.IRS.gov/forms at any time. Do not file an amended return before the original return has been processed. Taxpayers should file an amended tax return to change the filing status, or correct income, deductions or credits. The IRS generally corrects math errors and mails a request for any missing documents. Use the “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool to track the status of your amended return. It will take up to three weeks after mailing the return to show up in the IRS system. Processing can take up to 16 weeks.

Need Help Responding to an IRS Notice or Letter?

An IRS notice or letter will explain the reason for the contact and give instructions on how to handle the issue. Most questions can be answered by visiting the “Understanding Your Notice or IRS Letter,” on www.IRS.gov. Taxpayers can call the phone number included in the notice if they still have questions. Taxpayers have fundamental rights under the law. The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” presents these rights in 10 categories. This helps taxpayers when they interact with the IRS. Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, highlights a list of taxpayer rights and the agency’s obligations to protect them. If normal IRS channels don’t solve the problem, the Taxpayer Advocate Service is available at 877-777-4778.

Watch Out for Scams

Aggressive and threatening phone calls by criminals impersonating IRS agents remain an ongoing threat to taxpayers. The IRS will never contact a taxpayer via e-mail, text or social media. Any e-mail that appears to be from the IRS about a refund or tax problem is probably an attempt by scammers to steal information. Forward the e-mail to phishing@irs.gov. The first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue will be by mail.


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Pioneer History Day Returns, Our Heritage Matters

By Margaret Snider  |  2017-05-10

Free wagon rides will be available at California Pioneer History Day at Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma, on May 20. 
-- Photo by Patrick Twomey, 2mefotos Photography

On May 20, 2017, California Pioneer History Day is coming back to Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma. Admission is free, State parking fee is $8 per car. The event opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m., with parade at 10 a.m. It is sponsored by the California Pioneer Heritage Foundation and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Visitors are encouraged to get into the spirit with period costume, if they wish.

Last year more than 5,000 people enjoyed the Day and new features have been added, to include a larger area of activities and events in the park. A log cabin will actually be erected during the day in real time, and will be donated to the Park.

Historic displays and exhibits will demonstrate how the pioneers met their needs, how they traveled and cooked and laundered their clothes. There will be periodic black powder musket firings, and the firing of a replica of the cannon purchased from Captain John Sutter in 1848. Special occasional firings of the “Candy Cannon” will shoot candy to gathered kids, who can also join in with pioneer games. There will be free wagon rides.

Visitors can try their skills making bricks, candles, dolls and other crafts, try quilting and roast a biscuit on a stick. Families can bring food to eat at the picnic area or purchase food at several food stands.

After the parade at 10 a.m., certificates of special recognition will be presented at the stage area, and VIPs introduced.

Then will come the entertainment, which will be continuous from around 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. Jeri Clinger, co-founder with her husband Richard of the Galena Street East singing and dancing troop, is one of the organizers of the entertainment for California Pioneer History Day. “Singers will sing songs of that period, ones they might have been singing at some of the mining camps,” Clinger said. There will be dancing, musical numbers, and other types of entertainment in two locations on the grounds

The setting at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma is the historic spot of John Sutter’s sawmill, where gold was discovered in 1848. “It’s a very family oriented day,” Clinger said. “It’s ideal to help people in California feel the pioneer heritage here.”

Come early to beat the crowds. For more information, please see californiapioneer.org/cphd.


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Mail Carrier Canned Food Drive is May 13th

Source: Willie Henderson, Food Drive Coordinator  |  2017-05-10

Each year on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from our customers. These donations go directly to local food pantries to provide food to people who need our help.

Last year we collected over 80 million pounds of food nationally, feeding an estimated 64 million people. Over the course of its 24 year history the drive has collected 1.5 billion pounds of food thanks to a postal service universal delivery network that spans the entire Nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The need for food donations is great. Currently, 49 million Americans are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Thirteen million are children who feel hunger's impact on their overall health and ability to perform in school. More than 5 million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes often too embarrassed to ask for help.

Our food drive timing is crucial. Food Banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. By springtime many pantries are depleted entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.

Participating in this year's Letter carriers stamp out hunger Food Drive is easy. Just leave a non-perishable food donation in a bag by your mail box on Saturday, May 13th and your letter carrier will do the rest. With your help, letter carriers and the US postal service have collected over 1.5 billion pounds of food in the United States over our first 24 years as a national food drive. Please help us in our flight to end hunger as we celebrate our 25th anniversary year in America's great day of giving.


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Grand Opening of State‐of‐the‐Art, Water‐Wise Gardens at Howe Park

By Sacramento Suburban Water District  |  2017-05-10

The public is invited to the Grand Opening Ceremony and Celebration of the Gardens at Howe Park, the Sacramento region’s newest water‐wise demonstration garden, on Saturday, May 13 at 10:00 a.m. at Howe Park in Sacramento.

The celebration will include a ribbon‐cutting ceremony, guided tours, workshop demonstration on highefficiency sprinklers and free gift bags filled with gardening tools for the first 100 attendees.

“We’re excited to open our newest demonstrations gardens and highlight the variety of ways people can have beautiful landscapes that are river‐friendly and low‐water,” said Greg Bundesen, Sacramento Suburban Water District’s (SSWD) Water Conservation Supervisor.

The Gardens at Howe Park are truly unique in that they showcase four, state‐of‐the‐art, low‐water use demonstration landscapes, including:

  • Sensible Switchover: This garden is designed to represent the layout of most Sacramento-area residential front yards, but features low-water plants and low maintenance solutions perfect for our region’s climate.
  • Wilder Wonders: A wilder, less structured garden filled with color and texture. It’s designed to provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies and bees.
  • Water Works: A working rain garden that shows how plants can take in, filter and hold water in the soil. It’s designed to capture the rain and let it percolate into our groundwater instead of flowing unchecked and unfiltered into our rivers, the Delta and ultimately the Pacific Ocean.
  • Effortless Edibles: This attractive garden features low-water edibles and aromatics, and can provide lots of goodies for your table, and color for your house.

Each of the gardens will feature informational signage that identifies all of the landscape’s waterefficient features and plants used.

SSWD customers helped transform the site during hands‐on workshops on sustainable landscaping techniques taught by EcoLandscape California instructors.

The project is presented in partnership by SSWD, Fulton‐El Camino Recreation and Park District and EcoLandscape California, which served as project manager and provided instruction for hands‐on workshops, and is part of the District’s ongoing commitment to promoting wise water use and investing in the community.

For more information about the Grand Opening celebration for the new Gardens at Howe Park, visit www.sswd.org.


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Bipartisan Group of Senators Seek $100 Million for Levee Repairs Following the Failure of Oroville Dam Spillway

Source: Office of Senator Nielsen  |  2017-05-10

On behalf of their constituents whose lives and properties are continuously impacted by potential flooding, Senators Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) requested $100 million for critical and serious levee repairs in the state budget.

Following is an excerpt from their letter to Senator Bob Wieckowski, Chairman of the Senate Budget SubCommittee No.2:

“The significant amount of rainfall received this year and the severe damage to the Oroville Dam spillways have caused substantial damage to flood control structures that need to be addressed as soon as possible. Furthermore, the need for a consistent and reliable source of funding to reduce flood-risk in our state is vital to the protection of human life and property.

“Our levees have suffered significant damage that could prevent them from functioning properly in the next high-water event unless emergency repairs are completed this year.

“This requested funding investment in our water infrastructure will save lives, protect property, and save the state billions in avoided emergency repairs.”


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Del Campo High Students Spend a Morning In DUI Court

Story and Photos by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-05-05

Public Defender Paula Spano looks on as Sacramento Superior Court Judge Hon. Russell Hom addresses students at Del Campo High School during a DUI Court in Schools Program April 28.

Standing firm in a teal suit and black glasses, attorney Paula Spano turned toward the crowd of roughly 1,000 Del Campo High School students seated behind her and delivered this stern admonishment: “You all look like very nice people, but I never want to see you in my courtroom,” she said.

Spano, who works for the Sacramento County Office of the Public Defender, is assigned to the first-offender and misdemeanor DUI Court in Schools Program, first launched in San Joaquin County in 2003 and then in Sacramento County in 2010. Funded through a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the program brings actual DUI court cases to area high schools, and Ms. Spano was trying the tell the students in a round-about way she hopes they never need her services.

The DUI Court in Schools Program gives students a sobering opportunity to sit inside a court room where a real judge, a real defendant and a real prosecutor deliberate the sentencing phase in a DUI case and hand down the punishment, all in real time.

The intent is to expose young people to the actual legal and financial consequences of a DUI court conviction so that they may make better choices when they get behind the wheel. It also aims to remind them of the heart-wrenching impact on communities and families DUI cases involving injuries and fatalities can have.

“The hope is that we can affect at least one person today by showing the actual ramifications of driving under the influence,” said Deputy District Attorney Brian Morgan who prosecuted the April 28 case at Del Campo.

More than 6,000 DUI cases are assigned to the Sacramento County Superior Court each year, Spano told the students. Her program, however, involves only cases concerning first-time offenders and those where there have been no serious injuries or loss of life. In exchange for volunteering to participate in the program, Spano said, defendants may be offered a reduced sentence of some form.

The Del Campo hearing was preceded by a jarring, 10-minute video montage of reenactments of drunken driving accidents and their aftermaths involving mostly teens or young adults. Once in session, Morgan delivered the facts of his case against the 22-year old defendant seated next to his attorney, Ms. Spano, before Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Hon. Russell Hom.

The defendant, identified as “Mr. Wong,” was arrested in downtown Sacramento in January, explained Morgan. He’d been pulled over for speeding and charged with one count of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, and another for driving with more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his body.

As some students fiddled clandestinely with their cell phones, Mr. Wong plead guilty to the charges against him and Judge Hom delivered the sentence: Five days in jail, fines and court fees likely to amount to as much as $12,000, three years of probation, a suspended driver’s license, and mandatory enrollment in a six-month program for defendants with high blood alcohol counts in their systems upon arrest.

When it was over, Judge Hom stepped down from the “bench” to speak to the students directly.

“What you just saw was real. This was an actual case,” Hom said. Then he gave Mr. Wong an opportunity to reflect and explain to students and the court what he was thinking the night he downed as many as three shots of hard liquor before getting behind the wheel of his 2000 Dodge Infinity and speeding through town at 3 a.m.

“I felt like I was good enough to drive,” Wong said, before admitting to having driven under the influence many times prior. “I guess I just had that mindset that kids do. That we are superior to everything,” he said.

Not all DUI sentencing cases end with fines, fees and jail time. It’s well known that a good number of them involve horrific accidents causing deaths and life-altering injuries that bring unspeakable loss to victims’ families and loved ones, a fact the deputy district attorney made clear during a post-trial Q&A with the students.

“You know the difference between that video you saw and Mr. Wong? Dumb luck. Dumb, damn luck,” Morgan said.

Mary Beth Long-Randall, a graduate of Del Campo High School also addressed the students as a friend held up a photo of her brother, Harrison and his twin sister, both also Del Campo graduates. Between sobs, she slowly walked the students and the members of the court through the day in 2012 when a drunken driver with an apparent history of DUI arrests, barreled through an intersection in their neighborhood not far from the school, leaving her brother, who was walking with his girlfriend at the time, so horrifically maimed he succumbed to his injuries 13 days later. He was 21.

Pleading with the students to think about their choices, Long-Randall reminded them of the irreparable damage caused to her family and countless others via the choices made by drunken or impaired drivers.

“Don’t make your community suffer. Don’t make your family or your parents suffer,” she said. Many students approached her afterward to offer hugs and support.

Judge Hom asked for a show of hands from those who’d had the experience of getting into a car with a driver they knew was impaired. Juliana Gordon, a senior at Del Campo raised her hand and explained she could identify and, although scared at the time, she got in the car anyway, something this program also tries to address. Young people must learn about the consequences of driving under the influence, but they also need to be given permission to tell friends or family members who’ve been drinking or getting high they won’t be getting in the car with them.

For Gordon, it was another case of dumb luck.

“I just got in the back seat and prayed,” she said.


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Survey Finds Water-Rich Snowpack

Source: CA Department of Water Resources  |  2017-05-04

The recent manual snow survey by the Department of Water Resources (DWR) at Phillips Station in the Sierra Nevada found a Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) of 27.8 inches, 190 percent of the May 1 long-term average there (14.6 inches).

Electronic measurements indicate the water content of the statewide snowpack today is 42.5 inches, 196 percent of the May 1 average. The SWE of the northern Sierra snowpack is 39.9 inches (199 percent of average); the central and southern Sierra readings are 47.1 inches (202 percent of average) and 37.6 inches (180 percent of average), respectively.

Today’s readings will help hydrologists forecast spring and summer snowmelt runoff into rivers and reservoirs. The melting snow supplies approximately one-third of the water used by Californians.

“California’s cities and farms can expect good water supplies this summer,” said DWR Acting Director Bill Croyle. “But this ample snowpack should not wash away memories of the intense drought of 2012-2016. California’s precipitation is the most variable in the nation, and we cannot afford to stop conserving water.”

Snowpack water content is measured manually on or near the first of the month from January to May. The Phillips snow course, near the intersection of Highway 50 and Sierra-at-Tahoe Road, is one of hundreds surveyed manually throughout the winter. Manual measurements augment the electronic readings from about 100 sensors in the state’s mountains that provide a current snapshot of the snowpack’s water content.

Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program, conducted DWR’s survey today at Phillips and said of his findings, 2017 has been “an extremely good year in terms of the snowpack.”

Gehrke said the snowpack is encouraging in terms of surface water supplies. “The thing we’re looking out for is primarily the southern Sierra, where we have full reservoirs and in some cases a huge snowpack,” he said. “We want to make sure that we prudently manage that so we don’t cause any downstream issues.”

California’s reservoirs are fed both by rain and snowpack runoff. A majority of the state’s major reservoirs are above normal storage levels.

Earlier this month, DWR increased its estimate of this year’s SWP supply to 100 percent of requests for contractors north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and 85 percent of requests for other contractors, the highest since the 100-percent allocation in 2006.


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