Bennett Mayer Tour Driver for Adventure!

Regardless of the season, Warm Wind Tours wants you to “come play with us”.  This locally owned and operated touring company offers luxury packages to exciting destinations at affordable prices.  Just take a look at their current listings and you can find four seasons worth of adventure! There is not much that is prettier than New York Wine Country in the fall.  Looking to visit New York City during the Christmas season? Or are you already planning ahead for next summer? If so Warm Wind has got you covered with southern beach and sailing trips.

Warm Wind Tours got its name from creator and owner Bennett Mayer who has been driving bus groups for many years.  Bennett began sailing with a friend 30 years ago in a Hobie 16 named “Chinook”. He learned that Chinook was an Indian word for warm wind.  Because of the happiness and fond memories Bennett has of those sailing years, Warm Wind Tours got its name when the venture began In February 2018.  He uses the “come play with us” slogan because that’s how he wants his customers to feel. Playing carefree and having fun! Bennett enjoys working with people and his satisfaction comes from seeing and helping people smile and have a good time.

Warm Wind Tours has a beautiful and very user friendly website for booking tours and learning more about the company.  Bennett is also available by email at or phone at 717-629-4242 to help you plan your getaway!



“ITP, LLC is supporting local small business owners through this post.  The experiences described are personal to particular users, and may not necessarily be representative of all users of the the products and/or services.  We do not claim, and you should not assume, that all users will have the same experiences. Your individual results may vary. We are not affiliated with the organization referenced and are not paid or compensated for this publication.”



2018 Standard Tax Deductions for Individuals

The 2018 tax law changes introduced a much larger standard tax deduction than ever before.  At $12,000 for single taxpayers and $24,000 for married filers, this standard deduction may slowly do away with itemized deductions.  When filing, you may claim the largest deduction.  Either the standard deduction available to you based on your filing status or the sum of your itemized deductions.  The standard deduction involves less work as it alleviates the burden of accounting for and reporting all of the individual items. But for some, itemized deductions may still yield the greatest return.  

In March we discussed Workplace Tax Deductions that are available, depending on your career.  Volunteering can also create some opportunities for itemized deductions as we explored in June.  Additionally we’ve shared tax breaks that are available to students in 2018.  Here we look at some additional personal tax deductions to consider if you are planning to itemize deductions.

Financial expenses accrued throughout the year are often viable as deductions, so save your receipts for financial services.  Examples include the cost of preparing your income taxes. This includes tax software and filing fees or preparation fees if you see a professional.  Additionally, money spent for financial planning, can be claimed as well. By preparing for your financial future through financial planning services or creating a living will, you can also enjoy the benefits of financial returns in the present when deducting these expenses.  

Pumps and aids for nursing moms are just some of the reimbursable medical expenses that can be realized, depending on your medical needs throughout the year.  In order to claim medical expenses as an itemized deduction, they most total more than 7.5% of your AGI (adjusted gross income). This amount increases to 10% in 2019 and will mean only those with high medical expenditures will be able to realize these deductions.

Finally, if you are paying mortgage interest on a loan secured by your residence, whether it be a first or second home, this is acceptable as an itemized deduction.  You cannot claim payments on the principal nor can you claim if you have not been making payments.

For a  full list of available deductions with explanations, the IRS website is a great place to check out:  Remember to save receipts and paperwork throughout the year to make deducting easier at tax time!

Did you know that your vacation may be tax deductible as well?  We will explore this in greater detail in the next installment.

Jason Mundok Certified FileMaker Developer

Jason Mundok has been planning, designing, developing and deploying custom business applications for his clients since 2000. He is a certified FileMaker developer with extensive experience helping clients from a wide variety of industries design solutions, streamline business processes, and increase productivity.  New to FileMaker? FileMaker is a custom database platform for Mac, Windows, iPad, and iPhone. FileMaker has been a valuable information management tool across business, government, and educational industries for more than 30 years.

If you are looking for help developing a custom business solution for your organization, Jason is your guy.  He believes that creating and nurturing strong client relationships is the foundation for a successful project. For Jason, this begins with open and honest communication to create a collaborative environment.  In order to facilitate this communication, he utilizes a framework which includes the following components:

  • Feature Planning – collaboratively create a list of what you would like to do with the system or what you will expect the system to do automatically
  • Release Planning – define the project timeline and establish all project logistics such as meeting schedules, communication channels, and expectations
  • Development Cycles – plan, create, test, and review a subset of features and provide budget and status updates every two weeks
  • Beta Testing – move the system into your environment for authentic user testing
  • Deployment – convert your data and roll the system into production

Combining this framework and the FileMaker database platform, Jason has successfully completed numerous projects over the past 18 years.  His projects have ranged from small business solutions on up to creative applications for billion dollar corporations.

In addition to Jason’s work experience, he has had numerous opportunities to write and speak about developing custom business applications and managing development projects.  Jason has presented around the United States and has written for several publications. These opportunities include publication in FileMaker Advisor Magazine, speaking engagements at national FileMaker Developer Conferences, and seminar presentations in New York City and Philadelphia.  

To find out more about how Jason can help your business create solutions, streamline processes, and create solutions he can be reached via email at or phone at 717-606-2992.

Starting Over: Budgeting for Success

Our first two topics in the starting over series explored growing trends in changing careers and divorce, especially as they occur later in life.  As part of both trends we discussed budgeting as a key component to success.  In March, we explored budgeting ideas in Your Family Budget.  In this final installment of the starting over series, we will go a little more in depth on the topic of budgeting.

Whenever possible, prepare for big upcoming changes such as career switches or divorce, by saving six months to 1 year of living expenses.  Even when you don’t have an impending change on the horizon, it is important to maintain a 6-12 month safety net for the unexpected and unplanned.  Prepare for the worst and you will be able to breathe easier throughout the process.

The first step towards saving 6-12 months of expenditures is to know what this dollar amount is.  This requires creating an honest budget to determine what 6-12 months of living expenses equal for you.  With a budget, not only will you have a guide for savings, you will also have a clear picture of how much you need to earn going forward.  This is particularly helpful in the event of a new career or separation with different household income.

When starting a budget, you don’t have to recreate the wheel.  There are budget calculators and budget formulas already in place, tried, tested, and proven successful.  Several of these budget calculators are shared in “Your Family Budget”.

One of the most popular budgeting formulas was created by Elizabeth Warren and it is known as the “50/30/20 Budgeting Rule”.  As with any formula, your first step is to itemize your monthly expenditures, being sure to list and include everything. Next list your monthly income.  Using Warren’s formula, you will then want to breakdown your income payments with 50% going towards needs, 30% towards wants, and 20% into savings OR paying off debt.  

A need is defined as something you need to live such as housing, groceries, electric, or water.  Minimum monthly payments toward debt are also considered needs. While a 30% allocation going towards wants may seem to be a lot, wants include things you might not consider to be in this category.  For example, many consider their monthly phone plan to be a need, but it really constitutes an extra – along with going out to eat, and cable or Netflix subscriptions.  Before making a purchase, stop and think.  Is this something I need or is this something I want?  Splurging on wants every now and again is fine, but establish some boundaries.  For example, agree that you will take care of a want once a month and determine a dollar amount to spend ahead of time when you’re creating your budget.  

It’s also important to sit down with your budget regularly to make sure you are still on track and to verify that the budget created still works as time changes.  A good time to review your budget is when you are paying monthly bills or when you receive your paycheck. A budget, once created, is a working plan that can have the flexibility to change as needed and should be an active part of your financial routine.  Don’t create it and forget about it!





Starting Over: Divorce

Divorce rates have been on the decline in recent years, and several factors are contributing.  Fewer couples are choosing marriage to begin with – opting instead to stay single and co-habitat.  This is especially true in lower income categories. However, one age group that does find divorce rates growing are those over 50.  Similar to career change – more people over 50 are getting divorced than in previous years and this change carries some big costs.

To begin with, there is the price of divorce itself.  This includes everything from litigation fees, to charges for document copies, and attorney bills.   Attorney fees are usually the highest price tag item. With lawyer fees averaging $250 per hour, if you can agree on property distribution and child custody details without a lawyer, saving yourself this cost will be huge!  If you think you can come to an agreement out of court and save yourself the money, check out Divorcenet and their guide to DIY divorces for tips.

Be prepared ahead of time and costs will be more manageable.  To start, make a list of your assets and liabilities before going to a lawyer.  Both categories will need to be divided. Now is the time to open individual banking accounts and start to close off joint accounts.  Make sure that you change names as appropriate on all titles, deeds, and accounts. Monitor your credit report throughout this time as well.  Because debt is split, your spouse may end up paying for debt that still has links to your name on it.

Next, there is the cost of starting over to consider.  Be sure to consider the price of having 2 of everything.  Two residences, two sets of bills, not to mention savings accounts split in two, and two sets of insurance policies (health & home/auto). Filing income taxes separately will also result in much different returns going forward.  You will need to consider if you will be paying or receiving child support or alimony money. Alimony is taxable and must be reported while child support does not.

On the bright side:  many people find that the emotional freedom is worth the financial costs.  Create a new budget for yourself….look at where you can cut costs and increase savings.  You won’t be able to spend like you could with two incomes and one home, so you will need to list priorities in order.  Experts recommend meeting with a financial consultant to help organize and make sure you considered everything.

Robert Diggs

In 2014, the PCLA (Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts) was formed.  Currently consisting of eleven Pennsylvania liberal arts colleges, PCLA has an incredible mission and vision.  The consortium works to share knowledge and cost efficiencies with its members to help improve the quality of their programming to students and other institutional stakeholders.  PCLA strives to create more opportunities and better access and includes Bryn Mawr, Dickinson, Franklin & Marshall, Gettysburg, Haverford, Juniata, Lafayette, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Ursinus, and Washington & Jefferson Colleges.

Robert Diggs has been a vital part of PCLA for almost 3 and a half years, currently employed as the Implementation Manager. 

 Through his role, Diggs is responsible for all aspects of the consortium’s work including event management, internal sub-grant stewardship, and maintaining the PCLA’s social media/website presence. Working for a membership organization, Diggs believes his top priority is to be responsive to the pressures that his member institutions face.  As a result, he strives to deliver the programming needed, or provide the support necessary, to enable the solutions that best address the needs of the consortium membership. This response can vary from organizing a collaborative conference call for sharing of best practices, to the organization of a workshop where experts can help institutional professionals work through the issue at hand. Diggs’s job is to help identify the right solution and implement it.

Diggs’s favorite part of his roles as Implementation Manager is serving as a generalist.  As a generalist he is able to help the institutions collaborate when and where it makes strategic and financial sense. He has been exposed to myriad areas of running a small liberal arts college, and eleven different examples of how to educate a mind…professional experience he would not have gained by working at just one institution, or a single nonprofit.  This experience has been rewarding and beneficial!

Diggs earned a BA from Franklin & Marshall College, where he majored in the Government Department, and is currently pursuing a Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).  Diggs has worn many hats throughout his professional life, leading to a unique perspective of liberal arts institutions and how best to serve them. Beyond higher education, Diggs has worked in the Fortune 500 world for a subsidiary of eBay, and in education access for the New York City based program Prep for Prep, of which he is an alum.

Diggs is always open to connecting with people. A part-time member of  The Candy Factory, you can find him there on most Tuesdays and Fridays, or feel free to email him at for additional information or questions!


Starting Over: An Introduction

Starting over can come in many forms.  For some, beginning fresh with a whole new career path later in life can mean exciting but daunting challenges.  How do you secure the right training for your new field? Does the resume that you created in 2000 still hold up in today’s business world?  For other people, starting over may be initiated by a divorce, a new home in a new neighborhood, bankruptcy or foreclosure. How do you navigate when you find yourself in unfamiliar waters without a map?

One current trend is the growing rate of divorce among those over the age of 50.  Rates of divorce for couples over 50 have actually doubled over the past ten years.  Another rising trend shows that more people are making big career changes later in life as opposed to be being stuck on a job path that they don’t enjoy.  CNBC has explored this topic in their article “Career Change is the New Normal of Working”.  Their first tip is to enlist help as you begin negotiating career change – don’t attempt it alone!

Our next several blog posts are going to focus on the increasing trend of “starting over” that many of us find ourselves embracing, for better or worse.  Each entry will cover a topic, including:

  1. Job training, search, and resume building
  2. Creating a budget when you need to start over financially
  3. Rebuilding after divorce

If there are additional areas that you would like more information about, please just leave a comment!  These topics are all unique to the individuals involved, but there is certainly some common ground we all share and can explore.

Sobeida Rosa


The Candy Factory is an amazing asset to Lancaster business people looking to co-work. This co-working facility offers office space to entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as conference rooms and event space rentals to the public. The Candy Factory is a great alternative to working at a cafe or working from home. Anyone that works out of the space is exposed to an amazing community of local professionals.

One of the local professionals helping to make the Candy Factory amazing is Sobeida Rosa.  Sobeida is the Community Facilitator for the Candy Factory. As a part of her role, she writes blogs on members and plans the monthly events that make working at the Candy Factory so much fun. Sobeida also does administrative work  in addition to giving tours to potential members, and helping to greet members and guests at the front desk.

Sobeida is a Lancaster native who was introduced to the Candy Factory through Advantage Lancaster, a local mentorship program that aims to expose inner-city youth to a variety of experiences and opportunities. Sobeida has been involved in the program since 2011, first as a student and then as a paid intern. In the summer of 2017 Advantage Lancaster had connected with Anne Kirby, the founder of the Candy Factory, and created an internship opportunity that allowed Sobeida to work part time. Now, Sobeida is working as the Community Facilitator.

As a resident of Lancaster City, Sobeida attended McCaskey High School. Throughout her time there she was enrolled in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. She was involved with the Vidette (school newspaper), National Honors Society and Student Senate among other things. In her final year of high school she was a dual enrollment student enrolled in the Lancaster Campus of the Harrisburg Area Community College and McCaskey. She graduated in 2016 with Honors with a class of 688 students.

Through her work at the Candy Factory, Sobeida shares that she has gotten to view Lancaster through a new light. This is due in part to meeting so many different people and discovering various business professionals. “It’s been a wonderful experience!”  As an aspiring journalist, Sobeida has been exposed to the multiple uses for her journalistic skills through coworking at the Candy Factory.

Sobeida is currently enrolled in Ithaca College where she is a dual-major in Journalism and Spanish. She hopes to use her knowledge of the Spanish language to write articles on issues within the Latinx community in both Spanish and English. Sobeida has had works published in Motivos Magazine, a bilingual magazine based in Philadelphia. As well as several self published pieces on her blog which she started in the summer of 2014 as a creative outlet for herself and the things that interest her.  

To find out more about Sobeida visit her website.

For anyone interested in the Candy Factory, check out their website and fill out their contact form for more information!


Independent Contractor or Employee?

A question we receive regularly from clients is whether they should file as an independent contractoror an employee at tax time.  Employers likewise ask the same question when looking at their staff. It is a topic covered with great frequency and popularity, so if it’s something you wondered – you are not alone!

The website lays out the distinction very neatly on their website.  There are several important points to recognize:

Employers must pay careful attention to the distinction when determining what to withhold for employees.  It is an important consideration because employers don’t pay taxes on payments to independent contractors. This is in contrast to income taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment taxes that must be paid on wages to employees.

There are 3 common ways to break down the difference between contractors and employees.  These categories include behavioral, financial, and the type of relationship. For example, with employees, employers:

  • Can control what and how the worker does their job and the business aspects of the worker’s job, such as how payments are made and what tools are supplied.  
  • There are also written contracts on benefits, such as insurance, vacation time, and the like with employees.
  • Finally, employees have a relationship that will continue indefinitely.

All of these attributes are in contrast to what makes up a sub contractor.  For even more detailed explanations of these 3 determinations, check out Tax Topics.

As an employer or employee, if you are still uncertain as to the correct filing status, Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding can be filed with the IRS. After reviewing the individual’s completed form, the IRS will make a final determination as to employee or independent contractor status.  If you are a worker and believe that your employer has improperly classified you as an independent contractor, you can utilize Form 8919 to calculate what is due to you.  And as always, our office available to help with questions whenever needed!


Volunteering & Tax Deductions

Most of us find ourselves volunteering at some point in our lives and the reasons are numerous.  Volunteering looks great on a college or work resume. If you have interests, causes, or hobbies that you believe strongly in, volunteering in those fields is a great way to give back to the community.  Volunteering just feels good! But can you receive tax benefits in the form of credits or deductions for the time you spend volunteering? Is volunteer time tax deductible? The short answer is no. Providing free professional services to a qualifying nonprofit cannot be claimed as a tax deduction.  The IRS lists volunteer time as a contribution you cannot deduct for in their Publication 526: Charitable Contributions document.  

So what is the good news?  While you can’t claim your time, you can deduct for out of pocket expenses incurred as a part of volunteer such as uniforms and transportation.  Transportation can include travel expenses such as lodging and meals, provided the trip is primarily for volunteering and not leisure. If you use your own vehicle for volunteer work, gas and oil costs are reimbursable.  Gas can be reimbursed at the rate of $0.14 per mile and tolls and parking costs are deductible as well. Entertaining potential contributors to your charity through events such as fundraiser are also deductible expenses.

To claim any deductions, please remember – you WILL need documentation of the unreimbursed expenses for expenses totaling more than $250.  Documentation required includes a list of expenses with receipts and a letter from the charity explaining the work done. Acceptable expenses are also listed in Publication 526.  You cannot have received reimbursement from the charity for these expenses in order to claim. Additionally, the expenses accrued must be solely the result of volunteering and not due to any personal interest or benefit.

To receive tax deductions, the organization that you are volunteering for must be a qualified nonprofit, tax-exempt organization.  Not sure? There are several ways to verify status. You can ask the charity for a copy of their 501(c)(3) letters. The IRS Publication 78 contains a list of qualified organizations at or by calling 877-829-5500.

Take the time to claim the deductions due to you through volunteer work.  As you assist charities by supplying your time and skills, the IRS assists taxpayers by making it more feasible to volunteer through tax deductions.  Some volunteers look at the money saved through taxes as more that they can contribute to the causes that they believe in!