State/Local Feed

Millions of Americans will be enjoying picnics and cookouts in advance of July 4 fireworks. In a few places, though, the sodas in those outings' coolers will cost a bit more. So-called soda taxes took effect in Oakland, California, and Boulder, Colorado, on July 1. A similar levy was scheduled in the Chicago area, but the day before a judge put Cook County's penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages on hold at least until July 12. Bay Area beverage battle: Oakland voters approved the tax, which applies to more than soda pop, in November 2016. The added tax, say supporters, should... 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 →


Georgians who usually delay their back-to-school shopping until the end of July when the state's annual tax-free shopping weekend rolls around can go ahead and buy on their own timetable this year. Georgia has canceled its 2017 late summer sales tax holiday. Every summer, shoppers in around a dozen states can buy sales tax free school supplies thanks to tax holidays. That's not the case this year in Georgia, which has canceled its 2017 tax-free weekend event. (Photo by Kay Bell) The event had been penciled in for the weekend of July 29-30. Get out your taxable erasers, Georgia shoppers,... Read more →


Regardless of which month you marry, there are and will be tax matters to consider. Relaxing after the ceremony. (Photo by Barney Moss via Flickr) Ever wonder why June is "the" wedding month? Me, too. So I looked it up. The Old Farmer's Almanac, which I never realized was a go-to wedding planning resource, says that June is the most popular month to marry thanks to some ancient traditions. The Roman goddess Juno, for whom the sixth month was named, was the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing. So, says the Almanac,... Read more →


Tropical Storm Storm Cindy is now officially churning in the Gulf of Mexico, with a predicted landfall in a few days along the Texas-Louisiana border. That track could, of course change. And as meteorologists on the Weather Channel note, "it's not the name, but the rain." Tropical system precipitation typically reaches beyond the actual low pressure system, often well inland of coastal properties, and produces dangerous flooding. Such reports have come in from as far north as Atlanta today, with Cindy's expanded rain bands causing highway flooding in that city. Federal and state tax help for recovery efforts: As noted... Read more →


Walt Disney attorneys contend that the values of its properties are as inflated as these Disney World balloons and have gone to court to get new assessments. (Photo by Davidlohr Bueso via Flickr) Walt Disney's namesake recreational areas have built their vacation reputations on being the happiest places on Earth. But the company's tax lawyers are in decidedly bad moods after getting what they say are excessive tax year 2016 property value assessments of their Sunshine State parks. So Disney is taking the Orange Country, Florida, property appraiser to court. Dozens Disney tax suits: Disney Parks and Resorts have filed... Read more →


Donald J. Trump's got a lot of campaign promise policy issue irons in the fire. This week, he pulled one out a bit by deciding to let undocumented residents known as DREAMers stay in the United States. The decision was announced as part of a fact sheet released by Homeland Security late June 15. That document's next-to-last line notes: "The June 15, 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in effect." A group of DREAMers, the undocumented youths who hope to remain in the United States, make their point during a 2016 presidential... Read more →


The Stars and Stripes. Old Glory. The Red, White and Blue. The Star Spangled Banner. Whatever name you use, today is the annual national celebration of the United States of America's flag, one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. U.S. Navy vessels commemorate Flag Day. (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy via Twitter) Flag, Flag Day history: The U.S. flag was adopted 240 years ago on June 14, 1777. From its beginnings at Betsy Ross' hands during the American Revolution to today when many residents of Puerto Rico are seeking to have another star added, Old Glory has changed with... Read more →


The winning Powerball numbers drawn Saturday, June 10, are 20-26-32-38-58 with the Powerball of 03. One lucky California ticket buyer can claim the $447.8 million jackpot. Talk about lucky. Not only did last night's (Saturday, June 10) Powerball winner match all six numbers to take the almost $448 million jackpot, that person lives in California. By the time of the drawing, the jackpot had grown into the seventh largest U.S. lottery ever. If the winner takes the single, lump-sum payout (which most winners do), he or she will get a check for just more than $279 million, according to lottery... Read more →


I'm generally a cereal person when it comes to breakfast, cold in the summer and the occasional bowl of oatmeal or Malt-O-Meal in those few months when temperatures drop here in Central Texas. Today, though, I'm going to stop by my local doughnut shop. Why the change to the most important meal of the day? It's National Doughnut Day! Or National Donut Day if you're into texting or Twitter and are looking for a character shortcut. In addition to giving me an excuse a reason to munch on a sweetened round of iced dough, today is a chance to acknowledge... Read more →


These young women are enjoying their high school graduation ceremony. Now, with diplomas in hand, they and their families are looking at how to pay for college. A 529 plan could help. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Education via Flickr) Happy 529 Day! This end-of-May day is marked each year by a flurry of activity to get the word out about 529 college savings plans. Created by Congress in 1996, the accounts are officially designated as a "qualified tuition program" in the Internal Revenue Code. However, they are more commonly referred by the IRC section 529 that covers their associated... 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 →


When Donald J. Trump gets back from his first trip abroad as president, he's going to come home to something all homeowners dread. There's a problem at the house. OK, with Trump we have to ask which house? While there's plenty going on and going wrong in Washington, D.C., right now, I'm talking about the abode 45 calls the Winter White House, otherwise known as Mar-a-Lago. One of the views of Ma-a-Lago showcased on the private club's website. A sinkhole opened up this week in the street outside his landmark Palm Beach, Florida mansion. Traffic alert first: The news of... Read more →


Bees are critical for pollinating not just flowers, but food crops. That's why in some cases, states exempt them and other beneficial insects from taxes. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) Don't squash that bug! It might be worth a tax break. "While many states offer sales and use tax exemptions for agricultural products used for farming purposes, the states differ in their tax treatment of beneficial insects," writes Emilie Burnette at BNA's SALT Talk Blog. (For non-tax types who found this post by Googling "insect," SALT is the acronym for state and local tax.) She cites California, where the Golden State's... Read more →


Federal tax reform is still a ways off, but the prospect of an Internal Revenue Code rewrite already has prompted Oklahoma to change one of its tax laws. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin on May 12 signed legislation that will decouple the Sooner State's standard deduction from the current federal standard deduction. The reason for the change? If the Trump Administration's proposal to double the federal standard deduction eventually becomes part of the tax law of the land, Oklahoma stands to lose a lot of tax revenue. Federal, state tax ties: Oklahoma's tax system, like that of many states with income... Read more →


Based on how much Mom is enjoying her homemade card, I'm sure she'll absolutely love the creatively wrapped Mother's Day gift. (Photo by Loren Kerns via Flickr CC) Moms usually embrace the adage that it's the thought that counts when it comes to Mother's Day gifts. They love those macaroni picture frames we made as kids as much as the store-bought gifts we started giving them as soon as we were making our own money. But state treasurers don't agree. In the 45 states and District of Columbia that collect sales tax, they are hoping we spend a lot on... Read more →


What's a weight watching person to do? Artificially sweetened soft drinks, a staple of dieters' menus for decades, recently have come under fire as a health, both mental and physical, risk. Now the no-calorie drinks could be a threat to some Seattle soda drinkers' bank accounts. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has revised his original soda tax, reducing the per-ounce amount a bit and adding diet drinks the list of beverages to be taxed. Sugary drinks tax target: In his State of the City address in February, Murray called for a 2 cents per ounce tax on sugary drinks with the... Read more →


If you're like me, you're probably spending your Sunday perusing the possibilities for tax code change under the Trump Administration's recently announced plan. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, left, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announce the new administration's tax plan on April 26. Click image for full CNN video report. The document — officially titled "2017 Tax Reform for Economic Growth and American Jobs" and officially subtitled "The Biggest Individual And Business Tax Cut in American History" — really is more of an outline. Deleting deductions: Under the proposal's simplification bullet point, the first item is eliminate targeted tax... 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 →