State/Local Feed

I admit it. When I make an occasional foray into the coronavirus world, which is a quick trip to my local grocery every 10 days or so to buy milk, I look at the lottery ticket machines. Did you know that the Mega Millions jackpot is $255 million? Powerball is a relatively paltry $77 million, not that I'd turn it down if my numbers came up. And yes, I did buy tickets. Why, ask my more frugal and fiscally conservative readers? Because I'm bored. There's only so much to stream or read or rewatch or reread. The possibility of being... Read more →


Providing bank data for direct deposit of coronavirus relief payments will get you added more quickly to the growing number of folks — around 130 million so far — who've received their COVID cash. Photo by Alexander Mils from Pexels More than 130 million COVID-19 economic impact payments have been delivered, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That means the tax agency is nearing the end of its distribution of the money that is intended to help folks cover a few of the costs they've incurred due to the impact of coronavirus on the U.S. economy. And even though the... Read more →


Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels Interstate tax matters are difficult in the best of times. During a pandemic, they can be particularly confusing, infuriating and for the state hardest hit by COVID-19, a tax public relations nightmare. Health care heroes from across the country who came to work in overwhelmed New York hospitals and other medical facilities have learned that in addition to the eternal gratitude of Empire State and Big Apple residents, they also are getting tax bills. The issue was first reported by a New York City television station that spoke with medical staff at the temporary... Read more →


Click image to watch the Mos Eisley cantina scene, in which these musicians provide the catchy background tune, from the 1977 Star Wars movie that launched the acclaimed sci-fi film franchise. Welcome to the first week of May 2020. It's a decidedly weird month, in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic. When the deadly COVID-19 infection started spreading in force across the United States, most of the country shut down to some degree. Now many states are loosening their stay-home orders and things are starting to some degree to get back to normal, or what will pass as that... Read more →


Some suddenly out-of-work people are taking a double hit. Not only must they deal with the loss of income, but also the loss of their workplace-provided medical coverage. This week's relatively good COVID-19 pandemic economic news is that the latest count of folks who filed for unemployment benefits was down. The bad news? The U.S. Department of Labor reported today that another 3.8 million people filed claims for jobless benefits last week. While that's a drop from the previous week's 4.4 million unemployment claims, overall more than 30.3 million have applied for state help to make ends meet now that... Read more →


The beach obviously is one of the big attractions of Virginia Beach, Virginia. But the coastal vacation spot, like the rest of the Old Dominion, has been under a coronavirus lockdown. So city officials created a tax holiday to help out restaurants. (Image courtesy Visit Virginia Beach Facebook page) There's only so much sourdough you can bake. Man — and woman and children, too — can't live on bread alone. So, if you're like the hubby and me during COVID-19 quarantine, you've had some meals delivered or picked up your curbside dinner order yourself. The food prepared by your favorite... Read more →


Photo by Alexander Mils from Pexels Have you received your COVID-19 economic relief payment? The Internal Revenue Service says that 88.1 million taxpayers have. Those payments, which were delivered as of April 17, come to a total of almost $158 billion. Both the total checks and the overall amount are worthy of this week's early By the Numbers recognition. Timely turnaround: The coronavirus relief payments were authorized as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that was enacted on March 27. That means that in three weeks, the IRS is more than halfway through the 150... Read more →


Even in the midst of a global pandemic, some things must go on. Like state sales tax holidays. Missouri's annual Show Me Green Sales Tax Holiday, a week of tax breaks on energy efficient appliances, began April 19 and runs through April 25. As the Show Me State's first sales tax holiday of 2020 winds down, Texas' usual spring emergency supplies tax-free event kicks off. It runs April 25 through April 27. Show me shopping where: Missouri residents who need new appliances could save if they opt to purchase Energy Star certified items. The state's 4.225 percent sales tax won't... Read more →


A closeup of the bread line statues that are part of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy National Park Service) Another 5.245 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending April 11, according to the Department of Labor's report issued last week. These latest applications mean that coronavirus ramifications have wiped out more than a decade of U.S. job growth. Since June 2009, more than 20 million new jobs were reported across the United States. But in just the last four weeks, the number of unemployment claims has reached 22 million. That 22 million... Read more →


The COVID-19 outbreaks and subsequent worldwide stay-at-home orders have meant empty streets. Hello, Saturday! We made it through not just another week, but not-Tax-Day week, where we saw the arrival of a weird April 15 when neither our federal nor state tax returns were due. Now onward to July 15. Except for some states. A couple, Hawaii and Iowa, have usual personal income tax deadlines later than mid-April, so their extension deadline is later than July 15. A few — Idaho, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Virginia — want their personal state filings before mid-summer. And then there's the myriad deadline... Read more →


Each of the 50 U.S. states has its own tax system. Most have opted during this year of COVID-19 to follow the federal decision to push Tax Day 2020 to July 15. (Map with state capitals, in case you want to use it for home schooling during the coronavirus stay-home duration, is via SafetyMagnets.) When 2020 began, this week was the target day for millions of taxpayers. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck. COVID-19 has upended everything. Obviously, health considerations are paramount. As we individually deal with ways to protect ourselves and our families, tax officials also have been working to... Read more →


National Guard troops have been deployed to help states meet COVID-19 needs, ranging from personal protective equipment training, support of medical testing facilities and healthcare professionals and assisting with disinfecting and cleaning common public spaces. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Defense) Taxes have been in the public spotlight this week, not because right about now we normally would be nearing the annual filing deadline, but because of how the coronavirus pandemic has thrown normal, including our tax obligations, out the window. By now you know that April 15 is not Tax Day this year. Instead, it's been pushed to July... Read more →


We're in what during normal times would be the annual tax season's big push to the end (or an extension). But these are not normal times. Instead, it feels more and more like we're living in a tax version of Bill Murray's classic "Groundhog Day." That's because for the second time in three days the Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have moved the deadlines for filing and paying taxes. Friday, March 20, morning Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin decided that an earlier decision that split the usual April 15 deadline for tax filing and paying should be changed. So he... Read more →


The Senate also addresses this year's tax filing and payment deadline, as well as those for 2020 estimated tax payments, in its coronavirus relief bill. Keep reading for more on this latest change and check out this Q&A for elaboration from the IRS on some specific tax considerations under the new mid-July deadlines. 2019 tax year returns and any due payments now will be due on July 15, 2020, according to a Treasury Department announcement this morning. And yes, I drew that sloppy circle and scribbled the info on my own calendar. I should have had a cup of coffee... Read more →


Unemployment claims are skyrocketing across the United States as more businesses close as a precaution to stem the spread of the coronavirus. The latest on claims for unemployment benefits was released today by the U.S. Department of Labor. For the week ending on March 14, around 281,000 Americans filed first-time claims for the benefits. That's up 33 percent from the 211,000 benefits claims the week before. Percentage wise, the increase was among the largest one-week spikes on record. Here in the Lone Star State, the Texas Workforce Commission reports that from March 8 to March 14 it received 16,038 unemployment... Read more →


UPDATE, 2:15 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, March 18, 2020: The Treasury and Internal Revenue Service have issued an official statement about the April 15 tax payment grace period. The portions that answer some of the questions raised earlier in this post are now added as yellow highlighted sections within the original post with any additional notations by me in red. Our world has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic, but we're still trying to hold on to some semblance of normal life. One of those life constants this time of year is taxes. Yesterday, March 17, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin joined... Read more →


States also are coping with COVID-19 and tax return timing, with a handful already delaying some returns. UPDATE, March 21, 2020: Tax Day 2020 has changed again. Now taxpayers have until July 15 to file their 2019 returns and pay any due tax. This latest change was announced March 20 and the IRS issued some guidance on the changes on March 21. This window's timely admonition usually is good advice as April 15 nears. This year, however, Tax Day may be pushed back due to the spreading coronavirus. (Painted window in Harlingen, Texas, 1939, by Lee Russell; New York Public... Read more →


This is what I paid for a gallon of gas four years ago. It's not quite that cheap right now, but fuel prices here and nationwide are heading down again. Life is full of trade-offs. That includes our tax lives. If you have money in the stock market, the continued declines of asset values are, at best, disconcerting. Uncertainty about the coronavirus, both how quickly it's spreading and questions on how to contain it, have been a major factor in the market's losses. But another factor came into play with today's dive. The biggest oil price crash in decades sent... Read more →


(Pixabay via Pexels) When you're in the military, taxes are likely far down on your list of concerns. Members of the military, however, bear the same tax responsibility as do all U.S. citizens. The one bit of good tax news here is that the tax code and Internal Revenue Service take into account the special circumstances that armed services personnel face. Here are some tax highlights for military taxpayers. Affected armed forces: Military tax benefits typically apply to active duty or reserve members of the armed forces. The eligible forces are: United States Army (including Army Reserve and Army National... Read more →


Texas doesn't have a personal income tax, but there are plenty of other levies we Lone Star State residents must pay. Most U.S. taxpayers also must file a state return every spring. Only those of us who live in one of the seven states — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, Wyoming and my home Texas — don't have to mess with state income tax forms. Some more local jurisdictions, generally large cities, also levy income taxes. And most of those other 43 states (and cities et al) plus the District of Columbia also follow the federal April 15 deadline.... Read more →