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May 2006

The home of the Alamo, River Walk, the NBA Spurs and the Rose deep within Bob Wills' heart is going after the Roaming Gnome! No, San Antonio doesn't want to add the droll little troll to its list of attractions. Rather, city officials are after hotel occupancy taxes they say the gnome's parent company, Travelocity, and 15 other online agencies failed to fully pay. To get the money, they have filed a lawsuit in federal court. The suit alleges that Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and similar Internet bookers paid taxes on wholesale room rates rather than on the higher retail rates... Read more →

Pushed to the back
of the tax-break line

One again, politics trumps policy. Rather than work toward a tax bill that includes breaks for most of us, Congress apparently has decided to focus on pet projects to benefit wealthier taxpayers: capital gains and estate tax cuts. And by Congress, I mean the Republican leadership that controls what bills are considered when. This article, Republicans Set Aside Middle-Income Tax Cuts to Focus on Rich, cuts right to the chase: "Six months before elections that may return a Democratic majority in at least one house of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and House Speaker Dennis Hastert... Read more →

This magic tax moment

Jay Black is in big tax trouble. Yeah, I asked, "Who?" too. But since the Associated Press story was tagged "taxes," I kept reading. Turns out that Black was the lead singer of the 1960s group Jay and the Americans. OK. That does ring a bell from back in my youth. Then it all clicked when I learned that this was the group that sang "This Magic Moment." I do remember that, although I couldn't have told you who sang it. According to the AP, the group also had hits with "She Cried'' and ''Cara Mia'' (which I don't remember... Read more →

Springtime's natural and financial storminess

Our first spring in Central Texas has been fantastic. Early in the season, we discovered bluebonnets in our yard. When we moved into our house last summer, the flowers had long since bloomed and disappeared. Now we're collecting seed pods to spread around the property and help boost the number of gorgeous indigo patches next year. We also have enjoyed the return of the barn swallows. These graceful birds were here when we moved in, but left for winter. Our garage area has a carport extension that the birds find an acceptable substitute for the bridges where they often nest.... Read more →

Accolades from
All Financial Matters

There are lots of personal finance blogs out there, so it's easy to get overwhelmed and miss out on some valuable money management sites. But one you definitely don't want to overlook is AllFinancialMatters, one of the best at consistently offering quality money info. Blog creator and caretaker, JLP, is true to his site's description: A personal finance blog dedicated to discussing such topics as budgeting, asset allocation, 401K, IRA, cash flow, insurance, financial planning, portfolio management, and other areas in personal finance. So you can imagine how pleased I was to learn that JLP selected Don't Mess With Taxes... Read more →

Cinco financial lessons

One year ago today, we crossed the Texas border. In this time of immigration hysteria, let me make it clear that it was the Texas-Louisiana border. Yay! We were finally back! We left Texas as adventurous newlyweds for what we thought would be a short exploration of, to us, hitherto unfamiliar regions of the United States. It was great fun and I wouldn't trade any of it. But last year, we realized that time truly does escape from you if you're not careful. We knew it was way past time to go home. So rather than watch another 12 calendar... Read more →

Capitol Hill blue plate special: Tax sausage

The mid-term election day draws ever closer. That means members of Congress are frantically trying to come up with something they can take back to their constituents before it's too late. Since the $100 per taxpayer bribe rebate check idea fell flat, lawmakers are turning their attention toward other, long-delayed tax proposals. It appears that House and Senate negotiators have finally agreed upon a $70 billion tax reconciliation bill. The measure, according to tax-watchers at CCH, includes a two-year extension of capital gains and dividends tax rate cuts and a one-year patch for the pesky alternative minimum tax (AMT). In... Read more →

Less paper pushing at the IRS

This week, IRS Publication 553 arrived in my mailbox, the old-fashioned one out at the curb. When I ordered it last December, I knew it would be 2006 before it arrived. But I really expected it to make it here well before now, especially since this 27-page booklet is entitled "Highlights of 2005 Tax Changes." Silly me and my grand expectations, thinking I'd get details on changes that affected my 2005 return before the filing deadline came and went. Heck, there were even two extra days this year for it to make it from the IRS's Bloomington, Ill., distribution center... Read more →

In fond memory of ...

Have you ever wanted to attend your own funeral? I'm not talking about the spiritual "watching from beyond" attendance. I mean the sitting there in the back of the church or mortuary or wherever the actual service is held. You know, just to see how many people show up and what they say about you, your life and what you meant to them. I know we don't all have a life-altering, George Bailey, "Wonderful Life" effect on everybody we meet. But I believe we all do make some difference for at least a couple of other people. Knowing that what... Read more →

Keep pinching those pennies!

The latest Festival of Frugality is available over at Wandering Indian Monk, who notes that it's the Festival's 21st edition and features 21 submissions. A coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Perhaps we should call Mulder and Scully. Not only could they check out the numerology component, but their X-Files unit always seemed to be operating on the edge of existence, so a little FBI frugality might have helped them, too. I got in just under the wire (my entry appeared on Don’t Mess With Taxes May 1 and the Frugal Fest published today), so you'll find my exploration of ways to... Read more →

Making your gas money go farther

Since I work from home, I'm spared commuting hassles. No stop-and-go traffic or early morning and late afternoon screaming at other drivers. Such confrontations, of course, are always done totally within the confines of my Cavalier, with my windows tightly closed. Sometimes they're compartmentalized even more, and take place only within the safety of my own head. No need to tempt potential road ragers. I'm also spared the cost of filling up my little Chevy's gas tank every week. I didn't think about it much when it routinely ran under $20. Now, when I do have to top off the... Read more →