By The Librarian
Hitting them where it hurts... in the checkbook!!!
Republicans have quietly imposed a new tax on churches, synagogues and other nonprofits, a little-noticed and surprising change that could cost some groups tens of thousands of dollars.
Their recent tax-code rewrite requires churches, hospitals, colleges, orchestras and other historically tax-exempt organizations to begin paying a 21 percent tax on some types of fringe benefits they provide their employees.
That could force thousands of groups that have long had little contact with the IRS to suddenly begin filing returns and paying taxes for the first time.
Many organizations are stunned to learn of the tax Â— part of a broader Republican effort to strip the code of tax breaks for employee benefits like parking and mealsÂ Â— and say it will be a significant financial and administrative burden.
It also means political peril for lawmakers, many of whom were surely unaware of the provision when they approved the tax plan. ChurchesÂ’ tax-exempt status, in particular, has long been considered sacrosanct and Republicans are relying on the faithful to back them in the November elections.Â
Though many organizations are still unaware of the tax, more than 600 churches and other groups have already signed a petition demanding it be repealed.Â
Â“ThereÂ’s going to be huge headaches,Â” said Galen Carey, vice president of government relations at the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of evangelical Christian organizations. Â“The cost of compliance, especially for churches that have small staffs or maybe volunteer accountants and bookkeepers Â— we donÂ’t need this kind of hassle.Â”Â
The Jewish Federations of North America is looking at a new $75,000 tax bill this year because of the change.Â
Â“A lot of people are just finding out about it and the more people find out about it, the more pressure there will be on Treasury and Congress to either delay implementation or consider changing this,Â” said Steven Woolf, senior tax policy counsel for the group.
At least one Republican lawmaker is now proposing to rescind the tax, though House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady Â— one of the architects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Â— is defending the provision.Â
It will simplify the code when it comes to how workers are compensated, Brady said through a spokesman.Â
The debate comes as Republicans celebrate the six-month milestone of the lawÂ’s enactment. TheyÂ’ve emphasized the benefits of its big cuts in taxes on businesses and individuals.Â
But to help defray the budgetary cost of those changes, Republicans simultaneously pared tax breaks for workersÂ’ fringe benefits, which is projected to raise around $40 billion over the next decade.Â
They were mainly trimming deductions companies have long taken for entertaining clients and providing meals for employees.
But Republicans also wanted to treat nonprofits equally, which proved challenging.Â
Because those organizations donÂ’t pay income taxes, lawmakers couldnÂ’t take away fringe-benefit deductions. So instead they created a 21 percent tax on the value of some of nonprofit employeesÂ’ benefits.Â
The main benefits affected are transportation-related, like free parking in a lot or a garage and subway and bus passes. It also targets meals provided to workers and, in some circumstances, may affect gym memberships.Â
Â“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included provisions that provided grater parity in the tax treatment of different types of employee compensation,Â” said Rob Damschen, a Brady spokesman. Â“These provisions apply to both employers that are taxable entities and those that are tax-exempt entities.Â”
Â“Providing this greater parity helps to reduce the extent to which decisions about the elements included in the employee compensation package are driven by tax considerations,Â” he said in an email.Â
The proposal got virtually no attention when the legislation was making its way through Congress late last year, and many groups are outraged to now learn of the requirement.Â
Â“What weÂ’re talking about is an income tax on the church for providing parking to its employees Â— thatÂ’s what weÂ’re talking about,Â” said Mike Batts, chairman of the board of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, which is circulating the petition denouncing the tax. Â“It's absurd."Â
He scoffs at the idea of treating businesses and nonprofits equally.Â
Â“The whole idea of tax exemption for nonprofit organizations that are doing charitable, religious and educational work is for them not to be on the same playing field as for-profit businesses when it comes to taxes, in order to incentivize the good work they do to make our society better,Â” said Batts, who is also managing partner of an accounting firm that specializes in religious nonprofits.Â
He and others complain that, thanks to nonprofitsÂ’ tax-exempt status, many donÂ’t have experts on staff who can help them understand the provisions. They also note that while companies also lost fringe-benefit breaks, they simultaneously got big cuts in their tax rates and new incentives for investments that more than made up for the lost deductions.Â
Many nonprofits say they are confused over how exactly the tax is supposed to work.Â
Churches and other groups want to know how they are supposed to go about calculating the value of things like parking spaces for employees. Some wonder if the garages provided as part of clergy residences are now taxable.
Other nonprofits have their own questions.Â
Universities want to know if the bus services they provide for faculty and students are taxable and how they figure out how much they owe. Orchestras want to know how to treat musicians who may perform in different locations.Â
Â“At what point is something a travel reimbursement? And at what point is it a commuter benefit?Â” said Heather Noonan, vice president for advocacy at the League of American Orchestras.Â
Treasury is now working on regulations spelling out the details of how the tax will work, though the groups are supposed to have already been paying the tax. It took effect Jan. 1 and nonprofits are supposed to pay it quarterly.Â
A host of groups, including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Goodwill Industries, the YMCA and the National Council of Nonprofits are demanding the tax at least be delayed, saying it is unfair to ask them to be paying a levy they donÂ’t understand.Â
Earlier this month, Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) introduced legislation to kill the tax.
By Guest Nicole
My favorite scene of the movie is the battle, specially when the Wayans rescued their friendsÂ
By Guest Nicole
Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, Director of Elections of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has advised party members to adopt “the Jehovah Witness and trotro-mate theoriesÂ” to ensure effective party organisation to recapture power during the 2020 polls.
He said Â“our approach to party organisation must be based on the Jehovah witnessÂ’ principle of making sure that we knock doors, talk to people, be consistent with our messages, be focused, and results-orientedÂ” adding once we adopted that theory, we would make a headway.
He also explained Â“the theory of trotro-mate and passenger philosophyÂ” saying Â“the mates are focused on the passengers, determined to get them on board their vehicles, they run to help the passengers carry their luggage onto the vehicleÂ” adding Â“So once we focus on the people, they get to know that we are concerned about their welfare, that is the bottom line of organisation, they will relate very well to us.Â”
Mr Ofosu-Ampofo was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Tamale over the weekend after facilitating a training organised by the Ghana Institute of Social Democracy (GISD), the NDCÂ’s schools, for the NDCÂ’s communication team members in the Northern Region.
About 320 party members including; communication team members of the NDC in the region benefited from the two-day training, which focused on political leadership, political communication and party leadership to amongst others build the capacity of members of the party to help in its re-organization drive.
Mr Ofosu-Ampofo said the party should adopt a strategy of bottom-up approach to writing its manifestos by going to the grassroots, sampling their opinions to ensure that the manifestos reflect the wishes and aspirations of the people.
He said the party was working to ensure that it did not restrict its congresses to only elections but also to debate policy issues and agree on policy positions that the party wanted to adopt to reflect the aspirations of the people.
He advised party members not to discard local knowledge saying Â“When we go to the communities to work, do not think that you are the organiser and so you know everything, get down with the people, and find out their challengesÂ” to help fulfil their aspirations.
Read more:Â https://www.peacefmonline.com/pages/politics/politics/201802/343268.php
“Nourishing Spiritual FoodÂ”?Â
I cannot advocate the website listed at the end of this short video, as I havenÂ’t gone there.Â AlsoÂ I do not see verification that the money from the sale of houses, properties and goods was given to the Watchtower at that time period.Â But I will not dismiss the large possibility.Â What is important about this video, is hearing how 1975 was truly proclaimed from the source; quite contrary to how the 2017 convention presented it:Â
Â“Â…you see, back then, some were looking to a certain date as signifying the end of this old system of things. A few, even went so far as selling their homes and quitting their jobs. (km 5/1974)"
Â“But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.Â”Â
Â You may say in your heart, Â“How shall we know the word which Yahweh has not spoken?Â”Â Â When a prophet speaks in YahwehÂ’s name, if the thing doesnÂ’t follow, nor happen, that is the thing which Yahweh has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You shall not be afraid of him.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Deut 18:20-22
Â“This is what the LORD of Hosts says: "Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They are making you worthless. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the LORD's mouth.Â”Â Jer 23:16
Â“Behold, I am against the prophets, says Yahweh, who use their tongues, and say, He says.Â 32Â Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, says Yahweh, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their vain boasting: yet I didnÂ’t send them, nor commanded them; neither do they profit this people at all, says Yahweh.Â”Â Jer 23:31-32
If we claim to read God's Word and live by it, then God's Word should help us distinguish truth from lies.Â Matt 3:10
Why do we understand the "prince of Persia" in Daniel 10:13 to be a wicked angel/Demon when it seems that the messenger is talking about a succession of actual kings, and if the demon is called a "prince" of Persia, who then is the "prince" of Greece in 10:20?
By Bible Speaks
* Jehovah’s Witnesses refrain from meddling in politics. ⚖️?⚖️
* Christians willingly subject themselves to government authorities “in their relative positions ⚖️?⚖️
"For the Lord’s sake subject yourselves to every human creation: whether to a king as being superior or to governors."—1 Pet. 2:13, 14.
An expression at Romans 13:1 designating human governmental authorities. That scripture has been variously rendered: “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God.” (NW) “Let every subject be obedient to the ruling authorities, for there is no authority not under God’s control, and under His control the existing authorities have been constituted.” (We) “Everyone must obey the state authorities, for no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God.”—TEV.
Jehovah God, though not originating them (compare Mt 4:8, 9; 1Jo 5:19; Re 13:1, 2), has allowed man’s governmental authorities to come into existence, and they continue to exist by his permission. However, when he chooses to do so, Jehovah can remove, direct, or control such authorities in order to accomplish his will. The prophet Daniel declared regarding Jehovah: “He is changing times and seasons, removing kings and setting up kings.” (Da 2:21) And Proverbs 21:1 says: “A king’s heart is as streams of water in the hand of Jehovah. Everywhere that he delights to, he turns it.”—Compare Ne 2:3-6;Es 6:1-11.
Reasons for Christian Subjection. There being no reason for Christians to set themselves in opposition to an arrangement that God has permitted, they have good reason to be in subjection to the superior authorities. Governmental rulers, though they may be corrupt personally, would not normally punish others for doing good, that is, for adhering to the law of the land. But a person who engages in thievery, murder, or other lawless acts could expect an adverse judgment from the ruling authority. One guilty of deliberate murder, for instance, might be executed for his crime. Since Jehovah God authorized capital punishment for murderers after the Flood (Ge 9:6), the human authority, by executing the lawbreaker, would be acting as “God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad.”—Ro 13:2-4; Tit 3:1;1Pe 2:11-17.
Christian subjection to the superior authorities is not based merely on their ability to punish evildoers. With a Christian, it becomes a matter of conscience. He is submissive to human authorities because he recognizes that this is in harmony with God’s will. (Ro 13:5; 1Pe 2:13-15) Therefore, subjection to the superior authorities—to worldly political authorities—could never be absolute. It would be impossible for a Christian to preserve a good conscience and do the divine will if he broke God’s law because that is what the political authority demanded. For this reason, subjection to superior authorities must always be viewed in the light of the apostles’ statement to the Jewish Sanhedrin: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Ac 5:29.
Since the governmental authorities render valuable services to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of their subjects, they are entitled to taxes and tribute in compensation for their services. The governmental authorities can be termed “God’s public servants” in the sense that they provide beneficial services. (Ro 13:6, 7) At times such services have directly assisted God’s servants, as when King Cyrus made it possible for the Jews to return to Judah and Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. (2Ch 36:22, 23; Ezr 1:1-4) Often the benefits are those shared by all from the proper functioning of the authorities. These would include the maintenance of a legal system to which persons can appeal for justice, protection from criminals and from illegal mobs, and so forth.—Php 1:7; Ac 21:30-32;23:12-32.
Of course, a ruler who misuses his authority is accountable to God. Wrote the apostle Paul: “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’”—Ro 12:19; Ec 5:8.
By James Thomas Rook Jr.
WOULD YOU PAY SOMEONE $80 AN HOUR TO CUDDLE YOU?
My Dad, whose religion was United States Navy, often lamented that in the "early days" of the United States Navy, the men were made of steel, and the ships were made of wood ... but today ... the ships are made of steel, and the men are made of wood.
With that in mind, there are people SO UPSET that Trump won the Presidency that they are paying "professional Cuddlers" to hold them while they sob and moan.
I know that on some college campi that they have "safe spaces" where it is not allowed to MENTION that Trump won ... and folks are furnished coloring books, crayons, and teddy bears to hug .. at taxpayer (subsidized) expense.
Here is an article about the Cuddlers that is absolutely unbelievable .... but true.
I think the "herd" needs to be thinned out.
Cate Blanchett Breaks Barriers As Marvel's First Female Villain: 'Hopefully There Will Be a Lot More'By Guest Nicole
The actress, 48, is stepping into the role of Hela, the goddess of death in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok — and she recently that she is actually the first female villain to appear in a Marvel movie.
“I didn’t realize until Marvel told me that I was inhabiting the first female Marvel villain onscreen,” the actress told E! News at Comic Con. “I thought, ‘Surely not.’ Well, no actually that’s true! There’s been many, many, many in the comic books, but they’ve been a little tardy in bringing them to the screen, so hopefully there will be a lot more villainesses.”
Read more: http://people.com/movies/cate-blanchett-breaks-barriers-as-marvels-first-female-villain-hopefully-there-will-be-a-lot-more/
By James Thomas Rook Jr.
My wife and I are planning to see the movie "DUNKIRK" this weekend, and I have seen "Saving Private Ryan", and "Schindler's List", all very violent war movies, and in my opinion very IMPORTANT movies to see.
The list of incredibly important movies could fill a notebook.
I could probably list 10 off the top of my head .. some important for very different reasons.
"The Notebook" comes to mind.
Some, merely cultural icons, like the entire STAR WARS and STAR TREK franchises, etc.
What has been your actual experience about what kinds of movies the Brotherhood actually sees ?
By Guest Nicole
The fantastic four (2015)
By Guest Nicole
I enjoy watching how they make movies, high technology. For example I love to see how they performed the Gollum, Smaug, Caesar the Ape, and the details of the movies using the computers. I like Peter Jackson and Andy Serkis work
I never could get my head around our previous take on the Babylonian exile. Or care. I mean, a one-year period representing such an event?
But the new package revealed Sunday makes so much more sense.
'That new point the Governing Body wrote about?' said Mike Tussen's years ago. 'You may have already noticed that point in your studying. And if this were Christendom, you'd run out and start your own religion over it.'
The uppity people take no interest in that new religion of Jesus because it is carpenters, fishermen and shoemakers. But then they figure out how to monetize it. All the highbrow people jump in, bringing all the highbrow ideas they love so, ideas from Aristotle and Plato.
Tom Irregardless and Me 30% free preview. After that, we'll talk, your people and mine.
By The Librarian
A family's worst nightmare this holiday weekend when a 12-year-old boy died in Attala County in a tree stand incident.
"We've had 22 hunting accidents this year. 15 of those have been hunting - tree stand-related incidents," explained Lieutenant Chris Reed with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks. "So you're twice as likely to have a tree stand accident than you are to have a firearm accident."
MDWFP posted a video to their website discussing the different types of tree stands and harnesses.
"The tree stands involved in most hunting accidents are the lock-ons, the climbers, and the ladder stands," the video explains. "Before using these stands, check your straps, cables and chains."
Any gear you use, you have to make sure to do a yearly inspection.
"If you leave it up all year and you come back the next year and you expect it to be as strong as it was, you can't rely on that," said Jamey Ray, a salesman with Van's Sporting Goods. "You've got to take all precautions when you're going up the first time for that year to check it, and make sure that this strap is not broken."
"Take five extra minutes. However long it may take. What's your life worth? Is it worth five extra minutes?" added Lieutenant Reed.
According to his obituary, a memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 31, at 4pm at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 6517 Jim Ramsay Road in Vancleave, where family and friends may visit two hours prior to the service.
By Guest Nicole
In the country’s first camp for internally displaced people since the civil war, 70 people are living on a basketball court: ‘We won’t go back’
People have dinner at the shelter for the displaced community of El Castaño. A total of 19 families left their community after receiving threats. Photograph: Encarni Pindado for the Guardian
A gloomy group of men and women watch in silence as a truckload of armed soldiers slowly drive past the basketball court where they are living in makeshift plastic shelters.
This encampment in Caluco, a small town 40 miles west of the capital, San Salvador, is home to about 70 people from a nearby farming community, forced to flee their homes after a recent escalation of gang violence.
It is El Salvador’s first camp for internally displaced people since the 12-year civil war, when an estimated one million people were forcibly displaced and 80,000 killed.
The war between the leftist guerrillas and US-supported military dictatorships ended in 1992, but peace never came to this small Central American country, where the social and economic inequalities which triggered the conflict remain unresolved. Social exclusion, state repression and gang violence have steadily grown worse, and in recent years, El Salvador has become the world’s most violent country outside a declared war zone.
Ironically, the region around Caluco was spared much of the civil war bloodletting, said the local mayor, Bianca Oriana, who set up the camp in the shadows of the Santa Ana volcano. “In this area, we were not badly affected by the war violence. For us, the gangs are much worse,” she said.
The Caluco camp serves as the latest stark warning that extreme violence is again displacing huge numbers of Salvadorans, forcing entire families to leave home in search of safety.
More than 1,000 people, including several entire communities, are known to have been internally displaced since the beginning of 2015, according to human rights activists in El Salvador. The actual number is likely to be much higher.
Tens of thousands more have fled the country altogether. In the past year, almost 40,000 Salvadorans travelling in family groups, and unaccompanied children, were apprehended by US border control agents.
While the worst violence was once concentrated in deprived urban areas, it has since spread to small towns and rural communities.
Caluco is a picturesque semi-rural district with about 9,000 inhabitants. About seven years ago, Barrio 18 Sureños – one of the three largest gangs in the country - started forming clicas, or cells, in the area.
“At first they didn’t cause any problems, it was just about belonging to something –but then came the drugs and violence,” said Oriana.
According to local people, around three years ago, the gang leaders suddenly started carrying high-calibre weapons and pressuring families to cooperate: providing money and food whenever demanded, or acting as lookouts for police or soldiers.
The murder rate inched up steadily, despite the presence of an army base in the district; one by one, families started to leave.
One of the worst-affected communities was El Castaño, where a 64-year-old man called Francisco Barrientos was killed after allegedly refusing to cooperate with a gang led by one of his nephews. His relatives responded by burning down the house of the gang leader’s mother.
“We knew this was a declaration of war, but I am happy we did it,” said a family member, who asked not to be named. “They had been doing bad things for a long time.”
The military are in charge of the 24-hour security of the shelter for displaced people in Caluco, Sonsonate. Photograph: Encarni Pindado for the Guardian
In response, the gang ordered the entire community to leave – on pain of death. Within days, almost every family had abandoned their corn and yucca fields, and fled with only the clothes on their backs.
Since then, the national police have sent in reinforcements from the anti-gang unit, and 35 alleged gang members have been detained and paraded in front of TV cameras. Human Rights groups say El Salvador’s new mano dura – or iron fist – policy against the gangs has resulted in the indiscriminate targeting of young men.
The families in the camp have been told they must soon return home, but many are too scared – both of the gang members and the local police – and are considering fleeing the country.
“Those who are guilty should pay, but those who are innocent should be let go,” said one 53-year-old woman, whose eldest son was among those arrested. “We won’t go back; we can’t trust the police who have stained my son’s name. I don’t know where we’ll go, but maybe to another country.”
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