DEAR SUN SPOTS: The First Universalist Church of West Paris will hold a rhubarb festival Saturday, June 4, from 9 a.m. to noon at the church on Main Street.
In addition to our famous rhubarb pies, we will be serving coffee with rhubarb muffins, squares and coffee cake. Everything rhubarb! We will have ice cream with rhubarb sauce. Handmade crafts will be on sale also.
Weather permitting, we will have white elephant tables out of doors. Don’t miss it! — Beverly Stevens, Goodwill Fellowship member, First UU Church, West Paris, firstname.lastname@example.org
DEAR SUN SPOTS: At tax time, we received a refund because we own rental property. When I asked my tax man why he wasn’t deducting our own personal home tax and all donations made during the year, I was told I would be getting less of a refund if he deducted my house tax and donations I made during the year. I don’t understand the reasoning for this.
I can see why I couldn’t deduct any of our medical bills because the limit has been raised so high. I guess we should feel lucky, even though we had a lot of medical bills, they were not that high.
Who could explain to us why we’d get less money by deducting these items? — Taxed, Lewiston
ANSWER: Your accountant should have offered you a full explanation to this question, and you should ask him for one to be sure that you understand and are paying the proper taxes. Sun Spots, however, thinks she knows what you are talking about, as she has a similar situation.
In order for donations, property taxes, medical expenses and other deductions to save you money on your taxes, they need to exceed the “standard deduction” available to all taxpayers. This amount varies according to your filing status, whether you are married, say, and filing jointly or separately.
For example, say a married couple, filing jointly, qualifies for a $11,400 standard deduction for 2010. Their deductions for medical expenses, property and sales tax, and charitable contributions, etc., as computed on their Schedule B, come to $8,300. That deduction is less than the standard deduction of $11,400 that they can take, so it makes more sense to forgo those deductions and take the standard deduction.
For many people who itemize their taxes, their biggest deduction is mortgage interest. However, if you rent or your home is paid off, or nearly so, then it is much more difficult to exceed the standard deduction.
There has been talk in Congress, and probably will continue to be, of eliminating the mortgage deduction or making charitable deductions more accessible.
As for doing your taxes, the IRS has an excellent website (www.irs.gov) and a number of options for filing your taxes electronically (and for free!) online. Just visit www.irs.gov/efile and choose your option. You don’t need to be a math whiz. Many of these programs will walk you through the process in a question-and-answer format. Sun Spots has used electronic filing for more than a decade and finds it does a better job than she could ever achieve by hand with a calculator.
DEAR SUN SPOTS: In the May 28 column there was a letter from Addie, Lisbon Falls, regarding a trip to Wolfboro, N.H. There was no contact information for Addie. Could you please provide it? Thank you. — Mary Jane Peaco, email@example.com
DEAR SUN SPOTS: I would like more contact info on the Scarlet O’Hatters trip to Wolfboro, N.H. There was no contact information for Addie. Thank you and have a great day. Love Sun Spots. — Bernadette, www.BernadettesCreations.com
ANSWER: Oops! Fortunately, Addie had provided it previously, and Sun Spots had it on hand: Addie Yenco, 353-2760.
This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.