Energy Feed

Traffic jam. (Photo by Danielle Scott via Flickr CC) If you're on the road today, sorry. AAA is projecting a record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day holiday. That's an increase of more than 5 percent over last year and the highest number since AAA started tracking July 4th travel 18 years ago. And Tuesday, July 3, travel is the worst day to be hitting the highway, at least when it comes to major metropolitan areas. INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in... Read more →


Packed and ready to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend! Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and apparently we are ready for the lazy, hazy season. AAA says that travel during this long holiday weekend is expected to be at near-record levels. And it actually began on Thursday. More than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA. That's nearly 5 percent more than last year and the most in more than a dozen years. You know what that means. Travel delays, especially in urban areas this afternoon where holiday revelers heading... Read more →


California has the highest gas tax in the United States. Opponents are hoping to repeal it via a ballot measure this November. I filled up my mid-sized Chevy sedan's tank this morning, something I do every two weeks or so. I was stunned to see my local gas station, which usually sells gas at the lower end of the prevailing price scale, had regular unleaded going for $2.63 a gallon. That's a more than 50-cent hike from my previous tank top-off in April. It also put the Austin area (or at least my neighborhood) closer than it's been for a... Read more →


Missouri taxpayers who have federal tax refunds burning holes in their pockets have a tax-saving way to spend that money. Today, Thursday, April 19, is the start of the state's annual Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday. Since 2009, this week-long event provides buyers the opportunity to purchase qualifying new Energy Star appliances without paying any state sales tax on the items. That's an immediate savings of 4.225 percent that, during the other 51 weeks of the year, would be added to these appliances' prices. Plus, depending on where you live (or travel to buy), the sales tax savings could be... Read more →


Energy-efficient skylights installed in 2017 could provide homeowners some savings thanks to a recently renewed tax credit. Congress slipped some expired tax breaks into the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 enacted back in February. That was good news for taxpayers who can claim these tax breaks, but it set off a mad scramble within the Internal Revenue Service. Playing processing catch-up: Uncle Sam's tax agency had to dig out and update the appropriate forms and then re-set its processing systems to handle them. And all this had to be done while the 2018 tax-filing season was already underway. The IRS... Read more →


During an overnight session, Congress ended a brief government shutdown and retroactively approved some expired tax breaks. Remember those tax breaks that expired at the end of 2016? Most of them, including four were claimed by many individual taxpayers, are back. But just for the 2017 tax year. That's good and bad news for filers who last tax year: paid college tuition and fees, had a mortgage payment that included private mortgage insurance (PMI), made certain energy efficient improvement to their homes or reworked their home loan and in that process had some of the debt forgiven. Yep, those tax... Read more →


You thought we basically were done with taxes with the passage of the GOP's massive tax bill this week, right? Wrong. A variety of old extenders will get another look in the New Year. Horse racing tracks could get back a tax break that lapsed if the new bill of old expired tax extenders is passed. Senate Republicans decided to deal with the recently-passed tax code changes by working within the budgetary parameters of reconciliation and the Byrd rule so they could pass any bill by a simple majority. However, that made the individual tax changes temporary, setting the expiration... Read more →


The continental United States will be a little dimmer today as the solar eclipse moves across the lower 48. Some folks, however, focus on the sun every day. They have solar energy systems. If you’re interest in joining their sun worshiping ranks, the tax code can help. The federal solar tax credit, officially known as the solar investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to claim on your federal taxes 30 percent of the cost of a solar energy system. Good, it’s a tax credit. This means you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction of any tax you owe. Even better, installation costs... Read more →


Many drivers worry about the accessibility of electric vehicle recharging stations. That's not a problem for the owners of these electric cars charging along an Ontario, Canada, street. (Photo courtesy EVObsession.com) President Donald Trump signed an executive order today designed to streamline the approval process for building roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Contractors and the transportation industry say that will help improve the building and repair of the country's roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects. Critics say the Administration's approach could lead to rubber stamping permits without adequate scrutiny, especially when it comes to environmental effects of such construction. One... Read more →


August's Dog Days of Summer are a great time to make some hot tax moves — from energy-related tax breaks to tax holidays to tax help for education costs — that could produce cool tax savings. Hello August. I’m not going to say welcome because, well, you’re typically not a good guest. August is one of the worst weather months of the year, at least when it comes to basic comfort. It’s hot. In many places it’s humid. And the thrill of summer’s arrival back in late May has worn thin. That’s why so many people take time in August... Read more →


Filling up our cars nowadays is a far cry from the full-service days of yore. Yes, some of us are old enough to remember those types of stations, if not this particular one. We also are paying much more per gallon, thanks in part to gas taxes, some of which increased on July 1. (Pete's Route 66 Gas Station Museum photo by Loco Steve via Flickr) July 1 not only marks the start of the second half of the calendar year, but it's also a new fiscal operating year for many state governments. And that means some new taxes take... Read more →


Good morning, early-rising Louisiana and Texas shoppers! I know all y'all are headed out to take first advantage of your states' special sales tax holidays this holiday weekend. Both Louisiana's hurricane preparedness reduced-sales-tax event and Texas' no-sales-tax on certain Energy Star appliances and water-saving devices started at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, May 27. The Pelican State's tax holiday, however, is shorter. Louisiana shoppers have only today and Sunday, May 28, to purchase tax-exempt items to help them through the coming 2017 hurricane season. The Lone Star State's tax holiday continues through Memorial Day Monday, May 29. Here are the highlights... Read more →


Donald Trump met with truckers outside the White House and got an up-close-and-personal look at their vehicles before the drivers and industry executives went inside to share their transportation policy thoughts with the president on March 23, 2017. Click screen shot to view the full meeting on YouTube. The long Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer vacations in the United States and most of those are family road trips. For the last few years, gasoline prices haven't been that bad. But Donald J. Trump says he's amenable to adding a few more pennies to our gasoline gallons... Read more →


McMullen County is the sixth least-populous county of the 254 such jurisdictions in Texas. An estimated 820 people live there. McMullen County also was the richest county in 2015, not only in the Lone Star State, but also in the entire country. You wouldn't think it by looking at the basic square courthouse on Tilden, Texas' town square, but that McMullen County home of county governance sits in the wealthiest county, at least according to 2015 tax data, in the United States. (Photo by Larry D. Moore via Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0) That ranking is per Internal Revenue Service filing data... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2017! Maybe you're spending this Saturday simply out enjoying the beauty of Mother Earth. Or perhaps you're participating in the March for Science (the main event in D.C. or satellite marches across the country) to support scientific efforts, including the study of climatology and climate change. Regardless of how you acknowledge Earth Day, thank you for thinking of our planet. In recognition of your commitment to protect and preserve the only place we humans and other creatures have (so far) to live, here are 7 tax saving options that reward energy and environmentally friendly efforts. Let's start... Read more →


Bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are among the wildflowers that emerged early this year thanks to warmer than normal temperatures. (Photo of a Hill Country patch on March 18, 2017, by Kay Bell) Hello, Spring! You used to be my favorite season, but for the last few years — OK, the last dozen that we've been back in Texas — you've arrived in late February or early March and only lasted about three days. By the time you're official, which was when you clocked in at 6:29 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (5:29 a.m. CDT; I was asleep) today, it... Read more →


I'm late blogging today (Monday, Jan. 9) because I spent the day with my Mom. All those errands my Mom and I run mean that I have to fill up my car before heading home. Unfortunately, pump prices are not as low as this $1.42 per gallon I paid for regular unleaded back in February 2016. It's not as Gilmore Girlish as it might sound. During my regular visits to her place, we run errands. And by run, I mean drive around her Central Texas community to buy groceries, visit doctors, get lunch, take her pup to the vet and... Read more →


We're in the midst of an Arctic cold spell here in Central Texas. Yes, it's nothing compared to many other parts of the country, but it's ours. Three days of sub-freezing temperatures have made it clear that the hubby and I are no longer equipped to live in colder climes! We're just glad our backyard waterfall was able to deal with a bit of frost. This cold snap got me thinking about how glad I am that we were able to make some easy energy efficiency upgrades to our home and get a federal tax credit for them. Most energy... Read more →


With Republicans soon to be in control of Congress and the White House, the tax focus has shifted to a major rewrite of the Internal Revenue Code. But this legislative approach means that more than 30 temporary tax provisions will disappear from the tax code on Jan. 1, 2017. Whether they are resurrected in any new tax overhaul depends on how persuasive the various laws' lobbyists are, how committed Senators and Representatives are to streamlining the tax code and how much tax revenue is gained or lost by their continued absence or revival. Extenders usually long lives: These tax laws,... Read more →


Taxes are about dollar amounts and dates. April 15 obviously is the biggie. But Dec. 31 is almost as important. The end of a tax year is, for the most part, the last time you can make tax moves that could help lower your coming tax bill. While we all wish we could have Homer Simpson's to-do list, when it comes to taxes, most of us need to take care of some potentially money saving tax tasks by Dec. 31. With the days rapidly dwindling (the countdown clock over there in the ol' blog's right column is tracking them), here... Read more →