• Star Spangled Banner Yet Wave

    In Johnson County, it’s mandatory for the candidates with foreign-sounding names to be photographed draped in the American flag. Just in case…

  • Refund For Kansas Residents Paying Kansas City Missouri Earnings Tax

    Attention: Read Important Update 

    Attention: Read Another Important Update

    Following the Supreme Court ruling in Comptroller v. Wynne Kansas residents are allowed to amend their taxes and claim a refund of the amount of the Kansas City, Missouri Earnings Tax that was previously double-taxed. Just so it’s clear, you are not getting a refund from Kansas City, Missouri, but from the State of Kansas which previously didn’t allow the Earnings Tax to be subtracted from taxable income which resulted in the now illegal double-taxation.

    On August 10, 2015 Kansas Department of revenue issued the following instructions:

    notice15-151

     Generally, the statute of limitations for amending taxes is 3 years, so with some exceptions the eligible years are 2012, 2013 and 2014, with the deadline for amending the 2012 taxes set in April, 2016.

    As of this writing the commercial tax preparation programs have not been updated to reflect this change and they are not likely to be in a rush.

    After consulting with an accountant and checking Kansas Tax forms online I have decided to pay a professional to refile my forms; this is a rare case when I think doing it myself is not worth the hassle. Also keep in mind that it’s likely that the amount of the refund will be taxed on the federal level in the year you will receive it.

    Knowing that Kansas is broke I wouldn’t recommend waiting too long to do this. I am sure everyone who files will get their refund eventually, but it may be a while, especially for the late filers.

    Important Update: 

    I finally had my taxes reviewed by a professional and the additional refund wasn’t nearly as much as I expected. Even though the State of Kansas now allows you to claim local taxes on your return, they still fall under the category of taxes paid to other states and there is a limit to how much credit you can get. The limit is calculated using this worksheet:

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    If you already claimed maximum credit allowable on line 6, you are out of luck. So my suggestion is before you spend money or time trying to amend your taxes, run your numbers through this worksheet and see if it’s even worth the effort.

    Another Important Update:

    I received a response from the State of Kansas to my amended return where adjustment wasn’t granted. When I called to follow-up, it turned out that they also require a copy of Missouri return and a copy of Kansas City, MO form RD-109NR which actually is not required for taxpayers whose earnings tax is withheld automatically so you probably don’t have it. I downloaded and filled out the form and faxed it over together with my Missouri return. We’ll have to see what happens next.

    *I am not qualified to give tax (or any) advice, so please do your own research or consult with a trained professional.

  • Behind The Iron Curtain: Stalin’s Corpse Moves Out Of The Tomb

    When Stalin died in 1953, his body was placed into the Tomb where he played Felix Unger to Lenin’s Oscar Madison for the next 8 years.

    They spruced up the front with Stalin’s name:

    May Day Celebrations in Moscow.1961. The front of the tomb still has both names.
    © Time Inc. James Whitmore

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  • Pepper, Honey, Honey…

    Back in the day before vegetables were genetically modified to grow in winter and still retained their natural look, taste and smell, each produce had its own growing season. You couldn’t walk into a grocery store in December and expect to find a watermelon or a tomato* and it was OK, there was something to look forward to in the spring and summer. Even though it’s now available year round, I still don’t eat watermelon in winter, but it’s nice to know that I could if I wanted to. To overcome the fruit and vegetable shortage people invented many ways to preserve foods for the winter – canning, drying, pickling, etc. Many families including mine had a closet like you see on the left where we stored a variety of preserves my Mom and Dad cooked during the summer. Opening one of those jars always brought back the summer even if only for a few minutes. Today’s recipe is a simple to make throwback to these years.

    Imagine one day you are browsing around Costco, mentally restraining yourself from buying another gargantuan item when you see these:

    “Only two pounds, could be worse”, you think to yourself, putting the package into your cart. There are so many things you can do with peppers including just eating them raw. At home you can just wash the peppers in the sink.

    Combine 1 cup of regular vinegar and 1 cup of vegetable oil (don’t waste olive oil):

    By the way, if you use the term “EVOO” I don’t mind losing you as a reader of this blog, feel free to never come back.
    Pour oil and vinegar into a medium sized pot, add half-a-cup of water,3/4 tablespoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of honey, a handful of whole peppercorns and a bay leaf if you have it (I do). Bring to boil and make sure it’s all incorporated. While that’s going on, cut off the tops and slice the peppers in strips. These are pretty small (and I know a small pepper when I see one), so I just quartered them.

    Try the marinade, see if you like it, it should have a pleasant sweet and sour taste. I felt like I needed to add some more honey, which I did. Add sliced peppers to the boiling marinade (in batches if needed) and boil for 3-5 minutes. This recipe works best for heavier thicker peppers, these are pretty thin and you want them to retain texture, you are not making mashed peppers here.

    Take the peppers out with a slotted spoon and place them in a jar, then cook another batch.

    After all the peppers are cooked, pour the cooking liquid over them to cover completely. I had to add some boiled hot water to have all the peppers covered. Let them cool down.

    These peppers are good with everything: salads, sandwiches, garnish, vodka, whatever you can think of. I am not sure how long they will keep in the refrigerator, but peppers this delicious will not last that long anyway.

    I’d like to mention that my friend Donna recently tried my borscht recipe and not only liked it but is still in good health. That’s better than having a seal of approval.
    Even though we now have everything available all year long, summer is still the best for cooking and eating vegetables. Enjoy!
    *you were lucky to find cabbage and potatoes at the grocery store in December
    **due to unforeseen circumstances I was using my old camera, so the picture quality is not the best.

  • Old Photos: Hitler

    I know, I know, these are pictures of Hitler. And maybe it’s not the best idea to put them here, me being who I am. But these photos are amazing, shot by Hitler’s personal photographer Hugo Jaeger in color and such close proximity that as a fan of historic photography I cannot just pass them by. And yes, I know what was happening while Hitler was greeting adoring women, checking out cars and watching parades, and I have these photos too. If anything these photos make one wonder how a grim, plain-looking and not extremely bright individual could achieve absolute power over a civilized country.

    (L-R) Ferdinand Porsche, Adolf Hitler and Robert Ley with Hitler's 50th birthday gift, the Volkswagen Beetle. ©Time Inc.Hugo Jaeger

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