U.S. Holiday Feed

NOTE: This post was updated Nov. 22, 2017. 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... Read more →


This post was reviewed and updated June 7, 2017. 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... 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 →


If you're staying home this Memorial Day long weekend and home is Texas or a town near the Lone Star State border, you could save some tax dollars on energy efficient appliances. Texas' annual Energy Star Sales Tax Holiday began at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, May 28. It runs until midnight Memorial Day Monday, May 30. Energy and tax savings: During these three days, shoppers won't owe state or local sales tax on certain energy-efficient products with the Energy Star logo. The state sales tax in Texas is 6.25 percent. Local jurisdictions -- cities, counties, special purpose districts, and transit... Read more →


If you're reading this post, thanks. You could be out there on the road, getting a head start on the long Memorial Day weekend. Click image for 20 things you probably didn't know about "National Lampoon's Vacation" The annual three-day weekend at the end of every May is the traditional, although unofficial, start of the summer vacation season. And most of still take our mid-year trips in our autos. Near record on the road: AAA expects more than 38 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend. That's about 700,000 more motorists this May 26-30 compared to the holiday weekend... Read more →


Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominees, skipped the Des Moines, Iowa, debate back in January. The Donald was feuding with Fox News, the debate's host, then and opted instead to hold his own event. Click image for full CNN report and video. Trump's alternate televised gathering at Drake University, also in Des Moines, was promoted as a fundraiser for veterans' charities. So how did that turn out? How much was donated? Which charities got some of the cash collected almost four months ago? The answers are, apparently, pretty good from a political posturing standpoint, not as much as... Read more →


Getting a letter from the Internal Revenue Service can be scary, whether it arrives on Friday the 13th or any other day. Most IRS notices are about federal tax returns or tax accounts. And the IRS has lots of questions in these areas. It sends out millions every year. And while there's no official clinical name for a tax notice phobia (unlike the various Friday the 13th fears of paraskevidekatriaphobia, triskaidekaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia) the truth is that there's usually nothing to be afraid of as long as you don't ignore the letter. To help you over your tax notice fear,... Read more →


Happy Mother's Day! There's no better Mother's Day gift for mom than a homemade "<3 U Mommy" message. (Photo by Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr) Whether you are a mom, have a mom, are planning to become a mom, or are married to a mom, chances are you're taking part in a special celebration this Sunday. Enjoy! Millions of magnificent moms: While mothers often feel like they're all alone when it comes to their kids, some data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that all types of mothers have lots of company. Overall, there are 43.5 million women between the... Read more →


When most folks think holiday office party, they think Christmas. Here in Texas, though, Cinco de Mayo is a great day for an office party. Today is the commemoration of the Battle of Puebla in 1862. On that day 154 years ago, the Mexican military defeated the numerically superior French forces that, the year before, had invaded Mexico. Such an unlikely victory reminds all us Texans of how we did the same thing to Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836, securing the independence of the Republic of Texas. Plus, Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín, the man who led the... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2016. April 22 marks the anniversary of the birth in 1970 of the modern environmental movement. For farmers, however, every day is earth day, says Naomi Starkman, founder and editor in chief of Civil Eats, a news outlet that focuses on sustainable agriculture. "Farmers work every day to care for the Earth and steward the land that sustains us," writes Starkman in an opinion piece for MSNBC. Farmers like Donald J. Trump. Donald J. Trump's goat farm helps him get tax breaks on two New Jersey golf properties. Photo courtesy Columbia Economic Development Corporation, Columbia County, New... Read more →