Get Ready for Your Court Date

Going to court can be a daunting task.  Courthouses and judges can be intimidating especially if you are not prepared.  Courthouses have regulations and rules that may not be known to the general public, especially if you have never been to court before.  Some general guidelines about dress code, appropriate behavior in the court house, and what is permitted inside can be found at each courthouse website.  Here are some popular regulations that a lot of courts adhere to: Dress code is key to making a first impression keep this in mind as you select your court day outfit.  Many courts do not allow flip flops or shorts and expect professional attire.  Babysitters are hard to find especially during the day when most cases are heard.  While children are sometimes allowed in the courtroom they must be kept quiet and still.  Many courts will ask for you to leave if your child is disruptive.  Call the courthouse to be sure that you can bring your child along as some courts do not allow children at all.  Once court has started, stay seated until your case is called.  Constantly getting up and down and leaving the courtroom serves as a distraction and may give off the wrong impression.  No pets or weapons are ever allowed in a courtroom (with the exception of a guide dog).   You can browse the rules and regulations of different courts in the country at www.ncsc.org.

 

Here are some tips for having a smooth court day:

-Make sure you know the right date and time of your appointment

-Know where you need to be (think about what building and room you have to be in)

-Give yourself plenty of time to park, walk, and get into the court room

-Have any documents you may have ready and in order (clean and wrinkle-free copies are best)

-Dress professionally (jeans and t-shirts should be avoided)

-Be aware of why you are going to the courthouse (be familiar with what you are charged with)

-Turn your cell phone off or leave it at home

 

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AtoZ For Addresses, Telephone Numbers and More

The Akron-Summit County Public Library has many useful and interesting databases.  One of those is AtoZdatabases. AtoZ is basically an electronic phone book plus much more.  Searches for residential and business telephone numbers and addresses are the most basic thing to conduct. Even with that, each search result comes with an extra layer of information such as estimated home value and household income for residential addresses, as well as, profiles for businesses that include key contact and industry information.  You can also search by address and phone number for a single result or business type, city, county, etc. in order to build lists for mailing and sales.

The database also features a job search module that included tips and resume templates.  Also included is a basic background check interface which will display criminal court records, current and past addresses plus more.

AtoZ history via their website:

In 1972, Vin Gupta founded American Business Lists, which became InfoUSA and later Infogroup. Over 37 yrs, he created the largest database company in the U.S. In 2008, he left the CEO position. In 2010, the company was sold. He went on to create AtoZdatabases and brought together his core leadership team to build an even better company than before.

No matter what your searching needs are, check out AtoZdatabases either in the Akron-Summit County Public Library or remotely with your library card from the main website or Business & Government Division blog.

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Six IRS Tips for Year-End Gifts to Charity

Many people give to charity each year during the holiday season. Remember, if you want to claim a tax deduction for your gifts, you must itemize your deductions. There are several tax rules that you should know about before you give. Here are six tips from the IRS that you should keep in mind:

1. Qualified charities. You can only deduct gifts you give to qualified charities. Use the IRS Select Check tool to see if the group you give to is qualified. Remember that you can deduct donations you give to churches, synagogues, temples, mosques and government agencies. This is true even if Select Check does not list them in its database.

2. Monetary donations.  Gifts of money include those made in cash or by check, electronic funds transfer, credit card and payroll deduction. You must have a bank record or a written statement from the charity to deduct any gift of money on your tax return. This is true regardless of the amount of the gift. The statement must show the name of the charity and the date and amount of the contribution. Bank records include canceled checks, or bank, credit union and credit card statements. If you give by payroll deductions, you should retain a pay stub, a Form W-2 wage statement or other document from your employer. It must show the total amount withheld for charity, along with the pledge card showing the name of the charity.

3. Household goods.  Household items include furniture, furnishings, electronics, appliances and linens. If you donate clothing and household items to charity they generally must be in at least good used condition to claim a tax deduction. If you claim a deduction of over $500 for an item it doesn’t have to meet this standard if you include a qualified appraisal of the item with your tax return.

4. Records required.  You must get an acknowledgment from a charity for each deductible donation (either money or property) of $250 or more. Additional rules apply to the statement for gifts of that amount. This statement is in addition to the records required for deducting cash gifts. However, one statement with all of the required information may meet both requirements.

5. Year-end gifts.  You can deduct contributions in the year you make them. If you charge your gift to a credit card before the end of the year it will count for 2014. This is true even if you don’t pay the credit card bill until 2015. Also, a check will count for 2014 as long as you mail it in 2014.

6. Special rules.  Special rules apply if you give a car, boat or airplane to charity. For more information visit IRS.gov.

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It’s that time of year….Scammertime.

You may get someone calling you claiming they’re from the IRS and you owe money.

You may be told you’re a big winner of a large cash prize, just send in a check first.

You may even be told that your grandchild is in dire need of cash RIGHT NOW!

Please take your time and research any calls, emails, texts, or letters that ask you for your money or personal information.  We all think we are too smart to fall for scams, but more often than not we are wrong.  Feel free to call the library and inquire about the company or phone number.  You might also consider contacting the Summit County Consumer Affairs office at 330-643-2879 for advice or to report fraud.

Here are some websites, links and articles that discuss scams, phishing and i.d. theft.

https://consumeraffairs.summitoh.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7&Itemid=14

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Warns-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts

https://www.verizon.com/pages/securityalerts/

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Republican Reading

With the Republican Party back in the news after the November 4th election, some might be interested in the history of the Grand Old Party.  The Republican Party was formed in the 19th century in order to stand against the spread of slavery into new United States territories and for it’s abolition over all . Of course this was brought to it’s apex with the election of president Abraham Lincoln and the defeat of the pro-slavery states as the outcome of the Civil War.  The Republicans then established military rule over the South during Reconstruction, then lost interest and became “the party of business” more concerned with laissez-faire capitalism, low taxes and conservative causes by beginning of the 20th Century. Over that century, notable Republican accomplishments were President Theodore Roosevelt’s establishment of food and drug regulation, as well as, President Dwight Eisenhower’s launching of the interstate highway system. Arguably, President Ronald Reagan brought 20th Century conservative Republican principles into the limelight and become one the nations most popular presidents.  For more information on the history and figures of the Republican Party look to the Business and Government division for a wide variety of books on the subject.

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Government Documents Items

In the News:

Ebola is all over the news right now. And with so much conflicting information and varying reports out there, it’s hard to know where to go to get the facts. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a lot of resources available so you can be properly informed, and keep yourself and your family safe.

  • Like CDC on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter, where they post about Ebola regularly and update about current cases.
  • CDC also has a full page devoted to Ebola information on their website. It features the latest outbreak news– and includes resources for people living or traveling abroad, healthcare workers, and airline personnel.

Information for Employers about Their Responsibilities Under the Affordable Care Act

If you are an employer, the number of employees in your business will affect what you need to know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Employers with 50 or more full-time and full-time-equivalent employees are generally considered to be “applicable large employers” (ALEs) under the employer shared responsibility provisions of the ACA.  Applicable large employers are subject to the employer shared responsibility provisions.  However, more than 95 percent of employers are not ALEs and are not subject to these provisions because they have fewer than 50 full-time and full-time-equivalent employees.

In general, beginning January 1, 2015, ALEs with at least 100 full-time and full-time equivalent employees must offer affordable health coverage that provides minimum value to their full-time employees and their dependents or they may be subject to an employer shared responsibility payment.

This payment would apply only if at least one of its full-time employees receives a premium tax credit through enrollment in a state based Marketplace or a federally facilitated or Marketplace.  Also, starting in 2016 ALEs must report to the IRS information about the health care coverage, if any, they offered to their full-time employees for calendar year 2015, and must also furnish related statements to their full-time employees.

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Ohio Veterans Bonus Program Deadline Drawing Near

To be considered for compensation, on-line bonus applications must be submitted not later than December 31, 2014 and hard copy applications sent to the Ohio Veterans Bonus program must be postmarked on or before December 31, 2014.

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Mobile Apps by State and Federal Agencies

The State Library of Ohio recently provided a list of some mobile state and federal government apps in their online publication “Government Information You Can Use”.

For example, the Ohio Department of Transportation provides an app with real time road conditions, including accidents, for interstate traffic. These apps are directed at consumers and are by no means a complete list.  For federal apps, you can use their website to get a full list of mobile apps by agencies and topics.  The number of available apps is growing monthly as federal agencies recognize the value to their citizens.  The U.S. Census Bureau has a cool app called dwellr which provides key statistics, from education to commuting, for the top 25 cities that fit your lifestyle.  One of the newer apps is the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Speed Test. This app measures your mobile broadband performance by anonymously gathering data from your smartphone.  Eventually, the accumulated data from thousands of volunteers will yield a map of mobile broadband performance throughout the country.

And don’t forget the library’s new mobile app, where you can search the catalog, access e-books and e-magazines, check our calendar of events and find library locations and hours.

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Jerusalem

This current time of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur seems like an appropriate time to consider the large body of literature on the subject of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, this ancient city which is also claimed as the capital city of present day Palestinians.  A subject search for Jerusalem in the Akron-Summit County Library’s catalog reveals 257 titles on this topic in our collection.  There are cookbooks, travel books, spiritual titles, documentary DVD’s, and, of course, many history books.  Business and Government houses the history titles, so those will be highlighted here.

Currently on my reading shelf is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Jerusalem: the Biography.  A weighty historical compendium, it chronologically spans Jerusalem’s history from the time of Biblical King David to the Six Days War in 1967.  As written here, Jerusalem’s history is an ongoing tale of blood and brutality between the ruling faction of the day and their enemies and challengers.  Israelites, Philistines, and  Canaanites; a long list of Herods, and a longer list of Caesars; Greeks and Romans; Jewish High Priests, Muslim Caliphs, and Crusading Christian Knights—–and on and on and on.  As with many topics, knowing a bit about history provides perspective.  Undoubtedly, the recent bloodshed and unrest between Israel is frightening and unnerving.  But it is certainly nothing new in Jerusalem.  For centuries there has been strife and bloodshed between Jews, Muslims, and Christians in this spiritually revered and politically valued city, not to mention the violence between different factions of the same religions.   Focus has often been on the Temple Mount area, location of the Second Jewish Temple until destruction by the Romans in 70 CE.  It has been home to the Dome of the Rock since 691 CE, one of Islam’s holiest sites.  The intensity of the struggle over this area is tied to the ancient belief that Jerusalem and especially this area is the center of the world.

Jerusalem : the Biography has been very enlightening and rather titillating in its inclusion of every bloody and debauched act in a long history.  Other notable titles include Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths by prolific writer and scholar of comparative religion, Karen Armstrong.  Jerusalem;  City of Longing by Professor of Greek Literature and Culture, Simon Goldhill;  and Jerusalem, Jerusalem: How the Ancient City Ignited Our Modern World written by James Carroll, historian, journalist, and Roman Catholic reformer.  The long and rich history and current state of the city of Jerusalem provides ample material for viewing through each writer’s lens.

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Summit County Probate Court

If you are needing help with the Probate Court they now have a help desk.  A description of how they can help you and the services they offer are listed on their website:

“The Help Desk offers guidance in the following areas: name changes, assist with simple estate transfers, clarify issues related to guardianships, distribute and review probate forms, provide notary services, and answer questions regarding probate court procedures. Help Desk attorneys cannot assist with the making of a will, complicated estates, adoption proceedings, or contested matters. If a specific situation is not within the scope of the Help Desk, individuals will be referred to the Akron Bar Association for a list of probate attorneys who specialize in probate law.

Probate form packets for all court matters are available in the Probate Court Clerk’s Office, 209 S. High Street, Akron, Ohio, 44308, or can be downloaded at www.summitohioprobate.com/Forms. Help Desk hours are every Wednesday and Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Prior appointments preferred yet walk-ins are welcome. To schedule an appointment or for more information, call the Probate Court at 330.643.2323. Court filing fees remain applicable; there is no charge for Help Desk services.”

In addition, check out the Probate Court website to see valuable information concerning Advanced Directives, the importance of wills and guardianship volunteer opportunities.

 

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