Refund For Kansas Residents Paying Kansas City Missouri Earnings Tax

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:

 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.

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

Don’t Avoid Detroit

When you tell people you’re going to Detroit they often give you that “are you crazy?” look and wish you to come back alive or at least unhurt. Pictures of abandoned and destroyed post-apocalyptic Detroit’s ruin-porn make their rounds on the internet, interspersed with scary crime statistics and sad economic news. A person with common sense would probably avoid Detroit, but clearly I am not that person. During a college visit to the nearby Ann Arbor, I set aside two days to check out Detroit because how could I not. Detroit is awesome. And we came back alive and even unhurt, if you don’t count a parking ticket, which did hurt a lot.

…but wait,there is more… Don’t Avoid Detroit

Driving Missouri: St. Joe

I haven’t been to St. Joseph for almost 20 years. Long time ago St. Joe was the first to get a riverboat casino and it seemed like a good idea to drive for an hour and a half to gamble away my meager earnings. I haven’t been back since. Either I wasn’t that impressed or more money-wasting venues propped up nearby, whatever the reason, St. Joe just never again appeared on my list of places to visit.  Then the Pitch wrote about a new pizza place, the last weekend of nice fall weather was coming up, and suddenly it seemed like why not St. Joe.

St. Joe is famous for its Glore Psychiatric Museum.

…but wait,there is more… Driving Missouri: St. Joe

Behind The Iron Curtain: Stool Samples

IMG_3258-2.JPG

Infamous Stool Sample Matchbox

This was originally written on my FB page where I post pictures and links almost daily and which you immediately should follow. I remembered about the stool samples when I was writing this post about the Soviet medicine of my day.

*Warning: please don’t eat while reading this.

Soviet kids had to be healthy whether they wanted it or not. And healthy meant parasite-free. So once in a while, my school (and I imagine all the other schools in the area) put out a call for stool samples. By a certain deadline every child had to submit a matchbox full of you-know-what, tightly wrapped and marked with the name of a producer.

At that time (and maybe still) the Soviet toilets (in places with indoor plumbing but not in public restrooms) were different from the American model we are all used to. Instead of a small pool of water ready to accept your deposits, it was more like a vase with hardly any water at all. When done, a person would pull a chain and a waterfall coming down from the high-mounted tank (if the water was on that day) would flush the stuff down through the hole located in the front part of the toilet.
That technical aside was necessary to explain that at least our parents didn’t have to fish for floating crap, it was all right there, nice and piled. Clearly no 8- or 9- or even 12-year-old wants to have anything to do with putting their own crap in a small box, so that somber duty had to be fulfilled by our parents. Many years later, as a parent myself, I’ve done many disgusting things and touched some substances that would make a grown man gag (and they did). But even after thousands of diapers changed I am still not sure I could go ahead and do what my mom had to do. This is something that would make you think twice about having a child.
The next day, the matchbox was proudly delivered and submitted to school, securely wrapped in multiple layers of paper and plastic (we didn’t have zip-locks or any bags of that nature) and tied with a string, with my name proudly scribbled on it like a designer brand. To this day I have no idea if anyone did anything with those nuggets. You can imagine that a school with 800 or a thousand kids can produce enough crap to fertilize a small organic beet farm. (Note to self: submit this idea to the school district as an extra source of income in light of recent school budget cuts by Governor Brownback.)
I always imagined that a lab in lower circles of socialized healthcare hell, populated by medical school dropouts, dimly lit and smelling worse than a meatpacking plant on a summer day, did nothing else but unwrapped the packages and examined the contents for parasite eggs and the signs of dinners past.But in reality I think they just threw these boxes away and faked the results. After all, sooner or later the parasites show their ugly heads, if you know what I mean.
Epilogue: When we came to the United States we had to pass some medical tests (in addition to the overpriced testing we were required to do in Moscow before we left). Then we received a mail-in stool sample kit, which consisted of some Popsicle sticks and cardboard envelopes. I was tempted to send my stuff in a box, but reconsidered and just threw the kits away.

They would have to pry a stool sample out of my……….

Montreal Graffiti

I always wanted to visit Canada and this year seemed as good as any for another trip in North America. We did a lot of train riding, starting in New York City to Montreal, then Toronto, finishing in Niagara Falls. I am getting pretty good at planning these things and everything worked out nicely and it was as close to a perfect trip as I could’ve hoped for.

As always I had both the camera and the phone with me, but found myself using the latter the most, phone is always close, the quality is decent, it makes easy panoramas, and the photos can be easily uploaded from the nearest WIFI spot. I realized that I bring the camera out of habit and can see myself traveling without one in the near future.

We found Montreal to be amazing, delicious, friendly and easy to get around. And covered in great graffiti. I am a big fan of murals and other folk art and Montreal didn’t disappoint.

Here are some samples:

…but wait,there is more… Montreal Graffiti