U.S. Holiday Feed

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 →


When the hubby and I head to a sporting event where only young fans are given freebies, say a team-logo cup or a bobble-head doll, we joke that we should be able to rent a kid or two so we could get the goodies. Yes, we would take sports-related candy etc. from children! This baby didn't hamper dad's ability to snag a foul ball. Plus, he provides his parents with several potential tax saving options. Click image to see MLB video of the catch and story about the ensuing controversy. Well, one Missouri man allegedly took our jesting approach to... Read more →


The eggs in your Easter basket are probably tax-free. Only a handful of states tax groceries. But you had to pay tax on the dye kit you dropped in your shopping cart, along with the chocolate rabbits and crème-filled eggs. Sweets and other snacks, seasonal and year-round, tend to be subject to sales tax. Successful Easter egg hunt by Andrew McDowell via Flickr And if, like the parents of the youngster pictured above, you went with reusable plastic eggs, you had to pay tax on them. Ditto the basket itself, along with that green stuff that doesn't look at all... Read more →


Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day? Probably at least in some fashion. Everybody and their dogs love celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Photo by Michael Shehan Obeysek via Flickr. The National Retail Federation's annual St. Patrick's Day Spending Survey finds that more than 125 million Americans are planning to party this March 17th. The poll, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics for NRF, says the St. Paddy's celebrants are expected to spend an average of $35.37 per person on green garb, festive food and more. And most of those expenditures will include some tax costs. No toasts for beverage taxes: Let's... Read more →


Today's federal holiday officially is Washington's Birthday. The Father of Our Country was born on Feb. 22, 1732, and his day used to be celebrated on that actual date. But starting in 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act shifted the commemoration of George Washington's birth to the third Monday in February. Soon thereafter, it became known popularly as Presidents Day, primarily because Abraham Lincoln's birthday was Feb. 12 -- and, say cynics, retailers are always looking for a hook on which to hang a sale sign. Joining George and Abe in celebrating birthdays this month were William Henry Harrison on... Read more →


If you live in Maryland and your significant other isn't particularly romantic, you might be able to pick up a useful Valentine's Day gift and save on some taxes. The Old Line State this long holiday weekend is waiving its 6 percent sales tax -- which is this week's By the Numbers figure -- on purchases of qualifying energy efficient items. The sales tax holiday began at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, Feb. 13 (sorry for the late notice; I had a busy day!) and continues until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15. The Comptroller of Maryland special Web page says the... Read more →


Today is the 30th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spreading the message of freedom and equality. Leading up to this milestone, the King Center in Atlanta has been celebrating more than a week of events highlighting this year's theme: "Remember! Celebrate! Act! King's Legacy of Freedom for Our World." The focus on freedom is especially meaningful, said King's daughter, the Rev. Bernice King, because 2016 also marks the 50th anniversary of her father going to Chicago to highlight the need for open and fair housing. In honor of King's... Read more →


How will you toast the arrival of 2016? I briefly thought about trying out hard cider this New Year's Eve. But that would require putting on a clean T-shirt, getting out of the house, driving to a liquor store and making the purchase. That's not going to happen. Instead, at midnight the hubby and I will finally pop the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine we've had in our fridge for, well, years. Yeah, we're not really big drinkers. If there's no fizz in that Flat Creek Cellars sparkling almond wine, then we'll rely on our fallback alcoholic beverage:... Read more →


Finally! Dec. 25 has arrived. Not only is it Christmas, it's a no tax day here at the ol' blog. I'm taking the day off to spend it with the hubby, my mom and some friends. I hope you're getting to spend this day the way you want and with those who are important in your life. Wherever you are, here are a few items to bring a little Texas cheer to your day. It's still in the 70s here in Central Texas, but a cold front reportedly is heading our way. Until it arrives, I'm content to sit in... Read more →


Christmas is tomorrow. Have you finished your shopping? If not, there's an easy way to come up with great gifts without fighting the last-minute shopping mall crush. Go online and give to your favorite charity in honor of someone. In most cases, the charity will send the person, or the family of a departed loved one if that's who you choose to honor with the donation, notification of the gift and how it will be used. The key here is to remember that this is a gift. Recipient's (not your) cause: You need to make sure that the person in... Read more →


Retailers and e-tailers thank you for your holiday spending spirit. So does your state's treasury. Many seasonal items are taxable, as you probably noticed as you were picking up gifts, making holiday party arrangements and buying your tree. Here in Texas, the Comptroller of Public Accounts has a special Web page with details about holidays and how seasonal purchases contribute to the state's coffer "Christmas trees, seasonal plants, holiday decorations, tempting foods and lovely wrapped gifts add beauty and tradition to a holiday," says Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar. "So when does a customer pay sales tax on holiday items and... Read more →