Current Events in July 2017

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      Withholding -- too much vs. too little

      Some easy steps for having the right amount taken out

      When tax time comes every April, do you find yourself celebrating because you're getting a refund or griping because you owe taxes?

      There's a way to avoid both.

      The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) advises you to check your tax withholding from time to time as there are a number of factors that could determine whether you get money back or have to send more in.

      It's important to remember that when you get a refund, it's YOUR money you are getting back, not the government's. By withholding too much, you're giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan. This is money you could invest and put to work for you. Whether you would or not is a topic for a separate discussion.

      In any event, when you have the correct amount taken out, you get closer to having a zero balance when you file your return -- no taxes owed, no refund.

      What to do

      In many cases, a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, is all you need to make an adjustment. Just submit it to your employer, and the employer will use it to figure out how much federal income tax to withheld from your pay.

      The IRS offers several online resources to help you bring taxes paid closer to what you owe. They include:

      Self-employed taxpayers, including those involved in the sharing economy, can use the Form 1040-ES worksheet to figure their estimated tax payments.

      If they also work for an employer, they can often forgo making these quarterly payments by instead having more tax taken out of their pay.

      When tax time comes every April, do you find yourself celebrating because you're getting a refund or griping because you owe taxes?There's a way to avo...

      Scientists calculate the amount of plastic on earth

      Most of it goes into landfills or the environment

      You go into a fast-food restaurant and order a salad. It comes in a plastic bowl, covered by a clear plastic top.

      The salad dressing is in a plastic bag and the utensils to eat the salad are made of plastic. They are encased in a clear plastic wrapper. When you're finished eating, all of that plastic goes into the trash.

      And that's just one example of how nearly every consumer product produces some kind of plastic waste, waste that for the most part either ends up in landfills or the natural environment and doesn't break down over time.

      Writing in Sciences Advances, researchers from several different universities point out that large-scale of production of plastic has only occurred since around 1950. Since then, production has surged, fueled by what is known as "single use" plastic -- material used in packaging or to produce the forks and spoons at fast-food restaurants.

      8.3 billion metric tons

      In that time, we've produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics, the researcher write. They say their analysis is the first to look at global plastic production, how it's used and where it goes.

      Of the 6.3 billion tons of plastic that becomes waste, the researchers say only 9% was recycled and 12% was incinerated. Seventy-nine percent, they say, ended up in landfills or the natural environment.

      “Most plastics don’t biodegrade in any meaningful sense, so the plastic waste humans have generated could be with us for hundreds or even thousands of years,” said Jenna Jambeck, study co-author and associate professor of engineering at UGA. “Our estimates underscore the need to think critically about the materials we use and our waste management practices.”

      12 billion tons by 2050

      Jambeck and her colleague say that if current trends continue, 12 billion metric tons of plastic waste will end up in landfills or the environment by 2050. To put 12 billion tons in perspective, that's about 35,000 times as heavy at the Empire State Building.

      Researchers say part of the problem is in how plastic, an incredibly durable material, is used. They point out that steel is also durable, but once it is produced it usually goes into buildings and other structures, where it stays for decades.

      An increasing amount of plastic, however, falls into the "single-use" category. The plastic elements in the fast-food salad mentioned above are used just once. Roland Geyer, lead author of the paper, says half of all the world's plastic becomes waste after four or fewer years of use.

      The researchers say they aren't suggesting a total removal of plastic from the marketplace. Instead, they say there needs to be a more serious examination of how plastic is used and what happens to it after.

      You go into a fast-food restaurant and order a salad. It comes in a plastic bowl, covered by a clear plastic top.The salad dressing is in a plastic bag...

      Honda recalls model year 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid vehicles

      The engine fuel feed hose and a fuel purge hose may be damaged

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 193 model year 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid vehicles.

      The engine fuel feed hose and a fuel purge hose that may have been misrouted during vehicle assembly.

      The misrouting can cause the hoses to be damaged from contact with other components, potentially resulting in a fuel leak. A fuel leak in the presence of an ignition source may increase the risk of a fire.

      What to do

      Acura will notify owners, and dealers will inspect the routing of the fuel feed hose and the fuel purge hose. If misrouted, the hoses will be replaced and installed correctly, free of charge.

      Owners may contact Acura client relations at 1-888-234-2138. Honda's number for this recall is KF8.

      American Honda Motor Co. is recalling 193 model year 2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid vehicles.The engine fuel feed hose and a fuel purge hose that may have...

      Ford recalls F-150 and model year 2017 F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 trucks

      The doors could unlatch in a side impact collision

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 14,410 model year 2015-2017 F-150, and model year 2017 F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 trucks originally produced with black or body colored exterior door handles that may have been subsequently equipped with a chrome exterior door handle cover accessory kit purchased from a Ford dealer.

      The door handle covers may cause the doors to unlatch in a side impact collision.

      As such, these vehicles may fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) number 206, "Door Locks and Door Retention Components."

      If the doors unlatch and open in a side impact collision, the occupants have an increased risk of injury.

      What to do

      Ford will notify owners, and dealers will remove the accessory covers and refund the purchase price. The recall is expected to begin July 21, 2017.

      Owners may contact Ford at 1-866-436-7332. Ford's number for the recall is 17C09.

      Ford Motor Company is recalling 14,410 model year 2015-2017 F-150, and model year 2017 F-250, F-350, F-450, and F-550 trucks originally produced with black...