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12 charitable groups that would love to take your
tax-deductible Typhoon Haiyan relief donations

Super Typhoon Haiyan has done its worst, literally, to the Philippines. The archipelago nation took a direct hit from what many meteorologists are characterizing as the most powerful typhoon ever. Towns have been destroyed and it's feared that 10,000 or more could be dead. "It is too early to tell what exactly we will need, but definitely after the relief operations there is going to be a lot of work in terms of reconstruction and rehabilitation, particularly for people who have lost their homes," Jose Cuisia, Jr., the Philippines ambassador to the United States, told Voice of America. United States... Read more →

Are you still finding timepieces that are wrong this morning? I always miss a clock or two every time we switch, as we did earlier today, from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time and vice versa. Like most folks, I prefer the return to Standard Time when we, as the mnemonic phrase reminds us, fall back and get (presumably) an extra hour of sleep. And like most folks, I credit (or blame, depending on how tired I am) Benjamin Franklin for coming up with the clock adjusting idea. The primary purpose of Daylight Saving Time (DST), or "Summer Time" in... Read more →

King to Obama, America's journey from 1963 to 2013

I was seven in 1963. But even though my younger brother and I were just small children, my parents made sure we were aware of current events. Before 1963 was over, Mom and Dad would try to explain the unexplainable, the assassination of a president. They also made sure we understood, as much as grade-schoolers could, the more positive, but challenging, things that were happening in America 50 years ago. So we discussed the Civil Rights movement. We were lucky in that in my small West Texas hometown, there was no formal segregation. All of us kids went to the... Read more →

Welcome to 12-12-12, the last repeating-number date of the century. The repetition of 1s and 2s has prompted a lot of interest, intrigue and for some, celebration. "Iconic dates have become a wedding trend in the United States, reaching new heights when over 65,000 couples tied the knot on 7-7-'07," Brian Beitler, chief marketing officer for David's Bridal, told USA Today. So couples are queuing up worldwide to say "I do" today. The Concert for Sandy Relief tonight will feature some of the biggest names in the music industry. Thanks to online live streams and social media integrations, the charity... Read more →

Mother Nature has been seriously ticked off recently and the folks in the Northeast have sure been on the receiving end of her temper. On the heels of Superstorm nee Hurricane Sandy, a nor'easter blasted, well, the northeast. And some of the areas that were declared major disasters because of Sandy also were hit by Winter Storm Athena. Winter storm names: What? You didn't know the northeaster had a name? Don't worry; you're not too far behind the curve. The naming of winter storms just began this week. The names are not official christenings from the National Weather Service (NWS).... Read more →

Not only are Barack Obama and Mitt Romney glad that Nov. 6 has finally arrived, so are all of us voters. Folks in the swing states are finally done with incessant television commercials for the presidential candidates. The rest of us are done with the overload from more local candidates and ballot issues. All of us will be glad to see and hear more nonpolitical stories in our newspapers, online and on our TVs and our radios. And we definitely will be thrilled to see all the negativity start to fade as we get back to our normal lives. True,... Read more →

Here we go again. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that health care reform law, popularly known (even among Democrats) as Obamacare, was constitutional. That split decision hinged on the law's controversial tax component -- the money that the Internal Revenue Service eventually will collect from the uninsured. On Thursday, Oct. 18, a federal appeals court has ruled for a widow fighting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) because its restrictions caused her to pay more in estate taxes after her wife died than a surviving spouse in a heterosexual marriage would have owed. Ellen and Shelly -- who... Read more →

It's Friday. As the song goes, we've all been working for the weekend and that means as soon as we clock out today, we're heading off to celebrate with an adult beverage. Most of my friends are wine drinkers. Me, I'm a beer fan. I mean really, when it's hot outside, or your plate of Tex-Mex is hot and spicy, there's no better thing than a cold brew. And have you ever tried taking a long, refreshing chug of wine? Can't do it. Vino just doesn't work like an icy beer. I just checked my refrigerator and was stunned to... Read more →

The case of the elusive Mitt Romney tax returns gets curiouser and curiouser. Ever since the Republican presidential nominee announced we would only get to see his 2010 and, once the forms are filed by the Oct. 15 extension deadline, 2011 returns, there has been widespread speculation as to what Romney's earlier 1040s might contain. Last week, an anonymous group claimed to have hacked the computer system of Romney's accountants and obtained the GOP candidate's older returns. The alleged hackers said they'll expose the returns or keep the documents under wraps depending on who is the first to pay a... Read more →

College football fans are all abuzz about the NCAA penalties handed down today again Penn State University. As in most things sports, and especially at the ultra-emotional college level, the reactions from opposing sides are loud and clear. The boos from Penn State apologists include the complaint that NCAA President Mark Emmert has overstepped his authority, inserting the college sports oversight body into criminal proceedings. Worse, they say, he didn't wait until all legal action has run its course. And, argue Penn Staters, the penalties will punish not those who committed unspeakable crimes, but current and future Happy Valley students... Read more →

"Should our tax voyeurism really be allowed to supersede the right of tax privacy we all enjoy? I don't think so." I wrote that last fall after actor Alec Baldwin and a New York state senator got into a public spat via Twitter about making personal tax returns public. I was wrong. Back then, my main arguments were (a) that most candidates don't do their own taxes so their filings offer no insight as to their personal understanding of the tax code or their ability to fill out the forms and (b) "you can be sure that if returns are... Read more →

Today's Supreme Court split ruling on Arizona's immigration law isn't going to do anything to quell the debate on this topic, especially in this presidential election year. What's needed is Congressional action on immigration policy, which isn't going to happen in this presidential election. In the meantime, however, some immigration-related tax regulation and legislation is popping up in Washington, D.C. IRS immigration-related regs: First, let's hear from the Internal Revenue Service. The nation's tax collecting entity last week announced interim changes to strengthen its procedures for issuing Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, or ITINs. The IRS began issuing ITINs in 1996... Read more →

This post was updated March 30, 2018. When the end of matrimony leads to the start of alimony, each parting partner can feel the tax effects. If you are the ex-spouse getting alimony payments, the money is taxable to you as income in the year it is received. This added income calls for a couple of additional tax considerations for the recipient. In traditional man and woman marriages, this usually meant that the husband made spousal support payments to his ex-wife. But the changing world -- including, but not limited to, things like more women working and the nationwide legalization... Read more →

It's a good thing that we Texans don't have to pay a state income tax. Think of how much we'd be shelling out with that on top of the estimated $400,000 a month we're fronting our governor in his fruitless bid for the Republican presidential nomination. That's right, pardners. Regardless of whether you voted for Rick Perry to head our state or support his apparently futile bid to be the GOP opponent of President Obama next November, all Texans are paying for Perry's political forays via his security detail. The Texas Tribune's examination of public records show that the Texas... Read more →

Today is a special day for fans of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, the various Christmas ghosts and Scrooge, both before and after his holiday epiphany. On Dec. 19, 1843, Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" was published. Although this magical, wonderful tale of humanity and the holidays is among the most well-known of books, it only saw the light of day thanks to Dickens' personal persistence. And the way it was published was as prophetic as some of the ghostly tales it contains. Because Dickens was feuding with his publishers, says David Perdue at his website, the author financed the... Read more →

Black Friday: Savings myth, name origin and no tax holidays in 2011

If you were up in the wee morning hours to nab some ever earlier Black Friday bargains, Oren Etzioni has some bad news for you. The University of Washington professor says that the best deals on electronics, the products that are among the biggest sellers on the crazy shopping Friday after Thanksgiving, actually show up in early December. If you didn't buy a home sound system or new HD 3-D television, then mark your calendar for your next shopping excursion in a couple of weeks. Of course, for many Black Friday is about the experience as much as it is... Read more →

What the heck is up Mother Nature? I know we humans are an annoying bunch, but do you really have to keep whacking us? In less than 24 hours, strong earthquakes have rattled the East Coast and the Rocky Mountains region. The 5.3 temblor that shook Colorado Monday night was the strongest recorded there in more than a century. It also was felt by residents of Kansas and New Mexico. Then this afternoon, a 5.9 quake centered in Virginia prompted evacuation of buildings in the nation's capital and shook folks from North Carolina to New Hampshire. It was the strongest... Read more →

Did Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Doug Shulman get an invitation to Kim Kardashian's wedding? Or was the IRS release yesterday of tax tips for recently married couples just a coincidence? Yeah, I know, the IRS announcement probably doesn't have a thing to do with this evening's celebrity nuptials. But it certainly is timely, since taxes apply to Kim and her soon-to-be husband Kris Humphries, too. So let's look at the IRS' wedding gift of tax-themed advice for Kim and Kris and all young and young-at-heart lovers tying the knot. 1. File name change paperwork As soon as Humphries put the... Read more →

Washington, D.C., has been going about this whole federal budget dealio all wrong. What America needs is a superhero to solve our financial crisis. And you, my friend, can be that hero. There's no need to be bitten by a radioactive spider, freaked out by a bat colony or come from another planet. You just need to check out Marketplace. The American Public Media radio program that keeps an eye on the markets and finances has created the free online game Budget Hero. Click on the image (or here) to become a Budget Hero. The game relies primarily on the... Read more →

It never hurts to be prepared. That's the thinking of freshman Rep. Daniel Webster. The Florida Republican has introduced the Prioritize Spending Act of 2011 (H.R. 2402) to, he says, "ensure America's priorities are preserved in the event that the debt ceiling is reached." "It is important that while we fight for true spending transformations," said Webster in announcing the bill, "we also prepare to prevent any default by protecting our priorities." So just what does Webster think should be paid with the actual dollars Uncle Sam will have on hand if there's no debt ceiling deal? First, the U.S.... Read more →