The 3 Books to Take You Back to Summer Survival Camp RN
Summer is all about exploring the wilderness and discovering nature, even if it’s just observing the passing wildlife from your favorite patio. In this week’s book club, we take you to literary summer survival camp; read on for stories about taming the great outdoors, and what happens when the outdoors fights back.
1. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey ($20): In 2016, summer’s a great time to take an Alaskan cruise and take in all the beauty of the state’s glaciers, mountains and wildlife. In the winter of 1885, however, Alaska was a forbidding and uncharted land. Eowyn Ivey, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Snow Child, delivers an “even better” (Library Journal) new novel about adventure, discovery and charting the great unknown.
Like your old camp diary, the book is written in journal style, with two separate records being kept by Colonel Allen Forester and his wife, Sophie. For Allen, his journal is a tale of fording the Wolverine River and mapping the Alaskan territory, and perhaps the last memories his wife will receive from him if he doesn’t return. For Sophie, her journal is a tale of fording the no-less-dangerous social structures of the Vancouver Barracks; newly pregnant and disheartened by her inability to explore with her husband, she is taken by the nascent art of nature photography and uses it to temporarily escape her restrictive world. Of her adventures, she writes, “I go because I long to see this wild place for myself.”
Forester and his expedition, “the Alaskan equivalent of Lewis and Clark,” encounter native tribes, wild animals and a new comprehension of the beauty, tribulations and dangers of the outside world. An almost mystical force seems to hang in the balance over them at all times, manifesting itself in images like a baby sustained by a tree root. Interspersed with future letters, maps and sketches, the stories provide a bold picture of a brave new world. “In this splendid adventure novel,” Publisher’s Weekly writes, “Ivey captures Alaska’s beauty and brutality, not just preserving history, but keeping it alive.”
2. The Trees by Ali Shaw ($21): Nature literally comes alive in Desmond Elliott Prize winner Ali Shaw’s The Trees, a darkly beautiful novel about an ecological apocalypse. If you were that kid at summer camp (the one who desperately wanted to just stay in the arts and crafts tent), you might have felt like the woods were out to get you. This turns out to be the truth in Shaw’s mysterious book, which opens with a bizarre occurrence: Overnight, entire cities are completely overtaken by enormous trees, which spring from the ground fully formed, creating vast forests and uprooting everyone’s lives.
“Then the trees came. The forest burst full-grown out of the earth, in booming uppercuts of trunks and bludgeoning branches. It rammed through roads and houses alike, shattering bricks and exploding glass. It sounded like a thousand trains derailing at once, squealings and jarrings and bucklings all lost beneath the thunderclaps of broken concrete and the cacophony of a billion hissing leaves,” writes Shaw. Former schoolteacher Adrien Thomas, trying to find his wife (away on a business trip) through the chaos, joins forces with an unusual woman named Hannah and her son. Hannah’s brother, conveniently, is a forester, and they feel locating him may increase their chances of endurance in this new tree-lined world.
At once violent and edgy, surreal and gentle, the ecological fable is at the same time a horror movie and a fairy tale, where trees are no longer a sustaining but a destructive force. Those survival skills you learned at camp may just come in handy.
3. The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee ($22): There’s one more frontier to survive in our last book recommendation. Agee, the award-winning and best-selling author of The River Wife, brings us a layered Western that is at once a mystery, a love letter to the American West and a sprawling family history. Ten years following the brutal massacre of hundreds of Lakota by the Seventh Cavalry at Wounded Knee, there is another murder, as a white rancher named J.B. Bennett and a young Native American woman, Star, are found dead on J.B.’s property. This is only the beginning of a series of family secrets that are unleashed, as the Bennett family gathers to solve the mystery.
“A person had to keep his eye on the smallest detail while the vast emptiness constantly tugged at his vision,” writes Agee. “You can get lost in a heartbeat out here.” The land and weather are their own characters in the novel — almost untamable, wild, dangerous and stunningly lovely, they try the fortitude of Star’s sister Rose and the Bennett family.
Rose desperately tries to achieve justice for her sister, with the deaths of her people still nearly fresh in her mind. She’s joined by another force of nature, her best friend and Bennett’s estranged wife, Dulcinea. Can Dulcinea solve the puzzle and maintain her hold on the ranch and its precious oil rights? Can the family survive its complicity in attempted genocide? Should it? The Bones of Paradise explores the connection between the vast and expansive prairie and the intimate, intricate personal lives of the people who try to tame it. Sure makes camping (or glamping) seem like a walk in the park.
What books help you survive? Tag us in your next wild read @BritandCo.
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Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com