State/Local Feed

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 →


When the clock ticked past midnight today (Saturday, April 22), Texans welcomed their first sales tax holiday of 2017. During the three-day event, which runs until midnight Monday, April 24, no state or local sales tax will be collected on certain emergency preparation supplies. Portable generators like this sure come in handy when natural disasters disrupt regular power sources. Tax-free purchases these next three days include: batteries, fuel containers and flashlights priced at less than $75; hurricane shutters and emergency ladders priced at less than $300; and portable generators priced at less than $3,000. There's no limit on the number... Read more →


Some folks didn't file their federal taxes on April 18. Judging from social media, much of the deadline busting was the fault of cats. "Can't claim my cats as dependents? Well I can't file then," Tweeted @deedles420. Sorry, Dee, but while a dependent doesn't have to be a blood relative, your fur babies don't pass tax muster. Dee was not alone. The Twitter hashtag #ExcusesForNotFilingTaxes underscored the internet's reputation as cat loving and apparently tax hating. "Still waiting for cats' social security numbers," Tweeted @growingupZee. Good point, Zee, since those nine official digits from the Social Security Administration are key... Read more →


Remember those frantic times when your classroom assignment was due and you were running out of time to finish it? Millions of U.S. taxpayers are flashing back to those school days as they scramble to complete their 2016 tax returns by tomorrow, April 18. We all face deadlines. And at some point, we all procrastinate. If that's you now as the April 18 tax filing deadline looms, don't panic. You've still got time to do the tax job right. But the tax stakes are definitely higher than that what you faced with that looming senior essay you put off too... Read more →


If you've waited until now to finish your taxes (or are going to delay until the very last minute on April 18), then your best filing, and paying if you owe, bet is to go electronic. As the Internal Revenue Service has been saying for years, filing and paying your taxes is easier and more accurate than going the old fashioned paper route. In case you haven't made your e-filing and, if needed, e-payment choices yet, here are your options. E-filing choices: Tax e-filing actually covers two things, using software to prepare your 1040 and associated schedules and forms and... Read more →


People who live in storm ravaged areas of Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi have enough to worry about, so the Internal Revenue Service says they don't have to worry about filing their taxes next Tuesday. Neither do U.S. military personnel who are in combat zones. A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) worker assesses damage in Georgia from late January 2017 storms and tornadoes. (Photo courtesy FEMA Facebook) Major natural disaster victims: Taxpayers in several areas deemed major disasters — the IRS keeps a running list of tax-affected disaster areas —qualify for more time to file their tax returns and pay any... Read more →


You have a mortgage. That home's property taxes are waaaay too big. (Note to self: Protest the appraisal.) And you were really generous. All those expenses probably mean that you itemize instead of taking the standard deduction when you file your taxes. Yes, it's more work, but if you take full advantage of all Schedule A has to offer, it can really pay off. Schedule A (Form 1040) Here's a closer look at what you can claim where when you itemize. Medical and Dental Expenses Being sick sucks. Having to pay a lot of out-of-pocket medical expenses is a pain,... Read more →


Californians who just can't kick their nicotine habit are now paying substantially more for their addiction. Effective April 1, the Golden State's tobacco tax went up by $2 per a pack of cigarettes. The state's tax on smoking now is $2.87 per pack. And while that is indeed a massive jump, it's just catching up on years of a low tax rate. It's been 20 years since California increased its cigarette tax. The tax increase, the final tax amount and the years it's taken for California to get here each were in the running for this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


When Amazon starts collecting sales tax from internet buyers in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine and New Mexico on April 1, it will mean the online retailer will be a tax collector for all 45 states and the District of Columbia that have the levies. No, it's not a bad April Fools' joke targeting online shoppers. On this April 1, Amazon really will start collecting state sales taxes nationwide. The Seattle-based internet retailer already was adding the tax line to invoices in most of the 45 states and District of Columbia that have sales (or similar) taxes. Now, final deals have been... Read more →


On April 1, Idaho residents will join the almost nationwide list of places where Amazon collects sales tax. No kidding. That day the Gem State will become the 42nd state — and 43rd taxing jurisdiction overall thanks to Washington, D.C., being part of the group — where buyers will have to pay sales tax on purchases delivered by the world's largest online retailer. Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, in a statement issued to the Boise television station KTVB, called Amazon's tax collection decision "a matter of fairness." In addition to helping the state collect more revenue, Otter said the Seattle-based... Read more →


Today, March 8, is International Woman Day. In addition to recognizing women's contributions, some people in the United States also are participating in "A Day Without A Woman," asking women to stay home from work. Men and women shoppers often pay different prices for essentially similar products. And yes, the higher prices, known as the Pink Tax, are on items aimed at women. If that's not possible, which is the case for lots of folks regardless of gender, then supporters of today's added commemoration ask that women not shop to underscore our contributions to the economy. Women's $$$ contributions: And... Read more →


Could you use $763? The IRS could have that much or more just waiting for you. It's yours as long as you don't miss the 2013 tax return tax deadline. Photo by 401(k) 2012 courtesy Flickr Creative Commons Nope, that's not a typo. More than 1 million taxpayers didn't file their federal returns three years ago and that oversight has left the Internal Revenue Service holding more than $1 billion in unclaimed refunds. If some of that money is yours, the IRS wants to send it to you. But you have to ask by filing a 2013 Form 1040 (or... Read more →


Amazon's tax collection system expands on March 1 with Oklahoma and Wyoming joining the ever-growing list of locations where online customers will see sales tax added to their purchases. Photo by MikeBlogs via Flickr In February, five more states -- Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont, joined the Amazon sales tax list. With the addition tomorrow, March 1, of two more, that will bring the number of taxing jurisdictions where the Seattle-based online retail giant will be collecting sales levies to 41. In addition to collection sales tax on products shipped to Washington, D.C., the table below shows... Read more →


Whenever I want to escape the crazy that is real life, I turn to the movies. Sometimes it's my favorite tax-themed films. Amanda Abbington and Martin Freeman, pictured here on the set of "Sherlock" with Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the show's title character behind them, have separated. (Photo courtesy PBS Masterpiece) Other times when I can't get away for a couple of hours, I surf entertainment news. Go ahead, judge me. Then admit you've done the same! In perusing the web recently, I stumbled across a list of celebrity couples who have split. In addition to the usual Brangelina and... Read more →


Sure, you're happy to tell your friends about the online bargains you get, but not so much your state's tax officials. That essentially will happen in Colorado this summer. But it won't be shoppers revealing their internet purchases. It will be the companies that sold them the stuff. Colorado online shoppers oppose the state's new sales tax reporting law because it violates their privacy. And oh yeah, now they'll have to pay more tax. The online purchase info is part of a creative way Colorado lawmakers devised to try to collect the almost $173 million in tax revenue they say... Read more →


When the Academy Awards are handed out Sunday, Feb. 26, it's a good bet that most of the films already were tax winners. They used special tax breaks to help offset their sometimes enormous production costs. As of Jan. 1, all those credits will come from states. End of the federal film tax break: The only federal tax incentive designed specifically to keep film and television production in the United States ended when 2017 arrived. It was part of a group of extenders — temporary tax breaks that must be periodically renewed by Congress — that lawmakers last year decided... Read more →


Although separation of church and state is a key constitutional tenet in the operation of the United States government, God regularly plays an unofficial role at tax filing time. There are those folks who take his name in vain as they struggle with a particularly complex part of the tax code. Guilty! Then there are those folks who seek his divine guidance in figuring out their annual tax liability. Or, once they've done that, pray for a miracle to pay what they owe. Guilty again! But religion shouldn't have any part in defending criminal tax evasion. That's not just my... Read more →


It's National Margarita Day! Each Feb. 22, the focus is on appreciating this popular tequila-based cocktail. I'm in Texas, specifically Austin, which is the drinking-est town I've ever lived in -- not judging, just observing! -- so truth be told today is no different from the other 364 here. FX/FXX TV's spy-turned-private detective Sterling Archer offers his margarita recipe. But if you're in less alcoholically inclined location and need a special reason to enjoy a margarita, then Feb. 22 is your day. If you're looking for a drink that's a bit more elaborate that the basic one preferred by cable... Read more →


Working on your taxes this Presidents Day? You are most definitely not alone. The day following what officially is still just a celebration of Washington's Birthday is typically the busiest day of the year for Internal Revenue Service phone reps. They usually field thousands of calls per hour on the third Tuesday of every February. You can find lots of tax help and filing options on your computer and smartphone. To help ease some of tomorrow's expected call crunch, the IRS phone help line is open today, Monday, Feb. 20, even though it's a federal holiday. IRS representatives will be... Read more →


In addition to a calculator to do your taxes, you also need a calendar. Given the myriad types of taxpayers out there, the Internal Revenue Service has a variety of due dates for their filings, be they tax returns or documents reporting tax data to Uncle Sam. Sometimes it's simply calendar quirks that produce filing deadline issues. That's the case again this fling season, especially for individual taxpayers. New laws, new tax deadlines: Other deadlines, however, are set by law. And now, some of those deadlines, particularly for business taxpayers, have changed this year. The Surface Transportation and Veterans Health... Read more →