Should I Pray to Pay Taxes or to Receive A Refund

Most of us don’t understand that when we pay taxes, we are directly impacting the world around us. It’s our tax dollars that provide a better way of life not just for self, but for others. 

“The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do the same.” – John (bible.com/bible/1588/LUK.3.11.AMP)

See your taxes as a large portion of the legacy you’re leaving to the world around you. When you see it this way, you’ll learn to appreciate what happens with it and will fight to ensure its best use. In this section we will discuss a few methods to help improve the process of filing taxes for you and your tax preparer.

Let’s discuss this topic that never goes away and circles around each year, taxes. Because I am a person of faith it stands to reason that this should be an area I target with prayer. Maybe you’ve not considered this, but you should. Why? Your life is your business. For me to create legacy in this area, I need to now ask myself questions that very few would ask. You know what that does? It makes me uncommon. I have no interest in becoming a normal taxpayer. Let’s talk a little more about it as I answer this question “should I pray to pay taxes or to receive a refund?” 

You’re going to need to decide in which direction you’d like to pray. You can’t pay taxes and receive a refund. You’re going to be one or the other. So then, how can we align our prayer to support our decision? We must make a decision and to do that we need to be informed about what either scenario means for your life, your business.

The Thought or Concept:

Paying taxes or receiving a refund is all up to you.

Before writing this I needed to do some fact checks and you would not be surprised at what I found. Too much confusing information. I found words and language like this: taxable income, tax credits, withholdings, audit, tax deductible, tax liability, and so on. I get it. Some of the stuff you see doesn’t help at all. I think it only makes it worse. Getting to my point for this lesson. I have one purpose and it’s not to explain taxes in simple terms, but rather to help you decide on whether or not you’ll pay taxes or receive a refund. The truth of the matter is, it is all up to you.

Because I’m a person of faith, I was talking to God about taxes or rather He was talking to me. Here’s the question He asked, “should you pray to pay taxes or to receive a refund?” Obviously, by God asking me this, I know I didn’t off the top of my head have a good answer. Then my next thought was this; for what reasons does someone receive a refund? 

There are two reasons that I have found that support why a person receives a refund.

  1. Overpaying Taxes (the most popular reason).
  2. Low Income Household. 

Let’s take a moment and classify these a bit. 

The Practice:

You can overpay your taxes.

Overpaying in taxes has very little to do with how much you make. You’re welcome to overpay in taxes no matter what level of income you’re in. When you have little knowledge of what you’re paying and how much you should, then what happens is you either underpay or overpay. Overpaying obviously will yield a return. Who wants to intentionally overpay the IRS and bring home less money every month? In fact, most people do this unintentionally, but are relieved when they don’t short the IRS and have to write them a check. 

Back to the question, do you want to receive a refund [this way]? You’ll need to give more of your money to the IRS out of your pay each month.

You can be a low income household.

There’s one distinction we need to make. You’ve heard people say they received thousands of dollars back during tax season. They’ve claimed children that belong to someone else and have even shorted the IRS in not paying taxes at all. What we fail to realize (and this is the truth, even though it might hurt) those who receive this type of refund are mainly low income earners. Not to get tax-technical. They receive these funds because they are low income wage earners and qualify for something called “Earned Income Tax Credit.”

Now the question you must ask yourself is, do I want to be a low income wage earner?

This lesson in taxes is to discuss what type of legacy you are creating when it comes to this area in your financial outcome. In short, whether you pay taxes or receive a tax refund, starts with how much income you plan to earn. Notice I say “plan.” You see tax filing results are based on this bottom line figure. Therefore you need to decide where you wish to be so that you can plan accordingly.

The grid for figuring out your desired tax filing results.

Back to the question, do you want to pray to receive a refund or pay taxes? So this brings me to the final idea that God gave me on the subject. He showed me a picture of this grid which is the reason for this web-post.

High Income | No Refund (You Pay)High earnings + underpay required taxesHigh Income | RefundHigh earnings + overpay required taxes
Low Income | No Refund (You Pay)Low earnings + underpay required taxesLow Income | RefundLow earnings + overpay required taxes

Take a look at this grid and it will give you two types of people, but four options. Because these categories exist, you need a plan if you want to change from one category to the next. No matter what, you fall within one category and may wish to be in another. If this is you, you need a plan. You need to understand where you are and which category you desire to be. After I realized this, it helped me to decide how I wanted to pray. Fortunately for Pamela and me, we’ve experienced all the listed categories and are very particular on how we manage it.

This grid outlines the results that come with filing taxes. You will fall into one of these four quadrants.

  1. High Income/No Refund (You Pay)
    This means your earnings are above the low income threshold and you’ve not paid enough in taxes. Your taxable income was greater than the amount you actually paid taxes on.
  2. High Income/Refund
    This means your earnings are above the low income threshold and you’ve paid more than enough in taxes. Your taxable income was lower than the amount you actually paid taxes on. 
  3. Low Income/ No Refund (You Pay)
    This means your earnings meet the low income threshold and you’ve overpaid in taxes. Your taxable income was greater than the amount you actually paid taxes on.
  4. Low Income/Refund
    This means your earnings meet the low income threshold and you’ve overpaid in taxes. Your taxable income was less than the amount you actually paid taxes on.

In summary, what these four categories reveal are two options one must consider: 1) will I be a low or high income household and 2) do I wish to pay taxes or receive a refund? Once I know how to answer this question, then I have what I need to put a plan together to target the appropriate category. For example, if you wish to be a high income household and receive a refund, then you’ll need to figure out the two actions required: 1) how to earn more income and 2) how to reduce taxable income? At any rate, whichever way you go will require a plan of action.

Today is Friday!

I look at these four categories as prayer opportunities. Rather than allowing the world or my environment to dictate where we fall, Pamela and I have decided to choose our target and work our plans to get us to the category of our choosing. The good news is, so can you. So rather than praying an arbitrary prayer, the prayer you should pray is determined by the category in which you desire to be. 

Question: what legacy are you establishing when it comes to how taxes impact your life?

Thanks for visiting Kerry A. Clark & Co. I know you know someone who could benefit from this lesson, so please share it.

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Decluttering Your Calendar

How You Can Add Events to Your Calendar and Keep It Clutter Free?

Calendar Data Needs – Part 4

For people who’ve learned to live by and integrate their calendar into their lives, there comes a time you’ll need to segment and have segmented calendars to support your interests and your calendar data needs. I’d like to give you a few add-on calendars that we use in addition to using a primary calendar.

Make a plan for your main/primary calendar.  
Make sure you keep your main calendar clutter free for only the things important to you. Everyone needs their very own main or primary calendar. This calendar represents your daily calendar transactions. Let’s think of the items on your calendar as time transactions used against your time-budget. In this way, you can see how you’re spending your time. Let me reiterate that I not only track set appointments and meetings, I track what I’m doing. So if we watch an unscheduled movie on Saturday night either Pamela or myself will create a calendar appointment and invite each other. In this way, we can also go back and review how we spent our time. Our calendar also acts as a time journal which helps us remember what we had going on, on any particular day.

Create a birthday calendar or special days calendar.
It’s important to have the calendar you really need at your fingertips. It’s nothing more gratifying than to make sure you don’t miss those important birthdays. Have you ever forgotten someone’s birthday to only be put on the spot that you’d forgotten? It’s so embarrassing and pretty unprofessional when we all have smartphones. You might as well have a dumb phone. 

Like most, you never want to forget a person’s birthday. Allow me to make you aware that there are three ways to implement this type of calendar.

    • Include Social Network Events.
      Include social network events to display on your calendar. Apps like Facebook do a great job of displaying birthdays and special events right on your calendar. The only downside, if it still exists, is you’re not able to set a reminder of birthdays that come up. You see Pamela and I use our birthday calendar so that we can plan for sending all the folks we know a birthday card in the mail. Not having a reminder will cause us great delays in this endeavor.
    • Allow Your Contacts App to Display Birthdays.
      Many devices will allow your contacts app to display birthdays and important events on your calendar. This requires discipline in populating your contacts list regularly and accurately. We will discuss contacts later. Your contacts app is the most important data-need and “app information service” you have.
  • Create Your Own Birthday Calendar.
    This solution is our birthday calendar-data-need solution of choice. We populate our own calendar, called the birthday calendar, ourselves. This way we can set reminders a month out if needed. It provides us with the flexibility we need to satisfy our own “app information service” needs centered around birthdays independently of anything else.

Add holidays to your calendar and/or subscribed to choice calendars.
The internet is a powerful tool and offers calendars you can subscribe to. You can choose from a number of holiday calendars. You can also subscribe to your favorite sport’s team calendars. And our favorite is our daughter’s school calendars. We can see what’s coming up at her school without waiting for a notification as well as see what event has changed or been rescheduled. Find a calendar to subscribe to that satisfies a data-need in your life’s interests. 

The above examples should give you some ideas on where to begin adding in other events you don’t want to clutter your primary calendar with, but at the same time have visibility into them.

Have you ever wondered how you can add events to your calendar and keep it separate so that you don’t have an overly cluttered calendar? That was my most major calendar-data-need. I once had way too much on my calendar and then I started pursuing ways to limit it and at the same time have access. This is what led to the ideas we’ve mentioned above. See how you can use these add-on calendars to meet the same or similar calendar-needs you might be experiencing. 

Thanks for visiting Kerry A. Clark & Co.’s “Using Tech Your Way” series. 

Managing Someone Else’s Calendar

How To Manage Another’s Calendar 

Calendar Data Needs – Part 3

If you have someone else managing your calendar you need a more robust calendar. You will need more features than most. Let’s review a couple of calendar options that we recommend for more advanced users.

  • Establish a cloud-based calendar solution.
    Take a look at creating a Google account or Microsoft account. Initially both are free.  Later when you’ve used them for a while and are storing tons of data you’ll outgrow the free versions. That’s not a bad thing. It just means you’re growing.
  • Figure out which calendar solution is your best fit.
    Check out which one you prefer and begin with that one. I suggest you focus on taking a step right away. We started with Google (which we still use) and have migrated to Microsoft because our needs changed and we needed to customize our efforts, which influenced the switch. Don’t be afraid to make a change, switch, or try something different. This is the only way you can find the tool or app that works best with your needs.
  • Work to customize the calendar to meet your needs and get used to using the features it offers.
    These platforms offer quite a few features and customizations. We suggest you go into making this choice by creating a list of your plans and immediate needs. You want to make sure whichever solution you select best meets your calendar data needs. For example, each calendar option offers a public URL available to share your calendar(s) with anyone using a calendar app. This might be important to how you wish to use your calendar, so choose an option that fits your desired needs.

Share/give access to your calendar to a person designated for the job. Create a document with this information to store so that it doesn’t have to be reproduced when the position or person changes. Store this information in your shared cloud storage (more on that in sections to come).  Use it as a living document on how to manage your cloud storage going forward. It’s important and should be treated in a professional manner.

Provide as many parameters as possible for the person who’ll assist in maintaining your calendar. Since someone will manage your calendar you need to provide some guidelines. Don’t skip this step because it’s the foundation upon which you’re calendar will be built.  

No such thing as a personal calendar separate from a professional calendar.
When I was an executive administrator, I managed the CEO’s calendar. He was very particular which worked for us both because so am I. Day one, he gave a few important criteria to follow when adding to his calendar. Many like to refer to this as personalizing the calendar. I’d like to stop here just to say there’s no such thing as a personal calendar and a professional calendar, it’s all just your calendar. You might have personal appointments and work-related/professional appointments, but you’re not two people with double the amount of time. It’s helpful to stop thinking of these as separate when it’s all about your time, mapping one person’s priorities to a set amount of time.

There must be guidelines for managing someone else’s calendar.
So what type of guidelines does one need? Let me introduce you to what Michael Hyatt calls the ideal work week. You need to know what specifics such as the preferred meeting days and times. What are the standing appointments in a given week? What staple appointments must be on the calendar each month, quarter, year, or even several years? What are the times that should be blocked out for non-work related activities? Here are a few other ideas:

  • Add margin.
    For the one managing the calendar, you must consider how much margin you need to include.BTW – margin will find its way into a person’s calendar no matter what. We don’t want it to be at the expense of others, so let’s plan to build it in.
  • Be prepared to go overboard with meetings.
    Schedule everything, down to processing emails if necessary and down-time. I have appoints for sleep so that I can visually see what time I have available and nothing more. I call it budgeting time. This way not only can I see what I have in front of me, I can also evaluate the time I’ve spent. I don’t want to assume I have time for activities when I don’t.

Parameter examples. Let me help you out by giving you a few examples.

  • Anniversaries. For busy people, they need help remembering anniversaries. This isn’t limited to wedding anniversaries, but deaths, children’s special events, any special annual significant dates like work anniversaries of key-staff, etc.
  • Birthdays. If you use a calendar, the best way to remember birthdays is to add it to the calendar and set reminders. You can also add notes for gifts you’d like to send or any action you’d like to take. For someone keeping the calendar, it’s the best place to jot down what your boss may have had in mind or suggestions as to what he/she could do for a person’s birthday. The calendar is more than a date keeper you see, it maintains significant data for all your time related activities.
  • Special Conferences. Are there conferences or seminars that the one your assisting must attend. Begin the project by adding the key information for the conference right into the calendar. In fact, I store all details related to my travel events in my calendar. In this way, I don’t have to look for any information. For example, travel, lodging, and other accommodation check-in times are right there with confirmation numbers and phone numbers.
  • Holidays. Go ahead and add holidays into the calendar. You’d be surprised at how often holidays sneak up on executives. If you want to exceed the expectations of the one you’re serving then use the calendar for all you can, it’s easy, effective and proficient.
  • Staple events. I’m not sure what staple events you might have in your organization, but when I was in full-time ministry, we had four major conferences that had to make its way on the calendar each year. So I had an appointment set on my calendar to add those special events into all the calendars I managed so that these key events wouldn’t be missed.

A calendar is nothing more than a tool. The tool is designed to work for you and make your life easier. Don’t allow the tool used to make things easier for you to make your life hard because you’re not good at using it. Take these tips, examples, and suggestions and apply them at once.  It can’t hurt; it can only make life better.

The Big Four When It Comes To Your Calendar

Getting The Most Out of Using Your Calendar

Calendar Data Needs – Part 2

As you already know, we’ve written content for three groups who use App Information Service (AIS).  Individuals, small businesses (which include small organizations and non-profit organizations), and Churches.   For this installment of the data-need for budgeting time, we will concentrate on individuals. An individual in this case is not limited to a single person, but a life, a home, a marriage, or relationship. 

As an individual, you more than likely manage your own calendar with no help from anyone else.  This is great and means you have sole ownership and can make meeting/appointment decisions quickly.  With this in mind, your calendar decisions and usage falls into one of four categories: appointments, calendar options, tracking time, and planning for the future.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t use all four categories. Remember, we not only want to cover tips on how to use what you already have, but want to give you ideas of ways to use what you have in ways you’ve not yet considered.  Let’s begin.

Appointments.  The main feature for which we have a calendar is to set appointments.  Most of us, don’t visually think of all the appointments we have because we’ve never taken the time to place them on a calendar that we can see.  To manage how you use your time, seeing a visual depiction is most helpful. Let’s say you wish to have lunch with a friend. Add it to your native mobile device calendar as this works seamlessly with your device.  I don’t suggest using other calendar apps as this creates more work and more accounts to manage, if your new to using a calendar regularly and since you have sole-proprietorship of your calendar. You want to make this as easy and simple to use as possible; don’t complicate it or this will discourage use. Continue reading “The Big Four When It Comes To Your Calendar”

Budgeting Your Time

The Calendar Apps Available to You

Calendar Data Needs – Part 1

Let’s begin with what I believe is the greatest and most important data need any human-being can have, managing time.  The root problem of time management is the myth that one can even manage time. Time is the one thing we can not manage; you have what you have and nothing more.  In fact, you can’t add more time to your day nor can you subtract any. You can’t give someone your hours and you can’t save them in a time-bank. What we manage is how we budget for our time? 

Introduction to Calendar Data
What will we do with the time that’s been given?  Well, that’s where a calendar comes into play and what sets the successful person apart.  It’s what makes a normal person become exceptional. Everyone budgets their time in two ways: a clock and a calendar.  We will focus on the calendar in this section. While you don’t think of a calendar as housing data, it does. It has a lot of important data.  The calendar tells one when everything is to be done. It gives people a common reference point. Not to go into the physics of a calendar and how that works, let’s just jump right into your data needs surrounding your calendar.

“The key is not to prioritize what is on the schedule but to schedule your priorities.” ~ Stephen Covey

The App Known as Your Calendar
So what calendars are available to you? 

You need to first understand what’s available.  There are quite a few options available for calendars.  Please note that I’m not going to discuss analog (paper or physical) calendars, which I think are very helpful and remain very relevant even in our high-tech age.  Since we’re discussing, App Information Services (AIS), I will provide three digital calendars that I highly recommend and are available to you for free.  These three are widely used, supported, and more than likely you’ve already heard of them.

    • Native mobile device calendar.  For those who live and are isolated to nothing more than a smartphone, the native mobile device calendar will work and is very good when you don’t need very many bells and whistles.  It’s perfect for individuals who have very limited team interactions to manage. Also most mobile device calendars provide a web-based version should you need to access it from a computer (i.e. icloud.com for iOS and Google Calendar for Android).
    • Google Calendar. Google Calendar is one of the most popular and widely used.  Consider taking a look at it’s ease of use and features.  We use Google calendar and have used it for many years. However, this next calendar app is my calendar of choice.
  • Outlook 365. Microsoft fell behind Google just a few years ago in the online productivity arena.  Today, Microsoft has stepped up its game and has given its productivity suite a new look and feel.  Microsoft Outlook online or on your mobile device brings back the calendar app you’ve grown to know and love over the years.  They’ve made it available online and it’s simply wonderful.

Regardless of which software application (app) you go with, they’re intended to meet a data need and in this case one that solves problems with managing your priorities using calendars.  Using apps such as these will provide calendar access and visibility using mobile devices, PC’s, and online via the web. You never have to be without your calendars, ever. How important is it to have real-time calendar updates in this fast paced environment?  Very and that’s why we’re offering these AIS solutions. Give these calendar apps a try today.