U.S. Holiday Feed

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 →


Have you finalized your Valentine's Day plans? Good for you, you fool for love! Hey, I'm not judging. I'm just not that much of a romantic. That's why Valentine's Day is not that big of a deal in our household. Except for an exchange of cards, with the hubby and I each giving the other one humorous and one sentimental Hallmark greeting, Feb. 14 is just another day. Yes, the length of our relationship is one reason why Cupid's big day is predictably boring every year. But it works for us. Plus, our lack of more elaborate romantic gestures means... Read more →


It's Groundhog Day and for many folks that brings to mind the Bill Murray movie of the same name more than the Pennsylvania rodent who purportedly can forecast weather. Bill Murray as weatherman Phil Connors in the 1993 film "Groundhog Day." (Photo courtesy Columbia Pictures) In case you haven't seen it, in the 1993 Harold Ramis movie Murray is a television weatherman who, after being dispatched to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 2 to cover groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's emergence from his burrow, finds himself living the same day over and over and over again. Murray's character Phil (we see what you... Read more →


On this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday, the last MLK Day that Barack Obama will serve as U.S. President, the 44th commander in chief will once again spend part of his afternoon volunteering. President Obama and younger daughter Sasha helped out during an earlier MLK Day at DC Central Kitchen. (Click image to see more at Corporation for National and Community Service.) The national holiday honoring the slain civil rights leader has evolved into a day of service. The Obamas take that role seriously. In the past, the president and his family have volunteered at kitchens that feed... Read more →


Merry Christmas! The big day for all good boys and girls of all ages is finally here. And here in Central Texas it's in the 70s. Cheery but not chilly: I know, 'tis the season for joy, not whining about the weather, especially since 70-degree temperatures are a heck of a lot better than dangerously cold ones. Still, it's the warmest Christmas in Austin in 52 years. The short snowman on the left in the photo above and I are definitely a bit taken aback by the unseasonable turn this so-called winter weather has taken. But it won't stop us... Read more →


I love Christmas. I love it so much that I convinced the hubby to put our tree up the week after Halloween. . We -- OK the hubby, at my nagging request -- put our Christmas tree up the first week of November this year. The early decorating has made for a less hectic official holiday season. My main reason is, as I said, I love Christmas. And we have a big artificial tree that takes a while to decorate with all the ornaments we've collected over all our years together. Plus, we have lots of other holiday decorations spread... Read more →


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 →


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 →


Canadians celebrate their Thanksgiving in October. I like that timing. It doesn't force folks into attending two annual family gatherings within a month of each other. Not that I don't love my family, but like many things, a little goes a long way. And don't worry. I know which relatives (and there are plenty!) are thinking, if not saying, the same about me. Canada and the United States share many things, but the same Thanksgiving holiday isn't one of them. But during this week that we Americans are preparing to say thanks for our annual bounty (and, thanks to the... Read more →


We call it Veterans Day here in the United States. An Army veteran salutes the colors being carried in the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 11, 2011. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army via Flickr) That Nov. 11 is such an important date is evidenced by the fact that federal holiday has escaped conversion into a Monday that wraps up a long weekend that's usually more focused on consumer spending than actual commemoration. End of the Great War: Each November we mark what originally was the official, formal end of World War I at the 11th hour of... Read more →


Halloween is a big deal for a lot of folks. I like the holiday, but don't go as crazy as some of my neighbors. Houses are decorated and adults dress up more elaborately than their trick or treating kids. I'm not sure I'd go to this house seeking treats! The hubby and I simply sit on our porch and hand out candy, particularly enjoying the youngest ghouls and goblins for whom this is the first Oct. 31 where they realize they're getting way more candy than they've ever seen before. Candy calculations: I try to estimate the optimal amount of... Read more →


Labor Day is a holiday for many workers. But come Tuesday, most employed folks will be braving traffic again to get to their offices. Traffic happens by Reinis Traldas via Flickr CC Depending on the transportation method these workers use to get to their jobs, they could be eligible for some tax benefits. On the road to work again: The peak commuting time, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey in 2014 (the most recent available data), was 7 a.m. to 7:29 a.m. Of the more than 139 million total commuters two years ago, 20.56 million were on... 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 →


It's July 4th, a day of family gatherings, fireworks and grilled goodies. For most of us, that's hot dogs and hamburgers. And for most of us, our home-grilled meats and toasted buns are tax-free. That's fitting, since Independence Day was sparked by the belief that taxation without representation is tyranny. Only a handful of states tax groceries. However, if you opt to buy your hot dogs or hamburgers ready-made, you'll likely pay sales tax on those eats. States that collect sales tax on consumer purchases -- that's 45 out of 50, plus the District of Columbia; plus, 38 of those... Read more →


The United States of America tomorrow will celebrate 240 years since independence was declared. Here's wishing all my fellow Americans a safe and fun July 4, especially since our break from Britain was based in large part on the battle cry that "Taxation without representation is tyranny." But another important date arrived just a few days earlier. On July 1, the first of the Baby Boomers turned 70½. Judging by this cake's flames, this guy looks to be a bit older than 70½. That half birthday date is crucial because it means owners of tax-deferred retirement accounts like traditional IRAs... Read more →


The Founding Fathers are getting renewed attention, thanks in large part to the award-winning smash Broadway hit musical "Hamilton." And while George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and the titular Alexander Hamilton, who became the new country's first Treasury Secretary, deserve much credit for our independence, on this Fourth of July also save some praise for James Otis, Jr. Quotable colonial attorney: Otis, pictured above, was a lawyer in colonial Massachusetts who contested the law and power of the British by arguing that Writs of Assistance, what we now call search warrants, were a form of tyranny. He represented 53 Boston merchants... 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 →


Being a parent is tough. Being a single parent is even tougher. Beach-combing with dad. Photo by YoTuT via Flickr. So on this Father's Day 2016, here's a shout out to the millions of dads who are taking care of their kids on their own. There were almost 2 million single fathers across the country in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That, according to the nation's official people counters, represents 16 percent of the single parent population. In conjunction with the annual day to honor dads, those 1.9 million single fathers also earn this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


More than 1 million men and women have died during U.S. military service. Memorial Day is when we take special time to remember them and their ultimate sacrifice. To ensure the ultimate hallowed duties of America's fallen heroes are never forgotten, The National Moment of Remembrance Act was enacted in December 2000. This law created the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance. The Commission's charter is to "encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity" by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United... Read more →


The unofficial start of summer 2016 is decidedly soggy. Click image for ideas on how to deal with a rainy day in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Here in Texas, we're still dealing with literally flooding rains. Tragically, the excessive precipitation has been deadly. Meanwhile, the Carolinas are coping with the second storm of the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane season. Y'all remember the unusual subtropical Alex, which hit The Azores, a group of islands about 900 miles west of Portugal, on Jan. 15. That gave the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season a rare January start. Unwelcome holiday weekend guest: Bonnie is keeping the... Read more →