Saturday, April 30, 2011

May Day, Immigrants and Multiculturalism

The Rainbow Tulip by Pat Mora

May 1st, often called May Day. It's a celebration of Spring. It's also a day of political protests. In many countries, it is a national holiday.

In 2006, the United States saw widespread political action on May Day, centering on the subject of immigration reform. Various groups and communities, under the heading of "A Day Without Immigrants," held rallies, strikes, and consumer boycotts to support the rights of those working and living in the United States, and to protest a bill that would deport many illegal immigrants.

The Rainbow Tulip by Pat Mora is a wonderful children's book that combines a story about immigrants in the United States and May Day. While the book is about multiculturalism, it is during a May Day Celebration that young main character finally understands her mother's feelings of being different and that being different is okay.

A contrast between a little girl's home and the outside world is established. One of the differences is her name. At home, she is Estelita, but at school, her name is Stella. Another difference is the language she speaks. “My brothers and I speak English outside the house and Spanish inside the house. My father says, 'Hija, this house is a piece of Mexico.'” Their house is also “a quiet house” where their father likes to read and running and shouting is for outside. Even the pictures provide contrast. The illustrations of her home are in muted tones, like the brown clothes that her mother wears. Outside the home are the brighter tones of reds, pinks, yellows, purples, and greens.

Spanish words are scattered throughout, just like a bilingual child may speak. Because Estelita/Stella tells the story, the use of Spanish words in the English text adds to Estelita’s cultural background.

Stella loves colorful clothing and fits in well at her English school, unlike her shy, quiet mother who wears dull colors like brown, no makeup, and speaks only Spanish. Although Stella loves her mother, she is ashamed of her. Stella wishes her mother were more like the other mothers with their makeup and short dresses. She wishes her mother could speak English, too.

When Stella finds out that she gets to dress like a tulip for the upcoming May Day celebration, she decides that she wants to be a rainbow tulip. On the day of the celebration, Stella’s mother goes with her to school to watch the festivities. Stella nervously looks around at all the other girls in their dresses of one color, blues, pinks, and yellows. Stella is the only rainbow tulip. Although uncomfortable as people point at her, commenting on her dress, Stella remembers every step of the dance. When she sees her mother smile, she knows that her mother is proud of her. Later, her mother tells her it is hard to be different. Instead of being ashamed of her mother, Stella now understands and asks to know more about her grandparents.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How Often Does Your Employer Ask You to Do Non-Nanny Related Duties?

Park Slope princesses who send nannies to fulfill volunteer hours at food co-op need to get a grip
Joanna Molloy

When nannies complain about being expected to do non-nanny job related tasks from their employers, long-time nannies often blame the nanny for not saying, "No."

Parents often may ask their nanny to do a housekeeping chore or two around the house. Trying to be helpful the well intentioned nanny pitches-in. But, before they know it, the task they performed as a an act of kindness, becomes expected of the nanny -- without extra compensation.

After reading this article from the NYDailyNews.com I remembered all my nanny friends that have been asked to just walk the dog once, take out the recycling once, and replace the mother for lunch duty once so she can get her hair done once, and then the nanny is expected to do these chores as a regular part of her job duties.

The most important advice is for nannies and parents to have a nanny work agreement. The contract must be very details especially when listing any chores that might be outside the typical child care nanny job descriptions. During negotiations is the best time to ensure the parents don't expect the caregiver to take on too many duties or task she is unwilling to perform.

Also, Anne Merchant Geissler of The Child Care Textbook recommends if parents are asking nannies to take on extra housekeeping duties to have two separate work agreements. She suggests having a nanny childcare contract and a second housekeeping work agreement. This ensures that the nanny can drop the housekeeping duties at any time if the job becomes overwhelming. Then, the parents can take that money and housekeeping contract to hire someone else as a housekeeper and the nanny can still keep her job as a childcare provider.

Click here for advice from Anne Merchant Geissler about bringing up a complaint to your boss.

Click here to see her advice on coping with an nit-picky boss.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Have Your Charges Ever Been Hurt at a Playground?

National Playground Safety Week 2011 is April 25-29, 2011

National Playground Safety Week is a time to focus on children's outdoor play environments. A time to pledge to use good judgment when playing. A time for gratitude for all the adults who work tirelessly on maintaining our playgrounds.

KEEP CHILDREN S.A.F.E.
Place this list in a prominent area of your home for quick reference. Then, before your children head out the door for the playground, check that:

Supervision is present, but strings and ropes aren't.
Adult presence is needed to watch for potential hazards, observe, intercede and facilitate play when necessary. Strings on clothing or ropes used for play can cause accidental strangulation if caught on equipment.

All children play on age-appropriate equipment.
Preschoolers, ages two- to five, and children ages five - 12, are developmentally different and need different equipment located in separate areas to keep the playground safe and fun for all.

Falls to surface are cushioned.

Nearly 70 percent of all playground injuries are related to falls to the surface. Acceptable surfaces include hardwood fiber/mulch, pea gravel, sand and synthetic materials such as poured-in-place, rubber mats or tiles. Playground surfaces should not be concrete, asphalt, grass, blacktop, packed dirt or rocks.


Equipment is safe.

Check to make sure the equipment is anchored safely in the ground, all equipment pieces are in good working order, S-hooks are entirely closed, bolts are not protruding, there are no exposed footings, etc.


Safety checklists are available from the CPSC or the National Program for Playground Safety

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Would You Work for Six Kids for $150K?

Sun Online Reports Brad and Angie Looking for Highly Qualified Nanny

Would you accept a nanny position caring for six children which requires you to speak at least two languages, have a college degree, to travel between California, New Orleans, and France, as well as other film locations around the world for a hefty paycheck?

Last week, the Sun Online reported that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are advertising for a new full-time child caregiver who has the requirements listed above.

Do you possess all the skills they are looking for? Would this be a job you would consider?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rumors of Cell Phone Numbers Going Public are a Hoax

National Do Not Call Registry


The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls at home or on your cell phone. Telemarketers should not call your number once it has been on the registry for 31 days. If they do, you can file a complaint at the web site. You can register your home or mobile phone for free.


Rumors about cell phone numbers going public, have been circulating around the Internet for years. In most scenarios users are sent an email informing them of an impending "cellular doomsday" and are advised to dial the National Do Not Call Registry at 888-382-1222 in order to have their cell phone number blocked for five-years. It’s high time to put this rumor to rest once and for all.


First of all, cell phone numbers are NOT going to be released to telemarketers. It didn’t happen in 2010 and it won’t happen in 2011 either.


Here’s why; The FCC has blocked telemarketers from using autodialers to dial cell phone numbers. This means that even if cell phone numbers were to be made public, that telemarketers would have to manually dial each and every cell phone number that they wanted to call. The increased overhead that the telemarketing firm would incur just wouldn’t make any business sense.


So where did this rumor originate from?
There was once an effort to make a 411 directory for cell phones by a company called Qsent. The cellular 411 directory that Qsent had intended to build would in fact make cell phone numbers available to the public, BUT on an opt in basis only. News of a cellular 411 directory quickly spread around the Internet creating concern that cellphone numbers would then be sold to telemarketers, hence the rumor that "cell phone numbers are going public…"


Just visit http://www.donotcall.gov/ and list the numbers you would like on the list.


References: http://www.bbb.org/us/article/your-cell-number-is-not-going-public-21014
http://www.compunoodle.com/are-cell-phones-going-public/

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Children's Books for Easter

What Are Your Favorite Easter Books for Children?
Click here to see what the basic symbols of Easter mean and our children's books about Easterlast year.








Friday, April 22, 2011

Best Green Products for Earth Day

Good Guide's Best Diaper Rash Creams

Today is Earth Day. In honor of Earth Day this week we have been posting the best green products according to the the GoodGuide web site. GoodGuide, is a Web-based system that rates consumer products. Below is their list of best and worst diaper creams.



Best Diaper Cream
1. Miessence Baby Barrier Balm
2. Burt's Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment
3. Badger Diaper Cream
4. Nature's Baby Organics Diaper Ointment
5. Lavera Baby Neutral Diaper Cream

Worst Diaper Cream
1. CVS Diaper Rash Ointment
2. Balmex Extra Protective Clear Ointment
3. Gerber Diaper Rash Ointment with Oatmeal
4. Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Diap Rash
5. Destin Diaper Rash Ointment Tube, Original

Click here to see the best diaper rash creams according to the Environmental Working Group earlier this year.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Good Guide's Best Baby Sunscreen

Yesterday we listed Good Guide's best and worst baby foods. Today we list their best and worst sunscreens. Click here to see the entire guide.

Best Baby Sunscreen
1. Coppertone Dry Oil
2. Eraviva Chidren's Sunscreen SPF 15
3. California Baby SPF 30+ Citronella
4. Sunscreen Sweetsation Therapy Sun'n'berry Fun Organic
5. Earth Baby Organic Sun N' Fun Baby Sunscreen

Worst Baby Sunscreens
1. Banana Boat Ultra Mist Continuous Spray Sunblock Lotion, Tear Free, SPF 50
2. RxSuncare Kids Sunblock SPF 50
3. Hawaiin Tropic Baby Faces & Tender Places Sunblock Spray SPF 50
4. CVS Baby Sunscreen SPF 70
5. Coppertone Kids Sunblock Stick SPF 30

Click here to see the Environmental Working Group's Best Sunscreens list we posted last summer.


Click here to see the Environmental Working Group's Sunscreen Hall of Shame we posted last year.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Good Guide's Best Baby Foods

Greener Living in Honor of Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day, April 22nd, this week we will post the best green products. Identifying safe baby products can be a challenge, especially when there are so many products out there to choose from: clothing, diapers, bottles, shampoo, soap, baby wipes, toys.

GoodGuide, is a Web-based system that rates consumer products — personal care, food, household cleaners, and toys, so far—on their health, environmental, and social impacts. Dara O’Rourke, a professor of environmental policy at the University of California, Berkeley got the help of some of his students in his lab to take academic-quality research and make it accessible to average people, empowering them to find healthier, greener products. Today the company provides ratings for more than 75,000 items.

Best Baby Foods

You need to reference the actual guide since different products made by the same company listed below may rate higher than other foods made by the same company. You may also want to compare how they are rated. For example, all the foods listed below are rated highest as number 10 for health. They may rate lower due to packaging. Despite the GoodGuide ratings you must still read labels for ingredients you may or may not want to feed the baby.

1. Homemade Baby Piwi Baby Food




2. Stonyfield Simply Plain Yobaby Organic Whole Milk




3. Tastybaby Peas On Earth




4. Dr. Susanna's World Baby Foods



5. HAPPYBABY Organic Baby Food




6. Plum Organics




7. Petite Palate




8. Healthy Times Organic Baby Food



9. Nature's Goodness


Worst Baby Foods



Specific foods by the same companies may rate much higher. For example, although Beech Nut multigrain cereal with bananas rates the lowest they have other foods that rate much better.

1. Beech Nut Cereal Multigrain with Bananas
2. Healthy Times Baby Sweet Peas, Organic
3. Nature's Goodness 2, Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
4. Gerber Mixed Grain Cereal
5. Earth's Best Yummy Tummy Instant Oatmeal

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Baby Product Class Action Settlement

If you purchased certain baby products from Babies "R" Us, a class action settlement may affect you. Click here to learn more about this claim.

Two class action lawsuits are currently pending in the U.S. District Court alleging that Babies "R" Us conspired with some manufacturers in violation of federal antitrust laws. If you purchased one or more of the listed Baby Products directly from Babies "R" Us or Toys "R" Us in the U.S. within the specific time stated, then you are a member of a Settlement Subclass.

BabyBjörn baby carrier 2/2/00 - 4/30/05

Britax car seat 1/1/99 - 1/31/11
Kids Line products 1/1/99 - 12/31/06
Maclaren stroller 10/1/99 - 1/31/11
Medela Pump In Style breast pump 7/1/99 - 1/31/11
Peg Perego car seat 7/1/99 - 1/31/11
Peg Perego high chair 7/1/99 - 1/31/11
Peg Perego stroller 7/1/99 - 1/31/11

To receive benefits from the settlement, you must submit a valid, sworn Claim Form. The Claim Form must be postmarked, faxed, or submitted online by August 1, 2011. Any member of any Settlement Subclass that does not timely submit a valid, sworn Claim Form will not be entitled to settlement benefits. To obtain or file a Claim Form click here.


Click here to learn more about this claim.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Have the Most Creative and Fun Passover Ever!

Today at sundown observing Jews will celebrate Passover.

Rabbi Zoë Klein is Rabbi of Temple Isaiah, a Reform-Jewish congregation in Los Angeles, California shares the most creative ideas for including children in Passover I've ever found.


Below are just a few of his ideas. To see the entire article please click here.


Preparing the Passover Table:
1. Use maps of Egypt, Israel, and the Sinai desert as place mats.
2. Put markers and crayons out on the table, and make them all the same color. Encourage people to draw or jot down questions, ideas, and thoughts in the Hagaddahs. Write the year on the inside cover of the Hagaddah in the color pen that was used that year. In later years you will be able to enjoy looking back and seeing what people thought or doodled in years past.
3. Decorate the table with frog bath-toys.
4. Put sand on the table.
5. Let the children sit near the leader instead of far away.
6. Get out your entire seder plate collection, and let everyone have their very own at the table!
7. For something totally different, sit on the floor in a circle with pillows, more like the Roman symposiums after which the seder was originally modeled.


Part 1: Kadesh - First Cup of Wine and Kiddush
1. Have an empty cup in the middle. Have everyone add a little form their own cups to the middle cup. This cup then will be Elijah's cup, and everyone will have shared with Elijah from their own.
2. Pour the wine or grape juice for each other, each person pouring for the person to their right, to give a sense of sharing and elegance.
3. Have the younger participants pour everyone's glasses, playacting as if the adults are the Egyptians and the children are the Israelites serving them. For the second cup of wine, have the adults serve the children!


Part 2: Urchatz - First Handwashing
1. Ask for two volunteers: one to carry a pitcher of water and to pour water over each guest's hands, and one to carry a basin and a towel.
2. Use ice water to remember people who do not have warm water.


Part 3: Karpas - First Dipping (Parsley)
1. Plant parsley in Chia Pets!
2. Tie bundles of parsley with ribbon for each guest.


Part 4: Yachatz - Breaking of the Middle Matzah
1. A Tunisian custom is to say "This is how God split the Red Sea" and then break the middle matzah.
2. Ask, has anyone ever felt broken?


Part 5: Maggid - Storytelling
1. Tell the story through a giant game of Jeopardy!
2. Have the kids get together to put on a puppet show about Moses and the escape from Egypt. While they are putting it together, the adults can have a deeper discussion of the meaning of freedom.
3. Have volunteers role-play Moses, Miriam, Aaron, Moses mother Yochevet, and Pharaoh, and have the rest of the table interview them and ask them about their experiences.
4. At the four questions, ask the children what is the best question they've ever asked in school.
5. Have the children draw the ten plagues. If done earlier, these can be laminated and wine can be placed on top of the plagues as each is recited.
6. Make a family tree of the Biblical characters to help with the telling of the story, from Abraham to Moses.
7. Make a family tree of your own family, as far back as you can go!
8. Let the children build a pyramid out of sugar cubes! They will love this!!
9. Play a memory game. Go around the table asking everyone to fill in the black, "When I left Egypt, I took with me my most treasured possession......" The participants in turn must repeat the objects mentioned and add their own!


Part 6: Rachtza - Second Handwashing
1. Ask for two volunteers: one to carry a pitcher of water and to pour water over each guest's hands, and one to carry a basin and a towel.
2. Wash feet instead of hands, just like in Biblical times!


Part 7: Motzi - First Blessing over Matzah
See how high you can build a matzah house.


Part 8: Matzah - Second blessing over Matzah
Once I attended a seder with a Yemenite family, and they had spray bottles of water on the table. They would spray the matzah with the water to make it softer, so they could wrap it around the charoset.


Part 9: Maror - Second Dipping (Maror and Charoset)
Irish fiddler Seamus Connoly once said, "We are never so happy as when we are crying." We never enjoy the horseradish so much as when it brings tears to our eyes.


Part 10: Korech - Hillel Sandwich
1. Everyone make a sandwich for the person sitting next to them.
2. Try to whistle while eating matzah.


Part 11: Shulchan Orech - Communal Meal
Have everyone put money into the tzedakka box before eating.


Part 12: Tzafun - Afikomen
Give the finder of the afikomen a five dollar bill. Explain that it is Abraham Lincoln on that bill, and what he did to end slavery in America.


Part 13: Barech - Blessing after Eating
Make plans to feed the hungry through money donations, helping in a food kitchen, donating food, or any other way.


Part 14: Psalms of Praise - Hallel
1. Go around the table and express what each is thankful for.
2. Give each other hugs and kisses!


Part 15: Nirtza - Conclusion
1. Make the song "Who Knows One?" into a trivia game. Try to name the three fathers of Israel (hint: A..., I..., J...), the 4 mothers (S..., R..., R..., L...) the five books of the Torah (G..., E..., L..., N..., D...), the twelve tribes?
2. With the song Chad Gadya, "Just One Kid," sing it like Old MacDonald, and make the appropriate sounds for each verse.
3. Next Year in Jerusalem! Sing the Israeli National Anthem, "Ha Tikvah" ("The Hope" in Hebrew). Kids can use kazoos.

To see the entire article please click here.
Rabbi Zoë Klein is Rabbi of Temple Isaiah, in Los Angeles, California.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Products Nannies Love for Passover

Product Review Sunday

Passover starts Tuesday, the 19th of April and will continue for seven days until Monday, the 25th of April. In the Jewish calender, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Jews will celebrate Passover tomorrow, on the sunset of Monday, the 18th of April.

Below are some of our favorite toys and games for children to play with to learn about Passover. Remember, children learn through play!

Click here for a list of some children's books about Passover.

Let us know if you like another game or toy for Passover that we may have missed by clicking comments below!









Saturday, April 16, 2011

April Showers Bring May Flowers Children's Books and Activities About Rain

Weekly Trip to the Library

It is Spring and in many parts of the country it rains a lot in the Spring. Below we recommend some great children children's books about rain with corresponding activities to do with your charges with and/or in the rain. So, read these books and put on your rain slickers and boots and get outside and learn about rain!


Rainby Robert Kalan


In this book the blue sky, yellow sun, and white clouds suddenly become gray clouds, gray sky, and rain. Using bold graphics and few words, Rain explores concepts like weather, colors, and a changing landscape. It's a book for very young readers to enjoy and learn from, rain or shine.


Come On, Rain

by Karen Hesse

Award-winning author Karen Hesse and artist Jon J. Muth capture the magnificence of a sudden rainstorm on a hot day. As the downpour approaches, a girl named Tessie gathers her friends to play in the raindrops. The rain shower so gigantic, it even makes their mothers run into the street.



Otto's Rainy Day by Pamela R. Levy

The mother in the book learns from her son about the fun of playing in the rain, and they end up having a most precious, beautiful, bonding, and wet day. Otto likes to listen to the rain, he likes to run through the puddles, splash little ants on the pavement, and best of all he likes to stick out his tongue and taste the rain! It's a feel-good book for both kids and their caregivers.


What Happens to the Rain? After it rains, take the children out to follow the path of the rain. Where does it go? Does it seep into the ground, down the sewer? What happens to the rain on the sidewalk or on the slide?


Weather Chart Each day for a month, chart the weather. Was it sunny, rainy, cold, or warm? Ask your child for as many descriptive words as they can think of about the day.


Measuring Rainfall On a rainy day, set out a container to measure the rainfall. Measure how much rain fell that day. Continue to measure the rain each day, and record for a few weeks. Ask your child to predict how much water will be collected. Ask at the beginning of the day and ask when it is raining. Did their answer change?


Evaporation Use two clear plastic glasses of the same size. Measure one cup of water and place in each cup. Mark the water level of each cup with a permanent marker. Place one in a sunny window and the other somewhere else in the room. Observe the glasses of water over the nest couple of days. Ask the children where the water is going. Which is evaporating more quickly? Evaporation occurs when the particles of water become warm enough that they turn into vapors and leave the cup and escape into the air. Why did the water in the sun evaporate faster?


Rain Sticks Seal off one end of a paper towel tube with tape or tape heavy construction paper or tag board over one hole. Poke holes in the side of the paper towel tube with either a small nail or an awl. The child then can insert toothpicks into the holes. Have the child fill with dried rice or lentils, then seal the other end of the tube. Cover the tube with construction paper, then have the child decorate as desired. To use the rain stick, simply turn it over and listen to the rain.


Sail Toy Boats in Rain Rivers As long as there isn't lightening and thunder, dress the kids up in their rain coats and rain boots. Let them sail their toy boats and other bath toys in puddles and rivers made by the rain.

Stop by next week for another Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Non-Taxable Forms of Compensation

Health Insurance Tax Credit

I work as a nanny and needed health insurance desperately. Lucky for me, Tom Breedlove of Breedlove & Associates answered my questions, and my employer's questions, without a consultation fee!


First, I went to the Heatlh Reform In Action web site to find the most affordable individual health insurance available in my state. Then, Tom Breedlove explained that if my employer sends in the health insurance premiums that cost is not taxable income.


He explained it is more beneficial to have my employer send in the premiums to lower my taxable income than to add the health insurance premiums to my end of the year medical expense deductions.


But, my employer and I were completely unaware that my employer will actually benefit with tax credits for sending in my health insurance premiums!


Mr. Breedlove explained to us that small employers (less than 25 employees) who contribute to their employee’s health insurance policy are entitled to a tax credit on that expense. So, in addition to being a non-taxable form of compensation, health insurance contributions made by a nanny employer have the added benefit of savings from tax credits!


Here are some benefits parents can offer to their employee and have them be considered non-taxable compensation (no taxes for employer or employee). The IRS-approved benefits for households are:

1. Health Insurance premiums from a state-licensed insurance provider

2. Up to $5,250 per year towards tuition and books for an accredited college or university

3.Up to $230 per month toward public transportation to and from the worksite

4. Up to $230 per month towards parking (at the jobsite and/or at the public transportation facility)

We hope your found Tom Breedlove's advice for common nanny tax dilemmas helpful this week. Be sure to scroll back to read his other articles if you missed any this week.


Tom Breedlove is a Partner at Breedlove & Associates, the nation's leading specialist in payroll, tax, and HR services for household employers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Special Tax Advantages for Short-Term, Part-Time, Share-Care Nannies

Families who hire on a short-term (i.e. summer nannies), part-time, or shared basis have a unique tax advantage. Since employer taxes are tied to wages, these families typically have a much smaller tax obligation but still get to take full advantage of the tax breaks.

Here's an example:

The Smiths hire a summer nanny and pay her $500 per week for 13-weeks ($6,500 total). The Smiths have access to a flexible spending account at work, which allows them to pay for up to $5,000 of childcare-related expenses using pre-tax dollars. This saves them $2,300. Meanwhile, the Smiths owe about $600 in employer taxes. The net savings for the Smiths is $1,700!


As you can see, legal pay pays off – especially in short-term, part-time, or share-care employment situations.


Although some families wrongly assume that temporary employment of a nanny absolves them of their legal obligations as an employer, in the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter if the worker is temporary or permanent, full-time or part-time, salary or hourly – in all cases, the worker is considered the employee of the family for whom he or she works and all employer laws and responsibilities apply.

Tom Breedlove is a Partner at Breedlove & Associates, the nation's leading specialist in payroll, tax, and HR services for household employers.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Taxes for Nanny-Shares

Nanny Tax Dilemma: Nanny-Share Arrangements

A nanny-share is defined as two families sharing the expense of employing a nanny to care for their children as a group. The nanny and children may alternate between the two family homes, but care is provided to the children of both families as one job for the nanny. The nanny has two employers, each paying their agreed-upon share of her compensation.


If two families hire the same nanny to care for their children, but the care is provided separately, this is not a nanny-share arrangement. In this case, the nanny has two part-time jobs.

Each family is required to establish themselves as a household employer with the IRS and the state. The families should pay the nanny separately and withhold and remit payroll taxes appropriately to the IRS and to state agencies on their portion of her salary.


Although it may seem administratively easier to have one family handle tax withholdings and remittance on the full salary, this creates risk for the family who is not registered as a household employer with the IRS and the state tax agencies. In addition, there is risk for the family who pays the nanny in full and then has to collect from the second family.


Tax Breaks Available When Both Families Pay Legally

Tax breaks are available when tax accounts are established with the IRS and the state to prove the nanny is paid legally. When each family is established as a household employer and is properly handling employer tax obligations on their portion of the nanny-share, they are entitled to a tax break of up to $2,500 per year.

Most families in a nanny-share realize tax savings that far exceed their employer tax costs, so they actually come out ahead financially. For more information about tax breaks, see Dependent Care Tax Breaks or visit our Employer Budget Calculator for an estimate of your savings.


Tom Breedlove is a Partner at Breedlove & Associates, the nation's leading specialist in payroll, tax, and HR services for household employers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can I Pay My Nanny On My Company Payroll?

Nanny Tax Dilemma: Paying a Household Employee on the Company Payroll

This week we are discussing common nanny tax dilemmas. Yesterday, Tom Breedlove of Breedlove & Associates explained the common misperception that families can classify a domestic worker as self employed (an independent contractor). He explained that the IRS has ruled definitively that nannies and most other domestic workers must be classified as employees. Click here to see that article.

Another common mistake parents make is paying their nanny on their company payroll. This happens when bookkeepers and general/business tax accountants don’t understand the nuances of household employment law.

If a parent owns a company, they will need to manage their household employee’s payroll separate from that of their company’s employees. The logic is that businesses are allowed to take tax deductions on their business payroll expense. The IRS does not view nannies and other household employees to be direct contributors to the success of the business enterprise. Therefore, these wages cannot be reported on a business tax return and any tax deductions taken on these wages are illegal.

Instead of paying a nanny through the company payroll and taking a business tax deduction, families should pay her through their personal bank account and take a personal tax deduction on their federal income tax return.

In addition to the incorrect reporting and illegal tax deduction issues, there are related problems with group health insurance. Insurance providers generally do not allow personal employees to be included on a company policy. As a result, it may result in denied claims and, in extreme cases, insurance fraud.

Tom Breedlove is a Partner at Breedlove & Associates, the nation's leading specialist in payroll, tax, and HR services for household employers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The 1099 Trap: Nannies Are Not Self Employed

Tax Season Dilemmas for Nannies
By Tom Breedlove

There is a fairly common misperception that families can classify a domestic worker as an independent contractor if they want to. Thanks to misinformation floating around on the Internet -- and sometimes even bad advice from a general tax professional -- some families are misled into thinking they can "just give her a 1099." (Form 1099 is the form business use to report wages paid to an independent contractor).


The IRS has ruled definitively that nannies and most other domestic workers should be classified as employees. Misclassifying them as independent contractors is considered tax evasion and offenders are saddled with back taxes, penalties, and interest. If caught, it is an extremely expensive mistake for families. Being classified as an independent contractor is not only illegal, it's financially bad for the nanny. That's because independent contractors are required by law to pay for both halves of the FICA taxes (social security and medicare).


In 2011, the employee portion of FICA is 5.65% of gross wages (it's normally 7.65%, but there is a temporary deduction to help stimulate the economy). The employer portion of FICA is 7.65%. Having to pay the additional employer FICA tax burden can break the bank for many nannies. (For someone earning $30,000 per year, being misclassified as an independent contractor would cost her $2,295 per year in additional taxes).


If you're a nanny making more than $1,700 in the 2011 calendar year from a particular family, the family should provide you with a Form W-2. If they give you a Form 1099, you're being misclassified -- and it's costing you money. Don't let yourself get "1099-ed!" Make sure the family understands the risk they're taking -- and the additional tax burden being placed on you.


Tom Breedlove is a Partner at Breedlove & Associates, the nation's leading specialist in payroll, tax, and HR services for household employers.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gardening Products Nannies Love for Kids

Product Review Sunday
Now that it is Spring we recommended reading books about planting seeds. Here is a great gardening kit and some gardening tool kits for kids we highly recommend.


This kit includes three biodegradable pots, three seed packets, and quick soil mix. Just follow the instructions and the kids can watch for the plants to sprout.



With this kid-friendly garden tote, complete with tools, getting help in the garden just got easier! The plastic tools are just right for little helpers and easy to keep organized in this durable fabric tote with sturdy woven handles.



It's fun to help in the garden when you have a set of sturdy, easy-clean tools specially designed for young gardeners. Tootle helps keep them all organized with convenient side pockets in this made-to-last fabric tote with durable woven handles. Features: Durable fabric with wooden handles are recommended for children ages: three years and up.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

How Do Seeds Grow?

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

It's Spring and a great time to teach kids about how plants grow. We suggest reading How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan. Then, do a simple project of planting a bean so your charges can watch a seed germinate.


How a Seed Grows by Helene J. Jordan

In this book, children are encouraged to follow each aspect of the botanical process, from sowing bean seeds, to the growth of tiny root hairs, to transplanting the plant in the garden. The book is basically an extended science project explaining how students can watch a seed grow into a plant. Realistic and inviting full-color watercolors show procedures that are possible for youngsters to follow with minimal involvement from adults.



How to Grow a Bean:

Help the child fill a disposable cup approximately halfway full with organic potting soil. Place a single bean approximately half an inch into the center of the soil in the disposable cup. Allow the child to water the plant with half a cup of water. Place the cup in a sunny spot. Have the child water the plant with half a cup of water every five days until the sprout is approximately three-inches tall.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Are the Kids Overscheduled? Nanny and Au Pair Survey About Acitivites

What Activities Do Your Charges Do?

Do your charges have cell phones, Facebook accounts, and are they allowed to play freely on the computer?

Do they have enough play dates and leisure play time, or do you feel they are over scheduled?

Let us know by taking the Be the Best Nanny Newsletter survey. The results will appear in the Spring 2011 issue of the nanny trade publication.

Click here to take our survey.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Free Webinar Tonight

Nanny Problems: Solutions and Prevention
Honest Advice from Judi Merlin

Free Webinar Thursday April 7th, 7pm EST

What is the biggest problem you have faced on a job and how did you handle it?

What is the biggest problem you have faced on a job and how would you handle it differently in hind sight?

What is the biggest problem you have faced on a job and what did you learn from it?

We will be using facebook and email to collect problems and questions prior to the webinar and Judi Merlin, an agency owner with years of experience will help to solve them, and give you some pointers on how to prevent them from happening again. This webinar will be interactive and full of candid, honest advice from an industry pro!

Judi founded her agency in 1984 and has been committed to quality care ever since. She has a background in special education and as a preschool teacher. Her respect for both parents and caregivers makes her agency unique. She is a member of APNA- the Alliance for Professional Nanny Agencies and also INA. Judi is the mother of four and a grandmother to two. Her passion for our industry makes her a valuable resource to us all.

Listen over your internet connection at http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=18828840

Or call in using the number (206) 701-8388pin number 600622#

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Don't Mess With the IRS

Penalties of Paying Under-The-Table

Paying off-the-books is tax evasion which is subject to fines, back taxes, interest, and even prison time. The amount you owe to the IRS, if you don’t file, is penalized at 47.5% interest (22.5% for late filing and 25% of the total for not filing).


To collect monies owed, the IRS can levy your wages, your bank account, and/or put a federal tax lien against your social security number.


Since tax evasion is a felony, there are strict penalties of jail time and loss of professional license. For example, licensed professionals such as doctors, attorneys, and accountants can lose their licenses and ability to practice their profession if caught for tax evasion.


The more blatantly fraudulent your behavior has been, the more likely the IRS is to prosecute you.


In order to convict you of a tax crime, the IRS does not have to prove the exact amount you owe.


Here are some penalties listed in order of their severity:


Criminal fraud: This is tax evasion, which is illegal. If convicted of this penalty the tax payer will be subject to heavy court determined fines, imprisonment, or both .


Civil fraud: Tax payer fraud that does not rise to the level of criminal fraud. If imposed, the penalty is 75% of the portion of tax underpayment attributable to fraud.


Negligence: This is a penalty imposed if any part of the tax rules and regulations are neglected without the intent to defraud. The penalty is 20% of the portion of the underpayments attributable to the negligence.


Frivolous Return: A frivolous return is one that emits certain information necessary to determine the tax payer’s tax liability, such as her Social Security number. The penalty is $500 for each frivolous return filed.


Check out the IRS website for more answers to your nanny tax questions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Do Parents Benefit by Paying Nannies On-The-Books?

Yesterday we listed some of the benefits for nannies that are paid legally (AKA on-the-books).

Now that you know the importance of tax compliance, be sure to let your employer know they can benefit by by paying their nanny legally as well.

Here are some benefits for families who pay their household employees legally:

Using a Nanny Payroll Company is Tax Deductible: Any parent, regardless of their income, can deduct the expensive of using a payroll company from their taxes.

Child Care Tax Credit: Regardless of a families combined income every family is eligible to receive a percentage in of the child care tax credit. A family who earns more than $43,000 per year can receive approximately 20% in a child care tax credit. On average tax savings are $600 per year for one child and $1,200 per year for families with two or more children.

Dependant Care Flexible Spending Account: Families can set aside tax free dollars in an account, in the range of $2,500 to $5,000- that is set up thru their employer. Only one parent can do this through their job and if they choose this option- they are not eligible for the Child Care Tax Credit.

References:
4NannyTaxes.com
Breedlove and Associates
GTM Payroll Services

Monday, April 4, 2011

Benefits of Paying Nanny Taxes

It's tax season and time to remind nannies the benefits of being paid on-the-books.

No one likes paying taxes, and certainly many nannies don't. In fact, it is estimated that 80% to 90% of household employers may not be paying taxes. Nannygate has become the popular term for employers who don't pay their household employee's taxes. Nannygate is an epidemic in America in part due to the fact that nannies don't insist their employer's are tax compliant because they don't realize the benefits of being paid-on-the-books.

Here are some of the benefits to being paid legally:

History of Employment: Payment history helps to develop credit which is needed when applying for any type of loan including a credit card, car, mortgage, and rent.


Unemployment Benefits: Employees who lose their jobs, through no fault of their own, are able to receive a portion of their salary after a lay-off. This benefit is essential in a difficult economy.

Disability Benefits: If you have a non-work related illness or need to take maternity leave, you can collect Disability Insurance while you are unable to work.

Workers Compensation: Workers Compensations covers employees who become sick or injured while working. It is an insurance plan to help pay for necessary medical care.


Social Security and Medicare: Full retirement benefits for Social Security and general medical coverage via Medicare are put into an account where you can collect once you meet a certain age requirement to retire. The extra money when you retire, or in addition to paying your medical expenses, will be a benefit.

References:

4NannyTaxes.com

Breedlove and Associates

GTM Payroll Services

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Showers: Best PVC-Free Rain Gear for Kids

Products Nannies Love for Product Review Sunday

Rain gear often contains polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a chemical in all sorts of flexible, waterproof items such as bibs, rain jackets, and rain boots. Unfortunately, PVC releases toxins over its lifespan.

Some safer alternatives for rain coats, rain boots, and umbrellas include those made from polyurethane, polyester, or nylon. Polyurethane, polyester, and nylon are synthetic materials but they are more inert than PVC and usually contain fewer toxins. Make sure that rain gear choices are listed as PVC- and phthalate-free because these toxic materials can still show up in the manufacture of materials like polyurethane. Avoid rain coats and umbrellas made of shiny or colorful materials because they are the most likely to contain PVC.

Luckily, Puddle Gear, Calunaloves.com.au, CWDkids.com, Lands End, L.L. Bean, Hatley Raincoats, Hanna Anderson, and iPlayoffer some coats made of safer plastic. When shopping, look for the PVC-free tag in rain coats.

Below are some of our favorite options for PVC-free children's rain gear:

Hatley Raincoats: Hatley Raincoats are my favorite for elementary school-aged children and little kids. They have super cute prints including horses, pirates, watermelons, apples, space aliens, purple flowers, and more. Take your pick of unlined or lined and pair it with matching rain boots and umbrellas for ultimate cuteness. Sizes range from 12M to 7. Prices typically range from $30 to $48 at Hatley.

Try to get them cheaper via our Amazon link below:



iPlay Raincoats: I love the preppy inspired prints (especially the whales) for the cotton-lined iPlay raincoat at Target. They are very affordable from $17 to $24. And it's just as PVC-free. Sizes range from 18M to 4. They cost about $17 at Target.


See if you can get them cheaper at the Amazon link below:


L.L. Bean: Lightweight and mesh-lined, the nylon Discovery Rain Jacket is a good fit for a spring rain and not just for little kids. Bigger boys won't be embarrassed to wear this nice jacket. When folded into its own pocket, it's easy to stow in the backpack for unexpected shower. Loose fitting to accommodate layers underneath, available in five bright solids and two prints. The sizes range from 12M to 10. They cost about $27 at L.L. Bean.


Hanna Andersson: The Wind at Your Back Anorak boasts sturdy nylon oxford cloth with a soft cotton lining, drawstring hood and easily adjusted sleeves. It's another jacket styled in a way that older kids will love too. Sizes range from 18M to 12. They cost approximately $58 at Hanna Andersson.


Land's End: From Land's End, the Luxe Rain Slicker and Heritage Rain Slicker are durable choices. Don't forget the Kids' Wellie Boots too. The cost range is from $39 to $60 at Land's End.


REI: The REI Cascade Rain Jacket is sturdy, yet light, PVC-free, and has a water repellent coating and the seams are sealed to block out rain and wind. Integrated hood features visor for added coverage and elastic sides for a snug fit. On-seam pockets shelter little hands. Reflective accents increase the child's visibility in low light. Elastic cuffs help seal out rain. Full-length front zipper with snap-closure storm flap helps prevent leakage. Sized from 12M to 18(XL) for girls and boys. Prices range from $25 to $40.


Puddle Gear: Puddle Gear makes PVC-free rain coats too. All their rain gear is totally PVC and Phthalate Free and instead coated with ATEK – a Polyurethane-coated stretch fabric. It’s a very light, soft, tear-resistant material and is wind and watertight. Their sizes range from 10M to 12 Teen. Their rain jackets range from $50-$60 but are virtually indestructible and last forever.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Children's Books and Activities About Rain

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

In many parts of the world, spring brings rain. After reading books about rain (see below) teach your charges about the parts of the water cycle: precipitation, collection, evaporation, and condensation. Make a terranium to show the cycle of rain.

Get a small plastic container which can be covered tightly with either a clear lid or plastic wrap. Put soil in the bottom. Then, put a plant seed in the soil and water the soil. Cover the terrarium with the lid or plastic wrap and place in a location where it can get sunshine. Observe what happens to the water in this closed container and see if you can observe the different parts of the water cycle. Observe your terrarium for a few weeks. Have the kids record their observations in a science journal.

Each day look for the following things:

1. What is the seed doing?
2. On which parts of the terrarium do you see water?
3. What new is happening in your terrarium today?

Here are our book suggestions:


The Puddle by David McPhail

A small child asks to go out and play in the rain. While sailing a toy boat in a puddle the boy is joined by a frog who wants a ride on his boat. Then a turtle floats by, followed by a helpful crocodile, a pig in a swimsuit, and a very thirsty elephant. But, tot all the animals are nice. A frog who steals the boat is a bully. This is simply a must read and a great book for any child's bookshelf.



Who Likes Rain? by Wong Herbert Yee


All the elements click together in this sweet, simple celebration of rainy weather. A little girl puts on her raincoat and boots to explore the drizzly day, describing all she sees. She discovers frogs, fish, and worms like rain. But, do cats and dogs like rain? Well, the little girl likes rain, as we see when she goes puddle-stomping at the very end.




Red Rubber Boot Day by Mary Lyn Ray


A little kid thinks of all the things he could do on a rainy day such as read, draw, and play with blocks, or he could go out and stomp around! There isn't a lot of text in this book, but the vivid illustrations will make every activity, especially the splash scenes, look like fun to preschoolers.




Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library.

Friday, April 1, 2011

APRIL TO-DO LIST

Organize, Don't Agonize

Don't Be Lax on Tax:

If you feel stressed-out or panicked by the prospect of filing taxes, we suggest a list of lists to enable you to direct your energies properly. Do you get aggravated when it is time to file your tax forms? Do you struggle to gather the proper information? Start by organizing your 2011 (the year due April 15, 2012) tax information now. All you probably need is a plastic crate that can hold some file folders. Make a file for your pay stubs, another file for medical expenses and prescriptions, another file for donations, and one file for rent or mortgage payments (if applicable). Develop an ongoing system to categorize your documents, income, and disbursements on a continuing basis. Regardless of how you decide to file or who does the computation, it is you who are responsible for the accuracy of the information provided.

Save, Don't Rave:
Note how you spend your money. For a period of time, a week or longer, write down everything you spend, no matter the size of the purchase. Extrapolate the purchases over a year and figure out the percentage of your income. The goal is to spend your money on needs rather than wants and to reward yourself by investing some earning.

Pass the Gas:
Gasoline that is. Keep meticulous records of your car and transportation expenses. Be certain to maintain your vehicle exactly as stated in the owners manual. Walking, biking, and public transportation save wear and tear, pollution, and money. Mileage compiled on the job may be deductible but will require documentation. Walking and biking keep you healthy too!

Health is Well-th:
Make a list of your healthcare providers, all medications that you and your loved ones use, whether Rx or OTC, and all your medical records. Do not depend on your physicain or pharmacist to have instant access to all your records at all tomes. You should be an expert on you. Note your questions and concerns when you seek medical advice from a provider.

Food and Mood:
Do you get tired or nasty after you eat? Do you feel energized after a meal? Mark down how you feel physically and mentally about an hour after your meals and snacks. Modify your diet if your eating does not improve your mood and your energy.

What you Ate and Weight:
Same as above and "Save, Don't Rave." Keep a careful list of everything you eat and you will have the knowledge to change any poor habits, if necessary.

Stuff the Stuff:
Inventory everything you own. Do not be a hostage of useless possessions. If you do not use it and you do need it, discard, donate or sell. Simplify your life.

Embrace the Cloud:
Consider using online sites to declutter your computer and organize your records. The cloud is not the wave of the future, it is the tool of today. Knowledge and awareness should be the foundation for action. Understand yourself. Take control.