Energy Feed

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 →


Voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine approved recreational marijuana use, and taxing those personal pot amounts, on Nov. 8. The votes are in, for the most part, not only for the U.S. president, but also for myriad ballot initiatives. Only Arizona voters on Tuesday rejected personal marijuana legalization. The lone consolation for many disappointed Grand Canyon State supporters is that travel is easy to the neighboring, and pot-approving, states of Nevada, California and Colorado. While the weed votes -- medical marijuana also was on ballots, and approved, in North Dakota, Arkansas, Florida and Montana -- got most mass media... Read more →


Americans vote tomorrow for our 45th president. Finally! Do you know where your polling place tomorrow is? If not, HeadCount can help. While that's the biggest decision, millions of folks across the country also will have a voice Nov. 8 on a variety of consequential issues via ballot initiatives. Ballotpedia reports that this Election Day, there are 162 statewide ballot measures in 35 states. Eight measures were decided in pre-November elections, leaving 154 measures to be decided tomorrow. Politicking for pot, other smoking taxes: Marijuana always gets a lot of attention at election time. (I still blame "Reefer Madness" for... Read more →


Gasoline prices were amazingly low this past summer. One reason that drivers nationwide paid less at the pump was that state gasoline excise taxes also were down. Incredibly cheap gas at HEB in Marble Falls, Texas, earlier this year. The average state gas tax across the United States was 20.72 for the second quarter of the year. That was 16 cents per gallon less than earlier in the year. But that's about to change in one of the low gas tax states. Big N.J. gas tax hike imminent: New Jersey is set to hike its gas tax by 23 cents.... Read more →


The Fourth of July is over, but if your neighborhood is anything like mine, you'll be hearing fireworks for another week or so. Yes, my neighbors are pyrotechnic scofflaws. Even if you don't participate in the literal lighting of firecrackers or bottle rockets post-July-4, there are still plenty of metaphorical tax fireworks that you can take advantage of as we head into the heart of summer. Here are five easy tax moves to consider in July. 1. Get storm ready. We've had four named tropical systems so far this Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. So far, thank goodness, there's been... Read more →


If you're reading this, thank you. You could be one of the 43 million Americans who've already headed out this long Independence Day holiday. I appreciate you delaying your trip, or at least checking this post, fittingly, on your mobile device. More states are exploring mileage taxes to replace gas taxes. Maybe they should look at taxing dangerous drivers like this guy! AAA's travel prediction this year represents the biggest July 4th travel volume on record and includes 5 million more travelers than we saw during the Memorial Day break, generally seen as the unofficial start of the summer vacation... Read more →


If you're staying home this Memorial Day long weekend and home is Texas or a town near the Lone Star State border, you could save some tax dollars on energy efficient appliances. Texas' annual Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday began at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, May 28. It runs until midnight Memorial Day Monday, May 30. Energy and tax savings: During these three days, shoppers won't owe state or local sales tax on certain energy-efficient products with the Energy Star logo. The state sales tax in Texas is 6.25 percent. Local jurisdictions -- cities, counties, special purpose districts, and transit... Read more →


If you're reading this post, thanks. You could be out there on the road, getting a head start on the long Memorial Day weekend. Click image for 20 things you probably didn't know about "National Lampoon's Vacation" The annual three-day weekend at the end of every May is the traditional, although unofficial, start of the summer vacation season. And most of still take our mid-year trips in our autos. Near record on the road: AAA expects more than 38 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend. That's about 700,000 more motorists this May 26-30 compared to the holiday weekend... Read more →