Friday, January 1, 2010
Orion Alumnus Profiled in Military Times Edge,
FICO Reveals Impact of Common Credit Mistakes,
Monthly Contest Winner,
Most Missed Tax Deductions,
Network with Orion
Orion Alumnus Profiled in Military Times Edge
Orion International alumni succeed in virtually every industry in the civilian market. A recent Military Times Edge article by Amanda Miller spotlighted one of these alumni who is making a name for himself in the Alternative Energy sector. Matt Wheeler, a First Lieutenant in the Illinois Army National Guard, decided to make a career change using Orion following a deployment to Iraq in 2007-2008. According to the article, it was because of that decision that “Wheeler is now happily working as a site manager for Suzlon Wind Energy Corp., tending a wind farm of 78 turbines in Oklahoma.”
Wheeler was placed with Suzlon in 2008 through an Orion hiring conference, and, although he had no direct wind experience, Miller writes that it was “…his education — he has an MBA — and job experience, including his logistics work in Iraq, [that] helped prepare him for the job…” Wheeler told Orion, “This is exactly the position I have been hard wired for. I am familiar with this area of the country, as I have family that lives near here, and I have spent many summers in this general area.”
It is not uncommon for companies in the wind energy business to hire outside of their industry, as it is a relatively new industry. Miller quotes Wheeler as stating, “It’s only in the last three to four years that we’ve seen the skyrocketing growth [in the wind energy industry] in the U.S. that has resulted in a spike in demand for qualified people. There are not many people out there with direct wind education and/or experience.”
And, as is the case with Wheeler, veterans have a leg up on the competition. According to a Suzlon spokesperson, Suzlon seeks to hire veterans because they have the electrical and mechanical skills necessary to do the job. In addition, they possess leadership skills, commitment, and integrity.
Before coming to Orion, Wheeler had pursued every angle in securing employment, ranging from job fairs, personal networking, and federal/state/local government employment websites. “Bar none, Orion is the best way to get real ‘face time’ with decision making personnel from big name corporations,” he says. Wheeler is pleased with his placement. “The wind energy industry is so new, with many changes and challenges, as well as opportunities ahead,” he tells Miller. “Who wouldn’t want to be in the wind industry right now?”
FICO Reveals Impact of Common Credit Mistakes
Fair Isaac Corporation, otherwise known as FICO, has for the first time disclosed the extent of damage that a credit mistake can make. We already know that “maxing” out your card, paying it late, and debt settlement programs can all affect your score, but now we know to what extent they will impact your credit.
The organization, which performs a statistical analysis to measure a person’s “creditworthiness,” unveiled its “damage points” system for the first time in detail. An article on www.yahoo.com by Jeremy M. Simon explained, “The "damage points" data, unveiled recently by FICO, are part of the most revealing glimpse into the firm's once-secret -- and still mysterious -- credit scoring model. The new information discloses how many points borrowers' scores will drop when they make the most-common mistakes.”
FICO spokesman Craig Watts hopes that the release of this information will help consumers understand their credit scores better, thus helping them make better decisions. Prior to late November, FICO only released broad categories that impact credit scores, but with the latest information they get a more detailed view.
As expected, bankruptcy has the greatest impact on a credit score. The number of points can be up to 240. This credit impact is followed in points by foreclosure, which can affect a consumer’s score by up to 160 points. The least impact on a person’s credit is “maxing” out cards. This can be as few as ten points.
Some details have been slightly surprising. As an example - people with higher or better credit scores stand to lose more with each credit mistake. A person with a good credit score might tumble 100 points for a one-time late payment versus a person with a lower credit score who might lose closer to 80 points.
The following explains the “damage points” for a person with a credit score of 680:
• Maxed Out Card: 10-30 points
• 30-Day Late Payment: 60-80 points
• Debt Settlement: 45-60 points
• Foreclosure: 85-105 points
• Bankruptcy: 130-150 points
The following explains the “damage points” for a person with a credit score of 780:
• Maxed Out Card: 25-45 points
• 30-Day Late Payment: 90-110 points
• Debt Settlement: 105-125 points
• Foreclosure: 140-160 points
• Bankruptcy: 220-240 points
Again, FICO is hopeful that this new release of information will help consumers make better decisions. Perhaps paying down debt is the last thing on a person’s mind, but as Linda Sherry a director from Consumer Action states, “you’ll be doing yourself a big favor if you do.”
Congratulations to This Month's Winner
Most Missed Tax Deductions
It is getting to be that time of year again. The time where we, the taxpayers, anxiously await (and sometimes dread) our W2 forms from our employers and scramble to file taxes by the April 15th deadline.
There are many mistakes that people make on their taxes. Common mistakes include inadvertently writing the wrong social security number, calculation errors, forgetting to sign/date forms, and, perhaps the most common mistake, overlooking tax deductions.
1. State Sales Tax - No doubt, this one is at the top of the list. A taxpayer must choose between deducting state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes. In most income-tax states, the income tax is a heavier burden than the sales tax, so the income tax deduction is the way to go. This deduction makes sense primarily for those who live in non-income tax states.
2. Charitable Contributions – A dollar here and there can really add up in this department. Perhaps you donated a dollar at the last retailer you purchased from (save that receipt!) or made a monthly deduction through work to a local charity. These things can be deducted. Even your good deeds count!
3. Student Loan Interest – If student loans are paid back by mom and dad, the IRS views this as a gift to the child who then paid the debt. This means that a non-dependent child can qualify to deduct up to $2500 of student loan interest that was paid by mom and dad.
4. Moving Expenses for First Job – If you move more than fifty miles for your first job, you can deduct the cost of moving you and your goods to that location.
5. Child Care Credit – If you utilize a reimbursement account through work to pay your childcare expenses, it is easy to overlook this credit. While only $5000 may be used towards childcare through an employer reimbursement account, up to $6000 (for two or more children) are eligible for the credit. So if you use all $5000 for childcare through your reimbursement account and must pay $1000 out-of-pocket, you can claim a credit for that $1000. This can cut a tax bill by up to $200.
There are many more overlooked contributions. These five are part of the top ten the IRS lists as most commonly overlooked. For additional information on missed tax deductions, please visit www.irs.gov.
PLEASE NOTE: Orion ICS, LLC, its affiliates and its employees are not in the business of providing tax or legal advice to any taxpayer. This content is for general information purposes only, and is not intended or written to be used without the advice of the taxpayer’s independent tax advisor.
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