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Business news solutions items — Jan. 13


Take advantage of tax benefits

As you prepare to file your federal tax return for 2013, take advantage of several home energy-efficiency tax credits that expired last year.

Several sites offer good information about the residential tax credits for the 2013 tax year. Here are a few worth a visit:

Alliance to Save Energy: Spotlights residential energy products, electric vehicle and renewable tax credits. Site:

Consumer Reports: Details home energy-efficiency upgrades eligible for federal tax credits. Site:

Internal Revenue Service: Breaks down credits for nonbusiness and properties. Site:

The Tax Incentive Assistance Project: Covers new and extended home-improvement and energy federal tax credits. Site: Offers revisions and limits of residential energy credits. Site:

— Chuck Myers

McClatchy-Tribune News Service


Noisy employee disrupts office

Q: My cubicle is right beside the office of a high-level manager who is constantly making some kind of noise. “Jackie” is a loud, gregarious woman who spends most of her day on the phone or chatting with colleagues. Sometimes she even talks to herself. She frequently hums along with the radio, which is always on. ... After a year of this, I politely asked if she could at least tone down the humming. She got upset and yelled at me, which brought me to tears. Jackie later apologized profusely, but I refused to accept her apology. I have complained to her boss, but that didn’t help.

A: You should pay less attention to the noise and more attention to the politics. So far, you have insulted a high-level manager, rejected her apology, and complained to management about her personal habits. This is hardly the best way to handle someone in a power position.

Jackie is not doing anything wrong. Your sensitivity to sound is also contributing to this little drama. Some people are not bothered by background noise, because they possess an innate ability to screen out sound. Others are acutely aware of every noise in the room. Had you been more politically astute, you would have recognized Jackie’s apology as the perfect opening for a calm, friendly discussion. Guilty feelings about her inappropriate outburst would have made her more receptive to your concerns.

— Marie G. McIntyre

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Don’t let holiday spirit fade

The holidays are behind us; perhaps the glow of “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” is beginning to fade. Instead of settling into a midwinter slog, use the time to reflect on the aspects that make the holiday season special. If you love the holiday-related activities in December, what makes them stand out to you? Many people would mention the generosity that people show. What would it take to bring these with you throughout the entire year?

Consider generosity. The spirit of giving can be brought forward throughout the year. Some ideas? Try making a “giving calendar” for yourself and your family that has plans for ways to reach out to help.

— Liz Reyer

Minneapolis Star Tribune


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