Effective Jan. 26, new postal rates hit the United States. It works out to be about a six-percent increase, both for consumers and for periodicals (newspapers and magazines).
Here’s how it may affect you:
Letters: now 49 cents (3-cent increase) for up to 1 oz.
Letters: 21 cents (1-cent increase) for each additional oz.
International: 1-oz. letters anywhere, now $1.15
Postcards: now 34 cents (up 1 cent)
The rate increases are “a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges,” writes Mickey Barnett, the Board of Governors Chairman. The challenge: a $20 billion budget gap.
Just a reminder that “Forever” stamps are worth whatever the current postal rate is, so you can still use them for first-class letters.
Watch out for tax edentity thieves
Tax season is here again, and the IRS says it will be emphasizing online services and automation this year to navigate the hectic tax filing season. In light of one of the most rapidly growing scams – tax identity theft – Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) encourages people to file their tax returns early in the tax filing season, if possible, which begins this year Friday, Jan. 31.
“Tax identity theft is when someone uses your Social Security number to file a tax refund or get a job,” said Dana Badgerow, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. “Federal Trade Commission (FTC) statistics show that in 2012, tax identity theft accounted for more than 40 percent of identity theft complaints. This is definitely a growing problem.”
According to the FTC, you might find out you’ve been a victim of tax identity theft when you get a letter from the IRS saying more than one tax return was filed in your name, or if IRS records show you have wages from an employer you don’t recognize. To avoid tax identity theft:
CLA Estate Services is hosting a free Estate Planning Workshop from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Classic Hall Event Center (220 Poplar Lane South, Annandale, MN 55302).
The workshop will provide valuable information for seniors on securing one’s estate and retirement planning. Guests will receive a workbook and gain useful information they can act upon immediately regarding: pros and cons of wills and trusts; how to avoid probate; long term health care concerns; and tax-reduction planning. Please call (866) 252-8721 to confirm attendance.
Small businesses and non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive low interest loans as a result of a disaster declaration that included Stearns County. The disaster declaration was the outcome of drought conditions that occurred from Sept. 1, through Nov. 15, 2013.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that federal economic injury disaster loans were available to small businesses after the Secretary of Agriculture issued a disaster declaration to help farmers recover from damages and losses to crops from this same drought event.
The SBA loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 2.875 percent for private non-profit organizations of all sizes and 4 percent for small businesses, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the business, type of activity and its financial resources. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition. These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.
Meeker Memorial Hospital will implement visitor restrictions Tuesday, Jan. 21. Because of the prevalence of influenza (FLU) already this season and to further protect patients, staff and the community from its spread, it has been decided to implement visitor restrictions at MMH; the following are in effect until further notice:
• It is recommended that no children visit hospital patients.
• Birth Center: No one under 18 is allowed to visit at this time, with the exception of siblings.
• For anyone with symptoms like scratchy throat, fever, cough, body aches, etc., a mask is required to visit patients.