Finances Feed

How's your holiday shopping going? If you're still looking for something to impress your true love, consider giving a gift inspired by the classic "12 Days of Christmas." For the 33rd year, the PNC Financial Services Group has analyzed the lengthy Christmas gift list from the song and determined, in its specially devised Christmas Price Index (CPI), just how much the prices have changed from year to year. Poultry prices aren't paltry: Overall, the cost of the song's gifts grew only slightly this year. But be prepared to pay a hefty prices if you opt for a few of the... Read more →


What's your favorite currency? I'm not talking dollar value, but which one do you find more appealing aesthetically? Here in the United States, our bills are not that attractive when compared to some of the flashier forms of legal tender worldwide. But we try. U.S. $$$ history: In 1929, America's dollars got a major remake, primarily to lower manufacturing costs, according to the U.S. Treasury's history of our money. Back then, all Federal Reserve notes were reduced in size and standardized designs were instituted for each denomination, decreasing the number of designs in circulation and making it easier for the... Read more →


Good news. A short-term spending bill is in place to keep Uncle Sam's agencies running. Better news. The money will be in place through midnight April 28, 2017, meaning that the upcoming main tax-filing season (set to kick off Jan. 23, 2017) won't be hampered by a government shutdown. President Harry S. Truman pledged in 1946 that the federal government would provide coal miners lifetime health and retirement benefits. Today, around 16,500 retired union coal miners depend on federal health care benefits. The continued federal funding for the miners' health care almost led last week to a government shutdown. (Photo... Read more →


Millions of us will be seeing our parents during Thanksgiving. For many, it's the first they've seen of mom and dad in months. Thanksgiving traditionally is a multi-generational celebration. But adult children might need to pay special attention to their aging parents over the holiday to gauge whether mom and dad now need some extra help. (Photo courtesy NealeA via Flickr Creative Commons) If you're heading to your parents' place this holiday and they're getting up there in years, it's a good time to make sure they're doing OK when you're not around. All of us want our folks to... Read more →


Donald J. Trump prefers to fight things out in court. Over the years as a businessman, the president-elect has filed and been named as a defendant in thousands of lawsuits. Even as he prepares to be sworn in on Jan. 20 as the United States' 45th president, he will facing, as of today, more than 70 lawsuits filed against him. Click certificate image for video report on settlement via KABC-TV Los Angeles. But he's no longer worrying about Trump University allegations. Friday, Nov. 18, afternoon, Trump and his attorneys agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits that claimed... Read more →


Most of us use credit and debit cards as convenient cash substitutes. Instead of reaching for wads of cash stuffed in pockets or purses or a paper checkbook, we simply whip out plastic to pay for almost everything or every service we need or want. Even micro businesses use mobile devices as mini non-cash registers to complete transactions. Yet most countries still print money. And those actual bills remain important to many. Some eschew credit cards for security reasons. They're afraid of become an identity theft victim. Similarly, others like the anonymity of a cash exchange for personal as well... Read more →


With the 2016 election over, a lame duck Congress will return to Washington, D.C., next week to begin the job of wrapping up some pending legislation. One tax measure that passed the House earlier this year, but is still awaiting Senate action, is the RESPECT Act, which tax attorney Darrin Mish discusses in this guest post. A bank customer working with a teller to complete a transaction. If some large withdrawals seem suspicious to bank officials, a person could end up having assets seized by the Internal Revenue Service. In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Clyde-Hirsch-Sowers RESPECT Act was... Read more →


Welcome to Part 3 of the ol' blog's series on 2017 inflation adjustments. You can find links to all 2017 inflation posts in the first item: Income Tax Brackets and Rates. Today we look at changes to retirement and pension plans. Note: The 2017 figures apply to 2017 returns that are due in 2018. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2016 amounts to be used in filing 2016 returns due next April. Save early, save often to create an overflowing nest egg. Even in a contentious election year, there's one thing everyone in all political parties can agree on: retirement... Read more →


This post was updated Thursday, July 27, 2017. Summer is winding down. That means school soon will be back in session. And that means several states are holding sales tax holidays. A young man double checks and checks off school supplies from his back-to-school shopping list. That's a great way to make the most of your state's sales tax holiday. (Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr Creative Commons) Sixteen states have scheduled these annual tax-free shopping days in 2017, ranging from a couple of days to a full week. Early events: Three states kick off the summer of 2017... Read more →


We're still waiting for Donald J. Trump's federal tax returns, but we have received some clarification on his New York condo's property tax bill. This isn't The Donald's Big Apple home, but another apartment for sale with similar views in New York City's Trump Tower. Trump's attorney asked the New York City tax collector to remove a tax break the presumptive Republican presidential nominee had received that typically is awarded only to taxpayers making less than $500,000. The city complied, thereby increasing Trump's tax bill on his Trump Tower condo by $1,046.41, according to The Wall Street Journal. The removed... Read more →


"Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!" Everyone connected to "Hamilton" will be raising a glass and singing that Schuyler Sisters lyric later tonight after Broadway's annual awards ceremony is complete. The ground- and record-breaking musical is nominated for 16 Tony awards (yes, that's a new record, too). The show about the $10 Founding Father likely won't set a new record for wins, in part because many of its actors are competing against each other. But it should take home the statuette for top musical. And beyond the creative realm, Hamilton is already... Read more →


When Crain's New York Business reported in March that self-proclaimed brilliant businessman Donald J. Trump got a tax break available only to folks making $500,000 or less, the ostensible billionaire's people said it was a mistake. If that's true, it's an error that's being repeated. Crain's June 6 online article says that Trump once again received a middle-class tax break on the property tax bill for his luxurious apartment in Trump Tower (pictured at left) on Fifth Avenue. The initial report that Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was poor enough to get a special Big Apple property tax break... Read more →


Donald J. Trump wants the United States to renegotiate its federal debt. Erasing debt can help with individuals' cash flow, but it brings new tax considerations. I'll leave that economic debate to the experts in the dismal science. They already are all over Trump's CNBC interview, where the self-proclaimed "king of debt" addressed the issue of whether the United States should pay its debts in full. "I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told the cable financial news network. "And if the economy was good, it was good.... Read more →


The estate planning world is stunned by the news that Prince passed away without a will. Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo by Scott Penner CC BY-SA 3.0 via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons While lots of folks delay officially putting their final wishes on paper, the wealthiest among us, which definitely included The Purple One, tend to have a phalanx of advisers to take care of their money, including how it will be dealt with once they're gone. Such professional financial and tax advice is critical, especially if you have a lot of money and/or live in a state... Read more →


Timing is everything. Just ask all the Texans coping with the aftermath of recent spring storms and the unfortunate timing of the state's first storm-related tax holiday. Hail and its damage in Wylie, Texas, earlier in April. (Photos by Mary Ann Olson, left, and Wes Stephens, right, via The Weather Channel) On April 11, the Dallas-Ft. Worth areas was pummeled by storms, some of which produced softball size hail. Law enforcement agencies, media outlets and insurance companies were inundated with reports of shattered car windshields, broken windows in buildings and even holes in roofs. The next night, hailstones larger than... Read more →


When the idea to honor an American woman by placing her image on the $10 bill was raised back in mid-2015, it seemed like a great idea. The bill would be redesigned to feature a deserving woman and unveiled in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Then "Hamilton" happened. Click-boom! "Hamilton" star Lin-Manuel Miranda and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew pose for a photo in front of the Alexander Hamilton statue on the south side of the Treasury Department, March 14, 2016. (Official Treasury Photo by Chris... Read more →


Crain's New York Business may have shed some light on why Donald J. Trump doesn't want us to see his tax returns. The magazine reports that the billionaire real estate developer got a property tax break designed for New Yorkers making less than $500,000 a year. Michigan voters apparently weren't concerned about Trump's tax returns, giving him that state's GOP primary win on March 8. Numerous publications, as well as The Donald himself, say that the Republican presidential nominee front-runner is worth billions, although the exact dollar amounts vary. Trump makes it simple for us, noting that he's "really rich."... Read more →


And once again this election season, it comes back to Donald J. Trump. Ohio Gov. John Kasich released seven years' worth of partial tax returns on Saturday, March 5, following the previously set pattern of U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. That leaves Trump as the only remaining candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who has not made public any of his tax filings. He promises he'll let us see his taxes … eventually. This Twitter photo posted Oct. 15, 2015, is the only glimpse we've had of any of Donald Trump's tax filings.... Read more →


If you work in the world's oldest profession, finances can be problematic. First, your job is illegal, so you don't want to do anything to draw unwanted attention to your line of work. Neither do your clients. So escorts, prostitutes and other types of sex workers tend to operate on a cash basis. That, however, raises the question of what to do with all those loose dollars. Even with today's minuscule interest rates, you don't want to keep cash under a mattress. Tracing cash transactions: Banks, despite all their problems, are generally safer than having a lot of dollars stashed... Read more →


Happy New Year! No, I haven't hit a time warp, although that could be cool! But I digress. Today is the start of the Year of the Monkey. Although 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, Chinese New Year parades still tend to be led by dragons. The Lunar New Year that began today is the biggest holiday in China. Thanks to the large communities of Chinese heritage throughout the world --- and because folks will jump at any chance to party -- it's a festive time worldwide. Although China officially operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunisolar... Read more →