Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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The nuts and bolts of life….

In Business,Culture,Family,Human Resources on March 18, 2015 by Sufen Wang

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe nuts and bolts of life as Russ Rosell

 When you’re 93 years old, what do you see yourself doing every Tuesday and Thursday for four hours each day? Perhaps napping? Or reading a large print book with a cat curled up in your lap? Maybe playing bingo? Most likely, going to work and doing an important job is not on yours or most people’s retirement list.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut Russ Rosell is a man who does exactly that, and who does it well. Every Tuesday and Thursday from 12 to 4 p.m., he works at Hillco Fastener Warehouse, Inc., located in Garden Grove, California. Hillco specializes in automotive applications, with more than 12,000 parts in stock, and has been doing business since 1976. And for the past fourteen years, Russ has played an integral role in the company. He sorts, packages, and labels bags of sundry nuts, bolts, and washers according to their shape, size, material, and more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARuss has his own station set up in the Employee’s Only section of the Hillco warehouse, including a swivel chair where he can sit comfortably while he combs through fasteners. Billie Hill, one of the owners, described him as a “very meticulous and particular” worker, and the proof is in the pie: when we showed up to interview Russ, he was hard at work bent over several yellow containers chock-full of washers, with completed bags neatly labeled and arranged on his desk. And he doesn’t take a break at work – just a few moments to eat a sandwich and a soft drink.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So how does he do it? For one, Russ has stayed healthy by walking two miles every day up until recently.  And although he no longer drives, he gets to work and back via rides with his son. Moreover, his response to his doctor’s reservations is simply, “I feel good doctor. I’m going to do it.” But maybe the better question is why does he do it? For Russ, it’s really about the people. When asked what his favorite part about working at Hillco is, he said without hesitation, “The people – the people themselves, they’re all nice. And the owners are just terrific people.” He reiterated a few minutes later that, “They’re the nicest people I think I’ve ever met.” And again later he said that, “The owners are just the most terrific people I’ve ever met.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd the feeling is mutual. From Christmas dinners, to trips to the casino, to attending baseball games, the Hillco owners love having Russ around. Billie explained that, “He’s part of our family. When Russ walked in the door, it was a very lucky day for us. He performs a valuable service and the other employees are crazy about him.” One such employee, Steve, who has been at Hillco for three years, said that his favorite thing about Russ is “his ambition – he wants to get to work. There’s no down time. To sum it up, he’s a no-nonsense guy who’s here for work.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAndy, who has been employed at Hillco for five years, said that he loves “sitting back there and hanging out with Russ…he’s a funny guy.” Russ quipped that he’s “just tryin’ to be.” But a glimpse of his humor is visible in the tune he often hums while packaging fasteners. There’s an old Glen Miller song that goes: “If there’s a gleam in her eye/each time she straightens your tie/You know the lady’s in love with you.” Russ likes to hum the version that goes: “When there’s a gleam in her eye/she’ll unbutton your–” well, you get the point.

imagesNIOH9DHMDespite the fun and games, Russ is a hard worker and has been his whole life. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan, as one of three children (he still keeps in contact with his two sisters, who live in California). He went on to serve as a flight engineer in WWII, flying over the South Pacific. Russ navigated the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, a propeller-driven bomber which was one of the largest and most advanced aircraft of its time. For him flying in the war “was a great education, and I really enjoyed it – the first time. Then it got rough.”

imagesCXLL0IOZRuss eventually worked for a window installation business and also managed two lumberyards in California. He especially enjoyed this managerial job. Later, he became a driver for Sagan Auto Parts. He joined the Hillco team after Billie’s father, who he was acquainted with, asked, “When are you going to come work for us?” And so Russ did. He considers himself an apprentice in life because he likes to do things and help people, but a teacher in the sense that he has taught his two daughters and son everything he knows. He also has two grandchildren whom he loves very much.

images4ZL6D4Q5Babe RuthPerhaps a little ironically, Russ currently lives in the Leisure World senior community in Seal Beach, California. When he’s not working at Hillco, you can find him getting a hamburger, French fries, and a soda at his local In ‘N Out, where – in what is a perfect indication of the kind of guy he is – he has also been welcomed in as part of the family. In fact, Russ was given three complete In ‘N Out uniforms replete with his name. His other favorite pastime is collecting baseball cards, with Detroit, of course, being his favorite team, and his Babe Ruth card being his most prized piece.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARuss does not plan on doing much to celebrate his birthday when it comes around on October 24. For him, “It’s just another day, really.” This humble response showcases his unpretentious personality, because to him the most important thing, and the motto of his life, is to “just be kind to each other.” Simple words we should all carry into our golden years as gracefully as Russ.

 

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Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805
Photographs by Jax NTP, MFA, GWC Dept of Arts & Letters, jaxntp@gmail.com

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Thinking About Moving?

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Family,Taxes on October 14, 2014 by Sufen Wang

movingThese State Tax Rates Will Make You Think Twice
 
Home is where the heart is. It’s also where you pay taxes. Before you go searching for greener pastures, check out this breakdown of some of the states with the highest tax rates in the nation.
 
tax houseA lot of folks spend their days California dreamin’, ready to head west and strike it rich in the nation’s most populous state. But living in the Golden State comes at a high price in the form of taxes. With the state income tax ranging from 1% to 13.3%, and the state sales tax currently at 7.5%, California life isn’t so easy on the pocket. Note that the 1% income tax rate is only fair game up to $7,582 for individuals and $15,164 for married joint filers; after that it just goes up and up and up. And remember, that sales tax is also just the minimum – when you look at local taxes in individual cities and counties, the sales tax can jump to as high as 10%.
house_money1Even worse, living in California means spending half the time living in a car, but residents don’t even get a break on driving-related taxes. CA has the highest annual vehicle license fee (VLF), along with the highest gas taxes in the United States, at 53 cents a gallon versus the national average of 31 cents.  Furthermore, although Californians get a nice little break in property taxes with the first $7000 of the home’s value exempted, the property is so darn expensive in the first place, this little bit of tax relief doesn’t even make a dent. Traffic, a high cost of living, and expensive real estate – what more could you ask for?
 
newjerseyCalifornia’s pretty bad, but the east coast has its fair share of tax-unfriendly states. New Jersey has the highest property taxes in the country, with the average tax amount on the state’s average home value of $348,300 coming in at $6,579. Connecticut is close behind with the second-highest property taxes, with the average tax on the state’s average home value of $291,200 at $4,738. connecticutConnecticut’s gas taxes are also hot on the heels of California, at 49 cents per gallon, and although there are no local sales taxes, residents pay a state sales tax of 6.35% on most items. New Jerseyans have it lucky when it comes to gas taxes and fees, only paying 15 cents per gallon, but the 7% state sales tax coupled with additional taxes and fees in areas like Atlantic City, make it tough to survive in the Garden State.
 
newyorkNew York, New York, big city of dreams…and the highest combined state and local taxes in the country. New York’s state income tax ranges from 4% to 8.82%, and although the state sales tax of 4% doesn’t sound too shabby, local jurisdictions tack on additional sales taxes from 3% to 4.75%. Smokers also are going to want to pick a different state – any state – other than New York to live in. The $4.35 tax on cigarettes is the highest in the nation, and New York City adds an extra $1.50 tax to each pack. Yikes! 
 
Rhode Island is a tiny state with some pretty hefty tax rates. The 7% state sales tax applies to most items, including vehicles, and the Ocean State has the seventh-highest median real estate taxes. Maine is also up there – and not just in terms of geography. The Pine Tree State lowered the income tax from 8.5% to a maximum 7.95% last year, but single taxpayers only have to make $20,900 before they become eligible for that lovely tax rate prize. And Maine also charges an annual vehicle excise tax, which can run into the hundreds of dollars each year.
 
hawaiiIf you’re ready to abandon the first 48 and head off for a permanent tax vacation in Hawaii, maybe hold off on that one-way ticket. Hawaii’s gas taxes average around 48 cents a gallon, giving California a run for its money. Hawaii also has a top income tax rate of 11%, and pretty much everything other than prescription drugs is taxed – including services and food. Even California doesn’t tax its food! The good news is that Hawaii’s property taxes are low, with the median property tax on the state’s median home value of $517,600 coming in at $1,324.
 
Bear_CaliforniaOf course, all of these states have a lot to offer beyond high taxes. However, if you’re considering moving to save money, don’t forget to take into account the full gamut of each state’s taxes, from income, to sales, to property, to gas. Otherwise home sweet home could become home bittersweet home.

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Get a Break with the Child and Dependent Care Credit

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Education,Family,Taxes on July 10, 2014 by Sufen Wang

The Endless Summer of Child Care:

 

summer loadingIt’s summer! No more waking up early, eating packed lunches, and doing more work once you get home…. Only if you’re a kid on summer vacation, that is…

 

If you’re an adult, chances are you still have to work, despite the fine weather beckoning you to the beach. And you also have to figure out how to keep the kids occupied for the next few months. Leaving them at home with a video game console, the microwave, and free time on their hands is probably not a good idea. However, you might consider placing them in daycare, having them go to summer camp each day, or getting a sitter at your house. 

 

daycampThose are very smart ideas not only because they give you peace of mind about the care of your child, but also because the costs of care may qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit, which can lower your taxes. The credit is up to 35% of the expenses you pay for care, depending on your income. You can receive maximum $3,000 credit yearly for the care of one qualifying person and $6,000 for two or more people. Although this credit isn’t just a summer tax benefit, this summer season is probably when you’ll be spending the most on child and dependent care.

 

zzzzThe bad news is that you can’t get the credit for sending your child off to make smores and tell late night ghost stories at summer camp: overnight camp costs don’t qualify, along with summer school tutoring. Also, if you’re paying one of the older kids around the house (under age 19) to watch the young ‘uns, or having your spouse or other dependent take care of them, those costs won’t qualify either. And if you hired a sitter because you’re off to Vegas for some hot fun, you’re out of luck: to qualify for the Child and Dependent Care Credit, the expenses must be work-related – meaning that you paid for care in order to work or look for work. Of course, to get a tax credit, you must have earned income for that year, such as from wages, salaries and tips.

 

snoopyThe good news is that expenses for the care of your dependent child/children under age 13 aren’t the only ones that qualify for this federal tax credit. Any married folks out there with a spouse who is going to school full-time needn’t be bitter that they have to sweat to bring home the bacon while their loved one gets to hit the books: expenses for your spouse’s care will qualify any month they are a full-time student. Expenses paid for care if your spouse is physically or mentally incapable of self-care will also qualify. You should remember that your spouse is treated as having earned income for any month that they are a full-time student or incapable of self-care.

 

Why do you need to remember that? Because if you’re married, you must file a joint return to get the credit and when you file a joint return, your spouse must also have earned income. No worries if you’re legally on bad terms with your once-significant other; spouses who are legally separated or living apart don’t have to file jointly.

 

MH900104746As with anything, keep all your receipts and records. To claim the credit on your tax return, you’ll have to provide the name, address and Social Security number or employer identification number of the care provider. If this information is not available to you, you should consider seeking a more reputable source of care – both for safety reasons and so you can enjoy the Child and Dependent Care Credit.

 

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
www.sufenwang.com
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Remembering My Other Father…

In Family on June 23, 2014 by Sufen Wang

father2Father’s Day

This past Father’s Day took an unexpected turn of sadness for me as I stood in a card shop, browsing the Father’s Day card selection.

ByrnesThroughout our life journey, we acquire additional “mothers,” “fathers,” and “siblings”: people with whom we experience life’s ups and downs and who help us to survive the everyday. I am very fortunate to have met, adopted, and come to love mentors who are like my Father. One such gentleman was Gregory Puckett, my best friend Paul’s stepfather, who I met over 20 years ago. Paul passed in 1999 after a long battle with AIDS. His passing brought me closer to all of his family, including Greg, who I only knew of prior to Paul’s death.

fatherGreg and I had a special connection: business! He was a shrewd businessman – sharp and full of wisdom. We could sit and talk balance sheet, income statement, and finances like nobody’s business. We only visited with each other every once in awhile during the last 20 years, but whenever a situation had me stumped, I would call Greg and “talk it out.” He was my Father in terms of his guidance and patience; he called me his 4th daughter, his Chinese daughter. And I always remembered him every Father’s Day by sending him an adoring Father’s Day card. Greg passed away on September 24, 2013.

I stood in the card shop looking for Father’s Day cards this year, and suddenly realized that I was missing one card – Greg’s card. I was hit by an unexpected wave of sadness and deep loss; I was disoriented for a few seconds in the card shop, not knowing what to do next. I missed Greg. I had to leave the card store and just have a moment to myself for missing Greg.

untitledI will always remember Greg with his easygoing English-gentleman style of conversing and his sense of humor. I miss his many life stories; his wisdom about life’s experiences; his teachings at the craps table on the casino floor; his love of a Sunday newspaper. Quite simply I miss Greg, my English Father, on this Father’s Day. Let’s remember to celebrate those who have become family throughout the course of our lives.

 

April 29, 2012: Tom, Sufen, Peggy and Greg….

SAM_0301

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When It Rains, It Doesn’t Always Pour:

In Accounting & Finances,Business,Family,Taxes on April 4, 2014 by Sufen Wang

Colorado Disaster Victims Get an Extension from the IRS

 

flood2When someone’s home gets flooded or buried under a mudslide, it’s hard to grasp the immensity of such a loss. Everything from prized possessions down to everyday necessities get swept away, making daily living near impossible. Fortunately, the IRS is giving the September 2013 Colorado Flood victims some leeway when it comes to taxes. The agency has extended the date for victims to decide when to claim their disaster losses.

 

FLO4Instead of scrambling to pick by April 15, eligible individuals and businesses now have until Oct. 15 to choose whether to claim their disaster losses on the 2012 or 2013 returns. And the year does make a big difference. Depending on income, claiming losses on the former could mean greater tax savings. These extra six months should let the victims make their calculations for the best with less stress.

 

beat-the-clock-414x270And if October comes too soon, luckily eligible taxpayers aren’t out of luck – they’ll still be able to claim their losses on an original or amended 2013 return. By eligible folks the IRS means taxpayers who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed losses due to the major flooding event in the 20 federally-designated disaster area Colorado counties from Sept. 11 to Sept. 30, 2013. The endless aftermath of a disaster is the hardest part, so it’s good to know the Colorado flood victims haven’t been forgotten these many months later.

 

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
www.sufenwang.com
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (626) 806-5805

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Save Your Skin this Summer:

In Culture,Education,Family on July 22, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900021669Reduce Your Risk for Skin Cancer

Well, summer is upon us and that means the hot sun is also upon us. Before you don that bikini for a long day at the beach, think about the skin you’re in – it’s the only one you have! Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, but here are some ways to lower your risk.

MH900389354You can never get enough sun – is a lie. The top risk factor for skin cancer is exposure to sunlight (UV radiation) and those UV rays can damage your skin in less than 15 minutes. And if you’ve spent years in the sun, and/or had at least one severe sunburn – one where even wearing clothes is painful –  your risk of skin cancer is even higher.

MH900362048That being said, you’re obviously going to have to go outside sometimes. The worst time for UV exposure is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so if you’re running errands around midday, stick to the shade. You can also create your own shade: carry an umbrella or wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your head and neck. Although it might be sweltering hot, you should wear proper clothes to keep your bare skin from getting burnt. Loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and long pants made from tightly woven fabric work best, even if they sound incredibly uncomfortable. For a finishing touch of sun-safe style, wear wrap-around sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB.

MH900440540Don’t think it’s safe to go skinny dipping just because there’s cloud cover. UV rays can still reach you on hazy days and they reflect off surfaces like water and sand. You’re not even safe in your own car: the sun’s rays can penetrate windshields and windows. Also, a wet T-shirt offers less UV protection than a dry one, but a dry T-shirt still only has less than a 15 SPF rating – which won’t save your skin. That means if you think you’re going to be in the sun, you should take two whole minutes to put on a thick layer of minimum 15 SPF sunscreen. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours or if you get wet.

Finally, everyone should know by now that indoor tanning is NOT any safer than being out in the sun. Sunlamps and tanning booths expose you to UV radiation, which causes skin damage and skin cancer, and getting fake tans is more dangerous before age 30. Don’t believe it? The NCI reports that women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Why do you want to look orange anyways?


MH900360724Perhaps most importantly, you should get to know yourself. A regular self-exam of your whole body will let you see what’s normal on your skin, so you know when something abnormal shows up. That could be anything from a new mole to an old mole changing size to a sore that doesn’t heal. If you do notice anything, visit your doctor. Take a little extra time to pamper your skin this summer so you can enjoy the sun for years to come!

A Word on your Summer Safety! 

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy,

Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793.

Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (562) 806-5805

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Summer Lightning….

In Culture,Education,Family on July 8, 2013 by Sufen Wang Tagged: , , , , , , ,

MH900371018Avoid Dark Clouds on the Horizon: Lightning Safety Tips

Believe it or not, Summer is the peak season for lightning-related deaths and injuries. Actually, make sure you believe that: if you think you know more than Mother Nature, the results aren’t going to be good for you. There is enough energy in a typical flash of lightning to light a 100-watt  fluorescent bulb for about a year. Except humans aren’t light bulbs, so the National Weather Service wants you to know that when thunder roars, go indoors!

MH900252665That’s because no outdoor area is safe when you hear that boom nearby in the sky. Your first instinct might be to run towards that one tree over there. Don’t!!! Being underneath a tree is the second leading cause of lightning casualties. And stopping, dropping, and rolling isn’t too smart either. You could get hit with a deadly ground current when lying flat. Your best bet is to keep moving towards a safe, indoor shelter. If your only option is your car, make sure all the windows are up, or you could get struck down. If you can’t get indoors at all, at least try to avoid elevated areas, immediately get out and away from all bodies of water, and stay away from objects that conduct electricity, such as wire fences.

MH900417386Once you’re safe inside during a thunderstorm, you’re safe inside, right? Nope. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring or pretty much anything that conducts electricity. So stay off corded phones, computers, and other electrical equipment. Yes, you read that right: lightning can electrocute you while you’re ordering pizza in your living room. Water also conducts electricity, so avoid baths and faucets. Finally, it might be tempting to stand at the window to watch the storm, but lightning can come through cracks in the sides of windows and doors. That wouldn’t be a very pleasant surprise. Oh, and please don’t forget the dog. Dog houses are not safe shelters and dogs that are chained to trees or on metal runners are particularly vulnerable to lightning strikes.

MH900278850Remember, if you’re outside in a thunderstorm, the only completely safe action is to get inside a safe building or vehicle. An even better idea is to not get caught outside in a thunderstorm at all. Pay attention to the weather. If the weatherman says there’s a chance of thunderstorms, don’t take the chance of getting struck by lightning – stay inside until the coast is clear. 

A word on your Summer Safety!

Sufen Wang, M.S.Accountancy
Wang Solutions, Long Beach, CA (562) 856-0793
Editor: Hannah Huff, M.F.A. Creative Writing: Poetry, (562) 806-5805