DESCUENTO LECTORES

Infografías: o cómo hacer marketing de alto impacto #infografia #marketing

Hola: Una presentación sobre Infografías: o cómo hacer marketing de alto impacto. Un saludo



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¿Cómo segmentar en redes sociales para turismo? #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre ¿Cómo segmentar en redes sociales para turismo? Vía Un saludo



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FaceBook: tendencias para empresas en 2014 #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre FaceBook: tendencias para empresas en 2014. Vía Un saludo



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New From Cadbury: Milk Chocolate Bar With Wasp


How does a wasp end up embedded in a chocolate bar? Cadbury isn’t sure, and neither is the person who allegedly found the insect in his snack.

It all began with one tweet, with wasp-riffic photo:



British consumer affairs blog Bitterwallet saves us the trouble of waiting for the results of the investigation: “Presumably, the investigation will conclude that this sort of thing doesn’t normally happen and the whole thing is an unfortunate one-off.” Yes, that’s pretty much what we would have predicted too. The majority of Cadbury bars are delicious and largely wasp-free, and the company is taking it very seriously…



…and launching a full investigation.



As always seems to happen in cases like this, the wasp now has its own Twitter account.





by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Instagram vs SnapChat vs Vine #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre Instagram vs SnapChat vs Vine. Un saludo



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II Estudio de la Actividad de las Marcas en Redes Sociales (España) #marketing #socialmedia

Hola: Una presentación con el II Estudio de la Actividad de las Marcas en Redes Sociales (España). Un saludo



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Cómo proteger nuestros datos personales #infografia #infographic #internet

Hola: Una infografía sobre Cómo proteger nuestros datos personales. Vía Un saludo



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¿Sabes quienes fueron los 10 primeros usuarios de FaceBook? #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre si ¿Sabes quienes fueron los 10 primeros usuarios de FaceBook? Un saludo



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El mapa de las Redes Sociales para tu empresa #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía con el El mapa de las Redes Sociales para tu empresa. Vía Un saludo



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Cómo mantener WordPress con buena salud #infografia #infographic #socialmedia

Hola: Una infografía sobre Cómo mantener WordPress con buena salud. Vía Un saludo



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Lo que debes saber sobre el diseño de un signo #infografia #infographic #design

Hola: Una infografía con lo lo que debes saber sobre el diseño de un signo. Un saludo Presented By Sign.com



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Monsanto Shareholders Fail To Convince Company To Disclose Info About Genetically Modified Seeds


Earlier today, the world’s largest seed company, Monsanto, held its annual shareholders meeting outside of St. Louis. While there were a small number of protestors outside, the bigger story was going on inside the meeting, where shareholders were asked to vote on measures that would require more transparency about Monsanto and its genetically modified seeds.

One resolution, which had the backing of a petition with more than 160,000 signatures, asked Monsanto to produce a report on, among other things, the true costs of fighting GMO labeling initiatives.


The shareholders claimed that the company has spent millions on combatting rules that would require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients, and that there is growing public concern over GMOs.


They also wanted a report on contamination of non-GMO crops by Monsanto seeds. Since farm crops are not raised in a hermetically sealed bubble, it’s inevitable that seeds from a farm raising crops from Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds will end up in other farmers’ fields. This is a concern both for those who don’t want GMO products and want to be sure they are buying and consuming non-GMO foods.


Monsanto has also been known to sue farmers whose crops have become tainted by its seeds, claiming these farmers are getting the supposed benefits of Monsanto products without paying for it (even when the farmers don’t want the Monsanto seeds).


“Despite Monsanto spending millions to squelch it in California, Washington and elsewhere, the public demand for transparency about GMOs is only growing,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch in a statement earlier this week. “On the other end of the spectrum, more and more organic and non-GMO farmers are dealing with contamination, and often chemical drift, from nearby GMO farms and must be compensated when they are economically harmed by this unwanted GMO presence. Monsanto shareholders have every right to know the costs and business risks associated with Monsanto’s GMO products.”


A second resolution called on the company to work with federal regulators to set standards for foods containing GMO ingredients that should be labeled.


At the meeting, it wasn’t terribly surprising that Monsanto officials recommended that shareholders reject the activist resolutions, and the shareholders followed suit, voting overwhelmingly against both proposals.


Monsanto Chairman Hugh Grant (no, not that Hugh Grant) paid lip service to the idea of heeding the message of these resolutions, though his and the company’s stance appears to be that the public is merely misinformed about GMO seeds.


“There is a recognition that we need to do more,” said Grant.


The company also claims that it has safeguards in place to prevent cross-contamination with non-GMO crops.


Reuters reports that one of the dozen or so protestors outside today’s meeting was arrested.




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

The Artist Currently Known As Prince Is Suing 22 Accused Bootleggers For $1M Each


Recording artist Prince wants some of his fans to give him $22 million. Emphasis on the “some” — just the 22 people his piracy lawsuit accuses of bootlegging his live performances and publishing them on the Internet.


The singer, real name Prince Rogers Nelson, filed the lawsuit on Jan. 16 in the Northern District of California, alleging that 22 people have engaged “in massive infringement and bootlegging of Prince’s material,” reports the New York Daily News.


He only names two defendants by their real names, while the others go by “Doe” or are indicated by their online monikers or websites. Many of those involve plays on Prince’s name or songs, suggesting that much of the content is from die-hard Prince fans.


“Defendants rely on either Google’s Blogger platform or Facebook, or both, to accomplish their unlawful activity,” the lawsuit claims. “Rather than publishing lawful content to their blogs, they typically publish posts that list all the songs performed at a certain Prince live show and then provide a link to a file sharing service where unauthorized copies of the performance can be downloaded.”


Prince’s camp says that one of the defendants is responsible for 363 links to illegal content alone, which will “continue to cause substantial, immediate and irreparable injury.”


“Prince has suffered and is continuing to suffer damages in an amount according to proof, but no less than $1 million per Defendant,” the suit adds.


This isn’t unsurprising from Prince, as his fans may already know — he often issues takedown notices for fan-uploaded videos of his concerts on YouTube and elsewhere.


Prince sues 22 alleged bootleggers for $1 million each [New York Daily News]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Make Everyone Smile With Instant Camera Cheese Slicer

gamago_saycheese3Sure, you could get a cheese slicer with a metal handle. You could slice your cheese with a knife. Or you could make the phrase “say cheese” literal with a novelty cheese slicer shaped like an instant camera.


Yes, instead of ghostlike images, it develops little slices of cheese. Maybe in another ten years, insta-printing digital cameras will reach the point where you can print selfies on Swiss, but not yet.

We can’t vouch for the site that sells it, Gamago, but that appears to be the only place that sells it. And it’s not in stock. It exists, though, and that’s what’s important. (Via Foodbeast)


animated_cheese_slicer




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

Las 4 S del curador de contenidos #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía sobre las 4 S del curador de contenidos. Vía Un saludo



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Redes Sociales para pymes #marketing #socialmedia

Hola: Una presentación sobre Redes Sociales para pymes. Un saludo



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La gran dependencia del iPhone que tiene Apple #infografia #infographic #apple

Hola: Una infografía sobre la gran dependencia del iPhone que tiene Apple. Un saludo You will find more statistics at Statista



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13 libros que todo relaciones públicas debe leer #infografia #infographic #marketing

Hola: Una infografía con 13 libros que todo relaciones públicas debe leer. Vía Un saludo



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Los turistas chinos y las Redes Sociales #infografia #infographic #socialmedia #tourism

Hola: Una infografía sobre los turistas chinos y las Redes Sociales. Un saludo



TICs y Formación http://ift.tt/1bwkEef Via Alfredo Vela y www.bscformacion.com

The Denver County Fair Jumps On The Marijuana Bandwagon With New Pot-Themed Competitions


Times used to be, your Uncle Arnie would tend his prize pig all year leading up to the county fair, and when the time came the family could all go watch him accept the blue ribbon for his prime pork. But now that marijuana is legal for recreational use in Colorado, the planners behind the Denver County Fair have decided to join in and add a few new contests to bring ambitious competitors to the fair.


Of course you’ve got a category for Best marijuana plant (quality, not potency, and plants will at the fair only in photo form), and then there are the contests that are more consumer-related like fastest joint rolling (using oregano instead of pot) and a Doritos eating contest. It’s unclear whether it will be Nacho Cheese or Cool Ranch flavor.


Other categories: Best hemp fabric; Best homemade bong; Best brownie recipe; Best roach clip and Best tie-dye. No marijuana consumption will be allowed on-site, however, so any brownie-testing won’t be at the actual fair.


Organizers of the fair, which runs from Aug. 1-3, say it’s all about celebrating the local happenings.


“We look at the trends and what’s happening in our city, and we want to reflect that,” the fair’s marketing and creative director tells USA Today.


In order to enter you must 21 or older to attend activities in the “pot pavilion,” an area separate from the main fairgrounds so as not to shock your Uncle Arnie.


“We have a lot of families and kids at the fair, of course, and we wanted to be respectful of that,” the creator director explains.


Joint rolling, Doritos eating among pot-themed contests at Colo. fair [USA Today]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Proposed Minimum Wage Increase Would Give Tipped Workers First Raise Since 1991


Minimum wage is a hot topic of discussion at the moment, with President Obama expected to address it in his State of the Union address this evening. Senate Democrats are pushing to raise the minimum wage, and the lawmakers are suggesting an increase in the minimum tip wage to go along with.


As the New York Times reports, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa has proposed to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10. His bill also proposes to raise the minimum tip wage by $0.95 annually until it reaches $7.10, and then to tie later increases to inflation.


The federally mandated minimum wage for tipped workers is still $2.13 an hour. The law allows for that, as long as tips make up the difference to federal minimum wage for other workers. If tips fall short of the missing $5.12, then the employer is required to make up the difference, at least in theory. In practice, not all employers are great about compliance.


Nineteen states use the $2.13 federal minimum for tipped workers, a salary that has remained unchanged since 1991. Thanks to inflation over the last 23 years, $2.13 from 1991 is worth about $1.24 today–meaning that having $2 in your pocket goes just over half as far now than it did then.


The system of tips instead of higher wages in restaurants is both long-standing and growing unpopular. But unsurprisingly, groups representing restauranteurs–the employers who would have to more than double their employees’ pay just to match minimum wage for everyone else–object to any potential increase.


The National Restaurant Association says that mandating higher pay for servers would increase the menu prices of food in restaurants, as well as forcing restaurants to cut back elsewhere: on staffing levels, on quality of food, on facilities, on anything. One might argue that raising the cost of a meal by 20%, and no longer requiring a conscientious customer to add that extra 20% onto the tab at the end of the meal, would be a neutral for diners, but some restaurant owners disagree.


An owner of restaurant chains in New Hampshire told the NYT that increasing wages would require him to cut his Saturday night staff from 12 to 10, a net loss for customer service. He added that increased pay, “takes away my ability to give raises to a dishwasher, prep cook or line worker, who may make $12 or $13 an hour” as opposed to the theoretical $20 an hour bartenders and servers in his restaurants make after tips.


The increased wage proposal, though, is unlikely to go anywhere this year. As the NYT notes, “given stiff opposition among top Republicans, especially in the House, the chances of an increase passing Congress in a midterm election year are slim.”


The 113th Congress, then, will probably punt on the issue, leaving tipped workers at half of the 1991 minimum wage for another year longer.


Proposal to Raise Tip Wages Resisted [New York Times]




by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Quién manda en el mercado de los smartphones #infografia #infographic

Hola: Una infografía sobre quién manda en el mercado de los smartphones. Un saludo You will find more statistics at Statista



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Family Of 6-Year-Old Girl Hit By Uber Driver Suing The Company For Wrongful Death

uberlogo2 The family of a six-year-old girl who was struck and killed during a traffic accident in San Francisco involving an Uber driver is now suing the company for wrongful death. But Uber claims that because the driver didn’t have anyone in his car at the time, the company isn’t responsible.


The driver was using the Uber app at the time, which allows drivers to find and accept fares. He’s also been named in a civil suit, reports Ars Technica.


Uber’s argument is that because the driver “was not providing services on the Uber system during the time of the accident,” the company is not responsible.


It’s unclear if Uber would be liable if there had been a passenger in the car during the accident.


Ars points out that in Uber’s Terms of Service the company stresses — in all caps, no less — that it’s not liable for basically anything. It’s just a means to an end:



THE COMPANY DOES NOT PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, AND THE COMPANY IS NOT A TRANSPORTATION CARRIER. IT IS UP TO THE THIRD PARTY TRANSPORTATION PROVIDER, DRIVER, OR VEHICLE OPERATOR TO OFFER TRANSPORTATION SERVICES WHICH MAY BE SCHEDULED THROUGH USE OF THE APPLICATION OR SERVICE. THE COMPANY OFFERS INFORMATION AND A METHOD TO OBTAIN SUCH THIRD PARTY TRANSPORTATION SERVICES BUT DOES NOT AND DOES NOT INTEND TO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES OR ACT IN ANY WAY AS A TRANSPORTATION CARRIER AND HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY FOR ANY TRANSPORTATION SERVICES PROVIDED TO YOU BY SUCH THIRD PARTIES.

. . .


IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COMPANY AND/OR ITS LICENSORS BE LIABLE TO ANYONE FOR ANY INDIRECT, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR OTHER DAMAGES OF ANY TYPE OR KIND (INCLUDING PERSONAL INJURY, LOSS OF DATA, REVENUE, PROFITS, USE, OR OTHER ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE).



Uber’s official statement on the accident also stresses that the driver was not “providing services on the Uber system”:



Our hearts go out to the family and victims of the tragic accident that occurred in downtown San Francisco on New Year’s Eve. We extend our deepest condolences.


We work with transportation providers across the Bay Area. The driver in question was not providing services on the Uber system during the time of the accident. The driver was a partner of Uber and his account was immediately deactivated.


We are committed to improving the already best in class safety and accountability of the Uber platform, for both riders and drivers.



But though the driver didn’t have a passenger in the car at the time, his lawyer points out that he was logged into the Uber system. likely via the app, and therefore ostensibly would’ve accepted a fare if one had come up.


“It appears that Uber is willing to hang out to dry both my client as well as the [victim's] family,” said the driver’s attorney. “If [Uber is] unwilling to cover one of their drivers while he’s logged into their system, it seems that that would be hanging him out to dry because he would be potentially liable civilly for the accident and the fact that he was logged into their system at the time could jeopardize his personal insurance coverage and would deny the [victim's] family the benefit of Uber’s stated insurance policy.”


The lawsuit also points to the law in California regarding using a phone while driving. Namely, that you’re not allowed to do it.


California Vehicle Code 23123 states, “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking and is used in that manner while driving.”


The point here being that you’ve got to actually use the phone to access the app, of course. But the app is how drivers find their fares, which would make it necessary for them to use it. Of course, a driver could pull over to do so, but some drivers would likely balk at pulling over every couple of minutes.


It’s unclear whether Uber has a policy requiring that drivers pull over to use the Uber app to see and accept fares. If any Uber drivers out there want to fill us in, we’d love to know more: tips@consumerist.com


Family sues Uber for wrongful death of their 6-year-old daughter [Ars Technica]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Google Unleashes Virtual LEGO Fun In Chrome

It's a touchy, glitchy start to something that could be a mammoth, awesome time-waster.

It’s a touchy, glitchy start to something that could be a mammoth, awesome time-waster.



Want to play with LEGO bricks but you’re at work? Or sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s? Or maybe you just don’t own any LEGO sets anymore. If you’ve got Google Chrome, you could be building virtual, blocky worlds without having to deal with the hassle of cleaning up (or the horror of losing) all those tiny plastic pieces.

Build With Chrome is a joint venture between Google and LEGO that does exactly what you think it would do — let you place various LEGO bricks on a surface to build stuff on your computer.


Alas, it’s not as easy as it might sound just yet. My attempts to monkey around with Build With Chrome were more than a bit glitchy and the navigation — especially in the “explore” mode that is supposed to let you see what others have built on a worldwide, LEGO-ish Google map — is kind of a nightmare. For example, any attempt to add an “extra” piece (door, window, etc.), resulted in my building plot vanishing from the screen.


That said, it did just launch so we hope it improves because this is exactly the kind of thing we all need to be doing on our laptops and phones during boring conference calls.





by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Ask Tax Dad: Micro-Business, Rental Home, Deadbeat Ex, And Government Shutdown

TAXDADSEZHistorically, our staff Certified Tax Cat has handled readers’ questions about taxes, but he’s taking a leave of absence to campaign for the legalization of medical catnip. Filling in for him is Laura’s dad, a retired accountant and real live independent tax preparer. Exclusively on Consumerist, Tax Dad answers your questions.


Let’s kick things off with a question about web sites. Running them and making money from them, that is.



Hi, Tax Dad!


Thank you very much for sharing the benefit of your experience.


My tax question is about the difference between a business and a slightly profitable hobby.


I have a website with advertising. The maintenance/writing for the website takes about 1-2 hours a week and the advertising income in 2012 was $1,700.00 and for 2013 came out to about $2,400.00.


Last year, my tax software urged me to consider this as business income, but the math said I would have owed money, instead of getting the modest refund that I did. I know it’s going to come up again this year and I am not sure which way to report it. For something that I spend very little time on and only earns me a small fraction of my regular income, will I ever need to consider this business income?


Thanks


catastrophegirl



Hi Catastrophe: Yes, it sounds as if your website is growing gradually, and you should probably treat it as a business. It gets more complicated, but essentially the IRS says you are running a business if it turns a profit in at least 2 of 5 years. If it is losing every year, you have a hobby, and not tax-deductible.


Firstly–and maybe your tax software walked you through this–but are you taking all the expense deduction you deserve for your business? Do you have a home office that you could write a portion of? Computer, printer, fax, related equipment used to generate this income? You could write off part or all of these.


Do you hire assistants, or outside services? What about software you use to maintain the site, or web hosting fees?


Check out a copy of IRS Schedule C and the instructions for more ideas. Even if you decide that it is a hobby eventually, you have 5 years to decide. Good Luck.



I bought a second house this year and am renting it to my son and daughter-in-law. Do I claim the rent as income and mortgage interest as expenses? How does this work?


George



Well, George, I am assuming that you bought the house with the intent of renting it out, so you know somewhat how it works.


The big question here for IRS is if you are renting to your son at a fair market value. If you have not done so, conduct some research on this and document it. If you are claiming a loss on the rental each year, it may be questioned.


Simply put, you would claim your rental income as revenue, and deduct from this interest on your mortgage, property taxes, annual depreciation calculated on the value of the house, and expenses YOU pay, such as utilities, furnishings, appliances, lawn care, trash pickup, improvements, etc.


I cannot cover all your deductions here, but check out IRS Schedule E and Publication 17 (page 68) for a lot of fine print.


Also know that any depreciation taken will have to be accounted for, or “recaptured” if and when you sell the home.



Hey Tax Dad,


Last year I had taken legal action against an ex for back rent and a loan for a down payment on a vehicle. I since have won a judgement of around $13,000 with 5.25% interest but they haven’t paid me a dime of it – and probably won’t because they are a bum.


Can I count this as a loss on my taxes?


- Josh



Ah, ’tis the season (or climate) for bad debts.


Yes, IRS tells you that you may take a non-business tax deduction for a bad debt in the year that debt becomes worthless. A debt becomes worthless when there is no longer a chance that the amount owed will be repaid. If there is some chance that you will receive payments, you should delay write-offs.


To do this, you will need Form 8949 Part 1 with box C checked. Attach a statement to your return giving:


(1) a description of the debt, including amount and date due

(2) the efforts you made to collect the debt and

(3) why you decided it was worthless.


The results of your court decision should provide all these, except for (3). If there is a chance that you will see repayment, you can always delay and amend your return within the next 3 years. Good luck.



Dear Tax Dad,


Since it is strongly implied, though perhaps not specifically stated anywhere, that the purpose of taxes is to pay the government for doing its job… Is there any legal way to deduct a portion of my 2013 taxes owed for the 16 days in October when the government did NOT do its job?


C.E.



I am sure many taxpayers would agree with your argument, and some would argue that government did not do its job for 365 days, but IRS courts would not listen. Government as usual.


Disclaimer: The nature of free advice is that you often pretty much get what you pay for. Questions answered in the “Ask Tax Dad” column should not serve as a substitute for consulting a tax preparer, accountant, attorney, or certified tax cat of your very own. Tax Dad regrets that he cannot offer advice privately over e-mail.




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

What Is The Best Day To Fill Up Your Gas Tank? Hint: It’s Probably The Weekend


It’s no secret there are better times of the year than others to make big purchases like plane tickets or a new TV, but what about those weekly purchases, maybe one that runs your vehicle? Gas prices are a constant roller coaster of high and low prices, but a new study is taking the guess-work out of when to fill up.

According to this state-by-state roundup from GasBuddy.com, you’re most likely to find the cheapest gas on the weekend.


Friday, Saturday and Sunday had the lowest prices for 65% of states in the four-year study of gas trends. Additionally, very few states saw the mid-week, Tuesday or Wednesday, as the best days for lower fuel prices.


While the lowest fuel prices for most states fluctuated over the four years, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland and South Dakota had the lowest prices on the same day for three out of the four years in the study.


Here’s a quick peek at the best day of the week to fuel up in states around the country:



  • California – Late week, typically Thursday or Friday

  • Delaware – Thursday

  • Illinois – Weekend, typically Saturday or Sunday

  • New York – Weekend, typically Friday or Saturday

  • Pennsylvania – Weekend, typically Saturday or Sunday

  • South Carolina – Late weekend

  • Texas – Saturday or Sunday

  • Virginia – Late weekend

  • Washington D.C. – Late weekend, typically Saturday or Sunday


GasBuddy Study Finds Best Days for Motorists to Fill Up [GasBuddy.com]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

300 herramientas para crear contenido para el aula





via Educación tecnológica http://ift.tt/1fkArSi www.bscformacion.com

3 Lessons We Learned About The Produce Section That Will Change Your Next Grocery Trip


We all know there’s a grand design in place at the supermarket, with every detail planned and planted specifically to solicit the ultimate reaction: “I’ve gotta buy this.” It’s no different in the microcosm of the produce section, says a 30-year-veteran of A&P supermarkets, and the amount of thought that goes into convincing shoppers we want — nay, need! — to buy something will change the way you look at fruits and veggies.


In case you don’t happen to read the Modern Farmer, they’ve got a farm confessional series bringing in workers in the agricultural field to shed some light on how things are done for the rest of us.


In this column Modern Farmer spoke with Ron Pelger, a former A&P supermarket worker who went from bag boy to regional produce director for the Northeast. He now works as a consultant, advising stores how to best arrange their produce. So he knows his stuff.


“A lot goes into this business if it’s done right, a lot of psychology,” he explains. We aren’t just throwing up stuff and hoping you’ll buy it.”


So what are they doing? Here are three lessons we learned:


1. There’s a logical reason the oranges are next to the broccoli: The produce money spot at the entrance of store — called the number one display spot — will have the star item, the top sale product from the front page of the flyer. If it’s potatoes, say, produce planners set up other items on either side of the sale item in the “wings.”


So when sale shoppers go to grab the potatoes, they think, “Hmm, maybe I need vine-ripened tomatoes, too,” even if they’re not on sale.


“Those customers make up the loss we’re taking on the potatoes,” Pelger says.


And times, they are a-changin’: While planners would only pair items that went together naturally in the past, the game is different now.


“Now you put navel oranges next to broccoli, get customers thinking of a wider range of things to buy,” he explained. “They didn’t plan to buy broccoli, but now it’s in their basket, so maybe they’ll get some butter to melt on it. And hey, what goes good with broccoli? Steak? Potatoes? That’s what you call a little ‘impulse impact’ shopping.


2. Don’t shop for produce based solely on appearances: Shopping for produce is like shopping for a used car — while many customers shop by appearance, looking for nicks, scratches, bruises and other faults as a reason not to buy, you could still go home with a lemon of an orange. Basically — just because that orange is a vibrant shade of orange, it might be tart upon eating.


The lesson to be learned? Just because there’s one bruise on a tomato doesn’t mean the rest of it won’t taste absolutely delightful.


3. There’s no such thing as in-season anymore: Anyone shopping for strawberries in winter might understand that the reason they’re so small in winter is because well, it’s just not the right time of year for the fruit. But we as consumers still want to eat strawberries whenever we want, and as such, stores have adjusted what “in-season” is. Basically, it doesn’t exist.


“You might get vegetables grown in Canada part of the year, then the same items from Mexico during the winter,” Pelger explains. “There can’t be any intervals when the product isn’t available.”


But don’t expect that unseasonal fruit to taste as good in the cold months — refrigeration is a downside to the 52-week availability of all things.


“You’ve got to keep everything cool so it lasts longer, but that affects the taste. Everyone knows this: an orange won’t taste good if it’s cold. A tomato won’t taste good if it’s cold.”


Farm Confessional: Secrets of a Supermarket Produce Buyer [Modern Farmer]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Invasion Of The Slugs: How To Prevent Garden Destruction


So it’s obviously too early to be gardening, with the sub-zero temperatures and all, but for those of you daydreaming about your fabulously lush spring gardens we’ve got some to tips and tricks to ensure nasty, slimy slugs and snails aren’t wreaking havoc on your bounty.

Slugs and snails tend to feed on the beautiful, soft leaves of most garden plants and the best way to counteract their destruction is to prevent it from the beginning, according to the Associated Press.


Removing any debris from your garden – straw, boards and leaves – will go a long way in deterring the small terrors. Debris provides the perfect hiding spot for slugs and snails, who generally stay covered in the daytime and come out to play at night.


Making your yard less snail and slug friendly is a great alternative to using chemicals. Here’s how to make sure your garden doesn’t have a vacancy sign up for the critters:



  • water plants in the morning;

  • distance plants that need more water from those that are drought-tolerant;

  • weed to eliminate moist places for slugs to find cover;

  • hand pluck the snails and slugs about two hours after sunset;

  • use copper barriers to separate slugs and snails from plant beds. The metal is toxic to the slimy creatures.


The most effective means of managing snail populations once they’ve entered your garden is upkeep and trapping.


As for chemical and solutions, you might be thinking of using salt or beer, but officials with the Oregon State University Extension Service say the salt can ruin your soil overtime. Your best bet is to use iron phosphate products, which are less toxic.


Prevent a garden slugfest with baits, upkeep [Philly.com]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

Report: FDA Lets Farmers Use Antibiotics That Pose “High Risk” To Humans


Before it recently issued a “pretty please” to drug companies, asking them to voluntarily stop making billions of dollars off of unnecessary antibiotics sales to farmers, the Food and Drug Administration spent decades appearing to avoiding the topic. But a new report claims that the FDA actually spent 10 years internally reviewing the safety of dozens of antibiotics used in animal feed, drugs that the FDA’s own scientists said pose a high risk to human beings.

According to the report [PDF] from the Natural Resources Defense Council, between 2001 and 2010, FDA scientists looked at 30 different penicillin and tetracycline antibiotic feed additives that had previously been approved for “nontherapeutic use,” meaning they were generally being used to encourage muscle growth in animals (or, less frequently, as a prophylactic against squalid living conditions).


Through a contentious Freedom of Information Act request and subsequent litigation, the NRDC says it has uncovered documents showing that FDA scientists found that none of the 30 drugs would likely be approved under current guidelines if submitted for approval today. Furthermore, 18 of the 30 antibiotics were deemed as posing a “high risk” of exposing humans to antibiotic-resistant bacteria if they made it into the food supply. There was insufficient data for FDA scientists to make such a conclusion about the remaining dozen drugs, so it’s possible that some or all may also be considered high risk.


Additionally, according to NRDC analysis of the FDA documents, 29 of the 30 drugs fail to satisfy the original FDA safety requirements from 1973.


And yet, it appears as if the FDA did nothing to stop the use of these antibiotics on animals, claims the NRDC, which found evidence suggesting that at least nine of these additives are still being marketed today, and that all of the drugs — aside from two that were voluntarily removed from the market by manufacturers — are still approved for use on farm animals.


“These findings are troubling for a number of reasons,” writes Carmen Cordova, NRDC microbiologist and the study’s lead author. “The report again draws attention to continued FDA inaction on antibiotics used in poultry and livestock production amidst mounting evidence of a threat to public health.”


Research from numerous scientists and doctors has found a link between non-medical use of antibiotics in animal feed and the increase in drug-resistant pathogens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently stated that studies “establish a clear link between antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans.”


The December guidance from the FDA on antibiotics in animal feed asked drug companies to voluntarily stop selling antibiotics for non-medical purposes, however it allows that those same drugs could still be sold for vague medical purposes.


Not surprisingly, the meat and drug industries love these new suggestions. Even though it’s estimated that half of antibiotic sales in the U.S. are made to farmers for non-medical uses, one of the largest big pharma firms, Eli Lilly said it didn’t expect that the FDA guidance would have any significant impact on its sales.


That’s because the drugs can still be sold under the category of “preventative” use, even though that has the same negative long-term effect of putting these antibiotics into the food chain.


“Preventive use is use on animals that are not sick, to prevent diseases often associated with crowded and dirty conditions on many industrial farms,” Avinash Kar of the NRDC told Consumerist at the time. “That’s a big category of use.”




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

What If The Cable Guy In Porn Was From Time Warner Cable?


Before you do any kind of clicking away on the video below, please be aware that the content we’re about to laugh over is totally NSFW by way of some heavy breathing, sexytime noises, bad language and because while there’s no nudity, it looks like the setup for a real porno instead of just a comedy video. So really, NSFW, watch it with headphones on and maybe where no one can see your screen.


Now for the fun stuff: Over at CollegeHumor.com they’ve done a hilarious job of setting up a pornesque short, complete with brawny guy and scantily clothed pretty blonde with a come-hither look in her heavily mascara-ed eyes.


But the while the lines are just as cheesy and awful as any you’ve ever heard in a porn, the script’s comedic brilliance lies in how closely it mirrors what an actual Time Warner Cable technician might say.


Here’s a little taste to get you started (you have to watch the rest because we don’t want to spoil it for you):


Time Warner Cable guy to Scantily Clad Blonde Customer: I’m here to service you.

Scantily Clad Blonde Customer: You’re a little late…

TWCG: I said I’d come anytime between 8 and 5, which means I’ve still got five minutes.

SCBC: Good, because I need this bundle [cut to shot of crotch, obvs].

TWCG: You’re going to have to take all of it, even the parts you don’t care about.

SCBC: Sounds like a huge package.

TWCG: It barely works.


And it gets even better.


Watch the rest below and beware, beware, the pec-flexing hold music and NSFW language.



Shorts / If The Cable Guy In Porn Was From Time Warner [CollegeHumor.com]


(H/T Gizmodo)




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

Walmart Customers Charged With Beating Security Guard, Running Off With 55 DVDs


On Friday, a Walmart security guard in South Carolina confronted a woman who was pushing a cart filled with DVDs that she hadn’t paid for out the door. That’s his job. Instead of surrendering or simply running off, the two women allegedly started hitting the guard and then ran off.

According to police, the women didn’t pay attention to the security guard until they had no other choice. He started taking the unpurchased DVDs back out of their cart. At that point, they began shouting at and attacking him, then escaping in their SUV.


The guard apparently didn’t suffer any injuries, but the two attackers did tear his hoodie.


The car that the two women ran for had, you know, license plates. The ace security guard wrote down the license plate number, and police apprehended the women. They now face charges of strong-arm robbery, because “violence against hoodies” is not, strictly speaking, a crime. People, yes: articles of clothing, no.


Two women beat up Walmart guard to steal DVDs, Charleston police say [Post and Courier]




by Laura Northrup via Consumerist

What’s The NSA Using To Spy On You Now? Angry Birds.


The revelations about just how embedded into every facet of modern, technological life the NSA is just keep coming. The spy agency isn’t just collecting calling records and tracking electronics; they’re in your iPhone games, too.


A joint report by the New York Times and ProPublica in the US and the Guardian in the UK reveals that the NSA and its British counterpart have been quietly collecting massive amounts of data on mobile users from apps like Angry Birds.


It’s not the first time the NSA has used video games as a way to dig up data, but this works slightly differently than eavesdropping on Xbox Live conversations. The agency is assembling enormous volumes of data from the apps people run on their smartphones.


A privacy-savvy mobile user is likely to be cautious choosing, installing, and running apps that might collect certain data, but that may not actually help. The data in question comes from something like a secondary layer of use.


When you install an app on your mobile phone, you give that program a certain set of permissions. Maybe it’s allowed to access your contacts, or to prevent your phone from entering sleep mode, or to use your phone’s GPS to determine your location and present custom content based on that. You can see that list before you install or run an app (depending on your phone type), and choose to back out rather than to proceed.


Some of the data the NSA and its counterpart organization in the UK have gathered comes from “leaky” apps that users have authorized in that manner. But much of the information is one more step removed. Advertising companies create user profiles based on data they scrape from users’ apps, and those profiles are subject to retrieval by the spy agencies.


ProPublica notes that the available data varies by which ad company is collecting it. Burstly and Google, two of the biggest ad companies, have profiles that “contain a string of characters that identifies the phone, along with basic data on the user like age, sex and location.” Profiles can also contain other data, including current phone use–that is, if the user is making a call or playing music–and the user’s annual household income.


And that’s not all of it. Depending what apps you use, and what advertising company has arrangements to work with the developer, plenty more personal information can be out there:



Another ad company creates far more intrusive profiles that the agencies can retrieve, the report said. The names of the apps that generate those profiles were not given, but the company was identified as Millennial Media, which has its headquarters in Baltimore.


In securities filings, Millennial documented how it began working with Rovio in 2011 to embed ad services in Angry Birds apps running on iPhones, Android phones and other devices.


According to the report, the profiles created by Millennial contain much of the same information as others, but several categories that are listed as “optional,” including ethnicity, marital status and sexual orientation, suggest that much wider sweeps of personal data may take place.



Nobody’s quite sure how Millennial finds or creates its data–whether the users voluntarily share their information, or whether the categories are created by inference and extrapolation. Nor do any of the documents the NYT and ProPublica accessed indicate why such information would be valuable to national security interests.


Between data pulled from smartphones and data pulled from traditional computer-based web use, the NSA is all but drowning in an enormous volume of information about ordinary folks’ information-seeking habits.


Is any of the massive-scale spying and information-gathering useful? The answer is a resounding, “Kind of, maybe, sort of.” ProPublica reports that the NSA claims that several successful investigations–an Al Qaeda bomb plot in 2007, a drug cartel hit squad in 2010–have been made by mining smartphone data. But those investigations began “with something closer to a traditional investigative tip or lead.”


In other words, the data captured from smartphone use can indeed be massively useful to law enforcement or anti-terrorist authorities if used as part of an existing investigation. But nobody inside the NSA quite seems to know what to do with the mountain of private citizens’ data they now hold.


Spy Agencies Probe Angry Birds and Other Apps for Personal Data [ProPublica]




by Kate Cox via Consumerist

Oklahoma Lawmaker Wants Cops To Issue Traffic Citations Via Email For Safety’s Sake


It’s dangerous out there on the highways and byways of America for a police officer issuing a traffic ticket. Handing out those tickets means leaving the relative safety of the car and walking over to talk to drivers, a risk one Oklahoma lawmaker thinks could be avoided with electronic citations.


And no, the drivers wouldn’t suddenly get a beep on their phones with a notification that they’ve been driving over the speed limit. According to the state senator’s proposal, those citations for traffic, misdemeanor and municipal ordinance violations would be sent directly to the district court clerk, reports the Insurance Journal.


It’s unclear but it seems then that drivers would receive a ticket in the mail alerting them after the fact to their violation.


“Allowing officers to issue electronic citations will help better protect them. If they don’t have to approach vehicles during traffic stops to give people tickets but can simply email traffic violation citations directly to the district court clerk then they’re less likely to get into a dangerous altercation,” said former police officer, Sen. Al McAffrey.


And of course there’s a fee for the convenience of not being pulled over — $5 would be added to the amount paid by defendants convicted of speeding, certain misdemeanor traffic violations, or driving under the influence misdemeanor or felony.


As for how officers would decide someone is under the influence without approaching the car to do sobriety tests, that’s unclear. And what if someone who’s speeding would slow down if they knew they’d just gotten a ticket, but instead kept speeding? Or maybe a routine traffic stop would’ve unearthed something far more villainous than just a simple ticket but there’s no cop to sniff out say, a hostage tied up in the trunk.


So many questions, but McAffrey thinks this will work and improve officer safety.


“Routine traffic stops are one of the most dangerous times for officers to become injured because they don’t know what kind of situation or individual they’re approaching. They’re walking up blind,” he explained. “We need to provide better protection for them by not putting them in harm’s way unnecessarily. By allowing them to submit electronic citations, they’d no longer have to leave the safety of their car.”


One thing’s for sure — the show Cops would be a lot more boring it if was filmed in a state with emailed traffic tickets.


Oklahoma Bill Would Allow Electronic Citations for Traffic Violations [Insurance Journal]




by Mary Beth Quirk via Consumerist

How To Not Suck… At Borrowing For College

(photo: joelgoodman)

(photo: joelgoodman)



(This is Part Two of a two-part feature on paying for an education. Last week’s HTNS column focused on the best way to save up for college.)

With the rising cost of college tuition, many families figure they’ll have to beg, borrow and steal to pay for the cost of higher education. If those are the only options available to you, we recommend borrowing.


Close to 60% of the nearly 20 million Americans who attend college each year need to borrow to meet the cost, according to the Almanac of Higher Education.


If your college savings plan has fallen short, it’s time to look at your borrowing options.


BORROWING FROM YOUR FUTURE


Don’t eye your retirement nest egg as a source for college funding.


Let’s repeat that for effect: Don’t eye your retirement nest egg as a source for college funding.


Just don’t do it.


If you take a loan from your 401(k) plan, you’ll deplete assets that you’ll need someday. Sure, you say you’ll pay the loan back through payroll deductions. But if you lose your job, you may have to repay the entire balance in 60 days. If you don’t, the loan would be considered an early withdrawal (if you’re under age 59-1/2). That means you’ll owe a 10% penalty and income taxes.


Plus, the withdrawal would be considered income on financial aid forms, so you could ruin your student’s financial aid chances.


Roth IRAs are another retirement vehicle that have been touted as a good source for college funding because you can take penalty-free withdrawals for qualified education expenses.


Alluring, perhaps, but why blur the lines between your long-term goals? If you have money to invest for college, stick with a college-specific account such as a 529 plan. If you’re considering a Roth because you’re not sure Junior will go to college, remember you can change the beneficiary on a 529 plan to another child, other family members and even yourself.


Remember, you can borrow for college, but no one will lend you money for retirement.


TAPPING YOUR HUMBLE ABODE


Your home’s equity might be another temptation, but it might not be the smartest choice.


While interest on home loans is usually tax-deductible, with today’s rates, you might find they’re more expensive than federal student loans — and market watchers expect interest rates may rise sooner rather than later.


Also, if you take out a home loan and park the money in your bank account, it will appear to the financial aid formulas (the calculations used by schools to determine how much aid a student needs) that you have lots of available cash, which will work against you in the financial aid arena.


Don’t forget you’re putting your home at risk if you ever have trouble paying back the loan. If that happens, you’d better hope your graduate gets a job that pays well enough to support you.


TAKING THE WRONG LOANS


There is already around $900 billion in outstanding federal student loan debt, and at least another $150 billion outstanding in private student loans, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


The majority of borrowers have the right idea — always take the federal loans before you shop for private ones.


The reasons are simple: interest rates are more favorable and repayment plans are better.

Here’s a look at the current state of federal student loans (this will change every year but the rate is fixed for the life of the loan) :

Subsidized Stafford Loans for undergrads: 3.86% fixed

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans for undergrads: 3.86% fixed

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans for grads or professional students: 5.41% fixed

PLUS Loans for parents, grads or professional students: 6.41% fixed

Perkins Loans for undergrads, grads or professional students: 5% fixed


Compare that to private loans that can run as high as 19% or 20% — a no-brainer.


You can read more about the differences between federal and private loans from the Department of Education.


If you have your heart set on helping your student graduate without loans, you should still consider having her take the federal loans in her name. The rates are better than what you’d find elsewhere in most cases, and you can always take over the payments for your student.


And one morbid yet critical must-do: If you decide to take loans for your student or if you co-sign for her, consider taking out a term life insurance policy on the student for the value of the loans. A couple of hundred dollars a year in premiums could save you lots of heartache and debt should your student die unexpectedly.


SCREWING UP THE TAX WRITE-OFFS


Don’t blow your shot at valuable tax credits by taking too much from of your college savings accounts too soon.


You see, the IRS won’t let you double-dip and use two tax benefits for the same education expense.


Let’s say you have a 529 plan. You’ve benefitted from tax-free growth and tax-free withdrawals.


Let’s also say you’re also eligible for the American Opportunity Tax Credit, or AOTC — which helps on the first $2,500 of qualified education expenses.

You can’t pay for those first expenses from a 529 plan and then take the credit. The IRS calls that double-dipping. Instead, pay out-of-pocket for those initial costs so you can qualify for AOTC, then take your 529 withdrawals for the remaining costs.


The Internal Revenue Service doesn’t make it easy, and there are income phase-outs and lots and lots of exceptions and requirements for each potential tax benefit. Check out this handy FinAid.com chart which spells out which college tax benefits can be used at the same time.


To be safe, consider investing in a sharp tax preparer.


Have a topic you’d like to see covered in How To Not Suck? Or maybe you’re an expert who would like to share your insight with Consumerist readers? Send us a note at notsuck@consumerist.com.


You can read Karin Price Mueller’s stories for The Star-Ledger at NJ.com, follow her on Facebook, and on Twitter @kpmueller.


PREVIOUSLY ON HOW TO NOT SUCK:

How To Not Suck… At Saving For College

How To Not Suck… At Pre-Paying For Your Funeral

How To Not Suck… At Making Financial New Year’s Resolutions

How To Not Suck… At Last-Minute Christmas Gifting

How To Not Suck… At Saving For The Holidays

How To Not Suck… At Charitable Giving

How To Not Suck… At Disputing Credit Report Errors

How To Not Suck… At Lowering Your Utility Bills

How To Not Suck… At Home Inspections

How To Not Suck… At Understanding Credit Card Rewards

How To Not Suck… At Getting Ready For Tax Season

How To Not Suck… At Picking A Retirement Plan

How To Not Suck… At Deciding When To DIY

How To Not Suck… At Getting Out Of Debt

How To Not Suck… At First Year College Budgets


DISCLAIMER: Any websites, services, retailers, or brands mentioned in the story above are only intended as some of many options available to consumers, and do not constitute an endorsement by Consumerist, Consumerist Media LLC (CML) or its staff. Per Consumerist’s No Commercial Use Policy, such information may not be used by others in advertising or to promote a company’s product or service. In addition, this policy precludes any commercial use of any of CML’s published information in any form, or of the names of Consumers Union®, Consumer Media, Consumer Reports®, The Consumerist, consumerist.com or any other of CU or CML’s publications or services without CU or CML’s express written permission.




by Karin Price Mueller via Consumerist

Super Bowl Might Be A Super Bust For Area Hotels


Tickets to the Super Bowl might cost you a pretty penny, or 270,000 of them, but you can certainly find a good deal on a hotel room. The game billed as so big it needs two cities might have bitten off more than it can chew – or sell.

With the big game fast approaching, local hotels are looking to make sure they’re full this weekend by dropping rates, The Star-Ledger reports.


When excitement for the Super Bowl was building this summer (and the temperature was above freezing), hotels were advertising rooms for as much as $1,300 a night with a three-night minimum. Today, the same room is listed at $400, bringing a total three-night stay to $1,380.


And don’t think the good deals are relegated to hotels an hour away from the stadium. The Hilton Meadowlands, less than a mile from the stadium, has rooms listed for $386 a night for a three-night stay.


Officials with Grand Hotel in Summit, New Jersey say the game isn’t proving to be the goldmine most in the hospitality industry thought it would be.


Hotels near Met Life Stadium are currently reporting a 45% vacancy rate for this weekend. Last year, New Orleans reported only a 4% hotel vacancy during Super Bowl weekend.


There are two reasons for the lower rates and high vacancy at area hotels – below freezing temperatures predicted for the game and a rather saturated hotel market.


New York’s metro area has about 115,000 rooms – triple the inventory seen in the last 10 Super Bowl host cities, the Star-Ledger reports. More options mean consumers are shopping around for the best deals and that leave less room for hotels to increase their rates.


So it you’re looking for a good deal and always wanted to go to the Super Bowl, this might just be your year. Or you could fork over the amount you’d spend on tickets and lodging to just buy a new TV for the big game.


Super Bowl hotels: Rooms open, rates drop ahead of big game [The Star-Ledger]




by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist

South Korea Has Outlawed Bloatware On Smartphones


While Apple has long prevented wireless companies from force-placing cruddy, memory- and battery-sucking apps on its iPhones, most Android users have phones loaded with apps from their wireless providers and phone manufacturers that will probably never be used but which can’t be removed. Realizing that this is a mammoth annoyance to consumers, regulators in South Korea have banned the practice.

Ars Technica reports that phones in South Korea can still come with all this nonsense pre-loaded, but consumers must have ability to delete most of it.


Only certain apps that are deemed necessary — things that enable WiFi service or near-field communication for the device; the app store; apps for customer service — are exempt from this requirement.


“The move aims to rectify an abnormal practice that causes inconvenience to smartphone users and causes unfair competition among industry players,” explained the South Korean Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning.


Sadly, with the amount of money that wireless providers pump into Capitol Hill, it’s doubtful that U.S. lawmakers or regulators would ever enact such a rule. Thus, Android users will need to keep rooting their devices if they want to remove all the useless apps that occupy real estate on their phones.




by Chris Morran via Consumerist

5 Things People Do On Tax Returns That Can Lead To IRS Audits


Can you smell it in the air? That’s the distinct scent of Tax Season approaching. So in these days leading up to everyone’s favorite time of year, here are some reminders about the red flags the IRS looks for when deciding whether to audit a taxpayer.

The folks at Kiplinger recently put together a roundup of 14 IRS Audit Red Flags. Here are the ones we thought would be of interest to Consumerist readers…


(Reminder: Consumerist’s Tax Dad is currently taking questions from readers about tax-related issues.)


1. Failing to report all taxable income If you made a little bit of freelance money in addition to your regular job, it might be tempting to roll the dice and hope the IRS doesn’t notice. But if you got a 1099 or a W-2 from that company, then so did the IRS. And if you file your tax return without including one of those forms, it can set off alarm bells at the IRS.


2. Taking large charitable deductions It’s a huge temptation to claim that you gave away piles of money and old clothing to various charities — and maybe you did — but when a taxpayer donates a disproportionately large chunk of her income, the IRS raises an eyebrow in disbelief.


3. Claiming 100% business use of a vehicle If you’re going to claim that one of the cars in your driveway was used solely for business purposes, be prepared to provide detailed mileage logs to a skeptical IRS auditor.


4. Running a small business It seems unfair for the IRS to pick on small business owners, but because some rotten apples — especially those in cash-heavy operations, like taxi services or incredibly lucrative car washes in New Mexico — have a tendency to under-report revenue, the IRS has a tendency look at these companies like yummy cheese on a platter.


5. Claiming the home office deduction This is a classic red flag. Some folks will exaggerate the size of their home office, the expenses associated with it (and sometimes that it exists at all), and so this deduction is a favorite for IRS auditors.


Check out the larger (but certainly not complete) list of audit red flags at Kiplinger.com.




by Chris Morran via Consumerist