If you own a car, you have a fair idea of what starters and alternators are. Suppose your automobile is working fine one day but simply stops responding the next day, what would you make of it? The starter probably has developed a problem, but you think it could also be the alternator.Even if your car is starting and does not have a starter problem, it can shut off if the alternator is not working and charging the batteries while the car runs. The longer you run battery-dependent appliances in the car when the alternator is down, the faster the car wills shut down.The role of starters and alternatorsThese are two distinct components of a car engine. The engine goes from stationary to moving because of the starter. However, it is the alternator that provides the engine with power to keep it moving. Thus, starters and alternators together form an assembly that helps kick-start your automobile into motion. However, though their functions may seem similar, it is not as easy to figure out which one is causing problems, when it comes to an automobile not responding, as discussed above.How to differentiate between starters and alternatorsA bad starter or malfunctioning starters may not let the engine crank and start at all, while poorly performing alternators give themselves away when the engine is cranking, but devices using power, such as lamps or other electricity-driven functions such as a music system or power locks do not work. Another thing to remember is that alternators also charge batteries. Thus if your batteries are not working, it could be an indication of a poorly-performing alternator as well. How does the alternator charge the car battery? It does so by taking the energy of the running engine and converting it into electricity that is then used for recharging the battery as well as for supplying power to devices that need it.In contrast, when an engine is cranked, the starter uses electricity from the battery to engage the gears and eventually start the engine to put it into motion.For this reason, one way to differentiate between trouble caused by starters and alternators is to keep a close watch when you start your engine. If your engine starts with a jump-start (or someone pushing the vehicle to start), the engine is probably running fine. However, if the headlights are unusually dim or devices using electricity are not working, it could be an alternator issue.Heavy duty starters and alternatorsBoth starters and alternators have a shelf life, like other parts of course. However, the thing to remember is that these are typically ‘heavy duty’ pieces of equipment. Typically, if you discover there is mechanical trouble in your car due to starters and alternators, and you are advised to change either of them, you should stress on high quality, heavy duty spares.Keep in mind that starters and alternators, like other engine parts and spare parts are different for automobiles, depending on purpose and utility value. Even if the alternator works on a simple principle of harnessing electromagnetic energy, it needs to be heavy-duty. Ideally, you should source spares from a trusted agency, and one that caters to your brand of automobile. Not only does this ensure better performance, it also means your part is maintained well and lasts longer.
Everyone knows the history of the Alternative Minimum Tax – its intended purpose was to ensure that the wealthy were paying at least something like what today is called their “fair share” of taxes. But as everyone also knows, its real impact has landed on the masses who are far from finding themselves in this wealthy category. How the AMT has failed in its purpose is easily seen by looking at the income tax return of someone who really can be considered “rich.”Presidential campaign seasonOnce again (how does it come around so often?) we find ourselves in the throes of a Presidential campaign. Along with the many unpleasantries being exchanged by candidates is the challenge to release personal income tax returns. After much prodding, one candidate recently, but reluctantly, released his Form 1040, and this tax return shows that he in fact definitely is in the wealthy, even “super wealthy,” category.Do the wealthy pay the AMT?The positive news is that the answer to this question is “yes.” However, the not-so-good news is seeing the actual amount of Alternative Minimum Tax that this individual in fact is paying. In the two tax years that this presidential candidate has paid the AMT, the additional tax burden that resulted was barely over one percent of his income. Specifically, without the AMT his total Federal tax rate was 13.3% in 2010, and 14.3% in 2011. The AMT added 1.1% each year, for a whopping tax rate of 14.4% and 15.4%, respectively. And this is on over $20 million of income in each of the two years!What are the Alternative Minimum Tax triggers at this level of income?The items that are high on the list of every single AMT payer are the same ones that also hit the wealthy. These are both on the income side as well as on the deduction side, and they principally revolve around capital gains and itemized deductions, and for the itemized deductions in particular the deductions for state income taxes as well as for property taxes.Capital gainsWithout even looking at this individual’s tax return, as one quickly can conclude from the tax rates shown above, most of this individual’s income comes from long-term capital gains which are eligible to be taxed at the low 15% rate instead of ordinary income rates of 35%. These large capital gains cause two Alternative Minimum Tax problems – the obvious one is the loss of the AMT exemption because of the high level of taxable income. But the other is the effect of having to pay state income taxes on these capital gains as well as high property tax payments.State income taxesMost, if not all, states tax capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income. Thus, a large capital gain will carry with it the same state income tax burden as would the same amount of ordinary income. The larger an individual’s state income tax of course the greater his chances of being caught in the Alternative Minimum Tax. This same basic problem exists for the wealthy as it does for every other AMT payer.Property taxesAlong with wealth comes the need to own homes – usually large ones and usually more than one. Accompanying this ownership privilege is the requirement to pay significant amounts of property taxes – surprisingly the wealthy get no break on their property taxes. Just like state income taxes, property taxes are one of the most common items for individuals who are stuck in the Alternative Minimum Tax.What could this individual do to reduce his Alternative Minimum Tax?There are no secrets here – the same actions that every AMT payer can take would help a wealthy individual reduce his Alternative Minimum Tax. For example, one is watching the timing of payment of state income taxes and property taxes at year-end. If a taxpayer is in the AMT one year but not the next, whether the individual is wealthy or not wealthy, trying to get the state tax deductions paid in the year he is not in the Alternative Minimum Tax will make a big difference. Also, if an individual has multiple homes, the opportunity to change his domicile to a state that doesn’t have income taxes – like Florida, for example – would save significant state income taxes and correspondingly reduce the individual’s AMT burden. The same Alternative Minimum Tax planning concepts apply to everybody!
Alternative medicine, like the word implies is a form of medicine that is different from the popularly known one. It is an alternative to what is practised by the scientific form of medicine. It is more like an art rather than a science. Yet in many populations around the world, it is known to have existed for over 5000 years.It is the form of medicine that our great-great-grand-parents relied on before scientific medicine came to be. Scientific medicine seems to have kicked the older form of medicine out of the way. But for the past decade, it seems people have been relying more and more on alternative medicine to deal with their ailment. Some articles are actually talking about a rise in that form of medicine.There are many forms of alternative medicine: Acupressure, Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Massage Therapy, Music Therapy, Naturopathic, Reflexology, Reiki, Tai Chi, Yoga.Each of them may work based on a different philosophy. Most of those philosophies do not yet have any scientific evidence. It seems to work very well with some patients. In other cases it doesn’t seem to have any effect. One popular case is the one of the famous Steve Jobs. After being diagnosed with cancer, he decided to rely on alternative medicine to heal even though his doctors suggested he rather go through a surgical operation.After 9 months of relying of alternative therapy the cancer got worse and spread through other organs. He ended up taking the surgery but the doctors had to removed certain organs that got infected because the cancer spread to them. Some critics are actually using this fact to support the idea that, if Steve Jobs had taken the surgery earlier on, he could have lived a bit longer.Yet the number of patients that rely on alternative medicine seems to increase each year, why is that? The fact is there are some diseases that have not yet found any remedy for, in scientific medicine and seem to have found a solution for, in alternative medicine.Lower back pains is known to be solved with chiropractic doctors. A lot of women with childbirth problems claim they were able to get pregnant with the help of a doctor in acupuncture. Early studies in aromatherapy and essential oils seems to suggest that it accelerates the healing process of the body. It is known that those who practice yoga or tai chi tend to get sick much less often compared to those who do not practice those things.Is alternative medicine better than scientific medicine?Alternative medicine is much based on finding the root cause of the problem the patient is going through than just trying to remove it. Scientific medicine is much more based on finding the symptoms causing the illness then prescribing the required drugs or surgery to solve the problem.Both approach are neither good nor bad. As a rule of thumb, the unconventional medicine can be used to maintain general health but when it comes to serious cases it is always advisable to contact a conventional doctor. A new form of medicine been born called integrative medicine tends to combine the two, making the best out of the two school of thought.Research is still ongoing as to how the different forms of alternative medical approach work. The future will give us a better idea of what is really going on with alternative medicine.