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July 2022

Photo by David Boeke via Flickr Democratic leaders in the Senate are still aiming to vote next week on the Build Back Better bill rewrite by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York and his intraparty frenemy Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia. UPDATE, Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022: The Senate approved the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 today along a 50-51 party-line vote, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote. The House is expected to consider the measure on Friday, Aug. 12. The 725 revised pages of H.R. 5376, now dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,... Read more →


Geralt via Pixabay Economists use a variety of measurements to track inflation, but the one that matters most to you and me is the personal consumption expenditure, or PCE, price index. This gauge of consumer spending increased 1.1 percent in June. The difficulty many folks are having in meeting their rising living expenses finally prompted some Congressional action. The Senate is expected to vote next week on what's been dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a budget reconciliation package that includes tax, climate change mitigation, and health care provisions. But closer to home, 16 state governments are taking more... Read more →


More of my Austin, Texas, neighbors could be driving (and recharging) electric vehicles if the recently agreed-upon economic bill makes it into law. (Photo by Kay Bell) As the tax world frantically thumbs through the Democrats 725-page economic plan, one thing is clear. Makers of electric vehicles and the folks who want to buy them are winners. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the catchy (OK, as far as political monikers are concerned) new name for the measure that salvages some of President Joe Biden's retooled Build Back Better proposals, was worked out this week by Senate Majority Leader Chuck... Read more →


Massachusetts residents are well aware of their state's Taxachusetts nickname. But some excessive Bay State revenue soon could be coming back to them. The state's department of revenue last fiscal year collected much more than expected. In April alone, which is when the state's federally-aligned Tax Day arrives, it received $2+ billion more than it had anticipated. All that unexpected money means a rarely used law in place since 1986 will kick in, sending back some of the excess tax money to residents. Taxpayer repayments on the way: "We think the number's probably north of $2.5 billion that would be... Read more →


Updated, Thursday, July 28, 2022 Photo of Midwest flooding by Don Becker, USGS via Wikimedia Commons St. Louis, Missouri, area residents are just starting to recover from this week's record setting rainfall and deadly flash flooding. Southeastern Kentucky now, July 28, is being inundated, with at least three dead and from floods that reached in some places to homes' rooftops. Parts of both states are likely to be declared a major disaster areas by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). When those proclamations are issued, flood victims will be eligible to receive some federal help in their recovery efforts. The Internal... Read more →


Summer's winding down, meaning kiddos soon will be going back to school. But before they head to their classrooms, they'll need a few things. Three Southern states are focusing on families with such shopping lists. Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee are closing out July with back-to-school tax holidays. The longest is Florida's event, which began Monday, July 25, and runs through Sunday Aug. 7. Sunshine State shoppers can save on purchases of clothing ($100 or less); school supplies ($50 or less); learning aids and jigsaw puzzles ($30 or less); and computers and certain accessories ($1,500 or less). Tax holidays in Mississippi... Read more →


The state of Texas, which I celebrate personally in my house with many Lone Star-themed furnishings, shows a lot of love for businesses, but not so much for its residents, according to a recent CNBC analysis. (Photo by Kay Bell) The Lone Star State has a storied literary tradition, but it's a 19th century English writer's description that apparently now applies to Texas. It's the best of times for Texas businesses, but the worst of times for the state's residents, according to a Charles Dickens' echoing report by CNBC. The cable business news network scored all 50 states on 88... Read more →


HMRC warns United Kingdom citizens that tax avoidance is when people bend the rules of the tax system to try to pay less than they owe. The tax agency has created a guide to help spot tax avoidance schemes. Regardless of where we live, people essentially are the same, especially when it comes to taxes. Some of us tend to push the tax envelope, perhaps too much. That's what United Kingdom tax officials think. And they've had enough, especially in these difficult times. Tracking down tax cheats: Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the UK's version of our Internal Revenue... Read more →


Figuring out how to pay off student loans is a math problem that goes well beyond school days. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska) The payment pause on student loans expires in six weeks. As that Aug. 31 deadline approaches, former students also are waiting for President Joe Biden to take further action to help lessen, or eliminate, their higher education debt. In addition to the political ramifications of any White House action, especially in an important midterm election year, there also are tax implications. Taxable forgiven debt: The tax code generally treats forgiven or canceled debt as taxable income. It's officially... Read more →


One of the most common tax scam practices is to take a bit of truth and twist it. Con artists tweak tax forms, create fraudulent online presences that mimic real tax sites, and impersonate tax officials. The latest report of criminals honing their nefarious tax techniques involves the IRS' Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities (TEGE) division and tax-exempt bonds. As part of the way the IRS audits tax-exempt bonds, the agency's TEGE unit uses its own secure electronic messaging service to transmit and receive data. That communication system now is being used as a hook in a new phishing scheme.... Read more →


Photo by William Fortunato Being a parent is a challenge, even with the best of children. It's also expensive, especially for parents of infants. And the costs have increased thanks to the recent inflation spike. "Most parents are the poorest they'll ever be in their kid's life on the day their kid is born," Kathryn Edwards, an economist with the RAND Corporation, recently told  Boston's NPR news station WBUR. "That's what makes something like the cost of diapers hit really hard, is that you're hitting people who in 10 years probably have absolutely no problem affording diapers. It’s just really... Read more →


A fully functioning Internal Revenue Service is critical to the success of the United States. That assessment comes from IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig. It's not just a personal view, but part of Rettig's official opening message in the agency's just-released Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2026. To get to that point, the report says the IRS' goal must be "putting the interests of our taxpayers first in everything we do." I know. Cynics are clicking away right now. The IRS hasn't had the best record here. To be the agency's devil's advocate — or, as a reader once described me,... Read more →


Rail travel could save you some European Union automotive fuel taxes, maybe enough for a nice meal in the train's dining car a la the one Willem Dafoe's character enjoyed (or not, judging by his expression) in the 2017 film version of Murder on the Orient Express. (Photo courtesy 20th Century Fox) When I think of European travel, I immediately envision a train. OK, maybe I've watched Murder on the Orient Express (multiple versions) or Before Sunrise or A Little Romance or various Wes Anderson movies too many times. Still, for an American, particularly one who's lived most her life... Read more →


Photo by Amina Filkins In 2021, Americans applied to start 5.4 million new businesses, more than 20 percent higher than any previous year on record, according to a recently released White House report. In addition, the Biden Administration analysis found that smaller firms created more U.S. jobs than ever before. Businesses with fewer than 50 workers accounted for 1.9 million jobs in the first three quarters of 2021, the highest rate of small business job creation ever recorded in a single year. To keep the entrepreneurial trend going, the Treasury Department awarded the latest round of State Small Business Credit... Read more →


A scene from AMC's Dark Winds, starring Zahn McClarnon (standing) as Lt. Joe Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police, and Kiowa Gordon as his deputy Jim Chee. The series, which has been renewed for a second season, is shot in New Mexico. (Photo by Michael Moriatis/Stalwart Productions/AMC) Later today, the hubby and I will watch the season finale of Dark Winds. Tomorrow night, we'll be planted in front of our TV for the next episode of Better Call Saul. Not only are both shows on AMC, they are great television. They also are filmed in New Mexico, primarily because the... Read more →


Photo by Karolina Grabowska Cryptocurrencies are going through a rough patch, at least as far as the investment world is concerned. But devotees of the virtual assets insist they are here to stay, and that general acceptance of digital currency as payments for retail purchases is on the way. A recent survey seems to support that position. Widespread retail crypto payments expected soon: A majority of U.S. retailers expect digital currency payments to be the norm in the next five years, according to a study released last month by Deloitte in collaboration with PayPal. The study's poll in December 2021... Read more →


Families in Puerto Rico who haven't filed to claim the enhanced 2021 tax year Child Tax Credit should do so, preferably by using the tax break's special online simplified filing tool. (Image from IRS Publication 5649) The Internal Revenue Service is still trying to deliver 2021 tax year Child Tax Credit money, this time focusing on families in Puerto Rico. The tax break amount was increased last tax year to a potential maximum of $3,600 for each child ages 5 and younger, and up to $3,000 for youngsters ages 6 through 17. It's also a fully refundable tax credit for... Read more →


Shopping is even more fun when you also get some sales tax holiday savings. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio) The theme for many state sales tax holidays this year is go long. On July 1, three states kicked off sales tax break periods that run at least one year. But four states are sticking to the usual, and shorter, time frame for their annual sales tax holidays this month. Alabama kicks off these more traditional back-to-school tax holidays this weekend. From Friday, July 15, through Sunday, July 17, Yellowhammer State shoppers will see the state's sales tax waived on purchases of... Read more →


U.S. Department of the Treasury building, Washington, D.C. On March 9, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for a study of digital currencies. Advocates of regulating digital assets immediately pounced on the order. They viewed it as a bureaucratic move that would delay what they see as necessary government oversight of the expanding digital financial world. They were partially right. Even though the order, titled "Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets," directed agencies across the federal government to produce reports on digital currencies and consider new regulations, not much has happened, at least publicly. Until now. The Treasury... Read more →


Charging a Chevrolet Bolt EV outside a Go Forth electric-car showroom in Portland, Oregon. (Photo courtesy Forth) Governments use a variety of tax breaks to help shape their citizens' actions. In addition to the perpetual debate as to whether this is good or bad public policy, there's also the matter of which tax benefits should be used. When it comes to electric vehicle (EV) purchases, a recent study found that those interested in the alternative fuel autos prefer rebates to existing tax credits. Plus, the different financial reward method would be more cost effective for Uncle Sam. Pay then claim... Read more →