Showing posts from 2015

"Can I claim so-and-so as a dependent?" - A Handy Flowchart

The IRS rules for claiming a dependent can be complicated. If you just want a quick answer about whether or not you can claim an individual as a dependent (or if you yourself can be claimed as a dependent), check out this flowchart I made:

Another more thorough tool is the IRS' own "quiz " where you actual answer questions about yourself and your potential dependent to determine eligibility. This tool covers more special cases than my flow chart does.

If you'd like to see a video walkthrough of this flow chart, click here.

*Notes This Flowchart gives a general overview only. Many special cases apply and are covered in more detail in IRS publication 501.
Examples of special cases: Foster children, Kidnapped children, death of person, shared custody, divorce mid-year, relationships that violate local law, temporary absences, child files joint return but only to claim refund of withheld tax, permanently and totally disabled persons, qualifying child of more than one person…

"All truth is relative." Or is it?

Growing up in a Christian school, I frequently heard about how atheists and secular humanists and "post-modernists" don't believe in anything or think that all truth is relative. What is it like now being on the other side? Is that how I would characterize "truth" 10 years later, and a secular humanist myself? No, simply because the word "truth" can refer to at least three types of claims:

1) Claims about the state of the natural universe
2) Claims about the supernatural / spiritual
3) Claims about morality
The idea of "relative" truth is very different for each.

Only a very small minority of people in the secular world could be considered relativists regarding truth claims of type #1. We all rely on scientific observation and logic to determine things about the universe. "The moon exists, and is primarily responsible for the tides". "I am taller than you". "The light will not turn on unless the circuit is closed.&q…

Why I am voting for Bernie Sanders

As we move into the 2016 election season, I'm planning to support Bernie Sanders for the Democratic party nomination, and hopefully voting for him in the general election. Bernie Sanders is an old guy who has served Vermont in both houses of Congress for many years. He seems like a true "for-the-people" selfless politician. As far as I can tell, he is not in the pocket of the big corporations: his net worth is lower than nearly every other senator, and he gets his own laundry, and says he won't launch a Super PAC and doesn't want billionaires to bankroll his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Why do I support him? Well, I'll start by explaining my position on a bunch of the hot-topic issues. The ones highlighted in blue are ones where Bernie Sanders aligns with my stance, and ones highlighted in red are where I disagree with him. Non-highlighted issues are ones that I'm not sure of Bernie's stance on.

I lean left on these policiesGo…