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The Most Interesting New “Taxes” Across the USA

The Most Interesting New “Taxes” Across the USA

In these difficult economic times, with governments at all levels (federal, state and municipal) struggling to balance their books while not increasing taxes on increasingly strapped citizens, some authorities are developing new and interesting ways to raise revenues.

July 1st is the first day in the new fiscal year for many states, so some of the new laws just took effect on that date. And while they may be termed “fines” or “penalties,” don’t mistake them for anything but new ways for governments to raise revenue without actually being seen to “increase taxes.”

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    Anti-Slow Poke Fine

    Florida has enacted the one fine that we all wish was in effect on every highway that we drive: the slow-poke fine. If you’re caught ambling along at 10 miles below the posted speed limit in the far left (aka passing) lane, you can be fined $60 as part of a brand-new “road rage” law.

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    This slow-poke ticket would also hit your driver’s license the same as would a speeding ticket, meaning it can increase your insurance rates. So if you tend to view the speed limit as something to be avoided, stay out of the “fast” lane or face the music.

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      Anti-Bullying Fine

      In tiny Monona, WI, the citizens have a zero tolerance for bullying. In this town, population 7500, bullying can range from schoolyard skirmishes to neighborhood disputes, and includes cyber-bullying as well as physical harassment.

      The penalty ranges from $114 for a first offense to $177 for a second, and parents can be penalized for their children’s actions once a warning has been issued.

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        Anti-Smoking Taxes

        Minnesota has just increased its tax per package of cigarettes from $1.23 to $2.83, making it the 6th highest tax in the country. New York state still reigns at the top of the list, though, with a tax of $4.85 per pack.

        Of course, all these high cigarette taxes tend to encourage inter-state smuggling, which is another issue entirely. The idea behind the high cigarette taxes, besides raising revenues, is that at some point a consumer will decide that the cost is too high, and will hopefully quit smoking.

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          Higher Taxes for Summer Drivers

          Eight states have higher gasoline taxes going into effect just in time for summer vacations. Since gas taxes tend to be channeled into road and bridge repairs, this measure is meant to align the cost with the drivers with the highest use.

          Wyoming raised its tax by ten cents per gallon, followed by Connecticut (4 cents), Maryland (4 cents), California (3.5 cents), North Carolina (2.5 cents), Georgia (2.5 cents), and Kentucky (2.4 cents). Two states, Virginia and Vermont, did actually choose to lower their gas taxes. Three states (Washington, Oregon and Texas) are evaluating some sort of VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) tax on electric vehicles, in order to assess owners of those vehicles for their use of the states roads and bridges. Since those vehicles don’t purchase gas and therefore don’t pay gas taxes (either state or federal), they are not paying a share of the upkeep and repair expenses.

          Virginia has addressed this issue already with a green-vehicle fee that is charged in addition to the normal registration fee on a vehicle. Owners of hybrid and pure-electric vehicles pay an annual $64 charge, under the assumption that they do not pay as much in gasoline taxes as drivers of conventional vehicles.

          Other Unusual Taxes

          If you buy a bagel in New York City, you have to pay a tax if you want the vendor to slice it, toast it or spread cream cheese on it for you. 8%, as a matter of fact, illustrating the difference between a bagel purchased for home consumption (tax exempt) and a bagel for on-site consumption (8% tax).

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          In Utah, businesses that hire nude or partially nude employees pay a 10% tax on services sold. Targeted at erotic dance clubs and escort services, the revenues go for treatment for sex offenders and investigation of internet crimes against children. And Maryland charges all homeowners and businesses a $2.50 per month sewage tax, which is also known as the “flush tax.”

          So the next time you’re faced with a tax that you think is unfair or ridiculous, think about some of the taxes in other states. You could be paying a blueberry tax, if you live in Maine, or a tax on fruit from vending machines if you live in California.

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          Published on November 8, 2018

          How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

          How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

          After a few months of hard work and dozens of phone calls later, you finally land a job opportunity.

          But then, you’re asked about your salary requirements and your mind goes blank. So, you offer a lower salary believing this will increase your odds at getting hired.

          Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach.

          Your salary requirements can make or break your odds at getting hired. But only if you’re not prepared.

          Ask for a salary too high with no room for negotiation and your potential employer will not be able to afford you. Aim too low and employers will perceive as you offering low value. The trick is to aim as high as possible while keeping both parties feel happy.

          Of course, you can’t command a high price without bringing value.

          The good news is that learning how to be a high-value employee is possible. You have to work on the right tasks to grow in the right areas. Here are a few tactics to negotiate your salary requirements with confidence.

          1. Hack time to accomplish more than most

          Do you want to get paid well for your hard work? Of course you do. I hate to break it to you, but so do most people.

          With so much competition, this won’t be an easy task to achieve. That’s why you need to become a pro at time management.

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          Do you know how much free time you have? Not the free time during your lunch break or after you’ve finished working at your day job. Rather, the free time when you’re looking at your phone or watching your favorite TV show.

          Data from 2017 shows that Americans spend roughly 3 hours watching TV. This is time poorly spent if you’re not happy with your current lifestyle. Instead, focus on working on your goals whenever you have free time.

          For example, if your commute to/from work is 1 hour, listen to an educational Podcast. If your lunch break is 30 minutes, read for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you have a busy life with only 30–60 minutes to spare after work, use this time to work on your personal goals.

          Create a morning routine that will set you up for success every day. Start waking up 1 to 2 hours earlier to have more time to work on your most important tasks. Use tools like ATracker to break down which activities you’re spending the most time in.

          It won’t be easy to analyze your entire day, so set boundaries. For example, if you have 4 hours of free time each day, spend at least 2 of these hours working on important tasks.

          2. Set your own boundaries

          Having a successful career isn’t always about the money. According to Gallup, about 70% of employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.[1]

          Earning more money isn’t a bad thing, but choosing a higher salary over the traits that are the most important to you is. For example, if you enjoy spending time with your family, reject job offers requiring a lot of travel.

          Here are some important traits to consider:

          • Work and life balance – The last thing you’d want is a job that forces you to work 60+ hours each week. Unless this is the type of environment you’d want. Understand how your potential employer emphasizes work/life balance.
          • Self-development opportunities – Having the option to grow within your company is important. Once you learn how to do your tasks well, you’ll start becoming less engaged. Choose a company that encourages employee growth.
          • Company culture – The stereotypical cubicle job where one feels miserable doesn’t have to be your fate. Not all companies are equal in culture. Take, for example, Google, who invests heavily in keeping their employees happy.[2]

          These are some of the most important traits to look for in a company, but there are others. Make it your mission to rank which traits are important to you. This way you’ll stop applying to the wrong companies and stay focused on what matters to you more.

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          3. Continuously invest in yourself

          Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Cliche I know, but true nonetheless.

          You’ll grow as a person and gain confidence with the value you’ll be able to bring to others. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can read books to expand your knowledge in different fields.

          Don’t get stuck into the habit of reading without a purpose. Instead, choose books that will help you expand in a field you’re looking to grow. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to reading books in one subject–create a healthy balance.

          Podcasts are also a great medium to learn new subjects from experts in different fields. The best part is they’re free and you can consume them on your commute to/from work.

          Paid education makes sense if you have little to no debt. If you decide to go back to school, be sure to apply for scholarships and grants to have the least amount of debt. Regardless of which route you take to make it a habit to grow every day.

          It won’t be easy, but this will work to your advantage. Most people won’t spend most of their free time investing in themselves. This will allow you to grow faster than most, and stand out from your competition.

          4. Document the value you bring

          Resumes are a common way companies filter employees through the hiring process. Here’s the big secret: It’s not the only way you can showcase your skills.

          To request for a higher salary than most, you have to do what most are unwilling to do. Since you’re already investing in yourself, make it a habit to showcase your skills online.

          A great way to do this is to create your own website. Pick your first and last name as your domain name. If this domain is already taken, get creative and choose one that makes sense.

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          Here are some ideas:

          • joesmith.com
          • joeasmith.com
          • joesmithprojects.com

          Nowadays, building a website is easy. Once you have your website setup, begin producing content. For example, if you a developer you can post the applications you’re building.

          During your interviews, you’ll have an online reference to showcase your accomplishments. You can use your accomplishments to justify your salary requirements. Since most people don’t do this, you’ll have a higher chance of employers accepting your offer

          5. Hide your salary requirements

          Avoid giving you salary requirements early in the interview process.

          But if you get asked early, deflect this question in a non-defensive manner. Explain to the employer that you’d like to understand your role better first. They’ll most likely agree with you; but if they don’t, give them a range.

          The truth is great employers are more concerned about your skills and the value you bring to the company. They understand that a great employee is an investment, able to earn them more than their salary.

          Remember that a job interview isn’t only for the employer, it’s also for you. If the employer is more interested in your salary requirements, this may not be a good sign. Use this question to gauge if the company you’re interviewing is worth working for.

          6. Do just enough research

          Research average salary compensation in your industry, then wing it.

          Use tools like Glassdoor to research the average salary compensation for your industry. Then leverage LinkedIn’s company data that’s provided with its Pro membership. You can view a company’s employee growth and the total number of job openings.

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          Use this information to make informed decisions when deciding on your salary requirements. But don’t limit yourself to the average salary range. Companies will usually pay you more for the value you have.

          Big companies will often pay more than smaller ones.[3] Whatever your desired salary amount is, always ask for a higher amount. Employers will often reject your initial offer. In fact, offer a salary range that’ll give you and your employer enough room to negotiate.

          7. Get compensated by your value

          Asking for the salary you deserve is an art. On one end, you have to constantly invest in yourself to offer massive value. But this isn’t enough. You also have to become a great negotiator.

          Imagine requesting a high salary and because you bring a lot of value, employers are willing to pay you this. Wouldn’t this be amazing?

          Most settle for average because they’re not confident with what they have to offer. Most don’t invest in themselves because they’re not dedicated enough. But not you.

          You know you deserve to get paid well, and you’re willing to put in the work. Yet, you won’t sacrifice your most important values over a higher salary.

          The bottom line

          You’ve got what it takes to succeed in your career. Invest in yourself, learn how to negotiate, and do research. The next time you’re asked about your salary requirements, you won’t fumble.

          You’ll showcase your skills with confidence and get the salary you deserve. What’s holding you back now?

          Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

          Reference

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