Free Tax Extension Filing Helps Avoid Costly Last-Minute Errors

(NewsUSA) – Now even chronic procrastinators have no excuse for giving the IRS more money than absolutely required.Last year, more than 10 million taxpayers applied for an extension on filing their tax returns — thus not only sparing themselves from having to fork over a monthly 5 percent penalty for missing the IRS’ dreaded deadline but also potentially avoiding making costly mistakes in a mad dash to comply."Rushing can cause last-minute filers to forget necessary paperwork and miss out on claiming key tax credits and deductions," says Elaine Smith, master tax advisor at H&R Block, the giant tax preparation firm.So with this year’s April 17 filing deadline looming, it’s a big deal that participating offices at H&R Block (www.hrblock.com) will be offering free tax-extension filing from April 1 right through to D-Day for taxpayers. An extension buys an extra six months — until October 15 — to get those returns in.Ah, but don’t completely stop sweating just yet.Just because you file for an automatic extension doesn’t mean the IRS calls a time-out on any taxes due. (The U.S. national debt is $15 trillion-and-counting, and the money’s got to come from somewhere.) Those who fail to pay up at the same time they submit Form 4868 face being hit with both late payment fees and interest on what’s owed."It’s definitely not a way to keep more of your own money in your pocket," says Smith.With the tax code having gotten so complex over the years, it’s easy to see why the extra six months would be needed. How many parents of special-needs children know, for instance, that the money they pay for their kid’s supplementary classes or programs is considered a deductible expense if recommended by a doctor? Or that unemployment benefits must be reported as taxable income?That’s why it helps to consult a professional like those at H&R Block, which offers guaranteed in-person services at its retail offices nationwide as well as the only face-to-face online tax preparation through Block LiveSM.One last thing: For those wondering why this year’s filing deadline is April 17, that’s because the normal cut-off date — April 15 — falls on a Sunday, and that Monday is Emancipation Day in the nation’s capital.

10 Tips for Better Sleep Hygiene

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Between office meeting and errands, sports practice and studies, many people sacrifice sleep for a few more hours of productivity. According to the National Sleep Foundation, fewer than half of Americans report getting adequate sleep every night.

But sleep deprivation results in more than just yawns. Inadequate sleep has been linked to depression, weight gain, hypertension, poor concentration and memory retention, and accidents.

Take driving, an activity that most Americans perform daily. In a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, 54 percent of respondents said that they have driven while drowsy. Twenty-eight percent confessed to falling asleep at the wheel. People know that alcohol impairs driving, but too few consider sleep deprivation’s effect on their motor skills. Drowsy driving causes thousands of accidents each year.

Setting aside seven to eight hours for sleeping isn’t a luxury -; it’s a necessity. The American Sleep Apnea Association offers 10 tips for better sleep hygiene:

1. Set a sleep schedule, and stick to it.

2. Don’t nap for more than 45 minutes a day.

3. Avoid excessive alcohol intake within four hours of bedtime. Do not smoke.

4. Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime.

5. Avoid spicy food six hours before bedtime.

6. Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.

7. Use comfortable bedding.

8. Keep your room at a comfortable temperature.

9. Block out noise, and eliminate as much light as possible.

10. Do not use the bed as an office, workroom or recreation room.

If you feel tired even after sleeping eight hours, an undiagnosed sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, may be to blame. In sleep apnea, the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep, blocking the airway. Sufferers wake up for a few seconds every time they stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times a night. Visit www.sleepapnea.org to find out your “Snore Score,” or the likelihood that you have sleep apnea. The disorder can be treated, so it’s important to speak to a doctor if you experience excessive daytime fatigue.

Prepare for Healthy Fun in the Sun

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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Cold weather is in the rear-view mirror, and families across the country are gearing up to get active outdoors. With the threat of cabin fever waning, now is the time to get familiar with a few helpful tips to ensure a safe and stress-free season for the entire family:

* Avoid insect and tick bites. Bug bites can be dangerous, so take precautions, such as wearing insect repellent, tucking pants into socks or shoes when hiking in the woods and staying in the middle of trails to avoid overhanging branches. Avoid scented soaps and lotions that can attract bugs.

* Always wear sunblock. Limit exposure to the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when sun rays are at their strongest. Use sunblock that offers UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of 15 or higher. Apply sunblock 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and reapply it every two hours or after swimming, sweating or towel-drying.

* Avoid heat stress and heat stroke. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun of outdoor activities, but in extreme heat conditions it’s important to not push beyond your physical limits. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration and be on alert for symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke, such as thirst, cramps, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and fever.

* Get your physical. If children are planning on participating in camp or sports over the summer, it’s important that they have a physical exam to ensure they’re physically ready to be active. Take Care Clinics, professional walk-in health care clinics located at select Walgreens across the country, are now offering sport and camp physicals for just $35 through September 2010.

A sports or camp physical is a perfect opportunity to interact with a trusted health care professional. Take Care Clinics are a convenient option for parents with busy schedules, as these clinics are open seven days a week and on weeknights, and don’t require appointments.

* Use your best judgment and take the appropriate precautions. If an accident does occur, seek treatment from a health care professional. Take Care Clinics can be a great resource for high-quality, affordable and convenient care for everyday illnesses, minor injuries like splinters, sprains and strains, and treatment for an expanding range of skin conditions including sunburn, tick and other insect bites, poison ivy, wart removal and more.

To find a clinic near you, visit TakeCareHealth.com or call

1-866-Take-Care (1-866-825-3227). High-school and middle-school level, pre-participation sports physicals are not available at Take Care Clinics in Kansas.