Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't forget to deduct your balls

Sorry for the crude headline, but I couldn’t resist ;-) If you haven’t filed your taxes yet, don’t forget the new tax deductions for sports equipment, following the amendments for 2008. By “sports equipment” I am assuming that LHDN (Inland Revenue Board) means items like tennis racquets and tennis balls. In fact, the LHDN website specifically mentions golf balls and shuttlecocks.

From the LHDN website:
“An amount limited to a maximum of RM300 is deductible in respect of expenses expended by the individual for the purchase of sports equipment for any sports activity as defined under the Sports Development Act 1997. Sports equipment includes equipment with short lifespan e.g. golf balls and shuttlecocks but excluding sports attire, e.g. swimsuits and sports shoes.”

Among the sports covered in the Sports Development Act are tennis, football, basketball, badminton, golf, and squash. In all, 39 sports are covered (see below).

Unfortunately, the new exemptions exclude sports attire; the LHDN notes (see below) specifically exclude swimsuits and sports shoes! So you can’t deduct those Hush Puppies or Manolo Blahniks (nice try). That also means you can’t deduct that Speedo Fastskin LZR Racer swimsuit that you bought (as used by Mark Phelps, et al. Costs around RM2,200).

I was also quite amused by the inclusion of shooting and archery in the Sports Development Act. If I’m reading the LHDN exemptions right, that means you can deduct the cost of bullets and arrows!

Remember that you will need to have receipts for items you want to deduct, plus you’ll need to keep them for seven years. If all you have are the credit card receipts, remember to photocopy them, because they have an annoying tendency to fade over time.

Here are some useful links:

LHDN: Explanatory Notes for BE form 2008 (Income Tax of an Individual, PDF file. It’s in English!)
Go to this section:
D8C - Purchase of sports equipment for any sports activity as defined under the Sports Development Act 1997. Also check out the other sections for stuff you can deduct.

Sports Development Act 1997 (PDF file)
p. 23 has a list of activities regarded as sports for the purposes of the Act.

Your tax queries answered (The Star)
Star’s column basically rehashes the Explanatory Notes for sports equipment. But you may get some useful info about other deductibles.

Image ganked from AlterMedia România.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Slap in the Facebook

A Slap in the Facebook

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dear Miss Manners:

With the use of online chatting and social networks like Facebook, some people feel comfortable sharing their current state of mind on away messages or status messages. For instance, a friend of mine had the following message up: "The misery just doesn't end. Yet another bad week." Another friend had this message up: "Good to know I've found the person I might be ready to settle down with."

When I asked the first friend why she was having a bad week, she said that "things" have been happening lately. I tried to get a little more information from her, but realized she wasn't really providing me with any, so I backed off and just told her I hoped things would get better.

She later mentioned in the online conversation that I was not a good "conversationalist." Am I supposed to beg people for information from now on?

As for my friend who thought announcing a soon-to-be fiancee was an appropriate thing to do on Facebook, I tried asking him about his status as well. His response was that he would prefer to keep things on the "down low" for now and that his status message was not an invitation for people to pry.

Am I going crazy here, or are people really sending mixed signals? It seems to me that some people purposely try to get you to ask them questions, but when you do, they brush you off or act like YOU are the one prying into their business, even when they opened the door in the first place. Why is it so hard to be a good friend these days? Help!

Miss Manners says:
Your friends are turning into virtual friends. They want to advertise their every move and feeling to a presumably rapt and admiring audience but do not want to participate in the give-and-take of actual friendship.

The model for this, as Miss Manners is not the first to observe, is the celebrity. They "do" publicity through trusted chroniclers -- in this case themselves -- but are huffy about their "privacy" when they manage to attract someone's interest, which must be seldom enough.

So to continue your admirable concern for friends, Miss Manners is afraid you must note whether their confidences are being made to you as a friend or the wide world of virtual so-called friends who are not expected to show interest. Or you could make new friends who value real friendship.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A quick test for Conficker

Wondering if you've been hit by the Conficker worm? Here's a "Conficker Eye Chart", an ingeniously simple web browser test created by Joe Stewart which takes advantage of the way the worm works.

Just follow the link above, which loads a webpage with six logos. If you can't see one, or any of the logos in the top row, then you are almost certainly infected by Conficker or other malware. This is because the Conficker worm (or other malware) will attempt to block any connections to anti-virus software company servers.

Stewart originally hosted the "eye chart" on his own server; it is now hosted by the Conficker Working Group, which is led by Microsoft and a number of anti-virus/ computer security software companies.

I was quite amused that Stewart had the opportunity for a little Unix advocacy. The other test images on the "eye chart" are the logos for Openbsd, Linux, and FreeBsd, and are linked to their respective websites. The worm, BTW, only infects Windows boxes.

If you suspect an infection, try using any of the repair tools from the Conficker Working Group.

In related news, there was some Conficker-themed geek humour going around on April 1.

(Thanks F-Secure)