2019 New York International Auto Show

The 2019 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS) makes its return to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center this Friday. From coupes to sedans, SUVs to trucks, new vehicles to future concept cars, the New York International Auto Show is a showcase for nearly 1,000 vehicles spread across four floors of the convention center and offers a look at some of the latest technologies and innovations from automakers around the world.

From walking the show floor and exhibit halls to getting into vehicles for a hands-on, look & feel experience to participating in a ride-along or test drive (ex: Camp Jeep Ride & Drive), the New York International Auto Show is a fun and enjoyable event for auto enthusiasts, individuals and families alike and a great way to spend a few hours of your day.

NYIAS starts on Friday, April 19th and runs through Sunday, April 28th with an opening ceremony taking place on Saturday, April 20th from 8:30am to 10:30am. The event is open to the public, but you do need to purchase tickets for the event available on the New York International Auto Show website.

For me, it’s always fun heading to the auto show to check out some of the latest vehicles coming to market, the emerging technologies and innovations in the industry and seeing some of the concept cars in development. I also like the hands-on experience. Having the opportunity to get into vehicles from a variety of automakers and get an up-close look & feel. It’s a great opportunity to check out different vehicles (cars, SUVs, trucks) which you might not ordinarily do unless you are in the market to buy or lease a new vehicle. Of course, what’s an auto show without a sense of nostalgia seeing some of the vintage classics on display.

I’m looking forward to checking out the new vehicles at this year’s NYIAS.

Check out the short video I created last year walking the convention floors of the 2018 New York International Auto Show.

Stop Procrastinating! Tax Day Is Coming!

If you tend to procrastinate when it comes to the tax season, it’s time to stop procrastinating and start taking action. Tax Day for the 2018 tax year is right around the corner. For most filers, Monday, April 15, 2019 is the deadline to file your tax returns with the IRS and where applicable, your state tax agency. However, for states observing a holiday, those filers will get additional time.

“For the 2018 tax return, the due date is April 15, 2019 for most filers. For residents of Maine and Massachusetts, the due date is April 17, 2019 because of the Patriot's Day and Emancipation Day holidays in those states.” – IRS Topic No. 301 When, How, and Where To File

Whether you file electronically or by paper, it’s vital that your tax returns are filed on-time. The IRS provides the following guidance:

“Your return is considered filed on time if the envelope is properly addressed, has enough postage, is postmarked, and is deposited in the mail by the due date. If you file electronically, the date and time in your time zone when your return is transmitted controls whether your return is filed timely. You will later receive an electronic acknowledgement that the IRS has accepted your electronically filed return.” – IRS Topic No. 301 When, How, and Where To File

If you have an Accountant or CPA firm handling your tax returns, be sure to return any applicable e-file authorization forms to them in a timely manner so they may electronically file your returns on your behalf. Also, make note of any filings you may be required to submit by mail and get those filings sent out on-time. If you are using a third-party tax preparer to do your taxes, be sure to schedule your appointment as soon as possible to ensure your returns are prepared and transmitted on-time. Appointments can become harder to come by as the tax deadline approaches. For paper filers, be sure to get to the Post Office ahead of the April 15th deadline or risk potentially waiting on long lines to get those returns mailed by the tax deadline.

The IRS and state tax agencies do allow qualified filers to request an extension to file their tax returns. A request for an extension must be filed by the tax deadline. However, an extension only extends the tax deadline for filing your returns. It does not extend the deadline for paying your taxes. If you owe taxes, you are still required to remit payment to the IRS and/or to your state tax agency by the tax deadline.

“If you cannot file by the due date of your return, you should request an extension of time to file. To receive an automatic 6-month extension of time to file your return, you can file Form 4868. File your extension request by the due date of your return. An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay so you'll owe interest if the tax you owe isn't paid by the original due date of your return. You may also be subject to a late-payment penalty on any tax not paid by the original due date of your return.” – IRS Topic No. 301 When, How, and Where To File

Filers should check with their individual state tax agency for guidance on their state’s tax filing requirements and deadlines. If you are unsure or unfamiliar with tax preparation and filings, be sure to seek professional counsel from an Accountant, CPA firm and/or certified tax professional.

 

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AirPower In One Word – Canceled!

It’s been over eighteen months since Apple first offered a sneak peek into AirPower, Apple’s own wireless charging mat capable of charging an iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch simultaneously. First announced in September 2017 with a potential release in 2018, Apple has since remained primarily silent about its whereabouts while rumors have swirled around potential production challenges and issues with AirPower.

Over the past few weeks, talk of AirPower has returned to the forefront in light of Apple’s recent product refreshes including a refresh of the 7.9-inch iPad Mini, revival of the iPad Air in a new 10.5-inch form factor, refresh of the iMac with processor upgrades and the option of Vega graphics, the release of the AirPods 2nd generation with wireless charging case and the announcement of new services including Apple News+, Apple Arcade, Apple Card and Apple TV+ at Apple’s March 25th event. If you missed the March 25th event, you can watch it on Apple’s website here.

On Friday, Apple made one additional announcement and it concerned the future of AirPower though not quite the one many were anticipating. AirPower is canceled!

As reported by TechCrunch, Apple’s SVP of Hardware Engineering, Dan Riccio, provided the following e-mailed statement:

“After much effort, we’ve concluded AirPower will not achieve our high standards and we have cancelled the project. We apologize to those customers who were looking forward to this launch. We continue to believe that the future is wireless and are committed to push the wireless experience forward.”

It certainly didn’t take long for this announcement to make it across media outlets and social media.

While Apple has put an end to AirPower, it doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t and/or aren’t working on other potential wireless charging products. But at least for now, if you’re looking for a wireless charging pad, you’ll need to step outside the Apple ecosystem.

LINKS:

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand (White or Black) - https://amzn.to/2ToFB88

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad (White or Black) - https://amzn.to/2MGJ7IR

 

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Customer Service Can Make or Break Your Business

Customer service is a core part of many businesses. When customers reach out to or for customer service, quite often it’s about a problem or an issue that requires a resolution. Customers are typically looking for someone who is going to listen to and understand the issue at hand. They are looking for someone who understands that there is a sense of urgency, the issue needs to be treated with a level of priority and that it will be addressed in a timely manner. Customers are also looking for accountability; someone to take charge, be responsible and follow through from start to finish to ensure the problem or issue reaches final resolution or is escalated appropriately and promptly up the chain until reaching that resolution.

Talk is cheap! Customers want results!

It’s important to note that this is not the time to upsell or downsell to customers. Upselling or downselling is not a solution or resolution to a problem or issue. These are retention tactics, plain and simple! Sure, some customers may be taken in by the tactic while others who understand the retention tactic may manipulate it to their advantage. For real problems or issues, this will likely infuriate customers, especially patrons. Fair warning: If you’re going to play with fire, you’re going to get burned! Put your customers first! Focus on resolving the issue at hand in a timely, effective and efficient manner. Don’t give your customers the runaround and don’t make them jump through hoops. In the end, it can have serious repercussions on your business and its reputation.

Any business that is defined, in whole or in part, by the quality of their customer service, their customer service reputation and customer satisfaction rating MUST step up and provide an exceptional, premier level of customer service to their customers not only to differentiate themselves from their competitors but also to demonstrate and prove to their customers that they have earned and deserve their customers’ business. Anything less is simply unacceptable.

In A Field of iPads

With the recent release of a refreshed iPad Mini and the revival of the iPad Air, Apple has created quite the iPad lineup. The selection includes 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros, a 10.5-inch iPad Air, a 9.7-inch iPad and a 7.9-inch iPad Mini. So, which iPad should you choose?

Well, it generally comes down to cost, usage and preference.

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

The Bookends

If you’re looking for the latest and greatest most powerful iPad available with all the bells & whistles and cost is no object, you’re looking at the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 1TB model with Wi-Fi + Cellular which will run you about $1,899 before tax. AppleCare+ coverage and any accessories (ex: Apple Pencil 2nd Generation, Smart Keyboard Folio) will be at an additional cost. However, if you’re looking for the least expensive base level option, you’re looking at the 9.7-inch iPad 32GB model with Wi-Fi only which will run you $329 plus tax. If you choose to splurge on AppleCare+ coverage, it will cost an additional $69 plus tax.

9.7-inch iPad

If you’re looking for a basic iPad for reading, listening to music, watching and streaming videos, using apps, playing basic games, surfing the web, general productivity and more while also balancing size, weight, performance and cost, the 9.7-inch iPad should suffice. With a starting price of $329 for a 32GB model with Wi-Fi and $459 for a 32GB model with Wi-Fi + Cellular, it’s not bad. There are a couple of key trade-offs. One is the chip. The 9.7-inch iPad features an A10 Fusion chip (used in the iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus) instead of an A12 or A12X Bionic chip. The other is the 1.2MP FaceTime HD front camera which is the lowest quality front camera offered across the entire current iPad lineup. Still, the 9.7-inch iPad offers a good value and is a viable option in the current iPad lineup.

7.9-inch iPad Mini

For those seeking ultra-portability while also balancing performance and cost, the 7.9-inch iPad Mini is worth consideration. Its small form factor makes it an ideal travel companion. It can fit easily in a small bag or even a wide coat pocket. With the recent refresh, it boasts an A12 Bionic chip, 8MP rear camera, 7MP FaceTime HD front camera and offers support for Apple Pencil (1st generation). The 7.9-inch iPad Mini is perfect for reading, listening to music, watching and streaming videos, using apps, playing games, surfing the web, productivity, design & creativity, taking photos & capturing videos and more. The 7.9-inch iPad Mini comes with a starting price of $399 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi and $529 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi + Cellular.

10.5-inch iPad Air

Apple has brought the iPad Air out of “retirement” in the form of a brand new 10.5-inch model. The 10.5-inch iPad Air offers more viewable screen area than the 9.7-inch iPad while also weighing slightly less. It retains the same classic look & feel with home button as does the 9.7-inch iPad and 7.9-inch iPad Mini. The 10.5-inch iPad Air boasts an A12 Bionic chip and support for Apple Pencil (1st generation). It also features an 8MP rear camera and 7MP FaceTime HD front camera; great for capturing video, video conferencing & video calls. The 10.5-inch iPad Air is also great for reading, listening to music, watching and streaming videos, using apps, playing games, surfing the web, productivity, design & creativity, taking photos and more. The 10.5-inch iPad Air comes with a starting price of $499 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi and $629 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi + Cellular.

11-inch & 12.9-inch iPad Pro

If you’re ready to make the leap to the top of the line in iPads, you’ll want to set your eyes on the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is available in an 11-inch and 12.9-inch model. Both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros are for those who want and/or need power, performance and a premium feature set in a tablet-style form factor AND are willing to pay for it.

If you’re into high-end gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, creative & design, audio & video production and so forth, the iPad Pro is the right choice for those power-hungry, performance-driven and memory-intensive apps. Both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros boast similar specs including a Liquid Retina Display with ProMotion technology and True Tone, Face ID (gone is the home button), the A12X Bionic chip, 12MP rear camera and 7MP TrueDepth front camera, Apple Pencil (2nd generation) support, USB-C connector and more. The 11-inch iPad Pro comes with a starting price of $799 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi and $949 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi + Cellular. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro comes with a starting price of $999 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi and $1,149 for a 64GB model with Wi-Fi + Cellular.

Keep in mind . . . the iPad Pro does not serve nor is it intended to serve as a laptop or desktop replacement. The iPad Pro and iPads in general can do a lot of great things that both laptops and desktops can do; but, there are still a lot of other things that just handle and work better on a traditional laptop or desktop.

AppleCare+ and Accessories

AppleCare+ coverage is available on all iPad models in the current lineup with pricing ranging from $69 to $129 plus tax. In addition, all iPad models include a variety of accessories available for an additional cost.

Wi-Fi Only or Wi-Fi + Cellular

Unless you use or plan on using your iPad on the road and don’t have trusted, reliable Wi-Fi access wherever you go, the Wi-Fi only model should suffice and will save you some money. However, if you think you may want or need cellular service now or in the future and are willing to pay extra for the capability (keeping in mind that you still need to pay for carrier service too), then go for the Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad models.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking into getting, replacing or upgrading an iPad, check out Apple’s website for all the tech specs. There’s a “Compare” feature on the site where you can compare the iPad models side-by-side. I would also highly recommend that you visit a local Apple Store and get hands-on with the various iPad models to see what feels most comfortable to you. Obviously, cost and usage are key factors that will affect your decision but getting hands-on experience with the various iPads will give you an opportunity to see if the iPad model that you are considering truly is the best model for you.

LINKS:

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Apple 7.9-inch iPad Mini - https://amzn.to/2Yjehva

Apple 9.7-inch iPad - https://amzn.to/2USyvtD

Apple 10.5-inch iPad Air - https://amzn.to/2CBrE0C

Apple 11-inch iPad Pro - https://amzn.to/2UUTbRs

Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro - https://amzn.to/2Yhuzoc

Apple AirPods with Charging Case (1st generation) - https://amzn.to/2WkzmDA

Apple AirPods with Charging Case (2nd generation) - https://amzn.to/2CAkVni

Apple AirPods with Wireless Charging Case (2nd generation) - https://amzn.to/2CEGjbb

Apple EarPods with Lightning Connector - https://amzn.to/2U64bi0

Apple Pencil (1st generation) - https://amzn.to/2U6AuNx

Apple Pencil (2nd generation) - https://amzn.to/2YkTPtO

Using an Apple USB to Ethernet Adapter on a Windows Laptop

Apple_USB_to_Ethernet_Adapter.jpg

Ever wondered if an Apple USB to Ethernet adapter will work on a Windows laptop?

Well, the short answer is YES, but it does require a little work to get it setup.

Before going any further, let’s just clarify why we would even consider this. The general reason would be that the Wi-Fi connection you’re on isn’t working, isn’t reliable and/or is too slow to perform whatever task(s) you need to get done. You need a stable, reliable fast network connection so a wired connection is the way to go. Unfortunately, you don’t have a built-in Ethernet port on your laptop. Computer manufacturers, especially when it comes to slimmer and sleeker laptop models, will do away with a built-in Ethernet port in favor of wireless only or wireless with the option to use a USB to Ethernet dongle to establish a wired connection.

If you have a compatible USB to Ethernet dongle for your Windows laptop, you should use it. However, if you happen to be in a situation where you don’t have a compatible dongle but have access to an Apple USB to Ethernet adapter, you can potentially get it to work. That said, there are some prerequisites. First, you need to be running a 64-bit version of Windows 7, 8, or 10. Secondly, you need to have Internet access on a computer where you can download drivers and have a way to transfer those drivers onto the Windows laptop for which you will be connecting the Apple USB to Ethernet adapter. And lastly, you’ll need an Apple USB to Ethernet adapter.

If you meet all the prerequisites, you’ll need to download a version of Apple’s Boot Camp Support Software from the Apple website onto your Windows laptop. Once the .zip package is downloaded, extract the files to a location on your computer (ex: desktop). Go into the extracted folder and locate the “BootCamp” folder. Go into the “BootCamp” folder and locate the “Drivers” folder. Go into the “Drivers” folder and locate the “Asix” folder. Asix is the manufacturer of the driver software for the Apple USB to Ethernet adapter. Go into the “Asix” folder and run the “AsixSetup64” installer application/executable. Follow the on-screen prompts to complete the installation. You may be required to reboot your computer.

Once the installation is complete, you should be able to connect the Apple USB to Ethernet adapter to an available USB 2.0 or higher port on your Windows laptop. The Windows 64-bit operating system should be able to detect the hardware and install the appropriate driver for the adapter. Alternatively, if you are having problems getting the Apple USB to Ethernet adapter working using the “AsixSetup64” installer from the Boot Camp Support package, you can try downloading a driver directly from the manufacturer’s (Asix) website. Asix does have various drivers for various versions of the USB to Ethernet adapter so you may need to do a little trial and error.

 

LINKS:

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Apple USB to Ethernet Adapter - https://amzn.to/2N3esFO

A Sub-Chapter S in New York

If you are planning to establish a legal business entity (ex: Limited Liability Company (LLC) or Corporation) or have an existing legal business entity in New York and are considering a sub-chapter S election, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

First, it’s important to understand that single-member LLCs (defaultly treated as a disregarded entity and taxed like a sole proprietorship for tax purposes), multi-member LLCs (defaultly treated as a Partnership) and Corporations making a sub-chapter S election are all considered pass-through entities for federal tax purposes. This means that the entities themselves are generally not subject to income taxes. Profit/loss from the business is passed through to the individual members (LLCs) or shareholders (S-Corps), generally reported on a Schedule K-1 for Partnerships & S Corps, and each member or shareholder reports and pays their respective share of income taxes on their respective share of profit/loss on their individual tax returns.

Eligible single-member LLCs, multi-member LLCs (Partnerships) and corporations (C-Corps) can elect to be treated as sub-chapter S for federal tax purposes in lieu of their default classification. There are various pros and cons associated with making a S election, so it is best to consult with your Accountant, CPA Firm and/or legal counsel so that you may make a well-informed decision.

At the federal level, to make a sub-chapter S election, eligible LLCs will need to file both Form 8832 – Entity Classification Election and Form 2553 – Election By A Small Business Corporation. Eligible corporations (C-Corps) will need to file Form 2553 – Election By A Small Business Corporation. When filing Form 8832, keep in mind that the election may take effect no more than 75 days prior to the date the election is filed or no later than 12 months after the election is filed. When filing Form 2553, keep in mind that the form must be filed no more than 2 months and 15 days after the beginning of the tax year for which the election shall take effect or any time during the tax year preceding the tax year for which the election shall take effect. Both forms do allow “Relief for Late Elections.” Eligibility information is available in the instructions for each form. Your Accountant or CPA Firm should be able to help prepare the necessary forms for you to sign and send to the IRS. The IRS should provide written notice as to the acceptance or rejection of the filing(s) within 60 days of receipt.

At the state level, things start to get complicated. While many states recognize the federal S election at the state level, New York State does not. By default, New York State will treat your entity as a C Corporation for tax purposes even if you have made a federal S election. In order for your entity to be recognized and taxed as a S Corporation at the state level, you must file New York State’s Form CT-6 – Election by a Federal S Corporation to be Treated As a New York S Corporation. Again, your Accountant or CPA Firm should be able to help prepare the necessary form for you to sign and send to the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance (NYS DTF). The NYS DTF should provide written notice as to the acceptance or rejection of the filing within 60 days of receipt. While filing Form CT-6 will allow your entity to be treated as a New York S Corporation for tax purposes, New York State requires most general business corporations to pay a franchise tax at the entity level under Article 9-A of New York law.

One last complication is at the city level. New York City does not recognize the federal S or New York State S elections. Therefore, S Corporations are subject to New York City’s General Corporation Tax (GCT) and will be required to pay this tax at the entity level.

If you are planning to make a S election for your business, be sure to seek and consult with professional counsel (ex: Accountant, CPA Firm) to understand the pros and cons as well as the administrative requirements and tax implications at the federal, state and local levels. As you can see in the case of New York, there are a couple of added complexities at the state and local level that you’ll want to be aware of. A good Accountant or CPA Firm should stay ahead of the game and keep you well-informed but don’t hesitate to ask your Accountant or CPA Firm directly about how the S election works within your state and local levels.

A 27-inch Mid-2011 iMac in 2019

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

Buying a new computer can be a major investment and more so if you need to customize the configuration to meet your specific requirements. For instance, someone who uses a computer primarily for e-mail, surfing the web and streaming content will not need all the “bells and whistles” that a graphic designer or video editor may need. That said, when budgets are tight, you’ll need to find ways to maximize the life of your computer while being able to work efficiently.

A few years ago, I had a similar situation dealing with an Apple 27-inch Mid-2011 iMac. The iMac was originally configured with a 3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 Processor, 16GB of RAM, 1TB 7200RPM hard drive and an AMD Radeon HD 6970M graphics card with 1GB of memory. At the time, this accomplished what it was intended for. However, over time it began to run slow. Formatting the hard drive and performing a clean installation of macOS (OS X at the time) did not resolve the performance issues.

One obvious course of action would be replacing the hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD). Of course, opening an iMac and replacing a standard hard drive with a solid state drive is no easy task and having it done by an authorized Apple Service Provider wouldn’t be cheap. So, what to do?

Well, the iMac did have four USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 port and two Thunderbolt ports so I was already thinking about using an external bootable drive as a workaround in lieu of replacing the internal hard drive. After doing some research, I opted to go with the Transcend 512GB Thunderbolt solid state drive. I had found several cases where this drive had been implemented and worked well as an external boot drive on an iMac. I’ll include a link to the Transcend 512GB Thunderbolt SSD at the end of this post.

I also did some additional research on the RAM limitations for the Mid-2011 iMac. While Apple’s technical specifications list a maximum of 16GB of RAM, I did check the OWC website and found that the Mid-2011 iMac did support up to 32GB of RAM. While 16GB of RAM would likely suffice, the cost of an additional 16GB of RAM wasn’t too expensive. If the external bootable SSD worked and brought new life to this Mid-2011 iMac, the additional RAM would be well worth it. I’ll include links to OWC compatible memory modules at the end of this post.

Since the original internal hard drive was recently reformatted with a clean install of OS X and all applications, it didn’t make a lot of sense to go through this exercise again unless absolutely necessary. So, the solution was to clone the internal hard drive onto the new Transcend 512GB Thunderbolt solid state drive and then boot from the new SSD. This required the use of Carbon Copy Cloner to create a bootable clone of the internal drive. Back then, there was a free version of Carbon Copy Cloner. Today, you can still get a 30-day trial before you need to pay for the software which should be fine to create a one-off bootable clone of your internal hard drive to an external SSD.

The result . . .

It all worked out well. The drive cloning worked perfectly. The iMac was able to boot from the external solid state drive and gained a huge performance boost over the standard internal hard drive. Note: I left the internal hard drive intact as a backup. The additional RAM gave it a beneficial boost to support newer memory intensive applications. There was one small issue. You could restart the iMac without an issue but if you shut down the iMac and then started it up, the iMac would defaultly boot to the internal drive instead of the external SSD as the SSD would not yet be powered up at initial startup. The way around this would be to hold down the Option key on startup to get boot options, power cycle the external SSD so that the external SSD would be an available boot device then select it as the startup disk. Of course, this would be tedious to do on a daily basis, so the simpler workaround was to restart the iMac under normal conditions and only shutdown when needed. It was a small price to pay to bring new life to the Mid-2011 iMac.

While the Mid-2011 iMac is not supported by macOS Mojave, you can still use it with macOS High Sierra. Eventually, this iMac will be retired but for now, it’s gotten a few extra years of life for a fraction of the cost of a new iMac.

LINKS:

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Transcend 512GB Thunderbolt Solid State Drive StoreJet 500 for Mac (TS512GSJM500) - https://amzn.to/2Eu6fYm

OWC 16GB (2x 8GB) 1333MHz PC3-10600 DDR3 SO-DIMM 204-Pin Memory Upgrade Kit (OWC1333DDR3S16P) - https://amzn.to/2XoGLD0

OWC 32GB (4 x 8GB) 1333MHz 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM Memory Upgrade Kit (OWC1333DDR3S32S) - https://amzn.to/2ErZB4L

 

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Making The Move To Wireless Charging – Part II

Anker_PowerWave_7_5_Stand.jpg

Last year, I made the move to wireless charging with the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad. While the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad works great, I decided to step up from a wireless charging pad to a wireless charging stand. With a stand, it’s easier to use your phone, watch content, etc. all while continuing to charge your device (you don’t need to lift your phone off the stand).

I researched a few different options and ultimately set my sights on the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand with Quick Charge 3.0 Charger. The Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand is very similar to the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad. Included in the box are the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand, a micro-USB to USB cable and a Quick Charge 3.0 Charger. The Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand features a front-side LED indicator to let you know your device is charging, a case-friendly design allowing you to charge your device while in its case (most cases should be compatible), a built-in cooling fan to prevent overheating and the stand will charge your phone in both the horizontal and vertical positions.

I also like that you don’t need to find the center position on the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand for the phone to charge properly. With the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad, if your phone is off-center, it may not charge properly so you need to make sure the LED indicator is lit.

The Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand supports 7.5W fast charging on the iPhone 8/8 Plus/X (it should also work with the latest generation of iPhones - iPhone XS/XS Max/XR) and 10W fast charging on the Samsung S7/S8/S8+/S9/S9+ and Note 8. For a complete list of supported devices, visit the Anker website. The Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand is available in two colors: white and black. The white model retails at $49.99 and the black model retails at $55.99. I’ll include links to both models below if you’re interested.

I’ve been using the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand for a couple of months and it works great. And yes, I still use the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad which also works great.

LINKS:

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Stand (White or Black) - https://amzn.to/2ToFB88

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad (White or Black) - https://amzn.to/2MGJ7IR

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Making The Move To Wireless Charging

Planning For A Rainy Day

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you suddenly lost your job? Are you financially prepared to deal with a sudden loss of your income stream? Do you have a backup plan and reserve funds for a “rainy day” event?

Hopefully, you’ll never end up in this situation; however, life doesn’t always play out the way we hope it will and change is always constant. While there may be early warning signs or indications that something may be brewing, without a clear sense of urgency, there may be no desire to act without knowing for certain something is imminent. Sure, you can actively look for new job opportunities (and there’s nothing wrong with that) but when it comes down to timing, events don’t always play out the way we would like them to.

That said, if you haven’t already started to, it’s important to create a safety net or security blanket for yourself, and if applicable, for your family. Start setting aside reserve funds for a “rainy day.” You’ll want to have reserve funds that will cover no less than three (3) months of expenses to start, but ideally, you’ll want to grow it to cover anywhere between six (6) months to one (1) year worth of expenses.

You’ll always want to maintain a stable reserve of funds. In good times, you can tap into reserve funds to meet short-term cash needs (ex: major investments and capital improvements like replacing major appliances, home improvement, etc.) but keep in mind that you need to replenish those funds as additional funds become available. Don’t get into the habit of draining your reserve funds and only realizing there’s a problem when you have an “Oh No!” moment. There is a REAL inherent danger when using reserve funds irresponsibly. Don’t be irresponsible! Of course, you’re better equipped to assess your financial situation at any given time, so you need to make those responsible decisions when it comes down to whether you should tap into your reserve funds in various situations.

Also, be sure you are living within your means. Plan and budget for your expenses. Don’t get into the habit of spending what you don’t have or what you can’t afford simply because your credit card issuer or bank is extending a line of credit to you. A credit line is NOT free cash. If you are constantly paying the minimum balance on your credit cards or overdrawing your credit cards or bank account, you are NOT living within your means.

Make it a point to periodically review your spending habits; trim any non-essential expenses. It’s okay to splurge every now and then but don’t throw your hard-earned money down a big, black hole. You want to be responsible with your finances. If you run into a “rainy day” situation, you’ll be in a much better position if you’ve been responsibly managing and monitoring your finances.

ANYA MARINA: INDIE-PENDENT WOMAN Web Series Debuts

What happens when a recording artist gets dropped by her record label?

Find out in the brand-new web series, mockumentary and LABELED spin-off, ANYA MARINA: INDIE-PENDENT WOMAN. The web series stars singer/songwriter Anya Marina and comedian Nigel Fullerton. You’ll also see some familiar faces/characters from the LABELED web series as well as other notable guest appearances.  

The series premiere episode of ANYA MARINA: INDIE-PENDENT WOMAN is now available and streaming exclusively on The Warner Sound’s YouTube Channel. You can watch the series premiere episode here. New episodes of the web series will drop every Monday.

Be sure to check out Anya’s latest singles, “Over You” and “Dynamite,” off her forthcoming EP, Over You, now available for pre-order wherever music is sold.

ANYA MARINA: INDIE-PENDENT WOMAN comes from the creative and producing team of Bethany Watson (actor/producer/voice-over artist, co-host of An Acquired Taste Podcast) and Jon Sosis (writer/producer/director/Say It Ain’t Sosis Productions), the same team that created and produced the hilariously funny comedy web series LABELED. If you haven’t watched LABELED, check out the entire first season streaming exclusively on The Warner Sound’s YouTube Channel. Watch LABELED Season One here and stay tuned for LABELED Season 2, currently in production.

LINKS:

The Warner Sound’s YouTube Channel

ANYA MARINA: INDIE-PENDENT WOMAN Playlist on YouTube

LABELED Playlist on YouTube

Anya Marina Music & Merch Store on Bandcamp

LABELED Merch Store on TeeSpring

Netgear Releases FW 1.0.9.64_10.2.64 for R7000; Early Reviews Not Promising

Netgear recently released firmware version 1.0.9.64_10.2.64 for the Netgear R7000 AC1900 Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi router. For those continuing to experience issues with the Netgear R7000 running firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60, don’t rely on this latest update to resolve your issues. Based on some early reviews and comments from Netgear Community posts, this latest firmware release does not appear to fix or resolve the ongoing issues brought about by firmware versions 1.0.9.60 or 1.0.9.58.

According to Netgear’s firmware release notes, firmware version 1.0.9.64_10.2.64 includes the following:

New features and enhancements:

  • Improves the network device identification.

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixes the issue where the router should not remember the device name that was changed before the reset.

  • Fixes the issue where the OpenVPN client Connection Type shows as wired in the Attached Devices page but no information about the client shows in the VPN Client Devices tables.

  • Fixes the issue where the user can access the Internet Setup page via the Router/AP/Bridge/Repeating mode page.

  • Fixes the issue where some functions are grayed out if the user is using Firefox as the web browser.

  • Fixes the issue where watch devices cannot be detected and don’t display on the attached devices page.

  • Fixes the issue where some devices will display an unknown device name.

  • Fixes the issue where offline devices do not disappear.

  • Fixes the issue where the device name will show an unknown string.

Known Issues:

  • When using the Nighthawk app, the login fails when the password contains special characters.

  • The Internet will not disconnect when using a static WAN IP address and has reached the monthly traffic meter limit.

  • When disabling Circle using the Nighthawk app, the GUI still shows the Circle status as enabled.

The release notes make no mention of any fix for the dropped wireless connections or sporadic router reboots. If your Netgear R7000 router is running stable on firmware version 1.0.9.42, your safest bet is to stick with it. If you are feeling bold and want to do your own testing, you can download the latest firmware release through the R7000’s dashboard or directly from the Netgear support website.

Personally, until Netgear releases a solid piece of firmware to resolve the ongoing issues with the R7000, there’s no reason to continue putting time and effort into trial and error fixes. It’s time to move on.

If you’re interested, below are some stable routers I’ve used along with some new routers I’m looking into.

LINKS:

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Stable Netgear Routers I’ve Used

Netgear R8000 AC3200 Nighthawk AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router – https://amzn.to/2W6zSWv

Netgear R8300 AC5000 Nighthawk X8 Smart WiFi Router – https://amzn.to/2AXDDEC

Alternative Routers I’m Considering

Synology RT2600 AC – https://amzn.to/2W0ZDHP  

Netgear XR700 AD7200 Nighthawk Pro Gaming WiFi Router – https://amzn.to/2MnzePK

Netgear RAX80 AX6000 Nighthawk AX8 8-Stream WiFi Router – https://amzn.to/2RTqlms

AmpliFi Mesh Wi-Fi System - https://amzn.to/2SaYpup

RELATED POSTS:

Stabilizing The Netgear R7000 Router Running FW 1.0.9.60_10.2.60

Here We Go Again! Netgear FW v.1.0.9.60_10.2.60 Fixes Some Bugs; Creates New Issue on R7000

Netgear Releases FW 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 for R7000 Router; Fixes Bugs with FW v.1.0.9.58_10.2.58

Connectivity Issues After Upgrading Netgear R7000 To Firmware v.1.0.9.58_10.2.58

I Like The New MacBook Air, But . . .

Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

The MacBook Air has become one of my all-time favorite laptops out of all the laptops I’ve seen and used over the years. When the first MacBook Air came out, I wasn’t a huge fan. While I liked the sleek design and portability, the hefty price tag which started around $1,799 made it tough to justify.

As the MacBook Air evolved and the starting price dropped, the MacBook Air truly became a major contender as a laptop offering possibly an ideal balance between portability, performance and price. In early 2014, I finally decided to upgrade from my Late 2009 13.3-inch MacBook to a Mid-2013 13.3-inch MacBook Air. The starting price was around $1,099 and I configured the MacBook Air with a 1.7GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i7 Processor Turbo Boost up to 3.3GHz, 8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM and 256GB PCIe-based Flash Storage. Along with AppleCare, the total price with tax came in just under $1,850. While not inexpensive, the longevity has paid for itself. I’ve had the Mid-2013 MacBook Air for almost five years. It lacks a Retina Display and isn’t as fast and powerful as the current laptops on the market, but it can run Mac OS X Mojave, it still has great battery life and holds its own weight.

Not long after the 2018 MacBook Air was released, I headed over to an Apple Store to check them out. The new MacBook Air looks incredible. The new MacBook Air retains the essence of what makes the MacBook Air one of my favorite laptops and then some including a sleeker and slimmer form factor, a reduction in weight by about a quarter pound versus the previous generation, and of course, the long-desired Retina Display. The new MacBook Air also comes in three colors: Gold, Silver and Space Gray, is configurable with up to 16GB of RAM and 1.5TB SSD storage, has improved audio, a Force Touch trackpad with 20% more surface area, USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports and great battery life.

So, what’s not to like?

Well, for me, the main issue I have is with the processor. The new MacBook Air is only available with an Amber Lake 1.6GHz Dual-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 Processor Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz. Now, hold up! Both RAM and SSD storage are configurable on the new MacBook Air; however, the processor only comes with one option! Seriously!

So, what about pricing? The starting price on the new MacBook Air is $1,199 with 128GB storage or $1,399 with 256GB storage, but the previous generation had a starting price of $999. So, we’re paying more now? I get it . . . but if we do an apples-to-apples like comparison, a new MacBook Air starting at $1,399 with a 1.6GHz Dual-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 Processor Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory and 256GB storage with AppleCare and tax comes in under $1,800 which is $50 less than what I paid back in 2014 for my Mid-2013 MacBook Air so it’s not unreasonable.

Of course, times change and for my purposes today, I would likely opt for the MacBook Air with a 1.6GHz Dual-Core 8th generation Intel Core i5 Processor Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz, 16GB 2133MHz LPDDR3 memory and at least 512GB storage. Along with AppleCare and tax, the total would be around $2,230. Again, not unreasonable; but, in this case I would prefer a more powerful processor than what is currently available. I’d want more bang for the buck!

Do Your Own Taxes or Seek A Professional?

As the tax season kicks off, a fundamental question comes to mind – Should you do your own taxes or seek a professional?

Well, the answer depends on a variety of factors including:

  • How comfortable you are preparing your own tax returns?

  • How familiar you are with your tax situation and history?

  • How complex your tax situation is?

Generally, if you are comfortable preparing your own tax returns, are familiar with your tax situation and you don’t have a complex tax situation (ex: you only have income from W-2 wages, interest income from interest-bearing accounts, you don’t itemize your deductions or only itemize state & local taxes & charitable contributions), you should be able to prepare your own tax returns using either an online or desktop version of tax preparation software from companies like Intuit (TurboTax), H&R Block and TaxAct, just to name a few.

These companies have been developing tax preparation software for many years and have many customers who successfully use these products to prepare and file their tax returns annually. That said, you do need to have patience, be organized and dedicate a reasonable amount of time to go through the process. While the software will walk you through the process step-by-step, you do need to understand what information the tax preparation software is asking for then input the proper and correct information for your tax returns to be accurate. Keep in mind . . . Garbage in, Garbage out!

Even though these companies work to ensure their tax preparation software is accurate and apply computations and calculations based on the applicable tax laws, having a general understanding of your tax situation and history is extremely helpful so that you can raise a red flag if you notice that the tax preparation software is showing you too high of a tax refund or too much in taxes owed. Errors can occur due to incorrect user input or a software glitch.

If you are not at all comfortable preparing your own tax returns or have a more complex tax situation, consider seeking a professional tax preparer, Accountant or CPA firm. They should have a thorough understanding of the applicable tax laws and, provided you bring them all the necessary paperwork and documentation required, they should be able to properly and correctly prepare your tax returns, as well as identify and apply all applicable and available tax deductions to get you the optimal refund or try to minimize your tax bill/taxes owed. When looking for a professional tax preparer, Accountant or CPA firm, be sure to do your research, read reviews, get recommendations and compare service fees/rates.

In the case where you run/own a business, the tax situation can get even more complicated. There are different requirements on the federal, state and local level depending on the type of legal business entity you have created (ex: LLC: Single-member LLC, Partnership, LLC taxed as a sub-chapter S, Corporation: C-Corp or S-Corp) and the state in which your entity was established.

On the business side, you’ll probably want to have a tax professional, Accountant or CPA firm that you use on an ongoing basis. Except for the single-member LLC, all other entities are required to file a business tax return (separate from the personal return) even if the entities themselves do not pay income taxes (ex: pass-through entities). You also don’t want to reinvent the wheel dealing with a different tax professional, Accountant or CPA firm every year.

On the personal side, again, it depends on your comfort level and the complexity of the situation. For an individual with a single-member LLC, MAYBE you’ll consider doing your own tax return; but generally, it’s not a bad idea to consider hiring a tax professional, Accountant or CPA firm if you run/own a business especially as a member of a LLC Partnership, LLC taxed as a sub-chapter S, or you’re a shareholder of a corporation (C-Corp or S-Corp). There are a lot of requirements (not only income tax returns) that you may or may not be aware of at the federal, state and local level (ex: estimated quarterly tax payments) so having access to a good tax professional, Accountant or CPA firm can save you major headaches down the road. Yes, a good tax professional, Accountant or CPA firm will cost a bit more, but in the end, it will be well worth it!

Stabilizing The Netgear R7000 Router Running FW 1.0.9.60_10.2.60

If you’ve been following my previous posts on the Netgear R7000 router running firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60, you’ll know that I, along with many others, have experienced nothing but problems with Netgear’s latest firmware release for this router, which ironically was issued to fix another problematic firmware version (version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58) for the same router. I’ll include links to my previous posts at the end of this post if you want to check them out.

First, just to clarify, the Netgear R7000 router that I am referring to is more specifically the Netgear R7000 AC1900 Nighthawk Smart Wi-Fi Router. In my last post on this topic - Here We Go Again! Netgear FW v.1.0.9.60_10.2.60 Fixes Some Bugs; Creates New Issue on R7000, I added an update at the very end of the post which reads as follows:

UPDATE: After further testing, I did notice issues with Wi-Fi connectivity and performance after reverting to firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44. Some devices had trouble reconnecting to the Wi-Fi network on both the 2.4G and 5G networks. After some attempts to resolve the issue, I decided to go back to firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60. While I could try a hard reset of the router, I’m not overly confident the result would differ. If you are able to revert to firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44 and get the R7000 stable, stick with it for now. If not, as in this case, go back to firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 or consider getting another router. A new router seems inevitable.

R7000_QoS_WMM.jpg

After going back to firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60, following problems from reverting to firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44, I did experience issues with the Wi-Fi network sporadically cutting out and/or devices losing Wi-Fi connectivity; however, I did not immediately experience further sporadic reboots of the R7000 router. I decided to check the QoS settings and disable all QoS and WMM features. In the “Advanced” tab, I went to “Setup” then “QoS Setup.” In “QoS Setup,” I first checked the “QoS” tab where “Enable QoS” was already disabled so I left it as such. I then checked the “WMM” tab and went ahead and disabled both the “Enable WMM (Wi-Fi multimedia) settings (2.4GHz b/g/n)” and “Enable WMM (Wi-Fi multimedia) settings (5GHz a/n).” After applying the changes, I did not see any improvement to the situation.

R7000_Router_Update.jpg

I then decided to reload firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 again; however, this time, I decided to download the firmware directly from the Netgear support website and manually perform the installation. Previously, I upgraded through the R7000 dashboard. I’ve upgraded many routers over the years by using both the router upgrade feature built into router dashboards and by manually downloading and installing firmware onto routers. While I’ve run into issues occasionally, for the most part, both methods have generally worked fine. In this situation, I felt a manual firmware upgrade was worth a shot. I proceeded with the manual reload of firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60.

The result . . . I’ve been running the Netgear R7000 with the reloaded firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 for over a month now and I haven’t noticed any further widespread issues. I did recently have one user report connectivity issues with the 5G network, but no other users have reported or experienced the same so I’m still trying to ascertain if this is an isolated issue with this user’s devices.

Since the firmware reload, I’ve kept the QoS settings disabled and I’ve put as much load, if not more, onto the router to test and see if I could replicate the previous issues. Outside of that one user’s experience, the router appears to be stabilized for now. There’s no guarantee that it will work for you but feel free to give it a try.

In a worst-case scenario, if this doesn’t work and Netgear does not release a timely, stable firmware version to resolve these issues, the next step will be to replace the router. I’ve been looking into several options, both Netgear-branded and non-Netgear branded which I’ll include below. There are also a couple of older Netgear models that I’ve used which are still in the market and are stable running the latest Netgear firmware for those respective models. I’ll also include them below.

You may wonder why I’m keeping Netgear on the short list and it’s because I’ve used Netgear for many years and generally, they have been reliable. I’ve also used Linksys both before and after they were acquired by Cisco. Likewise, I’ve used Belkin which acquired Linksys. If you plan on making a change, do your research and go with a brand and product that you feel most comfortable with.

LATEST UPDATE: After over a month of stability, both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless connections began to consistently drop. The wired connection was unaffected and there were no spontaneous reboots during this period. Rebooting the router did not help the situation. In fact, the wireless connections began dropping more frequently after the reboot. While the 2.4GHz would eventually recover, the 5GHz remained offline until the connection was reset. With no new firmware updates from Netgear, it looks like it’s time to get a new router. In the interim, I have factory reset the R7000 and reconfigured the router to see if this will help in the short-term until a new router is in place.

LINKS:

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Stable Netgear Routers I’ve Used

Netgear R8000 AC3200 Nighthawk AC3200 Tri-Band WiFi Router – https://amzn.to/2W6zSWv

Netgear R8300 AC5000 Nighthawk X8 Smart WiFi Router – https://amzn.to/2AXDDEC

Alternative Routers I’m Considering

Synology RT2600 AC – https://amzn.to/2W0ZDHP  

Netgear XR700 AD7200 Nighthawk Pro Gaming WiFi Router – https://amzn.to/2MnzePK

Netgear RAX80 AX6000 Nighthawk AX8 8-Stream WiFi Router – https://amzn.to/2RTqlms

AmpliFi Mesh Wi-Fi System - https://amzn.to/2SaYpup

RELATED POSTS:

Here We Go Again! Netgear FW v.1.0.9.60_10.2.60 Fixes Some Bugs; Creates New Issue on R7000

Netgear Releases FW 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 for R7000 Router; Fixes Bugs with FW v.1.0.9.58_10.2.58

Connectivity Issues After Upgrading Netgear R7000 To Firmware v.1.0.9.58_10.2.58

Throwback Thursday: A Road Trip Through Nevada, Utah and Arizona

On this throwback Thursday, I’m taking a trip down memory lane, looking back at a road trip that I took a few years ago through Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The trip started in Nevada where I, along with good friends, spent a few days in Las Vegas walking around the city, taking in a couple of shows (The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil and Penn & Teller at the Rio Theater) and enjoying the atmosphere, food and attractions (ex: Freemont Street Experience, High Roller at the LINQ). While in Nevada, we also went to check out the Hoover Dam.

Next stop was Zion National Park in Utah which was absolutely incredible. I definitely remember how sunny and hot it was. I was looking for shade from the intense sun. Took a lot of great pictures and the scenery was unbelievable. We only spent a few hours in Zion National Park but it was amazing!

In Arizona, we made stops in Page, Sedona and Phoenix. We visited the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, the Glen Canyon Dam, the Lowell Observatory, Red Rock State Park, we took a boat tour on Lake Powell in Page, did the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour in Sedona, visited McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park and the Penske Racing Museum, just to name a few. We had planned to do a hot air balloon ride too, but due to weather, the hot air balloon ride was grounded.

It was a wonderful trip and I look forward to doing it again in the future.

You can check out the highlight video of my road trip below!

Fun Fact: In my post, In A World of Loops and Smart Instruments, I mention that the track “The Journey” was inspired by a recent road trip. This is the road trip that brought about the inspiration for that track along with “Charting The Course,” “A Call To Action,” “Reflection in Time,” “Paradise,” “On The Road,” and “Onwards.” You can check out all these tracks in the Music Gallery.

Isn’t It Ironic, Don’t You Think? . . . I Mean Seriously!

I was taking a walk over the weekend when I noticed a man and a woman sitting on a stoop huddled together a few feet in front of a shop. It was a cold, partly cloudy, blustery day. Perhaps they were sitting there together waiting for someone. There were numerous shops and restaurants in the area and it was around brunch time, so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.

As I got closer, my eyes briefly crossed paths with the gentleman’s eyes and looking into his eyes and at his facial expression, I knew there was more to the story . . . something was wrong.

After our eyes crossed paths, I looked down and noticed the two of them holding hands firmly. I looked up towards the woman and noticed she was holding a phone up to her ear. She was nodding, acknowledging the caller on the other end of the line. As I got even closer, I glanced at her face which was filled with distraught and much sadness. I could see that she was crying. The gentleman was trying to comfort her during this ordeal, whatever it was.

As I walked passed them, I couldn’t imagine what she, what they were going through. I didn’t hear anything nor was I attempting to eavesdrop as I passed by; but, I couldn’t help but feel for them during this difficult time.

As I walked into a store a short while later, there was a song playing that was unfamiliar to me, but I kept hearing the following lyrics:

“I need some good news, baby
Feels like the world's gone crazy
Give me some good news, baby
Give it to me, give it to me

I need some good news, baby
'Cause all the world's gone crazy
I need some good news, baby
Give it to me, give it to me”

The song that was playing was “Good News” by Ocean Park Standoff.

I thought to myself . . . Wow, the irony! Seriously!

Getting Ready for the Tax Season

With the holidays passed and the New Year upon us, it’s time to take some proactive steps in preparing for the upcoming tax season. That’s right! Now is a good time to start gathering and organizing all your 2018 financial/tax documents in preparation for the tax season. Don’t wait until it’s time to have your tax returns prepared to start hunting for all the crucial documents. Get a head start now by putting together a checklist of all the applicable documents you’ll need and start building a file if you haven’t already begun to do so.

Everyone has their own tax situation so first and foremost, if you have an Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional, get in touch with them to review 2018 and go over the documents that you’ll need to have ready to provide to them to prepare your tax returns. Due to changes in the tax law last year, you hopefully have been actively communicating with your Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional to discuss any applicable tax changes that could potentially affect you in the upcoming tax season. It’s also a good practice to reach out to your Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional in the fourth quarter of the year (if your Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional has not already done so), to discuss any applicable year-end tax matters and/or appropriate actions that need to be taken prior to year-end.

If you are a business owner, you’ll want to get in touch with your personal Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional to discuss any tax matters, issues or concerns applicable to your personal tax situation while also getting in touch with the company’s Accountant or CPA Firm to make sure the company is on the right track for year-end.

On a personal level, some of the financial/tax documents you should gather include:

  • Form W-2s from all employers that you worked for in 2018. Employers are required to furnish Form W-2s to their employees by January 31, 2019. A Form W-2 is considered “furnished” if it is postmarked by January 31, 2019. Most payroll companies also provide employee access to electronic copies of Form W-2s.

  • Form 1099-MISC from all companies/businesses for which you performed work or services as a non-employee/independent contractor in 2018. Companies/businesses must issue Form 1099-MISC if you were paid $600 or more during the year for work or services performed. Form 1099-MISC must be furnished by January 31, 2019. You are still required to report all applicable income even if you do not receive a Form 1099-MISC.

  • Form 1099-INT from all banks/financial institutions for which you earned interest income in 2018. Banks/financial institutions must issue a Form 1099-INT if you earned $10 or more in interest income during the tax year. You are still required to report all applicable interest income even if you do not receive a Form 1099-INT.

  • If you maintained health coverage through a Health Insurance Marketplace, you should receive a Form 1095-A. If you maintained health coverage through a health insurance provider or non-Applicable Large Employer (non-ALE), you should receive a Form 1095-B. If you maintained health coverage through an Applicable Large Employer (ALE), you should receive a Form 1095-C. These forms provide information regarding the health insurance coverage provided, to whom coverage was provided and when coverage was provided. Except for recipients of Form 1095-A, recipients of Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C generally do not need to wait for these forms to arrive to prepare their tax returns provided you have the information readily available including, who was covered and when, for tax preparation purposes. Keep in mind that for 2018, the Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate remains in full force. Individuals who fail to maintain proper health insurance coverage for all of 2018 may be subject to a penalty. You can get more information about these Health Insurance Information/Tax forms on the IRS website.

  • Form 1099-DIV from all financial institutions/brokerages for which you earned dividend income.

  • Form 1099-G if you itemized your deductions in the prior tax year and took advantage of the state/local tax deduction and received a state/local tax refund.

  • Form 1099-R if you received a distribution from a retirement plan, pension plan, profit sharing plan, etc.

  • Form 5498 if you made contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

  • Schedule K-1 if you are a member of a multi-member LLC, LLC taxed as a sub-chapter S or a shareholder of a sub-chapter S.

  • Copies of donation confirmation/acknowledgment letters for tax-deductible donations made to qualified charitable organizations.

The list above is not intended to be a complete list of the financial/tax documents that you may need for the preparation of your tax returns nor does it necessarily reflect all the financial/tax documents that are applicable to your specific tax situation. Again, speak with your Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional to review the financial/tax documents that you should gather in preparation for the current tax season. If you prepare your own tax returns, look through the financial/tax documents you received last year while accounting for any applicable changes made in 2018 (ex: opening a new savings or brokerage account, working for more than one employer within the same tax year) as you put together your checklist and gather your financial/tax documents.

A little early preparation and staying proactive can go a long way in helping to make this tax season go smoother and be less stressful!

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye and Thank You 2018!

On this New Year’s Eve, we are once again on the cusp of bidding adieu to the old year and welcoming in the New Year. Not unlike its predecessors, 2018 was filled with its ups and downs, highs and lows, best and worst, good and bad, happy and sad, trials and tribulations and so much more.

For me, 2018 began like a roller coaster – a bumpy wild ride filled with uncertainty and unknowns. But, it also opened the doors and my eyes to new possibilities. It was a chance for me to explore new opportunities and find inspiration and motivation to pursue new projects that were interesting, engaging, exciting, fun and for which I was truly passionate about.

I was able to build and launch this website; something which I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. I was able to write more through my blog and share knowledge, experience, ideas, thoughts and recommendations. I was able to dedicate and devote more time towards content creation and production, working on projects that were fun and enjoyable.

As I look back and reflect on 2018, I recall the challenging times, but they didn’t dampen my spirit, my passion, my focus or my determination. They strengthened my resolve to push ahead, to push forward. I accomplished some great things in 2018 and I look forward to carrying the momentum into the New Year and accomplishing more in 2019. I hope you’ll do the same!

Happy New Year!