Politics Feed

The Japanese anime television series Hamtaro is being used by some Thai protesters as a symbol of what they say is their government's insatiable appetite for taxpayer dollars. Here in the United States, we've been watching the continuing #BlackLivesMatter social and racial justice protests that were sparked by the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody. We are not alone. Similar protests have been held around the world. But in Thailand, there is another, tax-related protest that's taken a lighter approach to highlight a serious issue. Hundreds of Thai young people last weekend sang a Japanese cartoon jingle... 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 →


Yes, people should pay their bills. Sometimes, though, things happen. Just look at the financial crises the coronavirus pandemic has created for individuals. And yes, in some limited cases turning over way past-due bills to a private collection agency is appropriate. Note the use of the word limited. Full disclosure. For the most part, I hate bill collectors. I've helped family members who were in financial straits deal with them. While things worked out in our favor, those agencies' employees were the total worst. That's why I was disappointed (yeah, let's use that term to keep the ol' blog family... 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 →


The Hon. John Lewis receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2010. (Obama White House photo) The celebration of the life of the Hon. John Lewis continues. Today, the late civil rights leader and long-time member of Congress lies in state in his native Alabama. Other key moments from his early days in the South also will be commemorated as part of the six-day journey of memorialization and tributes that continues in Washington, D.C., before he goes to his final rest in Atlanta. America, the world actually, lost a true hero when Lewis passed away on... Read more →


UPDATE, July 28, 2020: We finally know how the Senate wants to handle additional COVID-19 economic relief. The GOP-crafted Heath, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act, like the already passed Democratic House bill, provides for another round of stimulus payments, but isn't quite as generous as far as dependents. It also drastically reduces federal unemployment assistance. Details on this opening gambit are in these articles from The Washington Post and CNBC. Washington, D.C. watchers are used to federal lawmakers' last-minute struggles to create and pass legislation. Often though, we have to wait until the end of the year.... 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 →


Tax season 2020 is over. That means the focus of most Americans returns to the same thing we've been fixating on (besides taxes) for the last few months: COVID-19. The coronavirus is still here. It's getting worse in some — OK, a lot of — states. Even in the areas where it seems to be under better control, people are still worrying about what it means to their lives and, of course, their livelihoods. Although some jobs returned earlier this summer, that partial economic recovery is not expected to last after coronavirus cases reemerged following state re-openings. So folks are... 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 →


Often, too often, we use independence and freedom interchangeably. Even dictionaries and thesauruses say the words each mean to some degree the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint (freedom) or the state of being free from the control or power of another (independence). On this July 4, 2020, we are reevaluating what those definitions mean to us, our families, friends and neighbors, to people we don't know personally and to the United States as a whole. The scrutiny of those definitions could fill library shelves nationwide where reference — and history... Read more →


The tax agency has made it clear that the July 15 filing deadline is firm. But you still can get an extension to file, giving you until Oct. 15 to submit your Form 1040. Just ask for it by July 15. Plus, there other filing extension options (and forms on this Tax Form Tuesday!) for other tax circumstances. If you were hoping the Internal Revenue Service would push Tax Day 2020 beyond July 15, sorry. The agency says the already-delayed filing and tax paying deadline for 2019 returns is firm. When the IRS announced that decision late Monday afternoon (or... 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 →


A recent government survey found most people are spending their COVID stimulus money on necessities, like food. (Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels) What did you do with your COVID-19 economic impact payment (EIP)? If you're like most of the folks who responded to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, you used it to pay household bills. Many in the White House and on Capitol Hill had hoped the funds would help jump-start the stalled economy and then keep it going as businesses started to reopen. Looks like that's a big sorry on both counts. Instead, it appears, at least in... Read more →


Internal Revenue Service has offices nationwide, like this one in New York City. They were closed, at least partially, earlier this year as the agency took steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Now the IRS is calling back more of its workers to deal with the impending July 15 Tax Day. (Photo by Matthew Bisanz via Wikipedia Commons) As Tax Day 2020 nears, the Internal Revenue Service is bringing back more staff — thousands are expected back at their desks on Monday, June 29 — to deal with the added tasks that have been given the agency in... Read more →


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels The last few months have been interesting for older individuals exploring ways to make the most of their retirement money. This demographic got some more, and mostly good, news again this week. The Internal Revenue Service has decided they now have more time to return required retirement account withdrawals they made earlier this year. Retirement savers' law changes: The tax-related retirement news started in December 2019 with the enactment of the wide-ranging retirement reform measure. The so-called SECURE Act, as the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act is called, moved the age... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service announced in late May that it had sent out more than 152 COVID-19 economic relief payments totaling almost $258 billion Some coronavirus cash, however, went to folks that weren't supposed to get it. This includes relief payments to deceased taxpayers, some foreign-based workers and incarcerated individuals, as well as those married to someone who is in prison. Request, not demand: The IRS wants these folks to send back their stimulus money, although there's no indication, either legislatively or regulatorily, that the agency has any authority to require it. There's also the question of how it would... Read more →


Photo by Chris F from Pexels Are you taking dad out for a Father's Day brunch, in a properly-precautioned restaurant of course, complete with toasts to what a great pop he's been? Or maybe giving him a bottle of his favorite whiskey? Here's a present for you, the potent potables purchaser. A new study says alcohol taxes are at historic lows. No, it's not because alcohol excise taxes have been statutorily reduced. Fan of single malts can thank inflation. Or rather the lack of it. The new study by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) just published in the... Read more →


The House-passed Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act called for more a second round of COVID-19 stimulus checks. The Senate is starting to come around to the idea. But some folks are still waiting for their original coronavirus economic impact payments (EIPs), which were authorized in late March as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Those initial COVID-19 payments could be as much as $1,200 for qualifying individuals or $2,400 for eligible married couples. Parents also could get $500 for each qualifying child who's younger than 17 at the end of this... Read more →


The Trump Administration plans in the next few weeks to announce a $1 trillion infrastructure bill, according to Bloomberg and Financial Times. The proposed spending on roads and bridges is seen as a way to further jump start the COVID-19 hobbled U.S. economy. The money reportedly would be spent over 10 years, but those familiar with the White House thinking say the plan is still "fluid and could take time." It also would go head-to-head with not only a sizable Democratic highway bill now before a House subcommittee, but also a GOP version that cleared the Senate last summer. Mapping... Read more →