By Jueseppi B.
By Macon Phillips January 15, 2013 The White House Blog
When we launched We the People, none of us knew how popular it would be, but it’s exceeded our wildest expectations. Through the past year, interest in We the People exploded and we’re closing in on 10 million signatures.
When we first raised the threshold — from 5,000 to 25,000 — we called it “a good problem to have.” Turns out that “good problem” is only getting better, so we’re making another adjustment to ensure we’re able to continue to give the most popular ideas the time they deserve.
Starting today, as we move into a second term, petitions must receive 100,000 signatures in 30 days in order to receive an official response from the Obama Administration. This new threshold applies only to petitions created from this point forward and is not retroactively applied to ones that already exist.
In the last two months of 2012, use of We the People more than doubled. In just that time roughly 2.4 million new users joined the system, 73,000 petitions were created and 4.9 million signatures were registered.
As we’ve seen overall use skyrocket, more petitions are crossing the threshold — and doing so much more quickly.
In the first 10 months of 2012, it took an average of 18 days for a new petition to cross the 25,000-signature threshold. In the last two months of the year, that average time was cut in half to just 9 days, and most petitions that crossed the threshold collected 25,000 signatures within five days of their creation. More than 60 percent of the petitions to cross threshold in all of 2012 did so in the last two months of the year.
It’s wonderful to see so many people using We the People to add their voices to important policy debates here in Washington and bring attention to issues that might not get the attention they deserve. This increasing adoption strengthens our resolve to build new features, including an API that would allow other popular online petition platforms to integrate with our official one. To that end we’ve released the source code to We the People and would love to connect with any enterprising engineers who want to help out.
Neal S. Wolin and Karen Mills January 15, 2013 The White House Blog
Editors note: This post is jointly authored by Treasury Deputy Secretary Neal S. Wolin and SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills. It was originally posted on Treasury’s blog.
Today, many taxpayers who qualify for the home office tax deduction are not claiming it. The reasons often cited are that businesses and filers do not fully understand the provisions or find it too complicated to calculate the amount.
That is about to change.
As part of ongoing efforts by the Administration to reduce paperwork burdens, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today that it is providing a new, simpler option for calculating the home office tax deduction, allowing small business owners and employees who work from home and who maintain a qualifying home office to deduct up to $1,500 per year.
The IRS also expects taxpayers to save more than 1.6 million hours per year in tax preparation time from this simpler calculation method.
The new option allows qualified taxpayers to deduct annually $5 per square foot of home office space on up to 300 square feet, for as much as $1,500 in deductions. To take advantage of the new option, taxpayers will complete a much simpler version of the current 43-line form.
The announcement builds on the President’s commitment to streamline and simplify the tax code for small businesses and to reduce the burden for tax compliance. It is part of broader efforts to make interacting with the federal government easier and more efficient for businesses of all sizes.
These new rules help our tax code better reflect the needs of America’s 21st Century workforce and especially small businesses, which play a vital role in our economy. Today, more than half of all working Americans own or work for a small business. An estimated 52 percent of small businesses are home-based, and many of these small businesses have home office space that would qualify for the deduction. And as technology improves, more businesses – large and small – are going virtual and recruiting employees from across the country, many of whom work from home offices.
Since he took office, President Obama has signed into law 18 tax cuts for small businesses. And the recently signed American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 includes extensions of several additional small business tax incentives designed to spur innovation, support capital investment and make it easier to hire new workers.
Today’s announcement also is part of a broader effort by the President’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to reduce paperwork burdens for small business owners and individual taxpayers across all government operations. Agencies have posted paperwork burden reduction updates on their OpenGov websites, which also have more information on agencies’ regulatory “look back” efforts.
The new option for the home office deduction will be available starting with the Tax Year 2013 return, which most taxpayers file early in 2014. In addition, the IRS is accepting comments for improving upon this new option.
Current restrictions on claiming the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit on the amount of the deduction tied to income derived from the particular business, still apply under the new option.
Neal S. Wolin is the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and Karen G. Mills is the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.
Linda Thomas-Greenfield January 15, 2013 The White House Blog
Note: This post was originally published on the Department of State blog. To see the original post, please click here.
As a young woman growing up in Louisiana, a career in the Foreign Service was never really on my list of life dreams — but all that changed, beginning with graduate school and a research project in Africa that opened my eyes to the possibilities of diplomatic life.
Since joining the Department of State 31 years ago, I have lived and worked on four continents, traveling the world from Afghanistan to South Africa. I have witnessed the horror of genocide in Rwanda; I’ve celebrated the joy of people coming out of 15 years of war to elect the first woman president in Africa. I’ve never regretted those first steps out of my comfort zone and into the world of diplomacy.
I’ve been the face of America abroad, and I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and to represent my nation. The State Department needs the energy and passion of Americans who want a career that matters.
And that’s why we’ve made this …………
We want to highlight and share with you some of the faces and stories of the amazing people who have made their dreams to do good in the world a reality through their career in the Foreign Service.
I hope you will watch it and think about this unique career and lifestyle. You can see the full film by visiting careers.state.gov, where you’ll be able to delve much deeper into the various types of diplomatic careers and learn about the steps you can take to pursue this path.
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Linda Thomas-Greenfield is the Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources. Prior to this , she served as Ambassador for the Republic of Liberia from 2008-2012.
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January 15, 2013
January 15, 2013
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