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Community News features the latest news, announcements and events that ACA Business Club members are involved in within the community. To post please email your copy and images to Support@acanetwork.org.

  • 12/04/2016 9:44 PM | Martin Hess (Administrator)

    IRS Launches New Online Tool to Assist Taxpayers with Basic Account Information

    WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service announced today the launch of an online application that will assist taxpayers with straightforward balance inquiries in a safe, easy and convenient way.

    This new and secure tool, available on IRS.gov allows taxpayers to view their IRS account balance, which will include the amount they owe for tax, penalties and interest. Taxpayers may also continue to take advantage of the various online payment options available by accessing any of the payment features including: direct pay, pay by card and Online Payment Agreement. As part of the IRS vision for the future taxpayer experience, the IRS anticipates that other capabilities will continue to be added to this platform as they are developed and tested.

    “This new tool is part of the IRS’s commitment to improve and expand taxpayer services by providing additional online taxpayer options,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “The new ‘balance due’ feature, paired with the existing online payment options, will increase the availability of self-service interactions with the IRS. This will give taxpayers another way to take care of their tax obligations in a fast and secure manner.”

    Before accessing the tool, taxpayers must authenticate their identities through the rigorous Secure Access process. This is a two-step authentication process, which means returning users must have their credentials (username and password) plus a security code sent as a text to their mobile phones.

    Taxpayers who have registered using Secure Access for Get Transcript Online or Get an IP PIN may use their same username and password. To register for the first time, taxpayers must have an email address, a text-enabled mobile phone in the user's name and specific financial information, such as a credit card number or specific loan numbers. Taxpayers may review the Secure Access process prior to starting registration.

    As part of the security process to authenticate taxpayers, the IRS will send verification, activation or security codes via email and text. The IRS warns taxpayers that it will not initiate contact via text or email asking for log-in information or personal data. The IRS texts and emails will only contain one-time codes.

    In addition to this new functionality, the IRS continues to provide several self-service tools and helpful resources available on IRS.gov for individuals, businesses and tax professionals.

  • 12/01/2016 8:35 PM | Martin Hess (Administrator)


  • 11/06/2016 5:44 PM | Anonymous

    Joy Humbarger, CEO and founder of Maximize Your Leadership, is considered by many to be a leading trainer and coach on the one thing that changes everything. With more than 30 years of experience in the education and leadership fields, Joy is an expert in transforming mindsets to better business. She is author of, Strengths-Based Coaching©, an internationally recognized curriculum for supporting adults through change.  She is also author of “Coaching the F___!! (that’s FEAR) Out of Change,” a chapter in The Change #11, a national collection of tips and stories to empower others to take their leadership to the next level.  She has trained more than 8,000 leaders around the world, and has supported more than 700 leaders in one-on-one coaching settings.

    Joy teaches leaders how to strategically guide employees to positive, productive, solutions-based thinking.  She has a passion for helping each person discover and embrace their own unique strengths, as well as the strengths of others.  She is dedicated to providing processes that use open, two-way communication and positive change.

    Joy received her B.S. in Business and Psychology and her M.S. in Early Childhood Education.  She is a Professional Certified Leadership Coach (PCC) with the International Coach Federation.  Joy holds an Energy Leadership Index Assessment – Master Practitioner certification (ELI-MP), and a CORE Dynamics Leadership Specialist certification.

    When she is not supporting others to grow, you can find Joy curled up in a chair reading mysteries, winning at Rummy card games with her husband, or playing with her active and ornery grandsons.

    Joy Humbarger, PCC, ELI-MP, CDLS

    Discover the one thing that changes everything!

    MAXIMIZE YOUR LEADERSHIP

    913.481.4152

    Joy@MaximizeYourLeadership.com

    www.MaximizeYourLeadership.com
  • 11/06/2016 5:38 PM | Anonymous

    Joy Humbarger, with Maximize your Leadership, presented at the recent Prestige Partner series for entrepreneurs. Read more about Joy.

    Prestige Partners provided a four-week series to help entrepreneurs break down the barriers that hold them back in their business.  During this course they transformed their business by transforming their thinking.  The end goal was to help them create a new future for their life and business through true entrepreneurship.  Prestige Partners is dedicated to delivering the highest level of service and professionalism to their clients built on trust, synergy and lasting value.  Their members are goal driven, have an abundance mindset, and the action to generate maximum results. View the Video.

  • 10/26/2016 9:28 AM | Anonymous

    Looking to buy a home? Here are five essential tips for making the process as smooth as possible.

    Get your finances in order.

    Start by getting a full picture of your credit. Obtain copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you find. Next, find a suitable lender and get pre-approved for a loan. This will put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house.

    Find a house you can afford.

    As with engagement rings, there’s a general rule of thumb when it comes to buying a home: two-and-a-half times your annual salary. There are also a number of tools and calculators online that can help you understand how your income, debt, and expenses affect what you can afford. Don’t forget, too, that there are lots of considerations beyond the sticker price, including property taxes, energy costs, etc.

    Hire a professional.

    While the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings and resources, many aspects of the buying process require a level of expertise you can’t pick up from surfing the web. That’s why you’re better off using a professional agent than going it alone. If possible, recruit an exclusive buyer agent, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

    Do your homework.

    Before making a bid, do some research to determine the state of the market at large. Is it more favorable for sellers or buyers? Next, look at sales trends of similar homes in the area or neighborhood. Look at prices for the last few months. Come up with an asking price that’s competitive, but also realistic. Otherwise, you may end up ticking off your seller.

    Think long term.

    Obviously, you shouldn’t buy unless you’re sure you’ll be staying put for at least a few years. Beyond that, you should buy in a neighborhood with good schools. Whether you have children or not, this will have an impact on your new home’s resale value down the line. When it comes to the house itself, you should hire your own home inspector, who can point out potential problems that could require costly repairs in the future.

    Thanks for taking the time for reading. Please feel free to call, text, or email me with any questions about the Kansas City Area. I am Licencsed in Kansas and Missouri and ready to help you with your real estate needs.


    Jim Norris

    913.701.2883

    jimnorris4@kw.com

  • 10/26/2016 9:27 AM | Martin Hess (Administrator)
    Home Energy Tax Credits Save You Money at Tax Time

    Certain energy-efficient home improvements can cut your energy bills and save you money at tax time. Here are some key facts that you should know about home energy tax credits:

    Non-Business Energy Property Credit 

    • Part of this credit is worth 10 percent of the cost of certain qualified energy-saving items you added to your main home last year. This may include items such as insulation, windows, doors and roofs.
    • The other part of the credit is not a percentage of the cost. This part of the credit is for the actual cost of certain property. This may include items such as water heaters and heating and air conditioning systems. The credit amount for each type of property has a different dollar limit.
    • This credit has a maximum lifetime limit of $500. You may only use $200 of this limit for windows.
    • Your main home must be located in the U.S. to qualify for the credit.
    • Be sure you have the written certification from the manufacturer that their product qualifies for this tax credit. They usually post it on their website or include it with the product’s packaging. You can rely on it to claim the credit, but do not attach it to your return. Keep it with your tax records.
    • You must place qualifying improvements in service in your principal residence by Dec. 31, 2016.

    Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit

    • This tax credit is 30 percent of the cost of alternative energy equipment installed on or in your home.
    • Qualified equipment includes solar hot water heaters, solar electric equipment, wind turbines and fuel cell property.
    • Qualified wind turbine and fuel cell property must be placed into service by Dec. 31, 2016. Hot water heaters and solar electric equipment must be placed in to service by Dec. 31, 2021.
    • The tax credit for qualified fuel cell property is limited to $500 for each one-half kilowatt of capacity. The amount for other qualified expenditures does not have a limit. If your credit is more than the tax you owe, you can carry forward the unused portion of this credit to next year’s tax return. • The home must be in the U.S. It does not have to be your main home, unless the alternative energy equipment is qualified fuel cell property.

    Use Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, to claim these credits. For more on this topic refer to the form’s instructions. You can get IRS forms on IRS.gov/forms anytime.

    IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. IRS.govoffers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scamstaxpayer rights and more.

    Share this tip on social media -- #IRStaxtip: Home Energy Credits Save You Money at #Tax Time. http://go.usa.gov/xW4XA #IRS

    For more information or questions contact Stan Buss, Financial Cares at 913.515.1403 or visit www.financialcares.com.

  • 10/24/2016 8:42 AM | Martin Hess (Administrator)

    By Joanne Deschenaux, SHRM’s senior legal editor

    ATLANTA—The workplace is the site of more than half of all identity thefts, Michael Hall, a certified identity risk management specialist, told attendees at the SHRM Atlanta Human Resource Conference Oct. 6. There are five types of identity theft, and employers can potentially be held liable for any or all of them, he said. Because “many thieves these days don’t care about stealing money; they just want your information, which they can use to make money,” he stressed that it is crucially important for businesses to take steps to safeguard employees’ personal information.

    Types of Identity Theft

    Financial identity theft. When thinking about identity theft, most people first focus on the theft of personal information being used to obtain credit cards or to raid existing bank or credit card accounts, Hall said. Thieves can deplete your accounts, run up credit card bills in your name and destroy your credit. But there are other types of identity theft as well, Hall told the session attendees.

    Driver’s license identity theft. A thief can use your information to acquire a driver’s license in your name and claim to be you during a traffic stop. This could result in the suspension or revocation of your driving privileges or in criminal charges for offenses such as driving while intoxicated.

    Social Security identity theft. A thief might use your Social Security number to gain employment or to report income under your name. An illegal immigrant may use your Social Security number to get a job. Similarly, a convicted criminal may want to use your number to get around an employer’s background check. Thieves also may be interested in getting paid, but not paying taxes. “The Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration don’t neces- sarily talk to one another,” Hall said, and there have been instances of people finding out that their tax returns have already been filed and that someone else has received their refunds.

    Medical identity theft. This is the fastest growing type of identity theft, Hall observed, noting an AARP study that found that stolen health insurance cards are being sold on the black market for $500 to $600 dollars.

    In this type of theft, criminals obtain your health insurance information or Social Security number to get health care. Because this means that your medi- cal history could include someone else’s information, this type of identity theft can be life threatening, Hall noted. For example, as a result of someone else pretending to be you, it would be possible for your blood type to be listed incorrectly on your medical records.

    Character/criminal identity theft. Your personal information might be given to the police instead of the thief’s information. This can result in your arrest for crimes that you did not commit.

    Most Identity Theft Starts at Work

    Because the workplace is the site of so much identity theft, “executives must stop thinking about data protection as solely an IT problem,” he advised. Further, the problem lies not with the data, but with the people. There are five main causes of data breaches at work, Hall noted:

    • Disgruntled or dishonest staff.
    • Untrained or careless employees.
    • Lost or stolen laptops.
    • Service providers, contractors and visitors. • Hackers.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has advised that “information security should be a priority for every business in America,” Hall said and added that “any business comes under some information protection law.”

    [MORE]

    These laws (and regulations) include:

    • At least 44 state laws concerning identification theft and notification of data breaches. • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, for health information.
    • The FTC Act, which reaches “unfair and deceptive business practices.”
    • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act for financial information.

    • The Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act. • New federal agency rules for FACT Act compliance, which go into effect on Nov. 1, 2008.

    Steps To Take

    As an employer, you can be subject to criminal liability for data theft as well as civil liability to employees whose personal information has been stolen. In addition, the company may suffer costly damage to its reputation, Hall warned. There are announcements of data breaches almost every day, he noted. So what can you as an employer do to prevent these breaches? Hall suggested some basic steps:

    Develop a written data protection plan.
    The plan should be designed to protect all data throughout the company.
    Appoint a security manager.
    This should be an upper level managerial employee, Hall advised.
    Provide training for employees.
    Employers should implement a training schedule and ask every employee to sign an agreement that he or she will follow the company standards.
    Before you outsource any company function, investigate that firm’s data security practices.
    Consider offering identity theft protection as an employee benefit.
    This typically would include restoration services—help to the employee in reclaiming his or her identity.

    Some day soon, you may see an ad on television, Hall said, advising all employees whose personal data has been stolen at the workplace to contact a lawyer for information about suing their employers. You want to do everything you can to prevent such a lawsuit from happening, Hall suggested, but also noted that “you can’t prevent all identity theft.” However, showing that you took all the steps that you reasonably could have taken will go a long way toward defending a legal action based on theft of employees’ personal data.

    Joanne Deschenaux is SHRM’s senior legal editor. www.shrm.org/hrnews_published/archives/CMS_026842.asp 

    Cathy Lucas

    LegalShield

    Independent Associate

    913.709.4392    cjlucas@legalshieldassociate.com

    www.cathyjlucas.com

  • 10/19/2016 7:26 AM | Martin Hess (Administrator)

    Preferred Customer Gordon Armstrong lives in Florida and drives a 2007 Toyota Camry. It has a little more than 100,000 miles on the 4-cylinder engine.

    At 86, Armstrong describes himself as a "semi-retired" mechanic, who is familiar with vehicles and engines of all kinds — and what happens to them if they are run without any oil.

    Armstrong recently did a "turn-around trip" from his home in Florida to Indiana, a weekend that logged 1,950 miles on the Camry's engine.

    Before the trip, he installed fresh AMSOIL Signature Series 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil.

    Saves engineDuring the trip, Armstrong said, his daughter said she thought the oil light was on. "Oh, it's probably one of those idiot lights to check the engine," Armstrong responded.

    He was about 50 miles from home on the return trip when he stopped and checked the oil. "There was not a drop of oil on the dip stick," Armstrong said.

    He immediately put in two quarts of synthetic motor oil at the station, and another two quarts when he got home.

    "I'm still driving the car," Armstrong said. "It runs as sweet as it ever did. I'm definitely sold on AMSOIL."

    He realized he forgot to put the oil cap back on when he changed the oil before the trip.

    For more information on AMSOIL please contact Tom Gorby at 913-593-5797 or email tgorby@ecoflkc.com or visit www.ecoflkc.com

  • 10/18/2016 3:01 PM | Marcus Hood

    With many Health insurance companies either leaving the individual market or discontinuing their current offerings both on and off the government exchange, it’s very important that everyone understands how this new age of purchasing health insurance works.

    Starting in 2014 all plans under Obamacare have a true annual out of pocket maximum amount for consumers. This means all your medical expenses including prescriptions have an ending point where the insurance carrier must cover the remaining balance at 100% with an unlimited maximum amount on their end.

    Health Insurance carriers can no longer underwrite so all pre-existing conditions including maternity are covered with premiums based on age, not gender. Now that all health insurance is guaranteed issue, the time to purchase a new plan or to change plans is during open enrollment. For 2017 you have from November 1st through December 15th to decide on a plan starting January 1st. After the 15th of December the effective dates will be either February 1st or March 1st with open enrollment ending January 31st. The only other time an individual or family may enroll is within 60 days of a qualifying event. (Examples: Losing group or individual coverage, change in family or moving to a new state) This is known as a special enrollment period.

    Unless one qualifies for a waiver, we must all be covered or make what the government calls, an individual shared responsibility payment. (AKA tax penalty). The payment for not having health insurance in 2017 is the greater of, 2.5% of the taxpayer’s household income (Above the tax return filing threshold for the taxpayer’s filing status) or the taxpayer’s flat dollar amount, for 2016 it’s $695 per adult and $347.50 per child under 18. The maximum penalty per family using this method in 2016 is $2,085.

    Healthcare in general and the many mandates have driven premiums higher than ever with the only relief for some is purchasing through the new federally-implemented exchange known as the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM). These FFM plans are for individuals or families that qualify (income below 400% of poverty*) for a subsidy or tax credit to reduce their premium expense. Below is a chart showing qualifying poverty level amounts. The lower the income, (above the 2016 poverty level but below 400%) the larger the subsidy amount. This may also include lowering the out-of- pocket medical costs known as cost sharing.

    2016 Federal Poverty Level Chart*

    The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issues poverty guidelines that are often referred to as the “federal poverty level” (FPL). Federally-facilitated Marketplaces will use the 2016 guidelines when making calculations for the insurance affordability programs starting November 1, 2016.The FPL varies according to household size, and the number is adjusted for inflation and updated annually. 

     Household Size

     100%

     133%

     150%

    200%

    250%

     300%

    400%

     1

    $11,880

    $15,800

    $17,820

    $23,760

    $29,700

    $35,640

    $47,520

     2

    16,020

     21,307

    24,030

      32,040

    40,050

    48,060

    64,080

     3

    20,160

     26,813

    30,240

      40,320

    50,400

    60,480

    80,640

     4

    24,300

     32,319

    36,450

      48,600

    60,750

    72,900

    97,200

     5

    28,440

     37,825

    42,660

      56,880

    71,100

    85,320

    113,760

     6

    32,580

     43,331

    48,870

      65,160

    81,450

    97,740

    130,320

     7

    36,730

     48,851

    55,095

      73,460

    91,825

    110,190

    146,920

     8

    40,890

     54,384

    61,335

      81,780

    102,225

    122,670

    163,560

     

    The premium tax credit is based on projected annual household income, family size, and the cost of the second lowest cost Silver level (actuarial value (AV) 70%) benchmark plan for that individual or family. The Marketplace uses this information to compute a maximum premium tax credit, which can then be applied in part, or in full, to reduce the monthly premiums of one or more Qualified Health Plans.

    Unfortunately 2017 will be a challenge for many with even higher premiums, narrower networks of hospitals and doctors and fewer plan choices. Brokers and agents are also feeling the pain as commissions continue to decrease with some carriers totally eliminating payment for brokers assisting their clients on the hardest enrollment portal to navigate; the governments Marketplace. Working with a broker can save a considerable amount of time by easily comparing plans and costs, discussing out-of-pockets, prescription drug coverage and what hospitals and doctors participate in the network choices like EPO’s HMO’s and PPO’s.

    Don’t be surprised if you have to pay for the advice of a professional health insurance agent this year if you plan on enrolling in the Marketplace. What’s really sad is this may leave many consumers having to do it themselves, spending hours relying on non- licensed enrollers who don’t understand the local networks and many times recommend plans they don’t understand.

    For most people, in part or in whole, the proclaimed savings, keeping our doctors and current health plan were all false thanks to the healthcare law. We can only hope that our lawmakers and new president can fix this mess we’re in. As the president of our local chapter of the National Association of Health Underwriters, an association with a voice in Washington DC and across the US, I highly recommend working with a professional broker who educates themselves and knows the products being offered. You may go to our local webpage www.gkcahu.org  to find local members who can help you through the process.       

    Marcus Hood has been servicing several hundred clients in both the individual and employer group market for over 15 years. As president of the Greater Kansas City Association of Health Underwriters he works with a board to provide monthly continuing education luncheons for over 100 local members of the National Association. NAHU.org

    Marcus can be reached at 913-486-8479 or missionman@msn.com


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