State/Local Feed

North Carolina offers many gorgeous vistas, but the tax view for some trusts wasn't nearly so nice until a recent Supreme Court ruling. Now they can claim refunds of overpayments. (Blue Ridge Mountains viewed from Blue Ridge Parkway's Deep Gap overlook in western North Carolina; photo by Ken Thomas via Wikipedia Commons) You've got to appreciate the audacity of Tar Heel State tax officials. North Carolina decided it was due tax on a trust because a beneficiary was a state resident. That recipient of trust proceeds, Kimberley Rice Kaestner, was North Carolina's only connection to the trust. The person who... Read more →


A U.S. Geological Survey map displays the magnitude-7.1 earthquake that rattled Ridgecrest, California, Friday July 5, 2019. When the Northridge earthquake devastated that part of Southern California 25 years ago, I worked for a company headquartered in the area. Lucky for me, I was in the firm's government relations office in Washington, D.C., when the deadly 6.7 magnitude quake hit the early morning of Jan 17, 1994. Many of my California-based coworkers, however, sustained property damages. Some of those folks still live in Southern California. So do some of my relatives. Dangerous quake duo: This week, they felt the long-distance... Read more →


In many states, sales taxes add to the costs of holiday fireworks. A few collect excise taxes, too. If the levies are dedicated to specific causes, they can do a lot of good. Read on for my suggested beneficiaries of pyrotechnics taxes. States take almost every opportunity they can to add to their coffers. That tendency also applies to July 4th celebrations. The obvious revenue connection is sales tax applied to purchases firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers and the wide variety of personal pyrotechnics. The sales numbers explain the appeal to state and local tax collectors. In 2018, the U.S. pyrotechnics... Read more →


Filling up photo by Jackson Lavarnway via Flickr CC If you're reading this, you're probably already clock watching. The Fourth of July holiday is less than two days away and, if you've got an accommodating boss, you'll get a nice long weekend. But until then, you're at your desk. When you do finally take off for your July 4th celebrations, you'll likely hit the road. That means you have two concerns. First, how bad will traffic be? Second, what will it cost me to fill up my tank? Spoiler alert, traffic will be crazy. Spoiler alert redux, motorists who live... Read more →


I admit it. I'm freaking out with this pre-All Star break slump that the Houston Astros are experiencing. My only consolation is that my pain is all emotional and psychic, not monetary since I don't bet on sporting events. I, however, apparently am in the minority. Now that sports gambling is legal, it's going gangbusters in the states where it's been approved. N.J. bettors take over: That's definitely the case in New Jersey, the state responsible for the Supreme Court ruling back in May 2018 that overturned federal law outlawing sports wagering in most parts of the United States. The... Read more →


These pups probably would be cooler inside under the A/C instead of atop the condenser. As a general rule, your cooling system works better when you keep the outside air conditioning unit clear of everything, including pets! Summer's been official for just a week, but folks in many areas have been dealing with hot temperatures for a while. Some, including my neighbors who've had air conditioning repair trucks parked in front of their houses for what seems like weeks, already are feeling the often costly effects of warmer weather. That's why it's a good time to think about tuning up... Read more →


Photo courtesy Vaping360.com In just more than six months, San Francisco will become the first U.S. city to ban vaping. The city's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on June 25 to outlaw the sale, distribution and manufacturing of vaping products. The ban is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1 2020. It will last at least until the federal Food and Drug Administration reviews the safety of e-cigarettes. That, according to some estimates, could take another three years. The six-month delay is designed to give retailers time to remove the product, which is increasingly popular with younger people, from their... Read more →


Mother Nature gives her colorful imprimatur to the beauty of Hawaii. (Rainbow over Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, a research and community resource of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa) It's vacation season and lots of folks plan to spend their days off in other folks' homes. I'm not talking bunking on a friend's couch or in a relative's guest room. I'm looking at private residences leased to a series of strangers in cities across the country (and world). The popularity of private accommodations for vacationers has prompted many state and local jurisdictions to enact regulations and tax collection policies on... Read more →


The summer solstice has finally caught up with Texas temperatures. The first day of the sunniest season arrived today at 10:54 a.m. Central Time. By then, here in Austin we already were at nearly 90 degrees. It wasn't much of a climb for the thermometer, since our overnight temps for the last week or so have been hovering in the 80s. By the time we get to mid-afternoon, it will feel like triple-digit heat for the third straight day. That's why so many of us are thinking of heading to the Texas Gulf Coast, or as we called it when... Read more →


Among the flags celebrated on Fun With Flags, the online show within a show in CBS' The Big Bang Theory, was Old Glory. (Photo of Amy Farrah Fowler play by Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons, who played Sheldon Cooper and Betsy Ross, courtesy Sheldon Cooper presents Fun With Flags Facebook page). Happy Flag Day! Long-time readers of the ol' blog already know that June 14 is an extra special day for me. It was my younger brother's birthday. One of my fondest memories of him was when as a preschooler he thought all the U.S. flags were flying in his... Read more →


James Holzhauer's epic winning run on Jeopardy finally came to an end, leaving him with winnings of almost $2.5 million. The take fell just short of the television game show's record winnings, but neither Holzhauer nor the tax collectors who'll get a nice chunk of the cash are complaining. James Holzhauer finally learned you can't win 'em all. It's been a good week for gamblers. For tax collectors, too. A 66-year-old North Carolina retiree came forward to claim the $344.6 million Powerball drawing, which he won thanks to numbers from a fortune cookie. A yet-to-be-announced lottery player in San Diego,... Read more →


Taxes are a pain in the derriere, regardless of what form they take. Most folks tend to focus on — and hate — income taxes more than other types. That's because the majority of workers tend to pay a portion of our earnings to Uncle Sam. Then there are the myriad state and local taxes (SALT). SALT covers income taxes from these lower taxing jurisdictions, as well as real estate and, to some degree, personal property taxes. SALT taxes have come under renewed scrutiny since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which has limited the amount... Read more →


The Alchemist, an 80-foot motor yacht photographed by D Ramey Logan, would qualify for a substantial sales tax break under a new Texas law awaiting the governor's signature. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0) Texas lawmakers say the property tax reform bill they've sent to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk will slow the increases homeowners have complained about for years. The Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act, which if enacted will require cities, counties and other taxing units to get voters' OK before levying new taxes. We shall see if what's been worked out on paper in Austin's... Read more →


Philadelphia Ritz-Carlton Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. Millions will begin the annual vacation season this long holiday weekend. Others will wait a few weeks or months before taking a break from work. Regardless of timing, all these travelers will need places to stay. Nowadays, more vacationers are using short-term rentals of private homes or apartments. They like the hominess and feeling like a local. They also often can get good deals. But one thing is the same in most cities and states for local rentals or hotels: taxes. Levies for sleeping over: Yep, when a homeowners lease... Read more →


If you're hitting the road for the long Memorial Day holiday, you'll have lots of company. AAA is predicting the strongest kick-off to the summer travel season since 2005, and the second-largest travel volume on record dating back to 2000. Overall, AAA says nearly 43 million Americans will celebrate the unofficial start of summer away from home. For the 37.6 million Americans that AAA says will travel by automobile during some part of the Memorial Day weekend, today, May 24, is not your travel friend. Neither is Friday, May 25. AAA predicts most drivers will experience the greatest amount of... Read more →


It's that terrible time of year when Mother Nature is on the rampage. In the last few days, at least 19 twisters have touched down in Tornado Alley. That dangerous weather pattern is expected to repeat and expand over the coming days. 3:57 PM - We know have TWIN tornadoes northwest of Crescent in far western Logan county, north of OKC. Both of these are currently on the ground. Storm is moving northeast at 35 mph toward Mulhall. #okwx @NEWS9 pic.twitter.com/fAkqaGemmZ — Matt Mahler (@themahler) May 20, 2019 In addition to spawning twisters that destroyed stretches of property, but luckily... Read more →


Photo by Fisherga via Flickr CC The Preakness, the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, is Saturday, May 18. As a former Maryland resident, the 144th running of the race the Black Eyed Susans will be somewhat bittersweet. It could be the last time the legendary race will be held at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course. It also will not lead to a Triple Crown winner. Preakness problems: Country House, the eventual Kentucky Derby winner after Maximum Security, who crossed the Churchill Downs line first, was disqualified, will not run in this year's Preakness. By opting out of the Baltimore... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service has formed a working group to look into allegations that some of its Free File members really didn't (don't?) want taxpayers to file for free. State and city officials have launched official investigations into or taken legal steps in connection with allegations that some tax software companies redirected online searches away from their free options on at the IRS website. Now what is being hailed as the first nationwide class-action lawsuit in the matter has been filed against Intuit, the maker of TurboTax. Tax software giant is legal target: It's no surprise that the tax software... Read more →


This is a big week for Lone Star State businesses. The state's franchise tax is due May 15. For my fellow Texas business owners, that's tomorrow. Unless you're a Wolters Kluwer CCH software client. Then you have until May 22. See my prior post for more on the recent CCH malware problems and the filing accommodations being made by the Internal Revenue Service and Texas tax officials. I don't want to bore all y'all that don't live here, but since other states have business levies similar to ours, here's a quick, general take on Texas' tax system. The privilege of... Read more →


At least one state, Texas, joins the Internal Revenue Service in making filing accommodations for those affected by software company's malware troubles. Watch the full classic Roseanne Roseannadana skit at NBC's Saturday Night Live video page. As the wonderful Gilda Radner character Roseanne Roseannadana used to say, "It's always something." That's particularly true in the tax world. Just when we thought we had made it relatively unscathed through the 2019 tax season, which already was crazy since it was the first one in which most of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes took real life effect for taxpayers,... Read more →