Environment Feed

These West Texas cattle don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their ranches' profitability. If drought has caused problems, the IRS is offering them some tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) When we city folks think of disaster preparation and animals, we're worrying about how to keep our pets safe during and after a major Mother Nature event. It's a bit more complicated when the animals are part of your livelihood. That's why farmers and ranchers in the path of potential disasters, like the flooding that now's across... Read more →


No gasoline necessary for electric vehicles like this Chevrolet Bolt, which instead is plugged in to recharge for the road. If you opt for an IRS-certified electric auto or light truck, you might get some tax break help on your purchase. Climate change is getting more coverage lately. People are paying attention to what's happening with Mother Nature here in the United States thanks to the opposing environmental takes by the two presidential contenders. On a more personal level for many Americans is that we're in the midst of one of the most active hurricane seasons ever — we're already... Read more →


To make sure you, not the U.S. Treasury, gets more of these, don't overlook possible tax deductions and credits. At tax time, filers are always searching for ways to reduce their final tax bill. You can claim deductions, either by itemizing if that gives you more than your standard deduction amount or by claiming some income adjustments, still referred to (by me, at least!) as above-the-line deductions that reduce the amount of income that's taxed. There also are tax credits, which are even better because the directly reduce what you owe Uncle Sam dollar-for-dollar and in some cases could produce... Read more →


These West Texas cattle don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their agribusiness operation. In the case of drought, they might get some tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it," observed Hartford Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner back in the late 1800s. More than a century later, that meteorological quip is still applicable. Long-time readers know I'm one of the guilty weather complainers. Heck, I do it so much that it's earned its own category on the ol'... Read more →


Today I'd rather be in the Midwest, say northern Ohio or Michigan, at least as far as the weather. Yeah, it's chillier than I like, but at least it's not so dang windy. As the screen shot above of the live wind map wind shows, the rest of the country is dealing with some strong gusts. Locally, we're at around 13 mile per hour sustained wind, with gusts up to 30 mph. Where wind pays: You'd think I'd be used to the wind. I did, after all, grow up in West Texas, where the wide-open spaces are perfect to spin... Read more →


Teslas are the most popular electric vehicles (EVs) in the United States. Creator Elon Musk, however, isn't riding on his EV's laurels. The space exploration and auto impresario says some unusual custom horn sounds are coming. That's right, the honk of your high-dollar Tesla soon could replicate fart and goat noises. That should spark more potential owner interest, although the biggest market for this change, 9-year-old boys, can't drive. Still, Musk knows he needs to do something to keep interest in Teslas high since the EVs no longer qualify for the federal tax credit. Worse, a new report from an... 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 →


Happy Earth Day 2019 Earth Day was created in 1969 by environmental activists in response to an oil spill in waters near Santa Barbara, California. Since then, it has expanded each year as a day to emphasize environmental issues and inspire an appreciation of our planet. With this year's celebration falling on a weekday, many folks are looking for ways to incorporate their pro-Mother Earth efforts into their daily lives. Well, nothing is as incorporated into our day-to-day existences as our taxes. So on Earth Day 2019 and every day this year, here are 4 tax-saving environmental options. 1. Electric... Read more →


Tax credits for buying a Chevrolet Bolt, left, or Volt are going down on April 1. (Photo courtesy Driving Canada) The climate change debate rages on in political circles, but on U.S. roadways, many folks are voting, as the old saying goes, with their pocketbooks. They're buying more energy efficient and less polluting cars. And Uncle Sam has been part of that sales campaign. A federal tax credit that can be as much as $7,500 has convinced some Americans to trade in their gas guzzlers for electric autos. That tax break, however, doesn't last forever. Once an electric vehicle becomes... Read more →


No messy splash back in fueling a Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle outside a Go Forth showroom in Portland, Oregon. It's that not very jolly time of year in Washington, D.C. Representatives and Senators are back in town for a few weeks to wrap up necessary legislation before heading home for the holidays. Political fights ensue. The session drags on until it's nearly Christmas. Or after. Members of Congress and staff stuck at work instead of making merry with family and friends and not happy. Neither are taxpayers who are wondering what literal year-end changes to tax laws lawmakers will make,... Read more →


Updated Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 Smoke from the Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires now burning in California as seen via NASA satellite images. Earthquakes have been displaced as the most feared nature disaster in California. Wildfires, which once again are ravaging the Golden State, now are the biggest perennial natural threat, as evidenced by the latest rash of devastating and deadly flame outbreaks. Firefighters are battling three wildfires across the state. The Camp Fire, named after Camp Creek Road, is now the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. As of Monday, Nov. 12, morning, the fire was responsible... Read more →


Homes along Lake LBJ sustained flood damage after recent torrential rains sent Central Texas waterways over their banks. The effect of too many days of too much rain is indicated by the debris and dumpsters outside the homes, as well as the lake's water up to the tree canopy and the usually blue water turned muddy by the waters that rushed into it from upstream. (Photo taken Oct. 18, 2018, by Kay Bell) We had a magnificent weather weekend, with two gorgeous days in the Austin area and we get to start this new week with more sunshine and full... Read more →


Missouri taxpayers who have federal tax refunds burning holes in their pockets have a tax-saving way to spend that money. Today, Thursday, April 19, is the start of the state's annual Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday. Since 2009, this week-long event provides buyers the opportunity to purchase qualifying new Energy Star appliances without paying any state sales tax on the items. That's an immediate savings of 4.225 percent that, during the other 51 weeks of the year, would be added to these appliances' prices. Plus, depending on where you live (or travel to buy), the sales tax savings could be... Read more →


Energy-efficient skylights installed in 2017 could provide homeowners some savings thanks to a recently renewed tax credit. Congress slipped some expired tax breaks into the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 enacted back in February. That was good news for taxpayers who can claim these tax breaks, but it set off a mad scramble within the Internal Revenue Service. Playing processing catch-up: Uncle Sam's tax agency had to dig out and update the appropriate forms and then re-set its processing systems to handle them. And all this had to be done while the 2018 tax-filing season was already underway. The IRS... Read more →


The continental United States will be a little dimmer today as the solar eclipse moves across the lower 48. Some folks, however, focus on the sun every day. They have solar energy systems. If you’re interest in joining their sun worshiping ranks, the tax code can help. The federal solar tax credit, officially known as the solar investment tax credit (ITC), allows you to claim on your federal taxes 30 percent of the cost of a solar energy system. Good, it’s a tax credit. This means you get a dollar-for-dollar reduction of any tax you owe. Even better, installation costs... Read more →


Many drivers worry about the accessibility of electric vehicle recharging stations. That's not a problem for the owners of these electric cars charging along an Ontario, Canada, street. (Photo courtesy EVObsession.com) President Donald Trump signed an executive order today designed to streamline the approval process for building roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Contractors and the transportation industry say that will help improve the building and repair of the country's roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects. Critics say the Administration's approach could lead to rubber stamping permits without adequate scrutiny, especially when it comes to environmental effects of such construction. One... Read more →


Happy Earth Day 2017! Maybe you're spending this Saturday simply out enjoying the beauty of Mother Earth. Or perhaps you're participating in the March for Science (the main event in D.C. or satellite marches across the country) to support scientific efforts, including the study of climatology and climate change. Regardless of how you acknowledge Earth Day, thank you for thinking of our planet. In recognition of your commitment to protect and preserve the only place we humans and other creatures have (so far) to live, here are 7 tax saving options that reward energy and environmentally friendly efforts. Let's start... Read more →


Bluebonnets, the state flower of Texas, are among the wildflowers that emerged early this year thanks to warmer than normal temperatures. (Photo of a Hill Country patch on March 18, 2017, by Kay Bell) Hello, Spring! You used to be my favorite season, but for the last few years — OK, the last dozen that we've been back in Texas — you've arrived in late February or early March and only lasted about three days. By the time you're official, which was when you clocked in at 6:29 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (5:29 a.m. CDT; I was asleep) today, it... Read more →


With Republicans soon to be in control of Congress and the White House, the tax focus has shifted to a major rewrite of the Internal Revenue Code. But this legislative approach means that more than 30 temporary tax provisions will disappear from the tax code on Jan. 1, 2017. Whether they are resurrected in any new tax overhaul depends on how persuasive the various laws' lobbyists are, how committed Senators and Representatives are to streamlining the tax code and how much tax revenue is gained or lost by their continued absence or revival. Extenders usually long lives: These tax laws,... Read more →


China has enacted a series of taxes on various types of industrial pollution. But to the dismay of even some of its own government researchers, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are not included in the tax plan. Some specific emissions could mean tax bills for Chinese companies under a new pollution tax law just enacted by that country. (Photo by Graeme Maclean via Flickr CC) Still, for the first time ever, public institutions and companies that discharge listed pollutants directly into the environment will face specific environmental protection taxes. Some air, water pollutants targeted: Under the law passed Dec.... Read more →