Welcome 2012! As the New Year rolls around, it's always a sure bet that there will be changes to the current tax law and 2012 is no different. Here's a checklist of tax changes pertaining to families and children to help you plan the year ahead.
For taxable years beginning in 2012, the amount that can be used to reduce the net unearned income reported on the child's return that is subject to the "kiddie tax," is $950. The same $950 amount is
used to determine whether a parent may elect to include a child's gross income in the parent's gross income and to calculate the "kiddie tax". For example, one of the requirements for the parental election is that a child's gross income for
2012 must be more than $950 but less than $9,500.
For 2012, the net unearned income for a child under the age of 19 (or a full-time student under the age of 24) that is not
subject to "kiddie tax" is $1,900, the same as 2011.
For taxable years beginning in 2012, the term "high deductible health plan" means, for family coverage, a health plan that has an annual deductible that is not less than $4,200 (up $150 from 2011) and not more than $6,300 (up $250 from
2011), and under which the annual out-of-pocket expenses required to be paid (other than for premiums) for covered benefits do not exceed $7,650 (up $250 from 2011).
Adoption Assistance Programs
For taxable years beginning in 2012, the amount that can be excluded from an employee's gross income for the adoption of a child with special needs is $12,650. In addition, the maximum amount that can be excluded from an employee's gross income for the amounts paid or expenses incurred by an employer for qualified adoption expenses furnished pursuant to an adoption assistance program for other adoptions by the employee is $12,650 (down from $13,360 in 2011). The amount excludable from an employee's gross income begins to phase out under for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) in excess of $189,710 and is completely phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $229,710 or more.
Taxpayers adopting children are eligible for both the adoption credit (see below) and the adoption assistance exclusion of
adoption expenses paid for through an employer's adoption assistance plan. However, the same adoption expense cannot qualify for both the adoption credit and the adoption assistance exclusion.
Individuals - Tax Credits
For taxable years beginning in 2012, the credit allowed for an adoption of a child with special needs is $12,650. For taxable years beginning in 2012, the maximum credit allowed for other adoptions is the amount of qualified adoption expenses up to $12,650. The available adoption credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) in excess of $189,710 and is completely phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $229,710 or more.
Child Tax Credit
For taxable years beginning in 2012, the value used to determine the amount of credit that may be refundable is $3,000.
Earned Income Credit
For tax year 2012, the maximum earned income tax credit (EITC) for low- and moderate- income workers and working families rises to $5,891, up from $5,751 in 2011. The maximum income limit for the EITC rises to $50,270, up from $49,078 in 2011. The credit varies by family size, filing status and other factors, with the maximum credit going to joint filers with three or more qualifying children. In addition, for taxable years beginning in 2012, the earned income tax credit is not allowed if certain investment income exceeds $3,200.
Additional Child Credit
The $1,000 per-child additional child tax credit has been extended through 2012. The credit will decrease to $500 per child in 2013.
Individuals - Education
Hope Scholarship - American Opportunity, and Lifetime earning Credits
The maximum Hope Scholarship Credit allowable for taxable years beginning in 2012 is $2,500.
The modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) threshold at which the lifetime learning credit begins to phase out is $104,000 for joint filers, up from $102,000, and $52,000 for singles and heads of household, up from $51,000.
Interest on Educational Loans
For taxable years beginning in 2012, the $2,500 maximum deduction for interest paid on qualified education loans begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) in excess of $60,000 ($125,000 for joint returns), and is completely phased out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income of $75,000 or more ($155,000 or more for joint returns).
For more info visit our website: http://www.dellapostacpa.com/
Do you have children who fight with each other and have sibling rivalry? The Coalition for Children is having Jeanine Fitzgerald to discuss tips for parents on how to deal with this topic! Check it out!
Join us in welcoming Cape Cod Mommies fabulous newest advisor: Pamela Wills of Elasticity Coaching!
About Change Coach Pam
Right about now, you may be wondering “Who is this person talking to me about change???” Please allow me to introduce myself.
I am a mother. A writer. Dancer and choreographer. Red wine connaisseuse. J.K. Rowling fan. Community theater supporter. Aspiring yogini. Occasional golfer. Soon-to-be running star!
But you’re probably here because I am also a coach. Two things in particular recommend me as a coach:
1) My knowledge: The formal and the informal. I hold a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and CPC coaching qualifications from Fowler Wainwright International. And I’m still learning, enrolled in two different online courses at the moment because more knowledge makes me a better coach for you. I have read stacks and stacks of books on coaching, personal development, spirituality, parenting, relationships, career building… I LOVE my
2) My experience: Moving countries twice and “commuting” between them for several years, living as an expat for more than a decade, almost dying in childbirth, divorcing and winning a protracted custody battle, striving to find the right career, hoping to find the right relationship, making bad decisions, learning how to make good decisions…
Add together #1 (continuous studies) and #2 (tough life lessons) and you get me, a coach who knows the difference between unhappy and happy, knows how to make my way from the former to the latter (because I have) and knows how to help you do the same.
When I’m doing what I do best, I am helping you to weather the storms of change in your life. Often, I even show you how to invite change, make nice with it at a party and show it who’s boss. YOU are!
With my Professional Coaching certification (CPC) completed and my Life Coaching certification (CLC) on the way, I am thrilled to be allowed to support and guide people through important changes. As a result, I specialize in CHANGE, coaching primarily working women, both individuals and groups (large and small).
The Diaper Battle
Who doesn't dread the thought of a diaper change at times? Read below for some suggestions from Elizabeth Pantley to make diaper time a more engaging and fun experience for all.
Stop the Diaper Changing Battles
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of the “No-Cry Solution” book series
Babies are little bundles of energy! They don’t want to lie still to have their diapers changed. They cry, fuss, or even crawl away. A simple issue can turn into a major tug-of-war between parent and baby.
Diaper changing as a ritual
The position of parent and baby during a diaper change is perfect for creating a bonding experience between you. You are leaning over your baby, and your face is at the perfect arms-length distance for engaging eye contact and communication. What’s more, this golden opportunity presents itself many times during each day; no matter how busy you both get, you have a few moments of quiet connection. It’s too valuable a ritual to treat it as simply maintenance.
Learning about your baby
Diapering offers a perfect opportunity for you to truly absorb your baby’s cues and signals. You’ll learn how his little body works, what tickles him, what causes those tiny goose bumps. As you lift, move, and touch your baby, your hands will learn the map of his body and what’s normal for him. This is important because it will enable you to easily decipher any physical changes that need attention.
Regular diaper changes create rhythm in your baby’s world and afford the sense that the world is safe and dependable. They are regular and consistent episodes in days that may not always be predictable. Your loving touches teach your baby that he is valued, and your gentle care teaches him that he is respected.
A learning experience for your baby
Your baby does a lot of learning during diaper changes. It’s one of the few times that she actually sees her own body without clothes, when she can feel her complete movements without a wad of diaper between her legs. Diaper-off time is a great chance for her to stretch her limbs and learn how they move.
During changing time, your baby is also a captive audience to your voice, so she can focus on what you are saying and how you are saying it — an important component of her language learning process. Likewise, for a precious few minutes, youare her captive audience, so you can focus on what she’s saying and how she is saying it — crucial to the growth of your relationship.
What your baby thinks and feels
Many active babies could not care less if their diapers are clean. They’re too busy to concern themselves with such trivial
issues. It may be important to you, but it’s not a priority for your child.
Diaper rash or uncomfortable diapers (wrong size or bad fit) can make him dread diaper changes, so check these first. Once you’re sure all the practical issues are covered, make a few adjustments in this unavoidable process to make it more enjoyable.
Take a deep breath
Given the number of diapers you have to change, it’s possible that what used to be a pleasant experience for you has gotten to be routine, or even worse, a hassle. When parents approach diaper changing in a brisk, no-nonsense way, it isn’t any fun for Baby. Try to reconnect with the bonding experience that diaper changing can be -- a moment of calm in a busy day when you share one-on-one time with your baby.
Have some fun
This is a great time to sing songs, blow tummy raspberries, or do some tickle and play. A little fun might take the dread out of diaper changes for both of you. A game that stays fresh for a long time is “hide the diaper.” Put a new diaper on your head, on your shoulder, or tucked in your shirt and ask,“Where’s the diaper? I can’t find it!” A fun twist is to give
the diaper a name and a silly voice, and use it as a puppet. Let the diaper call your child to the changing station and have it talk to him as you change it. (If you get tired of making Mister Diaper talk, just remember what it was like before you tried the idea.)
Keep a flashlight with your changing supplies and let your baby play with it while you change him. Some kids’ flashlights have a button to change the color of the light, or shape of the ray. Call this his “diaper flashlight” and put it away when the change is complete. You may find a different type of special toy that appeals to your little one, or even a basket
of small interesting toys. If you reserve these only for diaper time, they can retain their novelty for a long time.
Try a stand-up diaper
If your baby’s diaper is just wet (not messy), try letting her stand up while you do a quick change. If you’re using cloth
diapers, have one leg pre-pinned so that you can slide it on like pants, or opt for pre-fitted diapers that don’t require
Time to potty train?
If your child is old enough and seems ready for the next step, consider potty training.
Reprinted by permission of Elizabeth Pantley, author of the “No-Cry Solution” book series. (McGraw-Hill) http://www.nocrysolution.com.
What Do You Let Your Children Hear?
I have noticed that many times parents are not aware of what they are exposing their children to when it comes to adult topics. A child’s development and maturity is very different from an adult’s. Even if your child is very verbal and appears mature for their age, they are still children.
Are you aware of where your children are when you are talking about adult topics? Can they overhear you talking to a friend on the phone or in the other room? Do you have adult themed conversations right in front of your child? Do you directly share your adult concerns with your children?
It is not for your child to worry about the family finances. It is not your child’s business if you and your partner or friends are having a disagreement. It is not your child’s job to support you emotionally.
Exposing your child to adult size worries or concerns just causes your child to be anxious and confused. They often don’t have the maturity to handle the issues. They also don’t have any control over them. They can’t bring in more money or make their parents get along.
There needs to be a clear boundary between adult themed topics and children. If you are worried about your finances or job find another adult to share with, away from you child’s hearing. If you are having trouble with your partner, a
friend or other family members handle it directly. Don’t share your thoughts and feelings with your child. If they sense tension you can acknowledge it while letting them know it’s your business not theirs.
The bottom line is your child just needs to know they are safe and cared for. The adults in their lives need to be aware of what they are exposing their children to.
Cape Cod Mommies is pleased to be able to bring you articles from Elizabeth Pantley, author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution. Ms. Pantley is the President of Better Beginnings, Inc., a family resource and education company. She is a regular radio show guest and frequently quoted as a parenting expert in newspapers and magazines. Elizabeth is the author of eight popular parenting books, available in 18 languages, and she was a contributing author to The Successful Child with Dr. William and Martha Sears. She is the winner of the 2010 Mom's choice Award for "The No-Cry Separation Anxiety Solution", 2010 & 2011 She Knows Parents Choice Awards for "The No-Cry Sleep Solution", and has won other Disney i Parenting Media Awards as well as won twice on Amazon's Best Parenting Books.
Read more about Elizabeth here: http://www.pantley.com/elizabeth/
Wonderful Sounds for Sleep
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of the No-Cry Sleep Solution
The environment that your baby enjoyed for nine long months in the womb was not one of absolute quiet. There was constant symphony of sound -- yourheartbeat and fluids rushing in and out of the placenta. (Remember those sounds from when you listened to your baby’s heartbeat with the Doppler stethoscope?) Research indicates that “white noise” sounds or soft bedtime music helps many babies to relax and fall asleep more easily. This is most certainly because these sounds create an environment more familiar to your baby than a very quiet room.
Many people enjoy using soothing music as their baby’s sleep sound. If you do, choose bedtime music carefully. Some music (including jazz and much classical music) is too complex and stimulating. For music to be soothing to your baby, pick simple, repetitive, predictable music, like traditional lullabies. Tapes created especially for putting babies to sleep are great choices. Pick something that you will enjoy listening to night after night, too. (Using a tape player with an automatic repeat function is helpful for keeping the music going as long as you need it to play.)
There are widely available, and very lovely, "nature sounds" tapes that work nicely, too, as well those small sound-generating or white-noise devices and clocks you may have seen in stores. The sounds on these -- raindrops, a bubbling brook or running water -- often are similar to those sounds your baby heard in utero. A ticking clock or a bubbling fish tank also make wonderful white-noise options.
“I went out today and bought a small aquarium and the humming noise does seem to relax Chloe and help her to sleep. I didn’t buy any fish though. Who has time to take care of fish when you’re half asleep all day?”
Tanya, mother of 13-month-old Chloe
You can find some suitable tapes and CDs made especially for babies or those made for adults to listen to when they want to relax. Whatever you choose, listen to it first and ask yourself: Does this relax me? Would it make me feel sleepy if I listened to it in bed?
If you must put your baby to sleep in a noisy, active house full of people, keeping the tape running (auto rewind) will help mask baby-waking noises like dishes clanking, people talking, siblings giggling, TV, dogs barking, etc. This can also help transition your sleeping baby from a noisy daytime house to which he’s become accustomed subconsciously to one of absolute nighttime quiet.
Once your baby is familiar with his calming noise, or music, you can use these to help your baby fall back to sleep when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Simply sooth him by playing the music (very quietly) during the calming and falling-asleep time. If he wakes and cries, repeat this process.
If your baby gets used to his sleep time sounds you can take advantage of this and take the tape with you if you will be away from home for naptime or bedtime. The familiarity of these sounds will help your baby sleep in an unfamiliar environment.
Eventually your baby will rely on this technique less and less to fall and stay asleep. Don’t feel you must rush the process; there is no harm in your baby falling asleep to these gentle sounds. When you are ready to wean him of these you can help this process along by reducing the volume by a small amount every night until you finally don’t turn the music or sounds on at all.
Babies enjoy these peaceful sounds, and they are just one more piece in the puzzle that helps you to help your baby sleep –gently, without any crying at all.
Excerpted with permission by McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Publishing from The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night by Elizabeth Pantley, copyright 2002
Check out these activities: Mom Pampering Session, Penguins, and a Breakfast Seminar!
The Coalition for Children is hosting some pretty exciting activities over the next f
1) Wednesday night, January 11, we're having a pampering night. It's a night of yoga, meditation, and nukkles massage. It might be too late to share with your mommies - do you think? - but it might not be too late for you. East Falmouth School, 33 Davisville Rd. East Falmouth, MA. 6:30 - 8:00 pm. Call 508 - 548 0151 x 175 to register.
2) This weekend, Saturday January 14th, at the Falmouth Public Library, 10:30 am - noon, is IT'S COLD, IT'S FUN... IT'S PENGUINS! It's a free, fun, family activity perfect for you and your little guy;-) 10:30 - noon. Drop in and everyone is
3) Saturday, February 4th, at the Falmouth High School, we are going to host CELEBRATING OUR CHILDREN - a morning for parents and providers. The workshop is RAISING STRONG AND HEALTHY BOYS AND GIRLS and the presenters are
FABULOUS. (Cindy Horgan and Sherianna Bolyle) This one we are charging for - $10.00 per adults; however, we have a scholarship fund because we want everyone to be able to come. The $10.00 covers a continental breakfast, family, friendly vendors, and the workshop. To register call (508) 548 0151 x 172.
Sign up for the Amazing Lee Burwell: Effective Postive Parenting Class-free dinner and free childcare!
The Coalition for Children is offering a free class with Lee Burwell on Effective Positive Parenting. The class begins mid January and continues through the spring. Every class, you will be given dinner and complimentary childcare for the duration of the class. If you have never taken any of Lee's "Bringing Baby Home Classes" or Parenting Classes through CCHC, you are missing some great info. We all like to think we know it all and that we don't need help, but the truth is, WE DO! Lee is a phenomenol instructor and is a LICSW and is
Such a great read. By Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author
"If not for the photographs I might have a hard time believing they ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the black button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin.
All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost adults, two taller than me, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets, and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.
Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach. Berry Brazelton. Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages, dust would rise like memories.
What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations and the older parents at cocktail parties—what they taught me was that they couldn’t really teach me very much at
all. Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can only be managed with a stern voice and a time-out. One boy is toilet trained at three, his brother at two. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome.
As a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. First science told us they were insensate blobs. But we thought they were looking, and watching, and learning, even when they spent so much time hitting themselves in the face. And eventually science said that we were right, that important cognitive function began in early babyhood. First science said they should be put on a feeding schedule. But sometimes they seemed hungry in two hours, sometimes three, sometimes all the time, so that we never even bothered to button up. And eventually science said that that was right, and that they would be best fed on demand. First science said environment was the great shaper of human nature. But it certainly seemed as though those babies had distinct personalities, some contemplative, some gregarious, some crabby. And eventually science said that was right, too, and that they were hardwired exactly as we had suspected.
Still, the temptation to defer to the experts was huge. The literate parent, who approaches everything—cooking, decorating, life—as though there was a paper due or an exam scheduled is in particular peril when the kids arrive.
How silly it all seems now, obsessing about language acquisition and physical milestones, riding the waves of normal, gifted, hyperactive, all those labels that reduced individuality to a series of cubbyholes. But I could not help
myself. I had watched my mother casually raise five children born over ten years, but by watching her I intuitively knew that I was engaged in the greatest—and potentially most catastrophic—task of my life. I knew that there were mothers who had worried with good reason, that there were children who would have great challenges to meet. We were lucky; ours were not among them. Nothing horrible or astonishing happened: There was hernia surgery, some stitches, a broken arm and a fuchsia cast to go with it.
Mostly ours were the ordinary everyday terrors and miracles of raising a child, and our children’s challenges the old familiar ones of learning to live as themselves in the world. The trick was to get past my fears, my ego, and my
inadequacies to help them do that. During my first pregnancy I picked up a set of lovely old clothbound books at a flea market. Published in 1933, they were called Mother’s Encyclopedia, and one volume described what a mother needs to
be: “psychologically good: sound, wholesome, healthy, unafraid, able to deal with the world and to live in this particular age, an integrated personality, an adjusted person.” In a word, yow.
It is good that we know so much more now, know that mothers need not be perfect to be successful. But some of what we learn is as pernicious as that daunting description, calculated to make us feel like failures every single day. I remember fifteen years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil (see: slug) for an eighteen-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went
to China. Next year he goes to college. He can walk just fine. He can walk too well. Every part of raising children at some point comes down to this: Be careful what you wish for.
Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the “Remember When Mom Did” Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language—mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, “What did you get wrong?” (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch The Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they
slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little moreand the getting it done a little less.
Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t, what was me and what was simply life. How much influence did I really have over the personality of the former baby who cried only when we gave parties and who today, as a teenager,
still dislikes socializing and crowds? When they were very small I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a
thousand ways that I back off and let them be.
There was babbling I forgot to do, stimulation they never got, foods I meant to introduce and never got around to introducing. If a black-and-white mobile really increases depth perception and early exposure to classical music increases the likelihood of perfect pitch, I blew it. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact, and I was sometimes over-the-top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were"
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