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Hey Taylor - After another year of scrambling to pay taxes and wondering if I could have paid less, I’ve started looking at estimated taxes. Do you know, generally speaking, if this is a beneficial option for people who are self-employed? - Kelly

Hey Kelly - Depending on your situation, paying estimated taxes leading up to the filing year can be really helpful. The only real downside is that some people think paying in advance offers some kind of loophole, which isn’t the way it works. If tax season gets you down, here are three ways estimated tax payments could lower your stress.

     1. Pay in smaller allotments. We all like paying less whenever possible, and while you won’t reduce your overall tax bill, breaking $20,000 into four payments of $5,000 can feel a lot more manageable. Most people who need to pay quarterly work for themselves and self-employment often has busy and slow seasons. If you break what you owe into installments, you get to choose when and how much you pay. This lets you get a little more predictive and, as long as you calculate responsibly, make larger payments when you have more cash flow available.

     2. Stay organized. I remember my first few years of paying taxes as an adult and trying to go through a year’s worth of business earnings by memory. A lot of stuff happens each year, and it’s no small task to keep track of all of it. The workload shrinks a little when you organize once every three months instead of once annually. If your receipt management isn’t the best, you’ll stand a better chance of finding information that’s two months old as opposed to 10 months old. The actual filing process doesn’t get easier from an IRS standpoint, but your personal filing process should be a little less daunting when you break it into three-month sections.

     3. Work taxes into your budget. Hopefully you already have a business budget, so adding a section for quarterly tax payments shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. It might make your earnings look smaller on paper, but you can feel confident knowing you won’t have to start the year indebted to the government. You might even get a bit of a return if you overpaid or had unexpected expenses. It’s pretty easy to add this to your budget - just take last year’s return, divide by four and plug that amount in for April, July, October and January (or whichever months make the most sense for your situation).

Paying estimated taxes doesn’t change what you owe, it just changes your personal management. If you feel like staggered payments will help you stay organized, I think it’s absolutely worth the effort. Hope it works for you, Kelly!

Taylor J Kovar, CEO
Kovar Capital

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by John Stossel

    This government shutdown is now longer than any in history. The media keep using the word "crisis." 

    "Shutdown sows chaos, confusion and anxiety!" says The Washington Post. "Pain spreads widely." 

    The New York Times headlined, it's all "just too much!" 

    But wait. Looking around America, I see people going about their business -- families eating in restaurants, employees going to work, children playing in playgrounds, etc. I have to ask: Where's the crisis? 

    Pundits talk as if government is the most important part of America, but it isn't. 

    We need some government, (SET ITAL)limited(END ITAL) government. But most of life, the best of life, goes on without government, many of the best parts (SET ITAL)in spite(END ITAL) of government. 

    Of course, the shutdown is a big deal to the 800,000 people who aren't being paid. But they will get paid. Government workers always do -- after shutdowns. 

    Columnist Paul Krugman calls this shutdown, "Trump's big libertarian experiment." But it's not libertarian. Government's excessive rules are still in effect, and eventually government workers will be paid for (SET ITAL)not(END ITAL) working. That makes this a most un-libertarian experiment. 

    But there are lessons to be learned. 

    During a shutdown when Barack Obama was president, government officials were so eager to make a point by inconveniencing people that they even stopped visitors from entering public parks. 

    Trump's administration isn't doing that, so PBS found a new crisis: "Trash cans spilling... (P)ark services can't clean up the mess until Congress and the president reach a spending deal," reported "NewsHour." 

    But volunteers appeared to pick up some of the trash. 

    Given a chance, private citizens often step in to do things government says only government can do. 

    The Washington Post ran a front-page headline about farmers "reeling... because they aren't receiving government support checks." 

    But why do farmers even get "support checks"? 

    One justification is "saving family farms." But the money goes to big farms. 

    Government doesn't need to "guarantee the food supply," another justification for subsidies. Most fruit and vegetable farmers get no subsidies, yet there are no shortages of peaches, plums, green beans, etc. 

    Subsidies are a scam created by politicians who get money from wheat, cotton, corn and soybean agribusinesses. Those farmers should suck it up and live without subsidies, too. 

    During shutdowns, government tells "nonessential workers" not to come to work. But if they're nonessential, then why do we pay 400,000 of them? 

    Why do we still pay 100,000 American soldiers in Germany, Japan, Italy and England? Didn't we win those wars? 

    We could take a chainsaw to so much of government. 

    The New York Times shrieks, "Shutdown Curtails FDA Food Inspections!" 

    Only if you read on do you learn that meat and poultry inspection is done by the Department of Agriculture. They're still working. And the FDA is restarting some inspections as well.

    More important, meat is usually safe not because of government -- but because of competition. 

    Food sellers worry about their reputations. They know they'll get bad publicity if they poison people (think Chipotle), so they take many more safety measures than government requires. 

    One meat producer told me that they employ 2,000 more safety inspectors than the law demands. 

    Lazy reporters cover politicians. Interviewees are usually in one place -- often Washington, D.C. Interviewing politicians is easier than covering people pursuing their own interests all over America. But those are the people who make America work. 

    While pundits and politicians act as if everything needs government intervention, the opposite is true. 

    Even security work is done better by the private sector. At San Francisco's airport, security lines move faster. Passengers told me, "The screeners are nicer!" The TSA even acknowledged that those screeners are better at finding contraband. That's because San Francisco (Kansas City, Seattle and a dozen smaller airports) privatized the screening process. Private companies are responsible for security. 

    Private contractors are better because they must compete. Perform badly, and they get fired. 

    But government never fires itself. 

    Government workers shout, "We are essential!" But I say: "Give me a break. Most of you are not." 

    John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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by Walter E. Williams

    Here are a couple of easy immigration questions -- answerable with a simple "yes" or "no" -- we might ask any American of any political stripe: Does everyone in the world have a right to live in the U.S.? Do the American people have a right, through their elected representatives, to decide who has the right to immigrate to their country and under what conditions? I believe that most Americans, even today's open-borders people, would answer "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second.

    There's nothing new about this vision. Americans have held this view throughout our history, during times when immigration laws were very restrictive and when they were more relaxed. Tucker Carlson, host of Fox News Channel's "Tucker Carlson Tonight," gives us an interesting history lesson about immigration at Prager University (http://tinyurl.com/ydylykfk). It was prompted by his watching a group of protesters who were denouncing President Donald Trump's immigration policies. They were waving Mexican flags and shouting, "Si, se puede!" ("Yes, we can!")

    Unbeknownst to the protesters, the expression "Si, se puede" was a saying of Cesar Chavez's. When Chavez, the founder of the United Farm Workers union, used the expression "Yes, we can," he meant something entirely different: "Yes, we can" seal the borders. He hated illegal immigration. Chavez explained, "As long as we have a poor country bordering California, it's going to be very difficult to win strikes." Why? Farmers are willing to hire low-wage immigrants here illegally. Chavez had allies in his protest against the hiring of undocumented workers and lax enforcement of immigration laws. Included in one of his protest marches were Democratic Sen. Walter Mondale and a longtime Martin Luther King Jr. aide, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy.

    Peaceful protest wasn't Chavez's only tool. He sent union members into the desert to assault Mexicans who were trying to sneak in to the country. They beat the Mexicans with chains and whips made of barbed wire. Undocumented immigrants who worked during strikes had their houses firebombed and their cars burned. By the way, Chavez remains a leftist hero. President Barack Obama declared his birthday a commemorative federal holiday, an official day off in several states. A number of buildings and student centers on college campuses and dozens of public schools bear the name Cesar Chavez.

    Democrats have long taken stances against both legal and illegal immigration. In 1975, California Gov. Jerry Brown opposed Vietnamese immigration, saying that the state had enough poor people. He added, "There is something a little strange about saying 'Let's bring in 500,000 more people' when we can't take care of the 1 million (Californians) out of work."

    In his 1995 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton said: "All Americans ... are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public service they use impose burdens on our taxpayers." On a 1994 edition of CBS' "Face the Nation," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., declared: "Border control is a federal responsibility. We simply don't enforce our borders adequately. In my state, you have about 2,000 people a day, illegally, who cross the border. Now, this adds up to about 2 million people who compete for housing, who compete for classroom space." She added: "In 1988, there were about 3,000 people on Medicaid. There're well over 300,000 (people on Medicaid) today who are illegal aliens. That presents obvious problems."

    Tucker Carlson has a four-part explanation for the Democratic Party's changing position on illegal immigration. He says, "One: According to a recent study from Yale, there are at least 22 million illegal immigrants living in the United States. Two: Democrats plan to give all of them citizenship. Read the Democrats' 2016 party platform. Three: Studies show the overwhelming majority of first-time immigrant voters vote Democrat. Four: The biggest landslide in American presidential history was only 17 million votes. Do the math. The payoff for Democrats: permanent electoral majority for the foreseeable future. In a word: power."

    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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by John Stossel
    Ten states and Washington, D.C., have now legalized adult use of marijuana. 
    Supporters of America's long war on drugs said legalization would create disaster. Has it? No. 
    Colorado and Washington offer the longest points of comparison because weed has been legal in those states now for five years. 
    More people in Colorado tried marijuana after legalization, but that's not a surprise. 
    Colorado's crime rate did rise a bit. But many things influence crime rates. Washington state's violent crime rate rose a little but slightly less than the national average. 
    In California, people I interviewed said legalization made the streets safer. "It's cleaned up the corner," said one woman. Marijuana stores "have a lot of security (and) pay attention to who's on the sidewalk." 
    Sounds good to me. 
    But drug warriors are not convinced. Paul Chabot, a former anti-drug policy advisor for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, tells me that legalization has been a disaster. 
    "Colorado youth have an 85 percent higher marijuana use rate than the rest of the country," he says in my new video on marijuana legalization. 
    But he is wrong. Federal and state surveys and the New England Journal of Medicine report that teen marijuana use dropped a little in Colorado. Maybe there's something about legal businesses, with the dreary name "dispensaries," that makes weed less sexy to kids. 
    But there is bad news: The driving death rate increased in Colorado and Washington after legalization. But the data isn't clear -- driving deaths are up even more in some neighboring states like Idaho, where weed is still banned. 
    Chabot says, "Pot driving fatalities in Colorado are up 151 percent!" 
    That's true, but that statistic is misleading because traces of marijuana stay in a person's system for a long time. Some of those people may have used marijuana weeks before. 
    A more stringent measure that may indicate whether someone was actually high at the time of an accident suggests an increase of 84 percent. 
    That's terrible, but the numbers of accidents are so small -- 35 in all of Colorado in 2017, up from 19 in 2014 -- it's hard to draw conclusions. That deserves more study. 
    If anti-drug warriors like Chabot want to look seriously at the statistics, they should also include the harm done by drug prohibition itself. 
    It's nearly impossible to overdose on pot. But banning marijuana drives sales into the black market, where criminals do the selling. And criminals are more likely to settle their disagreements with guns. 
    They don't perform the reliable quality controls that legal drug sellers must do to please their customers. 
    On the black market, customers take their chances. Then, when things go wrong, anti-drug voices cry out: "See? Drug markets are inherently unsafe!" 
    Banning drugs doesn't stop teens or adults from using them. Anyone who wants the stuff knows how to get it. One survey found that teens said it's easier to buy weed than alcohol. Alcohol is rarely sold in schools, but banning marijuana creates fat profits that inspire dealers to recruit students to sell to their peers. 
    Then there are the billions of dollars spent by law enforcement -- $900 per second. (That's just the federal cost. Total spending is much higher.) And the million people arrested yearly for drug violations. 
    I suggest to Chabot that drug prohibition has worked out as badly as alcohol prohibition did nearly 100 years ago. 
    "Just because something doesn't work doesn't mean that we end it," he replies. "Doesn't mean we quit." 
    I say failure sometimes (SET ITAL)does(END ITAL) mean you should quit, because you're doing more harm than good. 
    "No, because then we give up, and that's not American," Chabot says. 
    Well, today, two-thirds of Americans say marijuana should be legal. One state at a time, with New York and New Jersey about to join the list, Americans (SET ITAL)are(END ITAL) giving up on marijuana prohibition. 
    Good. Adults should have the right to make their own decisions about what to put in their own bodies. 
    John Stossel is author of "No They Can't! Why Government Fails -- But Individuals Succeed." For other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
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    By Walter E. Williams

In reference to efforts to teach black children, the president of the St. Petersburg, Florida, chapter of the NAACP, Maria Scruggs, said: "The (school) district has shown they just can't do it. ... Now it's time for the community to step in." That's a recognition that politicians and the education establishment, after decades of promises, cannot do much to narrow the huge educational achievement gap between Asians and whites on the one hand and blacks on the other.
    The most crucial input for a child's education cannot be provided by schools or politicians. Continued calls for higher education budgets will produce disappointing results, as they have in the past. There are certain minimum requirements that must be met for any child, regardless of race, to do well in school. Someone must make the youngster do his homework -- and possibly help him with it. Someone must ensure that he gets eight hours of sleep. Someone must feed him wholesome meals, including breakfast. Finally, someone must ensure that he gets to school on time, behaves in school and respects the teachers. If these minimum requirements are not met -- and they can be met even if a family is poor -- all else is for naught.
    Scruggs says that it's time for the black community to accept part of the blame. Part of the problem is the lack of parents' involvement in their children's education -- for example, their not attending parent-teacher nights. Having children's books around the house and reading to preschoolers is vitally important. According to Mariah Evans, who headed a 20-year worldwide study that found "the presence of books in the home" to be the top predictor of whether a child will attain a high level of education, "one of the things that is most striking ... about it is that the book's effect appears to be even larger and more important for children from very disadvantaged homes." By the way, one doesn't have to be rich to have books around the house. Plus, there are libraries.
    One vital measure for community involvement in black education is that of preventing youngsters who are alien and hostile to the educational process from making education impossible for everybody else. That can be accomplished by ignoring politicians and the liberal vision that restricts schools from removing students who pose severe disciplinary problems. The problem goes beyond simple misbehavior. An article in Education Week last year, titled "When Students Assault Teachers, Effects Can Be Lasting," reported: "In the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the nation's 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal education data" (http://tinyurl.com/y7ndtyom).
    Given the huge educational achievement gap between blacks and whites, one might ask whether black people can afford to allow students who have little interest in being educated to make education impossible for others. Students who assault teachers ought to be summarily removed from the school. One might ask, "Williams, what are we going to do with those expelled students?" I do not know, but I do know one thing for sure: Black people cannot afford to allow them to remain in school and sabotage the educational chances of everyone else.
    The educational achievement gap between blacks and whites is hidden from black students and their families. All too often, a black student with a high school diploma cannot read, write or compute at a sixth- or seventh-grade level. This tends to make high school diplomas held by blacks less valuable in the eyes of employers. As such, it sparks racial division where it otherwise would not exist. There have been complaints that police and fire departments and other civil service jobs don't have many black employees. The problem is that to get hired in the first place -- and get promoted if hired -- one needs to pass a civil service exam. If one's high school diploma is fraudulent -- meaning he has not mastered the 12th-grade levels of all subjects -- he is seriously handicapped.
    I say hats off to the vision being promoted by the NAACP's Maria Scruggs. She and her supporters have their work cut out for them, but it's doable.
    Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.
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