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FAQ

Are goodwill donations tax deductible in 2018?
Yes, Goodwill donations, like all charitable donations, remain tax deductible in 2018.However, due to the new tax law, the increased standard deduction in effect will encourage many more taxpayers to take the standard deduction instead of itemizing their deductions. You can only deduct the value of charitable contributions from your taxable income if you itemize your deductions.Hence, that is why this will be the first year where many charitable contributions will no longer have a material impact on your final tax liability.Jofi Joseph, CPA
What do people most frequently miss on their income tax deductions checklist?
Medical deductions:Doctors, physical therapists, lab tests, hospital fees, medical insurance, long-term care insurance, mileage to and from medical destinations and home (even if the office is next door to work), etc.Taxes: registration of ALL vehicles (that portion that is based on the value of the vehicle), sales and use taxes - especially for large purchases (vehicles, boats, large equipment, houses in some cases). This last is important, because if you deduct sales tax instead of income tax, any state income tax refund will not be reportable as income next year.Taxpayers usually report most of their charitable donations. However, you can save grocery store receipts for when you contribute a few dollars to local charities through your grocery payments. Also, I suggest every write a list of donated items, with their condition (brand new items still in original packaging could be reported at cost), and maybe even take pictures. While donating clothing delivered in garbage bags may not be worth much on an an individual item basis, a full bag could be worth from $60 to $75 and, if you donate ten bags full, that could add up to $600 to nearly $800. Also, even when you donate to a standing trailer (Goodwill, for example), take one of their slips, fill out the date on the slip and attach a list and photo of the donated items.For 2018 on, the miscellaneous items (employee business expenses, tax prep, etc.) are no longer deductible. However, investment expenses and casualty losses are still deductible.
Why do stores throw away good stuff?
Now, that’s a great question. There are several answers:Obsolescence: The product has been replaced by a newer version & the old stock cannot be sold.Overstock: Something was ordered (by the buyer), but it sold poorly. The shelves need to be stocked with stuff that sells.Changing seasons: It’s hard to sell Bikinis in Winter & Mucklucks in summer.Inventory Turns (look the term up): A product sells, but slowly. Dump the slow selling stuff for stuff that sells faster.Most have sold out, liquidate what’s left: Got a size 13DDD pair of shoes that didn’t sell (all other sizes of this pattern are gone)? Discount it big time, donate it, or just junk it. Get it off of the books at a loss (tax benefit value on the loss).Those are the major ways. Way back when, there were special liquidation sales & sellers. Some new & some few that have survived the Internet:In Minneapolis, there was the annual “Dayton’s Warehouse Sale” for orphaned, scratched, & dented stuff.In Boston, Filene’s Basement picked up remaindered & partially sold sets of stuff, discounted it, and made a good business for many years of good sales in the business.On the WEB, there was REI-Outlet_dot_com. Today, there’s Overstock_dot_com (which is claiming that their stuff isn’t actually overstocked stuff) & SierraTradingPost_dot_com.Then there’s eBay_dot_com. Perhaps the largest flea market in the world.Lastly, there’s the Thrift Stores like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and Unique, & Savers, as well as many others that pick up donations of stuff that didn’t sell and used stuff, who then sell it at a screamingly good discount.//DISCLAIMER: I’ve shopped at all of the above mentioned stores & web-sites. I’m typing this while sitting in a $6.99+tax office chair from Goodwill.Cheers!//ADDED: Read here Twin Cities charities divert tons of waste from Super Bowl//ADDED 18 March 2018: And, I just picked up 24 Superbowl LII souvenir pins for a charity ($0.25 each, originally $7.99 each)!
Should income tax be abolished in India?
Originally answered to Priyanka Rathi's answer to What happens if income tax abolished?From the political point of view:If the BJP proposes to abolish the current Income tax, it shall be one of the most radical tax reforms proposal, that will prevent the voters from supporting the AAP. There is no reason why the BJP should not seek its total abolition both to energise the middle class and to make the economy turn around. It would energise the constituency of PM Shri Narendra Modi like nothing else.From the economical point of view:Abolishing income tax and other levies and replacing them with some other suitable form of revenue is both feasible and desirable, say experts, although some believe that such a move would militate against social equity. It shall certainly lead to an increase in personal savings rate and help economic growth.Arguments in favour of Income Tax Abolition:No income tax means more spending power leading to more demand leading to more manufacturing/production further leading to more job creation. In short, in a faster growing economy, Income tax leads to tax evasion as people don't declare their true income. If there is no income tax there will be no need to evade tax!Elimination of income tax will give a greater incentive to work, since about one-third of our salary or business profits goes towards payment of taxes, the utilization of which is shrouded largely in mystery.It shall be the pathway for nationalisation of funds stashed in tax havens to retrieve the black money. The ills of black money would be abolished if income tax were abolished. Estimated figures of black money stashed overseas in tax havens run into a mind boggling figure of Rs 120 trillion or 60 times the revenues from tax collection which needs to be brought back.It would give taxpayers an incentive to earn more because they would not be penalised with a higher tax bracket or conceal the real income.Tax experts and industrialists also believe that it will reduce corruption. Taxpayers will also not indulge into practices like falsification of accounts, money laundering and other illegal ways of tax evasion.The loss on income taxes can be made good by higher value-added taxes, especially the new Goods and Services Tax (GST). Also, there is talk of replacing income tax with an expenditure tax, where money flowing out of bank accounts will be taxed which would be another way to fix the tax hole over time.Arguments against Income Tax Abolition:Abolition of income tax will lead to higher Indirect taxes which are regressive in nature, i.e., you pay tax as you buy. In India, a problematic consequence of a tax shift is that, we are likely to see rising prices and a huge dent in consumer and investor confidence.Income tax is progressive in nature. The rich pay more and in turn this money is used to benefit the society, including the weaker sections of the country.Replacing income tax with Indirect tax or expenditure/banking transaction tax may turn out to be anti-poor because of its regressive nature.However, there is no doubt that eliminating income tax will rejuvenate the economy and reduce tax hassles at the level of the taxpayer. Unlike promises of free water or cheap electricity, which can only increase corruption, the abolition of income tax is a reform that will actually make taxpayers more honest. It will eliminate a huge area of corruption and falsehood while also serving as an economic stimulus to a stagflating economy.Tax Haven countries:India would surely not be the first one to carry out such a measure. Here are a list of countries having no Income Tax at all:United Arab EmiratesQatarOmanKuwaitCayman IslandsBahrainBermudaThe BahamasSaudi ArabiaBrunei DarussalamOn a lighter note, one of the most difficult and lengthy subject shall be removed from the curriculum of CA students. Such a relief! ;)Source: News18.com: CNN News18 Latest News, Breaking News India, Current News Headlines India News, Latest Sports, Bollywood, World, Business & Politics News - Times of IndiaThanks. :)
What was it like to be a black South African during apartheid?
Note that the old South Africa have Whites and non whites. The non whites were subdivided into Blacks, Indian, and coloured. I'm writing this from a Indian point of view. My grandparents were from India. I was born in the old South Africa. The Northern Natal coastal belt.So here goes I'm just making a list in no specific order of experiences from the old South Africa. All the different race groups lived in there own areas / townships. So we mostly interacted with our own kind.Each race group had their own schools. Some SA Indians with enough capital did built schools / Technikons for their community. Most education Facilities were government provided. The schools for the 'whites' were of a much higher standard than for the other race groups. The 'Indian' & 'Coloured' schools were medium class, While that of the 'Blacks" were very bad.Nelson Mandela's name could not be spoken, for the fear of arrest.Most university courses, except medical and law were reserved for whites, I originally wanted to follow a path in ocean biology, I couldn't. Decided on architecture, with good matric results but unless your parents are rich the application was impossible. Verylittle or no bursary for non whites. The seats were also reserved mostly for whites. I ended up doing Architectural technology but couldn't complete my in-service training as there competition to get training which was biased towards the white students.When I was about 7 we took a family trip to St Lucia estuary. We children ran into the surf playfully. There comes 4 South Africa policemen spoke to the elders and forced us out of the surf. We were told to take the boat to the hippopotamus (one of the most dangerous African animals) invested island and play there. Most restaurants / hotels / nightclubs were closed to us, some did have separate sections.The Durban Beachfront (the Golden Mile) was divided into sections, the southern part for whites only. Non whites were either beaten or arrested or both in this part.Indians could only drive through the Orange Free State (an old SA province) even if your car broke down there you could be arrested.The government forced Christianity onto us. They provided the land, buildings for churches in Indian areas. Then paid a hansome salary to the pastor's  and rigorously tried converting people. If I wanted to build a Hindu temple in and Indian area, the amount of red tape was a lot. And no sponsorship in any way from the government.This same applies to Mosques.A non white couldn't own a beachfront flat (well a think a few blocks on North beach was allowed). The best properties, education & work was reserved for the white community.In 1989 I was working (my 2dn job) in Durban's CBD. I got to work at about 7:30am. The pavement outside the building had a gaping hole in it, & some shattered shopfornt glass next to it. Discovered that there was a Bomb Blast at about 5am. Because of censorship we never heard of this in any local news. I did hear about it that night o BBC Radio.There seemed (falsely) to be a high level of safety. The then government were the perpetrators of many ------- well as an example check this out  …http://www.southafrica.to/histor... or this http://www.theguardian.com/world... or this http://www.csmonitor.com/1998/07... and theres is plenty more.BTW: there seems to be an reverse apartheid now with the BEE stytem (reservation of work / education to the previously disadvantaged)