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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
6:40 AM Sat, Dec. 15th

Friday Catchall: Not all retirees can afford price hikes

The Friday Catchall:

• FIXED INCOME — Have you heard about the ideas of higher car insurance or more gas taxes floating through the Legislature?

The first involves liability insurance levels, which have not been adjusted in some 40 years. The others are the concepts of adding a $30 annual insurance fee and a dime to gasoline – both to pay for roads. The former is sponsored by Sen. Kate Brophy McGee, R-Phoenix; the latter are the brainchild of Rep. Noel Campbell, R-Prescott. (Neither were available for comment before press time.)

I understand that the current insurance levels “send a signal or a message to Arizona consumers that this is enough, that if I buy this, it’ll be OK,” and really it’s not, McGee told Capitol Media Services. I also agree that roads never seem to stay up with traffic demands, because of Department of Transportation (state) funding levels.

What about the opinion of an end user? Say, for example, a senior citizen? Meet Lorraine Giambrone of Prescott. She writes, they “ought to do some research on the number of families, as well as single heads of household, who are low income or have no income at all.”

A couple bucks more on car insurance and a 10-cent hike on gas, she said, “Are you kidding us?!”

Her argument is that low-income families are barely getting by now. They also are dealing with regular increases for electricity, natural gas/propane, water, cable, telephone, and more, she wrote.

We’ve all figured the budget and revenue problems at the federal and state levels would trickle down eventually. Just this week my coffee increased by a dollar because, the clerk said, “the owners have to pay for the minimum wage increase.”

I get it, and now will make a choice. Yet, let’s not forget the Baby Boomer generation is swelling the retirement rolls – and not all retirees have even good plans for life after leaving the workforce. This is not an argument for socialism, it is reality: what about the seniors? Do we want them choosing insurance over medication? It happens.

We know our system of pensions is flawed; the Average Joe’s dependency on Social Security and a measly 401K, if at all, are leaking too. Call or email me to share how this would impact you.

• CALLING OUR SENATORS — We’ve heard from many readers saying they’re having problems when calling the offices of U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake – to the point where they’re hearing the voice message inbox is “full.” In light of the current political climate and McCain deciding to close his Prescott office, I reached out to both.

They replied that they are working to review and answer all messages — regardless of whether it’s submitted by phone, email or post. And, frankly, they’re receiving thousands of calls.

Take heart though, if the phone call does not work, email them. For McCain, visit www.mccain.senate.gov and click on “Contact.” For Flake, visit www.flake.senate.gov and click on “Email Jeff.”

I’m sure they still want to hear from you!

• TAXES — An article in the Courier earlier this week started like this: “So you’ve got all your W-2s and 1099s and you’re ready to start doing your taxes. But if one of those forms is about your state income tax refund, here’s a piece of advice: Don’t.”

The caution came about because the state put 2014 numbers on the 1099-G, rather than those for 2015. Department of Revenue officials said they are sending new forms out as soon as possible.

However, the caution extends to doing it yourself, said Bruce Eldredge, enrolled agent with MDI Taxes in Chino Valley.

A tax preparer on the level of a CPA, who has been doing this for 23 years, he told me the advice of the DOR spokesman was wrong and could result in people overpaying. If you are in a rush to file returns — rather than waiting for the corrected form to arrive — you should NOT simply “pull the 2015 state tax forms, locate the refund they received, and use that number on this year’s federal 1040 forms.”

That’s because not all refunds are created equal. Some result from itemized deductions, for example.

I agree with Eldredge: wait for the corrected form – or make sure your tax professional is aware and catches the discrepancy. Otherwise, you may be using the wrong amount and not all tax software will know what to do either.

Wouldn’t want to overpay, would you?

• PICK OF THE WEEK — (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): the chili cookoff, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday at First Congregational Church, 216 E. Gurley St., Prescott. For $6, all-you-can-eat chili.

Enjoy!

Follow Tim Wiederaenders on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.