Friday, May 28, 2010

PathWays PA Publications

Have you used our publications or do you plan to? Take our survey!

PathWays PA offers a wide variety of publications and resources.  You can find electronic copies of them below.

Money Management Slides

Here you'll find a PowerPoint presentation on budgeting and managing assets. The take home message: always pay yourself first, and don't spend more money than you make!

Also, be sure to check out our budgeting worksheet. When you have a chance, print this out, take a seat, and get to thinking about your expenses in a typical month. You can use this worksheet to write them down, and determine where you can cut back.

Tackling the online job search

There are many online job resources available to help you find a job. But you must be careful, as not all are authentic. In other words, if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. For instance, if a job post tell you that you can make $50,000 to $100,000 per month, there has got to be a catch. You should also avoid vague offers such as, "We have thousands of jobs" or "We work with major companies." Beware of these red flags!

Job listings are online job search resources including job lists, job banks, job sites, and employment opportunities listed by location and/or career field. Some of the most popular online job listings are:

If you're looking for a job in a particular area of the country, think "local" when you're performing your search. Here are some great places to search for jobs locally:

  • Craig's List. Select your state and city, and then select your area of career interest. Jobs are posted by date in a simple format. Watch out for spam!
  • Help Wanted Advertisements. Some employers list openings in the local newspaper, so the classified ads are a good source for local jobs. Most papers offer their classifieds section online, too.
  • Chamber of Commerce websites. Companies that are members of your local Chamber of Commerce often post openings on the Job Board.
  • Visit to search for jobs by city and state, or by zip code.
  • If you're looking in Pennsylvania, visit the CareerLink website. Click on the "Browse Jobs" link to search for local jobs, or create a profile and post a resume that's visible to employers.
  • Use search engines like Google to refine your search. For instance, use words like "jobs" plus a more specific component/location/job title.
It's also a good idea to browse around company websites, as most organizations post job openings directly on their own site. Look for pages or links titled "Careers" on these websites. Usually, they will include job descriptions and instructions for applying online. Keep an eye out for a future post regarding online job application submissions!

Credits available for Tax Year 2009

Every year, wage earners and tax filers may be eligible for a number of different tax credits, which can vary from year to year. Below, you will find a listing of tax credits that are available for Tax Year 2009. Even if you have not yet filed your taxes for 2009, you may still be able to qualify for these credits. Generally, you can receive credits for up to three years past the original date your taxes were due. Alternately, if you have filed your taxes but did not receive credits your were eligible for, you may file an amended return to receive the credits.

Increase in Earned Income Tax Credit
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) temporarily increased the earned income tax credit for working families with three or more children. Now families can claim up to three children and receive as much as $5,657.

Making Work Pay Tax Credit
Most wage earners have already benefited with a larger paycheck as a result of the changes made to federal income tax withholding. This change created a refundable tax credit, which is calculated at a rate of 6.2% of earned income of up to $400 for working individuals and $800 for working families. This credit is available for both Tax Years 2009 and 2010.

Education benefits
The “American Opportunity” Education Tax Credit provides financial assistance for individuals seeking up to four years of college education. For tax years 2009 and 2010, you can receive a tax credit of up to $2,500 off the cost of tuition and related expenses (including books) paid during the taxable year. This credit basically extends the Hope Credit to cover four years of education, as opposed to two.

Qualified Higher Education Expense (529 Accounts)
Section 529 Education Plans are tax-advantaged savings plans that cover all qualified education expenses, including tuition, room & board, mandatory fees and books. In 2009, computers, computer technology, and Internet access are qualified education expenses.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Expands
Taxpayers who purchased a home between Dec. 31, 2008 and Dec. 1, 2009 can get a credit for up to $8000 with no payback requirement ($4,000 for taxpayers who are married filing separately). The taxpayer must remain owner of the new home for at least 36 months after the purchase date.

Money Back for New Vehicle Purchases
Taxpayers who buy certain new vehicles in 2009 can deduct the state and local sales taxes they paid or other taxes and fees they paid in states with no sales tax. Qualified vehicles include: passenger car or light truck, a motorcycle, or a motor home. The vehicle must have been purchased after Feb. 16, 2009.

Increased Eligibility for the Refundable Portion of Child Credit
ARRA increases the eligibility for the refundable child tax credit in 2009 and 2010. Families must have at least $3,000 in earnings in 2009 to qualify. This credit is worth up to $1,000 per child.

Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
This credit offsets some of the child and dependent care costs that families pay in order to work. This credit is worth up to $2,100.

Temporary Suspension of Tax on Portion of Unemployment Benefits
ARRA has temporarily suspended federal income tax on the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits per recipient. Those who receive unemployment benefits in 2009 should check their withholding to ensure unnecessary tax is not withheld.

One-time payment of $250 for Social Security Recipients, Veterans and Railroad Retirees
Retirees, disabled individuals and SSI recipients receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement beneficiaries, and disabled veterans receiving benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are eligible for this payment.

Residential Energy Credits
ARRA provides many tax incentives for individuals to invest in energy-efficient products. Tax credits are issued for home improvements such as: adding insulation, energy-efficient exterior windows, and energy-efficient heating and conditioning systems. Taxpayers receive 30 percent of the cost of all qualifying improvements. The maximum credit limit also increased to $1500 for improvements made in 2009.

COBRA Health Insurance Continuation Premium Subsidy
Workers who have lost their jobs between Sept. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2009 may qualify for a 65 percent subsidy for COBRA continuation premiums for themselves and their families. Eligible workers will have to pay 35 percent of the premium to their former employers.

For more information on available tax credits, check out the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act info center on the IRS website.

Taxes and Tax Credits

Check out this link to find info on what taxes are all about, including:
  • Why do we have to pay them?
  • How do we go about paying them?
  • What tax credits are available for low to moderate income families?

Credit Slides

Below, you'll find a link to a PowerPoint presentation developed by PathWays PA VISTAs about building and maintaining a solid credit score. You'll get answers to some common questions about credit, such as:

  • What is credit?
  • How can I establish a credit history?

  • How can I check my credit score?

  • Why is credit important?

Looking for Resources for Your Clients, Your Friends, or Yourself?

PathWays PA has begun a new blog designed to share our resources online!

As a nonprofit organization that serves more than 6,000 women, children, and families in the Greater Philadelphia area each year, PathWays PA has developed a number of resources to help us meet our mission: "To help women, teens, children and families achieve economic independence and family well-being."  Throughout the past thirteen months or so, you have been able to access some of these resources through our website, our Policy blog, and our sister blog, The Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces.  Now, you can access even more resources on our newest blog, PathWays PA Resource Library.

PathWays PA Resource Library is a compilation of financial education and asset development resources, public benefits information, and career tools for agency staff and community members.  It will be run by PathWays PA's AmeriCorps VISTA members, and will cover topics including:
Let us know what you think in the comments, and what topics you would like to see us cover!