Our first speaker of the New Year was Kay Cruson, Accountant and Tax Preparer.
Kay shared that the USPS will be raising rates for a 1st class stamp (1 ounce) from 49¢ to 50¢ effective Sunday, January 21, 2018.  Additional ounces for letters will remain at 21¢ per ounce.
There is a common misconception that one can avoid filing tax returns for several years, and “bank” these refunds to be received at a later date. The IRS will only allow a delinquent taxpayer to file three prior years and receive a refund.  After that time, the IRS will not refund these amounts to the taxpayer.

Mileage Rates for 2017 and 2018 were shared:
2017                2018
Medical            .17                   .18
Charitable        .14                   .14
Moving            .17                   .18
Business          .535                 .545

Today’s main topic was to clarify the new individual tax changes that have been shared by the media.  The media has been very vague about the timing that these items are to come into effect.  Some of these items are effective for tax year 2017 (filing in 2018), others for tax year 2018 (filing in 2019).  Kay shared some of the key changes that she felt relevant for the Connect Group:

Individual Tax Rates for 2018 are:

With four rates for Estates and Trusts:

The Standard Deduction Rates are:
2017                           2018
Single/Married filing Separate               $ 6,350                        $12,000
Married filing Joint                                  $12,700                        $24,000
Head of Household                                   $9,350                         $18,000

Personal Exemption                              $4,050 per person         Suspended (eliminated)

Capital Gains Rates                              2017                           2018
0%                        15% up to $77,200 married filing                                                                                                             joint/surviving spouses
$51,700 head of household
$2,600 estates & trusts
$38,600 single
15%                        20% up to $479,000 married filing                                                                                                         joint/surviving spouse
$452,400 head of household
$12,700 estates and trusts
$425,800 single

The 2017 rates remain the same as in prior years.  You will want to consult with your tax preparer for specific details for your circumstances.

Personal Casualty Theft and Loss
2017 still in effect with $100 deducted, and 10% of the AGI base.  (same as in prior years)
2018 Suspended (eliminated)

Schedule A – Itemized Deductions
State and Local Tax Deduction Limited
2017 – same as in prior years
2018 – up to $10,000 married filing joint
$5,000 single/married filing separately

Mortgage and Home Equity Interest
2017 – same as in prior years
2018 – Home Equity interest (HELOC) is suspended. There are some restrictions and loopholes, but this is more detailed than time allows.

Medical Expense Deduction Threshold Reduced
In the past few years, there were two thresholds, 7.5% for who reached the age 65 before the end of the year (2016), and 10% for those who were younger.    Effective for tax year 2017, the 7.5% threshold is in effect for all taxpayers.

There are additional changes in the tax law, but time constraints limited additional discussion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  Consult with your tax professional for clarification and specific information relating to your tax situation.

For discussion and reference use, Kay distributed a  2017 Form 1040 that will not be finalized until January 29, 2018, as well as a Topic Index that can be used a reminder for taxable events occurring in 2017 that may require discussion and/or paperwork provided to your tax preparer, general questions your tax preparer may ask you for preparation of 2017 taxes, and a medical and tax expenses worksheet detailing medical expenses that can be collected and tallied to determine if medical expenses are high enough to deduct when itemizing.
Kay Cruson * Accounting & Tax * 303.349.9493 * k.cruson@att.net

Our second speaker was Dr. Becci Noren-Lewis of Always Gentle Chiropractic. Her presentation today presented an overview of the Chiropractic field, a discussion of sleep patterns, and lastly, “pillow talk”!  Following are some terms used in her field:

Chiropractic balances the nervous system.  It is the science which is concerned with the relationship between structure, primarily the spine, and function, primarily the nervous system, of the human body as that relationship may affect the restoration and preservation of health.

The nervous system consists of the brain/spinal cord = computer, and the spine/skull = structure and protection of the “computer”

Subluxation – misalignment of vertebrae reducing nerve pressure, irritation, or dysfunction, (This can apply to any join in the body)

Adjustment – a precise method of realigning misaligned (subluxated) vertebrae or other joints in the body.

Activator Methods Technique – 2017 was the 50th Anniversary

Adjusters (equipment) provide different levels of “pressure”.  This is Dr. Becci’s favorite equipment for use on her patients. She uses Activator II, Activator IV, and Activator V, on patients, depending on the needs of the patient and the area being addressed. She continues to utilize research and continuing education to keep up on current methods.

Sleep posture also makes a big difference in chiropractic health, with different sleeping positions provided good and bad results in other aspects of your health.  The perfect pillow, combined with the best sleeping position, provides for best sleep:

Best:  Sleeping on the back                                   Perfect Pillow
Good:                                              Bad for                     1 puffy one, to keep your head and neck
Prevent neck and back pain       snoring                    supported without propping your head up too Reduces acid reflux                                            much
Minimizes facial wrinkles

Sleeping on the Side                 face and breasts       1 thick one, to fill the space above your
Reduces snoring                                                            shoulder so your head and neck are supported Reduces acid reflux                                   in a neutral position
Useful during pregnancy

Fetal Position
Useful during pregnancy         increases arthritic    1 thick one, to fill the space above
pain                             your  shoulder so your head
Restricts                    and neck are supported in a neutral                                                                 breathing                   position.
facial wrinkles

Avoid:  Sleeping on the Stomach                                                  Perfect Pillow
Keeping the face down keeps your      difficult to maintain         Either one thin one or none at all. Upper airways more open.         a neutral spine position
If you snore, aren’t suffering from       puts pressure on joints and muscles
neck and back pain, it’s fine to try       constant incorrect head
sleeping on your belly                            position may lead to aching

And speaking of pillows:
Dr. Becci recommends purchasing a pillow that is low pack – firm and recommends replacing your pillow every 1 – 1.5 years. Polyfill tends to last longer. Memory foam conforms to you; great if you have “perfect” sleeping patterns. Sometimes making a nest with other pillows to recreate your ideal sleeping position is helpful.  Also, neck rolls can be helpful, but make sure the size is appropriate for your needs.  Dr. Becci can also personally recommend a pillow that is appropriate for you.  She has some pillows for sale at her office that can be returned or exchanged if you are not satisfied with the results.  She will provide specifics if you schedule an appointment with her.
She also can provide recommendations on mattresses that will suit your needs.
These sleep-pattern adjustments, and change or alteration of bedroom items, combined with her chiropractic care, can guide you to a more pain-free lifestyle!
Dr. Becci Noren-Lewis * Always Gentle Chiropractic * 303.984.1111 * noren23@msn.com * www.alwaysgentlechiropractic.com