Politics Feed

If you believe cryptocurrency has democratized financial services and leveled the financial playing field, then have we got a deal for you. And by deal, we mean scam. That's a major finding of recently released U.S. Department of Treasury report, which also wants regulators to take more action against crypto fraud and scammers. The report, Crypto-Assets: Implications for Consumers, Investors, and Businesses, is in response to President Joe Biden's March 9 Executive Order 14067, which, directed Treasury (among other agencies) to examine ways to "ensure responsible development of digital assets." That's going to take a multi-agency effort, according to Treasury,... Read more →


Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. The Child Tax Credit was expanded in 2021 to help families coping with the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) temporarily bumped up the amount available via the already popular CTC. It went from $2,000 per qualifying child to $3,600 a year for children younger than age 6, and $3,000 per child for youngsters ages 6 to 17. The credit amounts were phased out once tax-filing families hit certain income levels. More of the increased CTC also was refundable, meaning that if the... Read more →


Inflation is still a concern, for consumers and politicians, but it is easing a bit (at least for some consumers). One reason for the change is falling gas prices. GasBuddy reported on Sept. 12 that for the thirteenth consecutive week, the nation’s average per-gallon gas price dropped. It went to $3.67 per gallon, down 7.6 cents from a week ago. AAA's daily tracker shows a Sept. 15 national per gallon average of $3.698. But those are averages. Your pump prices may vary. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, noted in the latest analysis that there are "drastically... Read more →


Singer-songwriter James Taylor provided the soundtrack for the White House's Sept. 13 celebration of the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act. (White House photo via Facebook) The Biden Administration this week celebrated the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) with a ceremony on the White House lawn. And while a government report on inflation that came out the same day warned of continuing inflation costs, President Joe Biden and attendees didn't let the new dampen the festivities. The White House insists that the IRA will work as planned, and Biden touted the law's provisions, including the climate-change-prompted energy provisions,... Read more →


Looking up provides a lovely view of the Idaho statehouse dome. Gem State lawmakers, however, recently went the other direction, lowering the state's top personal income tax rate and making it the lone flat tax amount collected on individual earnings starting in 2023. (Photo by Kencf0618 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0) I've spent most of my earnings life in no-individual-income tax states. I was born, grew up, and got my first jobs in Texas. After a stint in Maryland, which collects state and local income taxes, the hubby and I moved to Florida, another no personal income tax state.... Read more →


You've had that student loan for what seems like forever. So naturally, you're eager to take advantage of the debt forgiveness offered by the Biden Administration. But don't act too quickly or you could be a scam victim. Soon after President Joe Biden announced his plan that will erase in some cases up to $20,000 in undergraduate student loans, consumer advocates had some suggestions of their own. Beware of perps on the prowl with promises that they can get rid of your student loan obligation more quickly. Or get you even more loan relief if the federal plan doesn't cover... Read more →


Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash Millions of people whose student loan debt will be wiped out now face another financial question. What to do with a bit more disposable income. Financial advisers suggest they pay off other debt, such as high-interest credit card balances. That's a smart move. So is the recommendation that folks put their newly available former debt payments into an emergency fund. I'd like to also toss out there the option of saving for retirement. As an added bonus, most retirement account options offer some sort of tax benefit. Here are some tax-favored retirement-saving possibilities that... Read more →


Financial advice for older people also should include planning for taxes on Social Security benefits, unless a House bill to end that process passes. If you're of a certain age (confession: I am), you're likely getting lots of notices about the possible hike in 2023 of Social Security benefits. At one point, prognosticators were saying it could be as much nearly 11 percent. However, the recent easing of inflation lessens the likelihood of a double-digit percentage bump. The latest prediction is a 9.6 percent bump. Still not bad. Most folks who get Social Security benefits will welcome any increase in... Read more →


College can be fun. Paying for it, not so much, especially when you have to take out loans. Some student borrowers are getting loan relief from the White House, but also might end up owing state taxes on their forgiven student debt. (Photo by cottonbro) Around 20 million folks who borrowed money to attend college got good news last week when President Joe Biden canceled a chunk of their student loan debt. The Biden plan's major component says that individuals earning less than $125,000 (or $250,000 for married couples or heads of households) a year will be eligible for up... Read more →


Photo by Mohd Jon Ramlan on Unsplash The Food and Drug Administration is now sifting through the public comments it received on its proposal to ban the sale of flavored cigars. It may take a while. The agency got more than 71,600 comments before the comment period ended on Aug. 2. The pro and con remarks came from individuals who sell as well as enjoy cigars. Businesses, large and small, along with their professional trade groups, also let the FDA know their positions. Health issues, freedom of personal choice, economic concerns, and potential increases in illegal tobacco product sales were... Read more →


The Biden Administration notched a big win last when the president signed the Inflation Relief Act into law. Despite the name, The Inflation Reduction Act is a slimmed-down version of the Joe Biden's original Build Back Better bill. The new law, which took effect on Aug. 16, doesn't have most of the social safety net provisions Biden wanted. It also, by some accounts, won't do much about inflation. But it does contain some major climate change provisions, will eventually lower the price Medicare recipients pay for some prescription drugs, raise taxes on corporations, and allow the Internal Revenue Service to... Read more →


Colorado, Oregon, New York, and Montana are the latest states selected for State Small Business Credit Initiative funds. Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash Small businesses revitalization is a key component of the U.S. economy's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. To help that sector's efforts, Uncle Sam continues to provide financial support. Some of the federal money comes from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which was first established in 2010. The SSBCI was reauthorized and expanded in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The newly-reauthorized small business program has nearly $10 billion in federal... Read more →


The good tax news for environmentally conscious drivers is that the electric vehicle (EV) tax credit is back. The bad tax news for environmentally conscious drivers is that it's not all that easy to claim the reworked $7,500 EV credit. The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service, however, are trying to smooth that road a bit. They've issued some initial guidance on the new EV tax credit changes. EV tweaks in the inflation bill: With President Joe Biden's signing yesterday, Aug. 16, of the Inflation Reduction Act, it's highly touted climate protection provisions will be taking effect. One followed closely... Read more →


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash One of the outcomes of an audit is that the Internal Revenue Service finds no reason to demand changes to a return. That's obviously a welcome result. None of us want to end up paying Uncle Sam more taxes, plus penalty and interest charges. But there's still is a cost. We've likely paid a tax professional to help us through the process. And as the old credit card ad says, our time is priceless. Some audits end up OK for filers: The generally good news, according to the Aug. 4 Kiplinger Tax Letter, is... Read more →


Tax legislation is much more than just changes to the Internal Revenue Code. It's also a political statement. In an election year, which is essentially every year nowadays, it's also a political weapon. Republicans, who currently are slightly outnumbered on Capitol Hill by Democrats, didn't waste any time latching on to the Senate's passage on Aug. 7 of the Inflation Reduction Act. Notably, they cited potential added Internal Revenue Service scrutiny of taxpayers, thanks to part of the bill. Well aware that every federal return filer, even the most honest among us, worries about the IRS taking a closer look... Read more →


Some on Capitol Hill want to make it easier for you to use your Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to make small, every day purchases. The 2022 election year legislative calendar might be working against them, but Congressional fans of cryptocurrency still are looking at ways to make it more appealing to mass consumers. On July 26, two Senate Banking Committee members, including the committee's top Republican, introduced the Virtual Currency Tax Fairness Act. The bill, cosponsored by Ranking Member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) would, in part, make small personal virtual currency transactions for goods and... Read more →


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 →