New LED lights illuminate trees in downtown Los Altos

The lights adorning the trees in downtown Los Altos each holiday season will have a new look this year. Energy-efficient LED lights are currently being installed in trees lining Main and State streets and some parking plazas, and will make their official debut during the Los Altos Village Association’s 16th annual Holiday Stroll Friday.

End-of-year checklist spotlights tax-smart charitable giving

’Tis the season for giving, and one of the best ways to feel good while making a difference in the world is to donate to charities. However, how you donate can significantly affect your tax bill, especially given the tax reform package passed last year.

Following are some strategies to consider, though please consult your tax professional to see how these strategies apply to you.

What exactly is a trust?

Trusts, wills and probate court are tricky topics that often don’t come up until a family is at its most fragile: following the loss of a loved one. Getting a sense of the basics of these financial terms can help prevent familial discord.

High-tech meets high fashion in a new Los Altos boutique


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Belle de Jour owner Tammy Tao, left, and her friend and store manager Sandra Campbell recently opened their newly renovated clothing boutique on Main Street in Los Altos. Tao told herself she would only open the shop if Campbell were willing to help, as Campbell is a fashionista who has greatly influenced Tao’s own style.

Belle de Jour, the boutique that replaced the designer shop Shunzi on Main Street in Los Altos, is open and ready for customers to browse, acquaint themselves with the space and offer feedback on what kind of pieces they would like to see.

Owner Tammy Tao, a friend of previous proprietor Shunzi Che, had recently retired from her job as a developer at San- Disk when she was approached by Che, whose chain boasts the motto “Unique fashion for unique women.” Che, the store manager and Tao had discussed how Tao wanted to own a boutique someday, so when Che decided to close her Los Altos location and move closer to her East Bay home, Tao came to mind as her successor.

Don't get taken for a ride when you're buying a car


Courtesy of Michael Gaida
Car salespeople may engage in many tricks of the trade, but a few reminders can help buyers avoid being duped.

A very bright friend of mine asked me a simple question the other day about buying a car, used or new. She asked, “How do I protect myself from being taken?”

There are many ways, unfortunately, that one can be taken in a car deal, either in a private sale or one through a dealership, even a large dealer. These larger dealerships spring up with acres of real estate next to highway off-ramps because they are profitable. They certainly don’t make money selling cars at “$100 over invoice” – believe me, there are plenty of “accounting tricks” going on.

Will USMCA make America great again or not?

President Donald Trump recently announced “the greatest deal in the history of the U.S.,” the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA. He is promoting it as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which had been in place since 1994 and which Trump had called “a really bad deal.”

Putting aside Trump’s recurring penchant for hyperbole, is USMCA better than NAFTA?


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