Healthcare Coverage Requirements are Still in Place for 2018

Starting in the 2015 tax year, individual tax filers in Johnstown, PA and the rest of the country who reported they did not have their own health insurance or coverage from an employer would realize a tax penalty. Known as the coverage requirement in the Healthcare Reform Act, this federal law was changed as part of recent tax reform passed under the current President Trump administration. However, due to the way the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act law was written, the healthcare insurance requirement actually stays in place for the 2018 tax year, regardless of the fact that the law passed at the end of the 2017 calendar year. That creates a bit of a surprise for some folks who assumed with all the changes that were passed they didn’t need to hold onto health insurance policies.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doesn’t kick in any removal of the coverage requirement until 2019. It also means that folks will still realize a penalty for the 2018 tax year if they are not covered. This is where the folks at Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC can help. Usually, trying to get a policy after dropping an existing healthcare coverage can be a real headache. Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC can help cut through the mess and put your coverage back in place. Doing so will then trigger the necessary paperwork a Johnstown, PA party needs to avoid the healthcare coverage penalty on their 2018 tax filings come April 2019. Don’t let your tax refund get gutted by surprise next year around tax time. Work with the pros, get your coverage in place, and avoid the nasty tax surprises that many will still find and be unprepared for due to just planning their taxes based on the 5 o’clock news.

 

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History of Labor Day

Labor Day: What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Labor Day Legislation

The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed in 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During 1887 four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1884, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

Founder of Labor Day

More than a century after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

A Nationwide Holiday

Women's Auxiliary Typographical UnionThe form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pays tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history

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Life Insurance Benefits & Related Taxability

If there is one thing that the Internal Revenue Service is clear about, it’s that any financial gain considered income is taxable. And depending on the circumstances for someone in Johnstown, PA or elsewhere, some types of insurance coverage payouts fall into that category. The issue has to do with what is considered a replacement of what was already owned versus what is a gain. In the case of life insurance, the coverage is a gray area because what’s being replaced is the potential income earning capability or financial stability of a person who has passed away, not necessarily a gain per se.

According to the IRS, life insurance benefits for a death are not taxable. However, where money was saved in some plans, the interest gained over time by the policy is considered taxable income to the beneficiary. This can easily happen in life insurance plans with a savings account component in addition to the basic insurance coverage. Topic 403 Publication from the IRS covers the matter in more detail, but it won’t be exactly clear on which plan type will play out a certain way for a given consumer in Pennsylvania.

That’s where help from Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC becomes essential. The experts here can go through the mechanics of each insurance plan type, point out what would actually earn interest versus be a straight benefit, and then apply the probable results to a consumer’s specific situation. So if you want to make sure that you have a financial safety net for loved ones, but you also want to make sure you avoid leaving any tax surprises for them, a good discussion with the folks at Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC in Johnstown, PA may be worth your time.

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Protect yourself from Carbon Monoxide—at Home and Work

‎Monday, ‎February ‎05, ‎2018, ‏‎5:00:31 AM | safecoGo to full article

Ventilation pipes

Every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hundreds of people in the U.S. die from carbon-monoxide (CO) poisoning—and the invisible, odorless gas sickens thousands more.

The numbers seem even more tragic when you consider that most of these deaths and illnesses are preventable. Here are tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to help protect yourself and your loved ones at home and work.

At home

  1. Make sure you have CO alarms—and that they work. You should have a CO alarm on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Test them and replace batteries regularly, too. The alarms themselves should be replaced every five years or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  2. Get your chimney and furnace checked. A chimney or furnace that isn’t functioning properly can lead to CO buildup inside your home. Have a professional examination and/or service before you begin using them.
  3. Be careful with generators and grills. Neither should ever be used inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage—even semi-enclosed spaces like porches can be risky, too. Keep generators at least 20 feet away from the house when in operation.

At work
In general, the same precautions for homes apply here, but there are a few additional considerations for the workplace, particularly one where gas-powered machinery is used:

  1. Be mindful of ventilation. Every year, workers are poisoned by CO while using fuel-burning equipment in areas that don’t have adequate ventilation.
  2. Try using different tools indoors. Consider electric tools or ones powered by compressed air, and if possible, avoid using forklifts, pressure washers and other gas-powered equipment. Ensure machinery and tools are maintained properly, too.
  3. Report unsafe conditions or issues. If you see something that might cause CO buildup, or you suspect CO poisoning in you or a co-worker, get people out of the area and report the problem to your employer immediately.

Whether you’re at home or work, always be on the lookout for symptoms of CO exposure: They include dizziness, drowsiness, headaches and nausea. If you suspect an issue, leave the area as soon as possible and call 911—because when it comes to CO, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user Yutaka Seki used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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When Should I Update My Auto Insurance?

Your auto insurance policy protects your car from covered risks including liability claims and collision. A professional insurance agent can help you get reliable policies depending on the type of car you drive and the risks involved. If you live in Johnstown, PA, contact Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC to find the most appropriate auto insurance policy.

Updating Your Auto Insurance

When You Make Big Life Changes

Your life changes may cause overlaps or gaps in your auto insurance. If, for example, you get a new job, you will most likely change your commute. Your new commute could include higher or lower risks which your insurer must consider. If you are moving to another place, your new area of residence may introduce new risks or remove old ones. Either way, you will need to update your auto insurance.

When You Buy A New Car

Your new car can have a big impact on your premium rates. If you purchase a car with security and safety features or good crash test ratings, you will get discounts on your new auto insurance. Be sure to inform your insurer ahead of time. If you do not want to pay high premium rates, contact your insurance agent before buying a car and get their suggestions.

When The Value of Your Car Depreciates

If you got your existing car insurance when your car was brand new, then you are paying premium rates for the value of your car at that time. That value depreciates with time. Update your auto insurance coverage to get premium rates of the current value of your car. That way, you can save some money.

Contact Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC in Johnstown, PA to discuss an auto insurance policy for your car.

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The basics of commercial insurance.

Other than selling products or dispensing services, various responsibilities of running a business are required of the average entrepreneur. From bookkeeping, licensing to inventory management, these are all responsibilities that fall squarely on a business owner. A factor that pulls one in a variety of directions. However, things get much easier to handle when you have a commercial insurance policy that guarantees you a significant safety net when facing substantial complexities.

Before obtaining a policy, get to know the basics of commercial insurance protection. They include:

Commercial Insurance Policy Options

Regardless of industry, or the type of business, the right commercial insurance policies for your business is those which are tailored to the businesses they protect. In most instances, the best policies are founded on the foundations of general liability insurance protection. From there, a variety of coverages may be added depending on risks. These options as explained by Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC in Johnstown, PA include:

  • Commercial Auto Insurance – This policy covers a business, its employees, as well as the fleet of vehicles involved in an incident. Though this policy is not tied into law, it provides financial coverage against any actions against the organization involving company vehicles thus offering the best coverage for asset planning.
  • Commercial Property Insurance – This policy covers business assets in the form of inventory, equipment, buildings, as well as furnishing from potential risks that may include humanmade disasters such as theft or fire as well as natural disasters such as high winds and other weather events.
  • Interrupted/Lost Income Insurance – This policy covers businesses from unexpected events that may suspend operations by allowing business owners to meet finical obligations such as rent or payroll.
  • Directors and Officers Insurance – This coverage works best for large corporations as it protects individuals charged with decision-making obligations from litigation.
  • Errors and Omissions Insurance – This policy covers detail-oriented staff members in an instance where they may make an error or omission in any company official paperwork.

Reach out to Asset Planning Insurance Agency, LLC in Johnstown, PA to get a quote and get started on a commercial insurance policy. We are ready to answer your questions!

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Summer Driving Tips


Summer’s almost here. The sun will come out of hiding, and people will, too.

As crowds swell at the beach, in parks, and even on roadways, it all makes for some challenging driving conditions. More people are out and about, whether on foot, bike, or skateboard, or by car, motorcycle, or RV, increasing the risk of an accident. And, the summer heat isn’t exactly kind to your vehicle.

Still, there’s no stopping the allure of a summer drive. To help keep yours safe, keep your attention on the road and on your surroundings, as well as on these safety tips.

Summertime Safety Behind the Wheel

Just like winter, summer has its own set of seasonal hazards that require your complete attention as a driver. Here are some to be particularly mindful of:

  • People: In your neighborhood, on city streets, in parking lots, and especially around parks, beaches, or any popular summer attraction, people are outdoors and often more focused on their enjoyment than on personal safety. Children are out of school and they might be playing in the street in a quiet neighborhood or chasing a basketball bouncing away from a driveway hoop. In summer, there is simply more human activity everywhere, and it’s up to you to slow down and stay alert.
  • Bikes and motorcycles: Bicyclists and motorcyclists are also more active in good weather. Pay attention and take extra care in areas that attract cyclists.
  • Glare: The sun’s glare is bright in summer, and even harsher when the sun is low and in your face. Have your sunglasses handy if you’re not already wearing them, and be ready to flip down the visor so you don’t spend even a second driving while blinded by the glare.
  • Roadway obstacles: A busy roadway is no place for a sofa. But, with scores of people completing summer moves, you might just encounter one. Keep an eye out for roadway obstacles and plan as far ahead as possible on how to safely maneuver around them. Thunderstorms and tropical storms can further clutter the roads with debris, tree limbs, or even downed power lines.
  • Heatstroke: Finally, don’t forget the dangers of summer parking. Children and pets left in parked cars are vulnerable to injury or even death from heatstroke. At an outside air temperature of 60 degrees, a car’s interior temperature can reach 110 degrees, which is a lethal level for children, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Rolling down car windows does not provide sufficient cooling, so don’t be tempted to leave children or pets for even a minute. It can be lethal—and in many states illegal—to leave children and pets alone. To help keep your car cool for when you return, park in the shade or place a removable sunshade in the windshield.

Road Trip Safety

A road trip with family and friends can make a memorable summer for both the right and the wrong reasons. Make it the right reasons with some careful planning and driving. There will be plenty of time for fun once you reach the campground, resort, or cabin.

  • Inspect your ride: Have a mechanic give your car, bike, or RV a full inspection before you go. Be especially mindful of coolant and oil levels to help protect your engine, and remember that tires often deflate with significant temperature changes, such as during the transition from spring to summer. If you have a bike carrier, car carrier, or trailer attached to your vehicle, be sure everything’s secure before taking off.
  • Pack your emergency supplies: We know space is at a premium when packing for a summer road trip, but don’t neglect to include some important necessities in case of emergency. This includes water, food, maps, first aid supplies, a tire pressure gauge and tire change kit, a flashlight, towels, and jumper cables. Be sure to keep your phone charged and gas tank full in case of trouble. And, don’t forget plenty of games, books, snacks, and activities to keep the passengers distracted—and keep them from distracting you.
  • Plan your route: Map out how to reach your destination and how much time it will take to get there, and be sure to leave plenty of room for unexpected delays. Minimize those unexpected delays by checking the Department of Transportation websites of the states where you’ll be traveling for planned road work before you go.
  • Check your insurance coverage: Is your insurance ready to help out if you injure a pedestrian on your summer drive? What if you crash into a tree or run out of gas? If you’re not sure for what types of scenarios you’re covered, check in with us before heading out on your trip.
  • Take your time: Don’t get frustrated when unexpected delays—or fascinating roadside attractions—put you behind schedule. Keep to the speed limit, and don’t risk shortcuts that aren’t clearly marked. Take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs and rest your eyes while kids run off excess energy, and switch drivers when you’re drowsy.

There’s no better time to be on the road than when the sky’s clear and the sun’s shining. We wish you safe travels and a wonderful summer!

Reposted with permission from the original author, Safeco Insurance®.

Top image by Flickr user Garry Knight used under Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

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