Energy Feed

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 →


The kids are finally back in class. Thanks to a variety of summer sales tax holidays across the country, their parents saved some cash on school clothing and supplies. Now a handful of states is offering energy-related sales tax holidays. In all cases, the eligible tax-free items are Energy Star or WaterSense, certified. These programs, run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and, in the case of Energy Star, also the Energy Department Energy, encourage the use of energy- and water-efficient products and practices. Florida kicked off the energy-related sales tax holidays on Friday, Sept. 19. Shoppers can save on... Read more →


Not surprisingly, voters have rejected a proposed tax hike. The loser this time is the ballot question in today's Missouri primary that would have increased the state's 4.225 percent sales tax to pay for transportation projects. Click image for more Aug. 5 Missouri primary election results. Election results reported by the St. Louis Fox affiliate show that voters handily rejected the three-quarters of one percent increase. The tax would have expired in 10 years. Now Missouri lawmakers must map out another route to pay for road work. You also might find these items of interest: When did your state adopt... Read more →


Before members of Congress left D.C. for their annual August vacation district work periods, they did pass a short-term funding measure for the Highway Trust Fund. That fund provides states with around a quarter of the money they need for road and other transit projects within their borders. But given the continual fight over taxes in Washington, D.C. -- and that's a concern when it comes to highway money since the trust funds relies on what some say is a too-low 18.4 cents per gallon gasoline excise tax -- more states are shifting into a higher transportation tax gear. An... Read more →


Your highway tax dollars are back at work, at least through May 2015. The Senate approved a stopgap $11 billion transportation bill last night after that chamber decided not to fight with the House on the eve of Congress' annual summer break. The measure refills the Highway Trust Fund. That will keep around 6,000 state road and transit projects on track through next spring. Fight over fund's amount, timing: Transportation officials have been warning that the trust fund would be bankrupt any day now, so action before the recess was crucial. Just how much money for how long was at... Read more →


The Senate is expected to vote next week on a bill to refill the funding tank that fuels the nation's highway and mass-transit projects. The Highway Trust Fund essentially covers all federal highway and bridge projects. U.S. Transportation Department officials have been warning for months that the fund will run dry, possibly as soon as August. Emergency refill courtesy Fernando Rivadavia via POSTCARD from Mexico N°14 If that happens, warns the White House, 700,000 jobs could be lost and 100,000 active infrastructure projects already underway across the country could slow or stop altogether. Fearing the worst, which isn't a bad... Read more →


July 1 not only marks the middle of the year. It's the start of a new fiscal year for most state governments and that means new laws typically take effect. Here are some of the new tax statutes now on state books. Indiana has changed how it calculates tax on gasoline. Instead of the previous fixed 19-cent-per-gallon sales tax, the tax rate will be modified month-to-month. Specifically, the Hoosier State's gas usage tax rate now will be 7 percent of the average price of gas the previous month. That means, says the Indiana Department of Revenue, that the state's July... Read more →


Transportation Department Secretary Anthony R. Foxx has been warning Congress for months that the Highway Trust Fund, the main pot of money Uncle Sam uses to pay for his/our highways, is running low. If something isn't done quickly, DoT data indicates that the trust fund is likely to dip below the critical $4 billion funding level as soon as July. Sometime in August, the transit account is projected to fall below $1 billion. The problem is simple. As the chart below shows, not enough money is coming into the trust fund to meet the level of transportation spending that is... Read more →