Avoiding big mistakes with your taxes [S01E18]

I think all of us would groan at the thought of keeping up with one more thing.  Isn’t that the story inside the whirlwind of life.  However, keeping track of the little things you do for and with the Royal Rangers or any ministry can save you big bucks.  If all of the little things (drinks and snacks for the Wednesday night meeting, driving Rangers to and from, driving to Ranger events, training,  or Pow Wow) added up to $5,000 and you were paying 20% in taxes then you just lost $1,000 dollars.  If you think that seems unlikely, $20 a week is $1,040.  Now add training, travel and a missions trip and you’re there.   In order to properly account for all of your deductions you must keep good records.  Here are two helpful hints.  One, use your phone. Today’s phones have an assortment of helpful tools.  Take pictures of receipts, donated items, tickets, etc…  Two, “Expensify”.  Expensify is an app that helps you keep track of expenses.  It has a very seamless integration with your phone which can calculate mileage, itemize receipts, and produce printable reports.

Our guest for this show is a licensed expert in the vocation of tax preparation, but everyone’s situation is different.  Please, seek the advice of a tax pro to get each deduction handled properly.  If you are interested in contacting our guest you can find his firm’s information at www.rscpa.net.

Mileage.  All mileage associated with Rangers or any church function where you are donating your time is deductible.  For a Ranger commander that can include: mileage to church on meeting night and mileage to events and training.  Note -you cannot deduct both mileage and fuel.  It is one or the other and mileage is the way to go. Donations.  Cash and items donated to the church and Outpost are deductible. Cash is the obvious one and the church will most likely give you a receipt or a report at the end of the year.  Items are deductible and the amount of the deduction is the current allowable value.  The IRS does have a table for item values but you can justify the value if you can show other items that have been sold for a similar value.  For example, if you donated a treadmill and you found three closed auctions on Ebay with a sold price of $150 then that could be used to justify the value.  Here is the caveat.  If you donate a car and the Kelly Blue Book value is $5,000 but the church sells it for $3,000 then your deduction is only $3,000.  If the church gives it to a pastor to drive then it would be valued at $5,000. Travel.  Most travel expenses are allowed.  One exception would be if a commander’s wife traveled with him to a training event her travel expenses would not be deductible. Training.  All of your training expenses are deductible.  Even though you are a lay leader and  not employed by the Outpost you can still deduct the expenses associated with all of your training.  You might even be thinking that your Outpost doesn’t require training.  It doesn’t matter.  Your dedication to excel at your position is of great value and you can keep track of those associated expenses and apply them to your return.

This is not an us versus them.  In other words, it’s not us versus Uncle Sam.  The tax codes are complicated and have many lawful deductions that you should use to your advantage.  God has called you into this ministry.the boots on  You are the  ground that can see how every dollar is used within the ministry.  Being a good steward of that means understanding where you can recover dollars that Uncle Sam doesn’t need.

 

 

Original author: Commander
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Has your fundraising been derailed? Get back on the tracks. [S01E17]

When God births a vision within your heart He obligates Himself to meet the resources to see that vision come to fruition.  It will take time and perseverance but stay on track and let the Holy Spirit be your Conductor.

In this episode Commander Wayne, Commander Bradley, and I board a train in Lakeland Florida and head down to the Ft. Lauderdale area to pick up our long awaited Ranger Bus.

This adventure is a celebration of five years of planning and hard work.  Listen as we share this adventure live with the podcast audience and share some insights to how we journeyed from vision to bus title.

At OP169 we have tremendous support from Church leadership and the other ministries that call Victory Church home.  However, with more that 50 ministries we found ourselves waiting in line for resources and one major resource was the buses.  Victory has two buses, a school bus and a 15 passenger bus.  With the school bus we were required to hire a licensed driver which added cost and logistics to each adventure.  The 15 passenger bus is always in hot demand and usually could not be used overnight.

In Andy Stanley’s book he describes vision and the tension in a man or women’s heart for what is and what could be.  Commander Wayne began to see what could be and knew that God had a plan to get there.  After five years of fundraising and donations we now have our first bus.

Over the five years Commander Wayne has done a vigilant job celebrating every accomplishment, no matter how small, and articulating the vision often.  Excitement breads excitement.  Once God gives you a vision tell everyone you can.  You never know where the next great fundraising idea will come from or who will simply catch the vision and decide to give.  God deserves that praise and He wants to give you lots of opportunities to do so.

Sometimes fundraising can be trial and error, but just don’t get derailed.  Learn from each on and then get back on track.  In future episodes we will unpack some of the best fundraisers that I know will help your Outpost get it’s first bus.

Original author: Commander
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Have you found your Shirpa? [S01E16]

For a hiking standing at the foot of Everest is a pinnacle moment, and for every hobby/passion there is a pinnacle moment.  Even though those pinnacle events can seem so far off in the distance to ever be a reality it’s always a good idea to be planning that the day will come when God will make it happen.  For Commander Mark Hurst and his son Branden the fall of 2016 was the time when God put all of the pieces together for their trip to Nepal and their hike to Base Camp Everest.

Bucket lists have been the popular way to describe those things that we want to one day accomplish.  I think seed planing is another way to describe the start of many of our greatest adventures.  It’s why Super Bowl commercials are a million dollars a minute and companies are happy to pay.  If just a small seed can be planted in your mind and then take root in your heart it’s likely that you will make investments to reach that goal.  I want to drive that car, travel to that destination, or have that experience.  Marketing gurus have capitalized on truth about mankind that the Bible has been stating all along.

Fun fact about Mark and Branden’s pinnacle moment was their peeked at over 18,000 feet near the literal top of the world.  The hike from Nepal to Base Camp took eight days and they were accompanied by three porters and a guide or shirpa.  The term sherpa has been given to the individuals living on the outskirts of the Nepal that guide climbers up to the top of the world. In order to reach the highest place on the planet you need to find a good sherpa.  Interestingly it’s four times more dangerous come down that up.

There is a valuable take home here.  Think about it, to reach the highest places in your life and, maybe more importantly, to successfully endure the lowest you need a good sherpa.  A guide, someone who has walk that stretch of life before you and can give you the wisdom to navigate it for yourself.

At first the help seemed awkward to a couple of seasoned hikers like Mark and Branden, but remember, these guys are at an altitude most of us only experience on-board an American Airlines flight, and needed to have the extra gear for the extreme weather.  But, as seasoned Christ followers, Mark and Branden also recognized the opportunities to make some new friendships and share their relationship with Jesus.  Often times we need to let others help.  By allowing others to share their gifts and skill you create opportunities for relationship and for sharing the gospel.

Summit Fever is a condition that occurs when you have put all of your energy and all of your passion on reaching the top only to find you have nothing left for the decent.  Mark and Branden remind all of us that all journey have ups and downs and for every assent to a summit there is a decent to the valley.  All the more reason to have a Shipa.

For those of you in Rangers you know that when your looking for the Shipa’s of life the brotherhood of Commanders is a great place to start.  Also, if your a dad looking for your next adventure with your son Royal Rangers gives you that platform and takes much of the planning and preparation off of your shoulders.

Don’t let the law of diminishing intent stall you.  What’s your next adventure?  Start planning now!
Original author: Commander
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The trail every ranger should hike [S01E15]

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. (Robert Frost)

Branden Hurst certainly knows the meaning of taking the road or trail less traveled.  A very, very small percent of the countries avid hikers can say they have hiked the entire 2,189 miles of the Appellation Trail.

Brandon Hurst was OP169’s 2nd GMA in a class of 4.  At OP169 he is in the company of now 20 other GMA graduates.  Since he left OP169 Branden has received an undergraduate degree from SEU and a graduate degree from FSU.  At age 31 Branden now calls Dallas home as he applies his leadership skills to the Chi Alpha Ministries for the AG.

Brandon started his Ranger journey in Straight Arrows and wilh his mentor, father, and commander by his side he stayed will Rangers all the way to Trail Rangers and his GMA.  Branden’s father, Commander Mark Hurst is still a valued leader at OP169 and continues to work with the high school boys now know as Expedition Rangers.

I asked Branden how he thought we did to equip and empower him for life’s journey and he gave his outpost 5 stars.  If your wondering 5 is the highest ratting.  I also asked him to share his greatest gain in Rangers and his answer should strengthen your resolve to continue to fight the good fight.  Branden said, “Devotion to God”, without that everything else will never fall into place.

Commander Mark Hurst has seen 20 GMA’s and counting have their medals pined on and of all the adventure rich activities that he has planned hiking still tops the charts.  Bang for your buck and maximum participation hiking is the way to go.  It was Commander Mark’s love for hiking that inspired Branden to take on the challenge of the AT.  Starting March 1st of his sophomore year in college Branden headed north.  And on July 3rd accompanied by his dad he completed to journey and added his name to an elite group of hikers.

You wont make it without a sleeping mat. Trekking poles are a must. The cost is between $3000-$6000.

None!  Branden encourages even novice hikers to add the AT to their bucket list, and for those that are just exiting high school or entering college you will never have a better opportunity to get it done.

Original author: Commander
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It’s time to cross the finish line of 2016 and step up to the starting line of 2017. [S01E14]

I have run 13 marathons and a friend of mine that helped me train game me this advice.  At first I thought he was just razing me, but now that I have crossed many finish lines I understand what he meant and it’s solid advice.  Sometimes we just need to narrow our view.  Get laser focused on the finish line and get off the course.  The course can be an amazing journey but if you stay on it too long your just wondering and the sweeper bus will come by and collect you.  The enemy will try to cloud your thinking and tell you that your a quitter.  Your not quitting your finishing.  Not every finish line in life will be you jumping with joy.  Some of them will be you dragging a limb across the line, but getting over that finish line allows you to step up to the next starting line.

In the running world you will here runners talk about a RP or personal record.  God knew what he was doing when he guided you along your life’s path.  Your goals and dreams are unique to you.  Take time to celebrate every accomplishment.  Don’t let the enemy convince you that it’s not worth mentioning.  A runner who cuts even 60 seconds off a 5k race has accomplished a great new PR.  Small investments over a long period of time yield the greatest returns.  Not celebrating takes praise away from God who gave you the opportunity in to begin with.

Here at Royal Range Podcast we say, “life is a journey, one adventure at a time”.  There is something adventurous about a new goal or a new challenge.  A great way to get started is to use the four ways a boy grows:  Spiritually, Physically, Mentally, and Socially.  Make a goal for each of these areas and you will have a jam-up 2017.

Most peoples new years resolutions fall flat in the first few weeks.  Quitting is easy but starting takes courage and humility.  Start now and start often.  This is one area where the enemy loves to get us down, but push back and lean into it.  You probably doing far better than you think.  Give it time and stick to it.  If your goal is to read 5 books this year and you only read two, celebrate.  Only 25% of Americans will read one book this year.  Two books puts you in the top 20% of Americas best thinkers.

Happy New Year.

 

 

Original author: Commander
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