Let’s Talk: Taxes Take 2

Last I wrote about taxes was when we found out that we qualified for the Adoption Tax Credit. For some reason I never truly read through the information and thought that it only applied to private adoption. Here is that post:

https://fosteringourhope.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/lets-talk-federal-adoption-tax-credit/

We use an awesome accountant who does voodoo magic on our taxes. He is very knowledgeable about the codes, etc. He did our taxes this year and we were surprised about the Adoption Tax Credit because, again, we didn’t read the whole thing. The tax credit for Adoption can only give credit to the taxes that you owe that year, they cannot refund money. So in all intents and purposes you will not get the full amount unless you owe a lot in taxes! Here is a good explanation:

http://www.nacac.org/taxcredit/taxcredit2015.html

How much you benefit from this tax credit depends largely on your tax liability for the year in question.

So there’s that info for those of you, like us, who never read the whole code or did not understand. We will still benefit about $5,000 from this tax credit, but that is about one sixth of the amount of money we were expecting from this tax credit!

Secondly, let’s talk about natural parents claiming their children on their taxes. When our accountant went to file our taxes, someone else had already claimed the children. Yes, we will be changing their social security numbers. But we did not receive their new birth certificates or have the other necessary documents ready to change their social security numbers prior to tax season. So rest assured we will have them changed for next year! Anyway, we could not e-file for either the Federal or State taxes because we are claiming the children as our dependents. I have read a lot into this and most of the documents that the IRS wants stems on physical custody and residency for the year in question. The children never lived with or were in physical custody of their natural parents the year that we accepted placement and adopted them. I am hopeful that this fact alone will discredit their dependency claim and allow us to claim them on our taxes. It is also very possible that the IRS will not allow us to claim them on our taxes because they did not live with us for more than half of the year. But then any child born after June in 2014 wouldn’t be claimed by their parents because they didn’t live with them for more than half of the year. I am so interested to see how this plays out!

We are filing our taxes through the mail with a disclaimer and supporting documents to show why we are claiming them as dependents. I will let you all know how it goes!

Here are some of the links that I felt helped me in my research of the dependency tax laws. If we had only fostered the kids and not adopted them in 2014 then we would not be claiming them on our taxes.

IRS website:

http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc654.html

Tax Laws for Claiming Dependents:

http://taxes.about.com/od/dependents/a/Dependents.htm

What Qualifies a Dependent:

http://taxes.about.com/od/dependents/a/Dependents_2.htm

IRS Audit for Dependents:

http://taxes.about.com/od/dependents/qt/Dependents-Audits.htm

Sugar Treats for Kids

You all know how I feel about sugar. I’ve written about it before we had placement and after our kids were placed with us (see specifically https://fosteringourhope.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/sugar-sugar/). Sugar and food dyes may be my most hated items. My kids do get treats occasionally, but they don’t crave it or ask for it. When they get candy as rewards we save it for sometime that they truly deserve it (not just because they finished a half hour gymnastics class) or they switch it out for something else. They never complain and they understand why we do it. I especially hate how their private school allowed soda, candy, even iced tea to be purchased as “extras” at lunch. Madeline received at least 4-5 skittles EVERY day after preschool. Just for going? It’s crazy. How about a stamp on the hand? Or just a hug? It’s totally out of control.

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2014/10/23/kids-rewarded-junk-food/

Family Day: Part 2

On our second day of camping for Family Day, we visited a beautiful state park in Ithaca, New York. It had lots of waterfalls to see and hike around, and then offered swimming at the bottom for those hot and tired afternoons! We took our time and arrived around 11, put a water bottle in a backpack and the sandwiches we packed for lunch. Then we went off on the hike, 2.5 miles up and 2.5 miles back. I don’t know why we thought that was a good idea with a 4 year old, 7 year old, 8 year old and 10 year old. But we didn’t really think twice. We also didn’t think about how long it would take, how many hills and stairs we’d have to do. It ended up just fine (other than carrying Madeline for half the time) but we could have been smarter. And packed more water. And more food.

Here they are, at the start of the day!

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At least 2 of the 4 seem excited!

state park12The start of the stairs!

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Couldn’t ask for a prettier day, although I bet it’s super beautiful in the fall!

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Some more of the stairs, on the way up!

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Someone needed a nap at the halfway point!

Then it was time to head back down.

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Scarlett was refusing to eat her ham sandwich, so she had to carry it along with her.

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Hubby bravely carrying Madeline down the stairs. I would go up with her but not down, too afraid of footing! Scarlett and her sandwich stuck by my side.

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The three amigos, getting along rather well at this point. Probably about 3 hours in…

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Hubby explaining something about the rock settling.

state parkFinally some swimming at the end!

As soon as we put our feet in the water, they turned numb. It was SO COLD! We were sweaty and salty from hiking for 4 hours but the kids had fun getting waist-deep in the water. Huck even jumped off the diving board near the falls! I wished I could get a picture but I was with the girls in the water.

We were so proud of the kids. Besides Madeline, there were no complaints of heat, exhaustion, sore feet, etc. On the way up we sang songs (minus Hubby), songs from church and school and nursery rhymes. This helped keep their minds off the walking! In general we were going at a slow pace so we could check out the nature around us. I still can’t believe we did it!

Then it was time for a nice dinner by the lake.

lake shot

I’m sure Madeline was crying about not being able to jump off the dock or running after a bird!

lake shot2

We all slept well that night and returned home the next day. We had plans to swim/mini golf/jump more but the weather did no cooperate. We didn’t complain, it felt like an action-packed couple of days!

Family Day

We had an awesome time on Family Day. Enough that it was hard for all of us to come back and get into a routine again. We stayed up late, slept in late, got treats, and didn’t turn on a TV or tablet once! Hubby left his phone in the car often and I only had mine to take pictures. So we made some special memories!

We left on Sunday around lunch time for the Finger Lakes, which are about 2-3 hours from our home. We had great weather the whole trip, we couldn’t have asked for better!

I had wanted to stop and have a tasting at a local family-friendly winery that also provides tours/explanation of how wine is made, but GPS messed up and took us way out of our way. So we checked into our campground and got right down to business: mini golf! This picture is an accurate portrayal of how mini golf went:

mini golf

The bigger kids were attempting to annoy each other and Madeline was off in her own world as usual. We checked into our cabin (note: this is as “camping” as I get. We had running water, a small kitchen, a bathroom and two bedrooms with a loft. The living room had a small a/c unit.) and got ready to swim! The kids were so excited that there was a splash park at the pool:

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Huck loved the splash park!

josh splash park splash park2

He was so excited!!

Once the kids were cold enough (we were nearly to Canada after all!), they checked out the large jumping pillow at the campground for some bouncing madness:

jumping pillow

When we got back we had a proper dinner over the campfire: hot dogs, nachos, beans and s’mores!

The night got nice and chilly, and it reminded me of being a camp counselor in Maine. The windows were open and the breeze came in. Kids slept wonderfully and were comforted that we were all in such close proximity. It was even our first trip where Madeline was brave enough to share a bed with another kid instead of me! So her and Huck shared a bed and the two other girls were on bunks. It was so nice!

Stay tuned for part 2 of our trip: the state park!

Dealing with Aggression?

We’ve been having lots of behaviors from Huck. Again. Still. Last week he was referred by his trauma counseling program to see a psychiatrist. We’re hopeful we won’t have to wait months for that appointment! In the mean time, this can help all of us when reacting to children. I know patience gets spread thin sometimes, but we can’t expect good reactions if we are hostile towards them!

http://www.parents.com/blogs/parents-news-now/2015/07/16/parenting-news/not-sure-why-your-child-is-acting-out-this-might-be-why/?socsrc=pmmfb1507192

Lucy

I spoke with our agency case manager today and she said that Lucy is doing wonderfully in her new home! She is very happy and keeps saying how much she likes each person in her new family. It hasn’t been long but hopefully it will stick for her! Our case manager is going to give her new foster mom my cell number so hopefully we can get together with her and see her before the school year starts!