Bees are critical for pollinating not just flowers, but food crops. That's why in some cases, states exempt them and other beneficial insects from taxes. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) Don't squash that bug! It might be worth a tax break. "While many states offer sales and use tax exemptions for agricultural products used for farming purposes, the states differ in their tax treatment of beneficial insects," writes Emilie Burnette at BNA's SALT Talk Blog. (For non-tax types who found this post by Googling "insect," SALT is the acronym for state and local tax.) She cites California, where the Golden State's... Read more →


The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on this day 67 years ago. President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday to thank U.S. military members for their service in support of our country. On Aug. 31, 1949, Truman's Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day to replace the separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. It was a logical move given the unification under Truman's administration of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense. President John F. Kennedy established Armed Forces Day as an official holiday in... Read more →


Today, May 19, is National Bike to Work Day, the high point of National Bike to Work Month. I didn't bike to work today or any other May day, mainly because I work from home. I just walk down the hall to my office and get started. OK, after first eating breakfast, thumbing through the newspapers and brewing a cup of coffee. The other reason I don't bike to work is obvious in the photo below. Both tires on my bike (the red one in front), as well as on the hubby's, are flat. As flat as the proverbial pancakes.... Read more →


Americans have again dived into the deep end of the personal debt pool "Americans have now borrowed more money than they had at the height of the credit bubble in 2008, just as the global financial system began to collapse," write Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley in today's New York Times' DealB%k column. The $12.73 trillion in debt reported in the first quarter of 2017 is comprised mainly of housing-related borrowing. But there is a bit of good news here. Here's hoping that the new residents find being homeowners as sweet as these house warming cupcakes. (Photo by Danl Lurle... Read more →


In his new book, "The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis — and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance," Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse says young people in the U.S. are failing to launch. He explained to Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" how we ended up here and what Americans can do to prepare for adulthood. (Click image to view CBSN video) Sen. Ben Sasse swears that his book is not just 320 pages of old man "get off my lawn" rants at neighbor kids. First of all, the 45-year-old Sasse is far from old. Plus, says the Nebraska... Read more →


Federal tax reform is still a ways off, but the prospect of an Internal Revenue Code rewrite already has prompted Oklahoma to change one of its tax laws. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin on May 12 signed legislation that will decouple the Sooner State's standard deduction from the current federal standard deduction. The reason for the change? If the Trump Administration's proposal to double the federal standard deduction eventually becomes part of the tax law of the land, Oklahoma stands to lose a lot of tax revenue. Federal, state tax ties: Oklahoma's tax system, like that of many states with income... Read more →


Last week's cyberattack has affected more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries. The ransomware program known as WannaCry encrypts information on computers and demands targeted users pay $300 in order to regain access to their machines. The good news here in the U.S. is that so far, no federal systems have been affected by the global ransomware attack, according to Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who appeared at today's regular White House press briefing. The bad news is that a few companies have been hit and the government is still unaware of who was behind the attack. And as this... Read more →


Happy Mother's Day! What a perfect day to talk about tax audits. You don't see the connection? Then you missed the season finale last week of the CBS show "Mom." I'm not really a fan, but it was on in the background as we were fixing dinner. Scene from the May 11 season finale of CBS sitcom "Mom," where the characters portrayed by Anna Faris and Allison Janney consult an attorney, played by Leonard Roberts, about some tax trouble. (Photo courtesy CBS) But as I was chopping veggies I heard "the IRS put a lien on my account." So naturally... Read more →


Based on how much Mom is enjoying her homemade card, I'm sure she'll absolutely love the creatively wrapped Mother's Day gift. (Photo by Loren Kerns via Flickr CC) Moms usually embrace the adage that it's the thought that counts when it comes to Mother's Day gifts. They love those macaroni picture frames we made as kids as much as the store-bought gifts we started giving them as soon as we were making our own money. But state treasurers don't agree. In the 45 states and District of Columbia that collect sales tax, they are hoping we spend a lot on... Read more →


In an exclusive NBC News interview with Lester Holt, the president mentioned the letter, released today, that discusses what his attorneys say show only tangential connections to Russian money. Click image to watch the full NBC news interview. Still no Donald J. Trump tax returns, but today we got another letter from his lawyers regarding his taxes, specifically whether there was any Russian-sourced income on his filings over the last 10 years. The letter, from partners Sheri Dillon and William Nelson of the Washington, D.C., branch of international law firm Morgan Lewis, was addressed to Trump and "hereby confirm[ed] the... Read more →


Regardless of your thoughts, political or otherwise, when it comes to L'affaire Comey, most of us can relate to the recently fired FBI director. Like James Comey, we've at some point been out of job, either by our choice or because we, too, were let go. If that happens to you, here are five steps to take. And, of course, there are tax implications for each of the post-job moves. 1. File for unemployment. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, for example, a corporate downsizing, you should be eligible for unemployment. Depending on the circumstances,... Read more →


What's a weight watching person to do? Artificially sweetened soft drinks, a staple of dieters' menus for decades, recently have come under fire as a health, both mental and physical, risk. Now the no-calorie drinks could be a threat to some Seattle soda drinkers' bank accounts. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has revised his original soda tax, reducing the per-ounce amount a bit and adding diet drinks the list of beverages to be taxed. Sugary drinks tax target: In his State of the City address in February, Murray called for a 2 cents per ounce tax on sugary drinks with the... Read more →


I'm a big fan of teachers, not just because my grandmother and one of my aunts were teachers, but because I had great instructors from elementary through college. So celebrating National Teacher Day is the least I can do. That and remind teachers and others who help educate us that there's a tax break specifically for them. Tax reward for teachers: Most teachers go beyond lesson plans and working weekends to get ready to make the learning experience one that resonates. In fact, a lot of teachers spend their own money to help make their classroom presentations effective. In recognition... Read more →


The president is back in Washington, D.C., after spending the weekend not at Mar-a-Lago in South Florida, but at a closer family property, Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. A view of the Trump National Golf Club course at Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo courtesy Trump International via Twitter) It was the 14th weekend since his inauguration that Donald J. Trump has headed to one of his eponymous real estate holdings. Trump explained his weekend travel decision twice on, of course, Twitter. First, on May 5, he Tweeted: "Rather than causing a big disruption in N.Y.C., I will be... Read more →


If you're like me, you're probably spending your Sunday perusing the possibilities for tax code change under the Trump Administration's recently announced plan. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, left, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announce the new administration's tax plan on April 26. Click image for full CNN video report. The document — officially titled "2017 Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs" and officially subtitled "The Biggest Individual And Business Tax Cut in American History" — really is more of an outline. Deleting deductions: Under the proposal's simplification bullet point, the first item is eliminate targeted tax... Read more →


With last week's House passage of an Obamacare replacement measure, Republicans are jazzed again about redoing the U.S. tax code, too. The GOP, however, might have some work to do beyond Capitol Hill. It seems that many Americans are not that impressed with Donald J. Trump's tax plan. Not a warm reception: A Florida Atlantic University (FAU) nationwide online survey conducted just days after the White House's April 26 release of its tax plan found that 41 percent of respondents opposed it. Only 34 percent supported it, while 25 percent were unsure. Those who do support the Trump Administration's tax... Read more →