Current Affairs Feed

Often, too often, we use independence and freedom interchangeably. Even dictionaries and thesauruses say the words each mean to some degree the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint (freedom) or the state of being free from the control or power of another (independence). On this July 4, 2020, we are reevaluating what those definitions mean to us, our families, friends and neighbors, to people we don't know personally and to the United States as a whole. The scrutiny of those definitions could fill library shelves nationwide where reference — and history... Read more →


Former Vice President Joe Biden meeting supporters in Iowa last year in the early days of his campaign. Now he's the Democratic presidential nominee. His and opponent Donald Trump's tax plans will be a part of the election discussions. (Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr) It's a done deal. Former Vice President Joe Biden will be the Democrat challenging Donald J. Trump this November for the White House. Biden secured enough delegates last week to formally become the Democratic nominee on the first ballot at the party's convention. That official imprimatur will come in August at the Democrats' combined in-person... Read more →


Can't sleep? You're not alone in these trying, tax and otherwise, times. (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels) 2020 has been, at best, a difficult year and we're not even halfway through. For these first five months, millions of us have been facing each day a barrage of concerns that are producing a continual level of extraordinary stress. In addition to our normal day-to-day anxieties, we've been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, its unemployment and financial fallout, the recent deaths African Americans at the hands of individuals and while in law enforcement custody, heated and escalating political messaging in a... Read more →


Photo by Vera Arsic via Pexels The biggest problem for most of us in coronavirus lockdown with our families, whether ordered by state or local officials or self-imposed, is figuring out how to not get on each other's last nerve. For some, however, the forced togetherness is deadly serious. Possibly just deadly. Domestic violence since COVID-19 appeared has spiked as victims find themselves forced to stay home with abusers, according to those who work to protect people, still primarily women, from abusive partners and spouses. It's happening globally, across the United States and here in Texas. "During a time of... Read more →


A first job is a major life event with obvious major tax implications. Other momentous changes throughout our lives involve taxes, too. As COVID-19 continues to spread across the United States, the White House has decided to follow state and local officials in urging continued social (aka physical) distancing. For millions of us, this new April 30 stay home recommendation means more time cooped up with loved ones. Or not-so-loved ones. My favorite non-medical virus-related debate right now is whether all the coronavirus forced togetherness ultimately will end with a baby boom (coronials, anyone?) or a marriage bust. While the... Read more →


The market is still volatile, dropping a bit today because … heck, who really knows exactly why this time? It's likely to keep bouncing a bit until the current and threatened trade wars and associated tariffs are resolved. I definitely am not a financial adviser, but even I know that you shouldn't try to time the stock market. Just when you think you've hit the bottom and cashed out, it drops more. Or it recovers and you miss a run back up that would have replaced (or more) your assets' losses. But if, after careful consideration and consultation with your... Read more →


With markets down, it could be time to harvest tax losses or perhaps convert a traditional IRA to a Roth retirement account. What's scarier than Superman, the 415-foot tower roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, California, that hits triple digit speeds? Some investors might say the recent stock market gyrations. (Photo courtesy Six Flags) Is the recent stock market drop freaking you out? How about the roller coaster ride back up, at least for a while, today? Yeah, it's worse than many stomach-churning amusement park rides and I'm right there, holding a barf bag, with you. But... Read more →


After the vigils for victims of mass tragedies, efforts to help the victims and survivors appear. Make sure your gifts to such campaigns, especially online crowdfunding ones, go to those who need help and not scammers. (Photo by Catholic Church of England, Mazur/CatholicNewsUK via Flickr CC) Gilroy, California. El Paso, Texas. Dayton, Ohio. In an eight-day span, three separate shootings by lone gunmen in these cities left a total of 35 people dead, 54 injured. Residents in these cities are dealing with unspeakable horror and grief. Most of the rest of us in the United States and across the world... Read more →


Mortimer M. Caplin was the 34th commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. He passed away on July 15, 2019, at age 103. (Photo courtesy Caplin & Drysdale via Wikipedia Commons) Fifty years ago this weekend, two Apollo 11 crew members became the first people to set foot on the moon. In doing so, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) fulfilled the dream/challenge that President John F. Kennedy had issued in 1961 of "landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." While Kennedy didn't live to see that historic accomplishment, another event last week made... Read more →


New parents Harry and Meghan don't have to worry about the expense of their new bundle of joy. But for us non-royals, raising children is costly. We former colonists here across the pond can get some help covering those costs thanks to several U.S. tax breaks. An obviously elated Prince Harry announces the birth of his and wife Meghan's son. (Screen shot from the Sussex Royal Instagram) It's a boy! Watchers of the Royal Family in the United Kingdom, here across the pond and yes, worldwide, are celebrating today's announcement that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are now parents... Read more →


Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! The choices you make in today's mi... Read more →


Fifteen years ago today, terrorists hijacked four planes and killed 2,977 people in New York City, the Pentagon just outside Washington, D.C. and in a field near rural Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The view across the south pool of the National September 11 Memorial in New York City, former site of the Twin Towers, looking toward the National September 11 Memorial Museum. (Photo by NormanB via Wikipedia/Wikimedia Commons) As has been tradition on each Sept. 11 since 2001, commemorative events will be held today across the country. The recognition became official on Dec. 18, 2001 when Public Law 107-89 took effect designating... Read more →


Americans, and particularly the families who suffered incomprehensible loss in the horrific mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, are still trying to cope with the tragedy. Forty-nine families are struggling emotionally with the loss of their loved ones at the hand of a crazed and heavily (and legally) armed gunman. Families of 53 more people who were wounded, some gravely, also are trying to cope with the effects of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Help for affected families: Not only must these people work through the personal loss and pain, many also will face practical challenges.... Read more →


The estate planning world is stunned by the news that Prince passed away without a will. Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo by Scott Penner CC BY-SA 3.0 via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons While lots of folks delay officially putting their final wishes on paper, the wealthiest among us, which definitely included The Purple One, tend to have a phalanx of advisers to take care of their money, including how it will be dealt with once they're gone. Such professional financial and tax advice is critical, especially if you have a lot of money and/or live in a state... Read more →


The biggest hit on Broadway right now is an inventive musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary. "Hamilton" actors, left to right, Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette, Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan, Anthony Ramos as John Laurens, and the musical's writer and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda as the titular Alexander Hamilton. (Photo via BroadwayBox.com) And on Friday, the tax extenders bill became law, including a new provision that gives a tax break to shows on the Great White Way. Coincidence? I think not. Tax help from "Hamilton?" Maybe: OK, I don't really think that Lin-Manuel Miranda's record-setting "Hamilton" is... Read more →


It's always been a challenge to teach kids history. They truly live in the moment. History is what happened to old people. But on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2015, tens of thousands of young people have an opportunity to see and hear some remarkable representations of history. "Selma," the acclaimed new movie of the Dr. King led historic march for civil rights, is screening nationwide. In an effort to get kids into movie theaters to see the film, groups in around two dozen cities are offering free tickets to middle and high school students. Click the image to... Read more →


What the most important policy issue to you this year? According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, it's defense against terrorism. Seventy-six percent of those who responded to Pew's annual policy priorities poll named terrorism as their top concern. It is the first time in five years that Americans have focused so much on terror, probably in large part because in recent months violent attacks have been in the news. The poll was conducted between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11. The move to the top spot, however, is not totally unexpected. Pew notes that there has been little change... Read more →


About a month ago, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen met with the media and warned that the coming tax-filing season was going to be a pretty miserable few months for both his agency and taxpayers. That same day, Dec. 18, the commissioner sent the same gloomy message to his staff. Now, in what could be one of the worst employee pep talks ever delivered, Koskinen has reiterated to IRS employees the dire outlook for the 2014 filing season. In his latest email to IRS works, sent yesterday (Jan. 13), Koskinen offered "some important new details about what the 2015... Read more →


Just when we think we've got a handle on Ebola, the disease wins a round. Dr. Martin Salia, a surgeon who contracted the deadly virus while performing his duties as chief medical officer at United Methodist Kissy Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, has died in a Nebraska hospital. Salia, a Sierra Leone native who was a permanent U.S. resident, was transferred Nov. 14 to the Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit where two other Ebola patients were successfully treated. Unfortunately, Salia's symptoms were far more advanced and the hospital announced his death today. However, sometimes there is good in times of... Read more →


I was a novice reporter back in February 1979 when thousands of American farmers converged on Washington, D.C. That 18-day tractorcade through messy winter weather produced not only global recognition of U.S. farming issues, but also an office for the organizing American Agriculture Movement in the nation's capital. We also ultimately got Willie Nelson's Farm Aid concerts. Since that angry grassroots beginning, AAM has played a part in shaping federal ag legislation. Viva la ag protests: Recently, farmers in France decided they, too, needed to protest. In addition to general tax policy complaints, they are concerned about falling prices, brought... Read more →