Energy Feed

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 →


If you drive you've got to be thrilled with the price of gas right now. Every time I've filled up my car over the past six months, I've snapped a shot of just how cheap it is. That $1.419 a gallon photo to the left was from last weekend. As I drove past my local gas station yesterday, I saw that it had dropped two more cents. Low pump prices, however, could mean more taxes for motorists in nine states where, says the Tax Justice Blog, lawmakers are seriously considering gas tax hikes. So which drivers should be worried? Those... Read more →


If you live in Maryland and your significant other isn't particularly romantic, you might be able to pick up a useful Valentine's Day gift and save on some taxes. The Old Line State this long holiday weekend is waiving its 6 percent sales tax -- which is this week's By the Numbers figure -- on purchases of qualifying energy efficient items. The sales tax holiday began at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, Feb. 13 (sorry for the late notice; I had a busy day!) and continues until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15. The Comptroller of Maryland special Web page says the... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's not just a catchy tune. It's President Barack Obama's philosophy regarding his eighth and final fiscal year budget blueprint. Click image to watch American Authors' hit "Go Big or Go Home" via YouTube. Even when Congress and Commander in Chief get along, getting everything in an administration's annual budget is tough. When things are outright hostile like now -- in an unprecedented move, both the House and Senate budget committees, headed by Republicans, announced they won't hold hearings on Obama's proposal -- the chances of a lame-duck president getting what he wants fiscally is... Read more →


What do hearts and flowers, leaping amphibians and taxes have in common? February! The shortest month of the year is upon us. In 2016, however, it's a day longer because it's Leap Year, hence the frog allusion, adding a 29th day to our calendars. Then, of course, there's Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. And February also is a traditionally busy time for taxes. This is the month that most of us finally get all the tax statements we need to file our returns. And folks who filed early are anxiously awaiting their refunds. Whether you're working on your 2015 taxes or... Read more →


Today is the first day of winter and it's supposed to hit 76 it hit 79 degrees here in Austin. Similar temperatures are forecast for the rest of this Christmas week. I thought we left such winter warmth behind us 10 years ago when we moved from South Florida back home to Texas. And for most winters over the last decade, we've had our share of the cold, like in 2011 and 2013 when we had snow and temperatures low enough to freeze our backyard fountain. Some winters in Austin, Texas, like this one in 2011 have been cold. But... Read more →


To many, Donald Trump is a blowhard. But it turns out he has a legitimate connection to wind beyond his personal constant stream of hot air. The Republican presidential hopeful told a group of Iowa voters at a town hall meeting this week that he supports the federal tax credit for wind power producers. That's a pretty big surprise. Not just because Trump is actually talking about a piece of tax policy, but also given his hairdo you'd think he wouldn't be a big fan of wind. Yeah, I know, cheap and easy joke, but when someone walks into it,... Read more →


The federal fund that supplies money to build and repair road and other U.S. infrastructure runs out of money on July 31. With that deadline fast approaching, the House on Wednesday, July 15, approved a bill that would provide money for the Highway Trust Fund through Dec. 18. The Senate, however, is less interested in a short-term fix and that chamber could put the brakes on the House plan. Senate leaders are looking instead at a funding solution that would get transportation issues out of the way through 2016. Yes, fellow cynics can join me in noting that the Senate's... Read more →


Are you hitting the road this long Independence Day weekend? You are not alone. AAA Travel projects 41 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, with more than 80 percent of them traveling by auto. That's the highest level of Fourth of July road trippers since 2007. The number of drivers this holiday weekend also is nearly 14 percent more than those who took auto trips over the Memorial Day holiday weekend. The increase in July 4th motorists also is good news for gasoline producers, as well as the treasuries in... Read more →


More than 37 million Americans are expected to hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of summer and its associated vacation travel. AAA says the number of people taking a trip this long holiday weekend is expected to be the most for the holiday since 2005. The bulk of them, around 33 million, will be hitting U.S. highways. And while pump prices have surged in advance of the holiday -- the national average price of $2.71 for a gallon of unleaded gas is a nickel more than last week -- AAA says that price still is the... Read more →


Attention shoppers. You can save some tax dollars thanks to upcoming sales tax holidays in Texas, Virginia and Louisiana. Texas kicks off the May spate of tax-free shopping with its annual energy efficiency tax holiday on Memorial Day weekend. Tax-free Texas shopping will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 23 -- and you can be sure some stores will have special openings as Friday night rolls into the holiday weekend -- and runs until 11:59 p.m. on Memorial Day Monday, May 25. During these three days, Texans won't pay any state or local sales tax on certain energy efficient... Read more →


The only certainties in life, to paraphrase a Founding Father, are death, taxes and the last-minute way Congress does, or doesn't do, its job. The Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of financial fuel at the end of May. Congress is scheduled to be on its annual Memorial Day holiday break when that deadline arrives. So lawmakers are crashing to get some roadway deal done. And, true to form, it's not a long-term or permanent fix, it's a short-term, kick the can down the road extension. The House on Tuesday, May 19, voted 387-to-35 to extend federal funding... Read more →


I grew up in West Texas, where the wind sweeping down the desert rivals any Oklahoma show tune boast. So it's no surprise to me that wind power is big in the Lone Star State. In fact, it took Texas wind energy producers just 11 months to break last year's record for generation. Electricity-generating giant turbines on the Desert Sky Wind Farm near the West Texas town of Iraan. (Photo by Pismo, own work licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons) The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) reports that through November, wind power generated 33.2 million megawatt hours (MWh)... Read more →


Are you frantically trying to finish your 1040 by the Oct. 15 extended filing deadline? Yes, it is just a week away, so you need to get to work. But don't be in such a hurry that you miss out on some tax breaks. There are lots of ways to reduce your tax bill, as this week's Weekly Tax Tip highlights. Some of the 10 often overlooked tax breaks are for itemizers only. Others can be claimed by any filer. Philanthropic filers should double-check their contribution records. You don't want to miss out on Schedule A deductions for noncash charitable... Read more →