Economy Feed

A White Walker with an ice spear from the HBO show Game of Thrones. A North Carolina man allegedly took his love of the Game of Thrones books and television program too far. He's been charged by federal officials of trying to steal $6.1 million in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans by setting up fake companies, some of which were named after the popular fantasy series, referred to as GoT by its millions of fans. Tristan Bishop Pan of Garner, North Carolina, has been charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions, according to officials with... Read more →


Millions of U.S. government employees in federal buildings across the country, like this one Sacramento, California, are being forced to participate in the Trump Administration's partial payroll tax deferral. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are continuing their efforts to cobble together a second round of COVID-19 stimulus payments. Some people, however, don't want the ostensible financial relief they're already getting. They are among the federal workers and military members who've had the Social Security portion of their Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) payroll taxes automatically suspended. Forty-three Representatives say they've heard from these constituents who are... Read more →


Most states' final quarter of fiscal year 2020 took a revenue hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But their annual tax collections, which were probably mostly electronic instead of as official state quarters, wasn't as bad as many had feared. (Photo — and coin collection — by Kay Bell) Most states wrapped up their 2020 fiscal year (FY) on June 30. As you might expect, those annual financial numbers were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is surprising, however, is that states' revenue situations weren't as bad as many had feared given the tax issues created by the coronavirus. Fourth-quarter... Read more →


Labor Day is the time to recognize the contributions of workers. It's one of the United States' oldest official commemorations, with Uncle Sam in 1894 making the first Monday of September a legal federal holiday. In this age of consumerism, however, the meaning of Labor Day and other holidays, official or not, often takes a back seat to associated retail sales. The bargains this year, though, are a bit different. Pandemic precautions have pushed even more shoppers online. COVID-19 closures for good: The country's shift to digital transactions already was well underway before COVID-19 appeared in the United States. But... Read more →


Donald J. Trump's payroll tax deferral for employees technically took effect this week. But most employees shouldn't expect to see a minimal raise in their next paychecks. The reason is that few businesses jumped right in there on Sept. 1, the effective date of Trump's Aug. 8 White House memo, to stop withholding their workers' 6.2 percent portion of pay that goes toward the Social Security trust fund. Employers' reluctant choice: Yes, the decision to temporarily stop this segment of payroll withholding is voluntary on the part of companies. Employees, however, don't have the choice of opting in or, if... Read more →


The vehicle lights coming and going across Pennybacker Bridge in northwest Austin are lovely in the evening, but the image also illustrates, as photographer Manuel Garza (via Flickr) notes, "the traffic sucks." I can't speak for all the country's suburbs, but I know mine is pretty sure that our neighborhood will still be around after the coming presidential election even if Joe Biden does move into the White House. We are, however, a bit concerned about how our continuing life here outside Austin's downtown might be affected by a proposed real estate tax increase that also will be on our... Read more →


If you're counting on a slightly bigger paycheck as 2020 winds down due to Donald J. Trump's presidential payroll tax pronouncement, don't hold your breath. Trump's Aug. 8 executive memo called for the deferral of the 6.2 percent employee portion of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax that goes toward Social Security. The White House said it would be an easy way to provide relief for Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. Others, however, weren't so sure about the proposal, especially the easy claim. Almost immediately after the executive memo was released, questions were raised by potentially affected employees, the... Read more →


Rapper Cardi B quizzes Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on taxes (and more) in Elle magazine video chat. The 2020 Democratic Convention kicks off today, but former Vice President Joe Biden, who later this week will be formally nominated by his party to take on Donald J. Trump, got a media head start. Biden's recorded video chat with music superstar Cardi B was posted this morning. No, the nearly 17-minute video wasn't put out by the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris campaign. The conversation was sponsored by Elle, where Cardi's visage graces the fashion/lifestyle magazine's September cover. And no, Cardi's not coming... Read more →


Photo by Pixabay via Pexels.com Ah, election years. They're always, uh, fun. Yeah, let's go with fun. Competing candidates with usually diametrically opposed policy positions go at each other, trying to convince voters that their proposals will better benefit them. That's why we tend to see, even in more usual presidential campaigns, a lot of ideas tossed out, including tax proposals. That's the case in the Trump Administration's suggestion this week to lower capital gains tax rates. Taxing investment timing payoffs: Capital gains are the profits made when you sell assets. We generally think of them in terms of financial... Read more →


Donald J. Trump announced on Aug. 8 four executive actions to provide COVID-19 relief in the wake of the stalled Congressional talks. (White House photo via Twitter) By now everyone knows that Donald J. Trump decided to literally take COVID-19 relief into his own hands yesterday. Sitting at table in a meeting room at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, surrounded by media and club members who served as a smaller surrogate rally crowd to cheer him and boo the reporters, Trump sign four executive actions. One was a formal Executive Order. The other three were memoranda. He and his... Read more →


Millions of youngsters across the United States will start this school year in virtual classrooms. But the tax savings are real in 11 states holding sales tax holidays this weekend. Ten of the events kick off at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7. Most run through the full weekend. One doesn't start until Sunday, Aug. 9, but continues through the following Saturday, Aug. 15. Below are this weekend's back-to-school tax holidays listed alphabetically by participating states. The links, which include the state names, provide more details on what is and isn't tax-free. Florida: Friday, Aug. 7 through Sunday, Aug. 9.... Read more →


Screenshot from an interview in 2011 of Georgist economist and professor Mason Gaffney (Posted on Vimeo by the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation) Not to be morbid, but I like reading obituaries. They reflect not only on peoples' lives, but also provide a look at the worlds and times in which they lived. Well-written obits essentially are mini history lessons. I came across one such commemoration last week that introduced to me the late Mason Gaffney, as well as Henry George and the economic concept of land-value-only taxation. A tax to pay for progressive goals: Gaffney, who passed away on July 16,... Read more →


Congress is debating, sort of, the possibility of, among other pandemic-related issues, another round of COVID-19 economic relief payments (EIPs). That's good news for folks struggling to make ends meet in the wake of coronavirus-related economic troubles. But some folks haven't yet received the first stimulus checks created back in March under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Created to help, but…: Now there's some good news for some encountering relief payment problems. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) now can help taxpayers in certain situations resolve their COVID-19 payment issues. "Previously, the IRS did not have a... Read more →


Photo by Scrumshus via Citypeek-Wikipedia The Senate this week released its plan for another round of coronavirus relief. As expected, there are substantial differences between this Republican-crafted bill and the measure passed in mid-May by the Democratically-controlled House. Both bills are wide-ranging, but there are some key provisions that are of particular interest to most of us. Both also use as a basis in many areas the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provisions that were enacted in late March. Below is a comparison of seven key areas in the latest GOP Senate's Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection... Read more →


Classic television's Cleaver family, circa 1960. (Photo via Wikipedia Commons) Senate leaders and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin promise they'll release next week the Republican response to the Democratic House's already approved next round of COVID-19 relief payments. Until then, we're still speculating on what will be in the counter proposal. It's a safe bet, however, that it will contain a second round of direct payments. The first payments, created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act that became law in late March. What's not clear, though, is who would qualify for this additional stimulus money. Halfway... Read more →


UPDATE, July 23, 2020: The White House has dropped its push for a payroll tax cut as part of the next round of COVID-19 relief. Although Donald Trump cited Democrats' objections to the payroll tax cut, top Senate Republicans also disliked the idea, seeing it as too expensive as they struggle to craft a relief version to counter the already-passed House bill. Federal lawmakers are working on the next COVID-19 relief package. Specifically, Republican Senators are working on a stimulus deal since House Democrats, who control that Congressional chamber, approved their proposal back in May. But in addition to dealing... Read more →


Shopping during a pandemic will be challenging, but Alabama retailers and customers hope the state's annual back-to-school sales tax holiday this weekend will make everyone as happy as this young shopper. It's on! It is Alabama's annual Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday weekend. It starts at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 17, and runs until the clock strikes midnight on Sunday, July 19. And yes, everyone knows that we're still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cases are increasing throughout the United States, with the South one of the hardest hit areas. Businesses and officials in Alabama, however, are going... Read more →


UPDATED, July 31, 2020: This post was published originally on July 8 in advance of the 2020 state sales tax holiday season. As the holidays come and go, I'll change the headline to reflect the upcoming events. I'll also color code the table showing all 16 sales tax holidays planned for this summer so you can easily see which have past and which are on the immediate horizon. Coming up at the end of July/first of August are tax holidays in Mississippi and Tennessee. If and when schools reopen, classrooms likely will look much different from this due to COVID-19... Read more →


Do you have a big tax bill, but are down to your last bottom dollar? That's the worry of many taxpayers in this coronavirus-affected filing season. But you do have payment options. (Photo by cottonbro via Pexels) Tax Day 2020 is rapidly approaching and a lot of taxpayers are not ready for it. It's not just their Form 1040 filing that's an issue. They are concerned about paying any tax that's also due on this year's July 15 due date that was postponed by coronavirus precautions. The audit defense company TaxAudit reports that more than a third — 37 percent... Read more →


Erin M. Collins took over as National Taxpayer Advocate on March 30, just as the United States was coming to grips with the coronavirus, so it's no surprise that the pandemic and its effects on taxes are part of her first official report to Congress. "Starting in the midst of a pandemic and witnessing IRS offices closing one by one was not the way I envisioned my role when I accepted the position," wrote Collins in the report's preface. But, added Collins, there's been a silver lining. In conference calls with her leadership team, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) employees and... Read more →