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October 2017

September 2017

Photo by The Explorographer via Flickr CC Sixteen years ago, the unthinkable happened. Terrorists struck on U.S. soil, leaving 2,977 dead in New York City, Washington, D.C. and outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This Sept. 11, residents of Florida, Texas, U.S. territories in the Caribbean and neighboring island nations are struggling to recover from Harvey and Irma, two deadly hurricanes that are among the strongest ever to make landfall. There is no comparing these tragedies. Each is heart-wrenching and horrific in its own way. But they share one important attribute. Today, as on Sept. 11, 2001, people are reaching out to... Read more →


Life is a carousel, at least for a while, for this youngster and her grandmother. Once play time is over, financially secure grandparents have some tax-favored ways they can help ftheir grandchildren. (Photo by Rob Bixby via Flickr Creative Commons) Happy Grandparents Day! If your pop-pop and mam-maw (insert your own personal and/or regional affectionate nicknames here) are still around, take some time to tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Most of the time, younger — and that's definitely a relative term — folk think of grandparents as ancient. In many cases, elderly grandparents (and parents) do... Read more →


Identity thieves got access to personal information on 143 million Americans by hacking into credit reporting bureau Equifax's data base in late July. If you have credit, you're screwed. Thanks Equifax. Equifax is one of three major companies that tracks the credit worthiness of American consumers. The other two are Experian and TransUnion. These repositories of how we pay, or don't, our bills are where lenders, landlords and even potential employers go for information before making decisions that affect our lives. Equifax also is where criminals went for all our personal data they need to steal our financial identities and... Read more →


Amazon's headquarters (center high rise) dominates downtown Seattle. Now the online retail giant is looking to build a second HQ in another North American city. (Photo courtesy Amazon) In June, Amazon acquired what many Austin residents felt was a part of the city's core, the organic grocer Whole Foods. Now Texas' capital city is looking to get something back from Amazon — the online retailer's second headquarters. But becoming home to that new facility also raises a big question: At what tax cost? Second HQ as big as the first: Amazon announced Sept. 7 that it's looking for a city... Read more →


NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could be the target of Patriots fans' ire tonight in the league's season opener in Foxborough, Massachusetts. He's also the subject of some prop bets being placed on the game. With Houston and much of southeast Texas still struggling with Hurricane Harvey recovery and Florida looking like it will take a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, I am definitely ready for a little bit of professional football diversion. That's why my TV will be toggling tonight between the 2017 season-opening NFL game on NBC and The Weather Channel. I'll be watching the football game just for... Read more →


This post was reviewed and updated on Friday, Aug. 30, 2019. Records, tax and financial, are often among the property damaged or destroyed in a natural disaster. If you're lucky, you might be able, like this woman, to salvage some of the documents. If not, you'll need to recreate them to take advantage of tax-related storm relief. (Image courtesy Louisiana Law Blog) Maybe you didn't think the hurricane's flood waters would reach your neighborhood. Or maybe you just never kept copies, either paper or digital, of your financial and tax records. Now, however, you find you're among the millions dealing... Read more →


UPDATE CUBED, Oct. 8, 2018: And so the 2018 tropical storm season continues. Michael has become a hurricane and, as of this morning, looks to be heading straight for the Florida Panhandle. UPDATE OF UPDATE, Sept. 10, 2018: Florence, as of Sept. 10, is projected to make landfall later this week, possibly as a category 4 hurricane. Helene and Isaac, which is the name given TD9 over the weekend, also have or will grow to hurricane strength and could essentially follow the same path. UPDATE, Sept. 7, 2018: The September 2018 hurricane season is starting to heat up. Three systems... Read more →


Happy Labor Day. While many Americans are working on this holiday, others are fortunate to have off this first Monday in September. Whether you're working or not most likely depends on the type of employee you are. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to pay employees for time not worked, such as vacations or holidays, writes Susan Heathfield for The Balance. Different jobs, different days off: Salaried employees in exempt professional, technical or managerial positions expect paid holidays. Nonexempt, or hourly, employees are less likely to have paid holidays, or they receive fewer such days off... Read more →


Colorfully coiffed "Girls Trip" friends Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah partying in New Orleans. I've been a film fanatic from an early age. It started when I was a back-seat viewer on the family's regular summer night trips to the drive-in. Movies were a much needed break from real life in terrible times, like when Mom took my little brother and me to see "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to get us away from the news of JFK's assassination. And the annual airing of "The Wizard of Oz" was must-see TV in our house, especially... Read more →


Houston paramedic Jesus Contreras, shown with some of his coworkers, was brought to the United States by his mother when he was just six. He is one of the almost 800,000 young people facing potential deportation if the Trump Administration revokes an Obama-instituted immigration leniency action. Click image to see the full NBC News report, via Twitter, on Contreras and the law. The White House is expected to make a decision on President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as soon as Tuesday, Sept. 5. UPDATE, Sept. 5: It's official. DACA is ending. In a press conference this... Read more →


I don’t know about you, but I am glad to see August gone! It was a horrible, awful, no-good month for too many of my fellow Texans. We're counting on you, September, with your promise of cooler temperatures and return of routines, like the kiddos' going back to class, to get us to a better place. Among the things to think about as fall nears is, of course, taxes. Here are four quick tax tasks to consider this month. File your 2016 taxes: For the first time in years, I'm heading into fall with my prior year return already in... Read more →