The Barrier Islands of the Outer Banks

The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a thin strip of fragile sand made up of a series of dynamic islands that migrate back and forth. The islands come and go as the inlets which separate them open up only to be eventually filled back in.

Even as the islands come and go they have been steadily migrating to the west as the ocean would wash over the land and push the beach sand over to the back side of the barrier islands. There are areas on the beach where one can find tree stumps on the ocean front shoreline. The remnants of old forests can be located in the area north of Corolla and near the Villages at Nags Head at low tide on the edge of the ocean, sometimes under the water, sometimes under the sand and sometimes poking through the sand like ghosts reaching for release.

This westward migration does not occur any more since the Civilian Conservation Corps. built the dunes in the 1930’s to stop erosion. Now on top of the dunes are residential homes that range from humble cottages to Palatial McMansions. The elevation of the dunes offers exceptional ocean views and protection from storms. The fall bloom of sea oats on the dunes is as beautiful as any other fall scene in nature. The beauty of the Outer banks is one of the biggest attractions for those who like to vacation here.

Even with development seemingly over running the place, the area has managed to hold onto most of its charm. While the houses are no longer the quaint cottages of old there is a noticeable lack of high rise buildings and the crowds they bring. The locals long ago realized they had a little piece of paradise in their hands and took the steps necessary to protect it. There are ordinances in place to prevent the kind of over development that takes place with high-rise buildings. The beaches are uncrowded, the traffic is minimal and the schools are great.

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Affordable Auto Insurance – Safety Features and Lowered Rates

There are lots of things considered by insurers when your premium is calculated. When you know what these factors are, you can then work towards getting lowered rates based on the information you have received. I would here look at some factors that can help you lower your rates.

The first thing to note is that whatever reduces the likelihood of a claim is a plus for you as far as rates are concerned. The insurer looks at the risk they take by insuring you. The higher the risk, the higher your rates and the lower the risk, the lower your rates.

Here are a few things you could do to lower the risk your insurer assumes.

Airbags on your cars do more than help keep you safe. They also help to drive your rates lower. If you have a personal injury policy, this device, reduces the risk of an injury or at least the extent of injury sustained.

Anti-lock brakes which helps you maintain control in some tricky situations where you have to slam on your brake because it does not allow your wheel to lock also helps reduce the risk of a crash and by implication the rates you pay.

If you have any device that reduces or prevents theft like tracking devices, sophisticated alarms and some others we may not yet be aware of, you are reducing the risk of your car being stolen. The translates to a reduction in the risk the insurer takes and the rates you pay.

Automatic seat belts are also good safety measure because they protect you during a crash or near crash or when you have to apply your brakes abruptly. Since they reduce the risk to you, they also reduce to rates you pay.

If you have taken time to do all of the above and maybe more, you would have succeeded in saving on your auto insurance coverage. However, to save more, you would need to compare amongst insurers to know who would give you more discounts for the safety features you have in your car.

To know exactly with whom you would save more, compare free quotes online before taking up an insurer. Different insurers would give you different levels of discount.

Get very affordable auto insurance coverage. Get and compare free quotes online.

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Quick Guide to US Expat Tax Return Filing Requirements

U.S. expats, including citizens and green card holders, must continue to file U.S. Federal income tax returns, even if they live outside the U.S. and have no U.S. income. The regular due date is extended, and special tax breaks are available to many expats. Extensions of time are available to make it easier to qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion on Form 2555. State tax returns may not be due at all.

Moving outside the U.S. does not get rid of your U.S. tax return filing obligation. If you are a citizen or permanent resident (“green card” holder), you must continue to file each year if you have more income than certain minimums. For 2010, you must file a return if your gross income from all sources was more than $9,350 if you’re single, or $18,700 for married filing joint. Other amounts apply in other situations. You must also file a return in order to claim the foreign earned income exclusion, the foreign tax credit, or any other credit.

Who. Filing a return does not mean you owe tax. As an expat, you may qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion on Form 2555 of $91,500 plus the housing amount. This exclusion means you can earn a salary outside the U.S. of over $100,000 and pay no U.S. tax. In addition, if you paid foreign income taxes, you can claim a foreign tax credit up to the part of your U.S. tax due on foreign source income. The credit is reduced if you also claim the exclusion.

When. Federal tax returns are due for people living outside the U.S. on June 15, not April 15. You need do nothing to get this extra time; just show your foreign address on the return. If you need additional time, an automatic extension until October 15 is available by filing the very simple Form 4868. You can get the form online at If you need additional time to qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion, the IRS grants an extension until the following February 15 by filing Form 2350.

Where. Expats file returns at different addresses. If no payment is due, file by mail or delivery service with IRS, Austin, TX 73301-0215 USA. If a payment is due, file with IRS, P.O. Box 1303, Charlotte, NC 28201-1303, USA. You can also file through the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but sometimes the personnel there do not know how to do it.

How. As always, you can prepare your own return on a paper forms by mail or electronically file with computer software like H&R Block Tax Cut or TurboTax. In addition, if your total income is less than $58,000, you can file electronically free with the IRS. Paper and electronic forms are available from the above IRS site. If you need help with your return, most professionals can e-file your return. I provide e-filing for my clients at no extra charge. With e-file, you know your return was accepted by the IRS for processing within a day or two. In addition, e-filing with direct deposit means you generally get any tax refund in less than 10 days.

States. Once you move out of the U.S., you likely cease to be a resident of your old state. As a nonresident, you should not need to file a return unless you earn money in that state. Income in the state includes salary or business income earned there, or interest in a partnership or S corporation with operations in the state. New York and a few states may try to claim that if you come back within five years you never left, but their success in such claims is limited. Renting out your old home will likely trigger a state income tax filing requirement. State filing requirements vary; check your state’s income tax website or ask your tax return preparer. Don’t miss out on tax benefits that can eliminate your U.S. income tax. File your return on time. Get the professional help you need from Steve Fox, CPA.

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Costs & Minimum Requirements of Auto Insurance

Trying to get cheap auto insurance can be a real chore, especially if you have no clue how the market works, so what can you do to bring the price of your policy down? The first step regards your car.

When buying a new car, remember the car may be cheap to buy – but how much will it cost you to insure and run? A car that is constantly breaking down is a strain on your wallet, as much as a car that is unsafe (because it is old and because it has limited safety devices) will cost you more on insurance.

It can often be a good idea to buy a car that is fitted with adequate anti-theft devices, and one that has a reliable history or isn’t too old. It’s also a good idea to get some auto insurance quotes before purchasing, to check how much the insurance will be. When combining the cost of insurance with the price of the car you’ll get the ‘real’ price of that car. Although it might be tempting, driving without auto insurance is against the law. If you’re caught and it’s your first offense, you’ll be given a heavy fine. Further incidents will result in the suspension of your license, and possibly worse.

There are a few minimum requirements that you must have when taking out an auto insurance policy in America. This is as follows:

– $20,000 for single person liability cover (if you’re involved in a crash with one person, $20,000 will go on their medical bills and damages to their car, etc.).

– $40,000 is required for multiple person liability cover. This is the same as the single person, but obviously for when you crash into a car with more than one person.

– $15,000 for any property damages that you incur. These costs, combined with the fact that there are millions of auto crashes every year in Illinois, means that companies had to pay out over $100 billion dollars (country-wide) last year. This means that recently policy prices have gone up. However, you can still find cheap auto insurance quotes in Illinois by looking on several online sources, such as comparison websites. Shopping around is really the key to getting cheap auto insurance, and as there are now several companies fighting it out all at the same time, you can often benefit from this.

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