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News

LASD approves advisory committee expansion

Los Altos School District trustees approved a resolution Aug. 25 to expand their Facilities Master Plan Advisory Committee, which provides the district with advice on future facilities projects.

The resolution broadened the membership of the committ...

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Schools

Program turns parents into school-day advocates

Program turns parents into school-day advocates


Courtesy of Sonia Maiello.
Project Cornerstone parent reader Sonia Maiello regales a Montclaire classroom.

Parent volunteers at Montclaire Elementary School in Los Altos are gearing up for the seventh year of Project Cornerstone, a countywide YMCA ...

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Community

Residents participate in countywide CERT drill; more training sessions ahead

Members of the Los Altos PREPARE Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) participated in a countywide emergency drill Aug. 23. Participants were briefed on how to search their neighborhoods for missing persons in the event of a disaster.

More Los A...

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Sports

Eagles, Spartans gear up for gridiron season

Eagles, Spartans gear up for gridiron season


Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos and Mountain View highs have new starting quarterbacks this year, with Kyle Gnoud, above, taking over for the Eagles.

If any game defined the 2013 football seasons for Los Altos and Mountain View highs...

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Comment

You may have already won!: A Piece of My Mind

There is something irresistible in the idea of buried treasure brought to light. We love to hear about the dusty picture in the attic that turns out to be a genuine Rembrandt, the stock certificate in the bottom of the neglected safe deposit box tha...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

SARA MITTELMAN

Sara Mittelman, 97, was born May 10, 1917 and died August 15, 2014 at Menorah Medical Center. She was born in Pilica, Poland and came to the USA in 1950. Sara was a Holocaust survivor who lost her entire family during the war. She was one of the olde...

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Travel

Visiting Vancouver Western Canada's premier destination has much to offer

Visiting Vancouver Western Canada's premier destination has much to offer


Photos courtesy of TOURISM VANCOUVER
Outdoor adventures abound in and around Vancouver, including a boat excursion into Horseshoe Bay and a jaunt on the Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, among the most popular attractions in British Col...

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Stepping Out

Los Altos Stage Company attaches itself to

Los Altos Stage Company attaches itself to "Trailer"


COURTESY OF LOS ALTOS STAGE COMPANY
The cast of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, clockwise from left, Mylissa Malley (Lin), Christina Bolognini (Pickles) and Vanessa Alvarez (as Betty).

Los Altos Stage Company launches its 19t...

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Spiritual Life

Spiritual Briefs

Meditation group meets at Foothills Congregational

A Weekly Meditation Practice group meets 7-8:15 a.m. Tuesdays at Foothills Congregational Church, 461 Orange Ave., Los Altos.

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host o...

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State Franchise Tax Board announces start of tax return season

The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) is now accepting 2013 state tax returns.

Tax law and filing service changes highlighted by the FTB include:

• Standard deductions: The standard deduction for single or filing separately tax statuses increased to $3,906. For joint, surviving spouse or head-of-household filers, it increased to $7,812.

• Exemption credit increases: The dependent exemption credit increased to $326 per dependent. The personal exemption amount for single, filing separately and head-of-household filers increased to $106. For joint or surviving spouses, it increased to $212.

• 540A discontinued: For taxpayers who file paper returns, the FTB eliminated this form due to decreased use. Tax preparation software or e-filing will automatically select the appropriate tax form for the taxpayer. The FTB continues to offer two types of personal income tax forms: Form 540 (Long Form) that can be used by all tax filers, and Form 540 2EZ that can be used for tax filers with simple tax filing situations – those who typically report income wages, interest, dividends and pensions and take the standard deduction.

  • Voluntary Contribution Fund: Taxpayers can contribute to one or more charitable causes directly from the state tax form. New on the 2013 tax return are the American Red Cross Fund, the Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund and the Keep Arts in School Fund. See the FTB’s tax forms for a complete listing of available charities. For more information, visit ftb.ca.gov and search “voluntary contributions.”

• State tax relief for 2013 short sellers: The IRS has determined that California taxpayers who sell their principal residences where the lender agrees to a short sale for less than what is owed on the home are relieved of incurring cancellation of indebtedness income, which may have been taxable. Instead, the amount of canceled debt is included in the amount realized in determining gain on the sale of that residence. The FTB’s website will post updated information and FAQs soon. For more information, visit ftb.ca.gov and search “mortgage forgiveness debt relief.”

• California Affordable Care Act: Although this is not a new law, the FTB receives questions about how the federal Affordable Care Act affects California taxes. California tax code conforms to the 2010 federal income tax rules, which excludes the value of the medical coverage provided to nondependent adult children from California gross income and allows a deduction to self-employed individuals for health insurance premiums for nondependent adult children under age 27. For more information, visit ftb.ca.gov and search “affordable care act.”

Self-service resources

The FTB encourages taxpayers and practitioners to explore many self-service applications available through its website, including:

• CalFile, a free, easy-to-use e-file option available to more than 6.4 million taxpayers. CalFile accepts taxpayers with income of up to $345,235, itemized deductions and some tax credits. CalFile guides taxpayers through a simple question-and-answer process that takes 15-30 minutes to complete. CalFile offers features such as email confirmation verifying that the return was filed and the ability to save information and return later to finish. Taxpayers can also file 2012 and 2013 tax returns. For more information, visit ftb.ca.gov.

• ReadyReturn, a free e-file program that allows taxpayers who file simple returns to do so in less time. The FTB uses information it already has to complete a ReadyReturn for selected taxpayers. Taxpayers who used the single or head-of-household filing status in the prior year, had one employer, claimed no more than five dependents and took the standard deduction qualify for ReadyReturn. Taxpayers can visit ftb.ca.gov to see if a ReadyReturn is completed and waiting for them.

• MyFTB Account, which allows users to change a mailing address and access information on wages, California withholding, estimated tax payments, balances due and FTB-issued 1099 forms. Taxpayers and tax professionals must complete a one-time registration process.

Taxpayers can also check the status of their 2013 filed tax returns online. Generally, e-filed returns with refunds and requests for direct deposit are issued within seven to 10 days, and mailed refund checks are sent within two weeks. Paper-filed returns take six to eight weeks, depending on the time of year the return is filed. This service is also available in Spanish.

Taxpayers who owe can use the FTB’s online Web Pay service to pay a tax return balance due or make an extension or estimate payment.

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