Shout Out Feed

Nestor, show in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image above as it gathered steam yesterday (Oct. 18) in the Gulf of Mexico, moved today closer to the Florida panhandle. The good news is that Nestor is now a post-tropical storm. That designation change, however, doesn't mean this 14th named storm of the 2019 hurricane season is harmless. As Nestor moves inland across the southeastern United States, it is projected to bring heavy rains and associated flooding, coastal surges and severe thunderstorms, some with tornadoes. Meanwhile, in the northeastern part of the county, a large bomb cyclone wreaked havoc.... Read more →


More than a dozen states now provide marketplace options to health care shoppers. And although the federal enrollment mandate and penalty is gone, some states still require their residents to get coverage or pay a price. Plus, federal tax help remains for some seeking medical insurance on their own. The annual employee benefits enrollment period, usually referred to as open season, is underway or about to begin across the country. During these weeks, workers choose from an array of employer-provided and usually tax-favored benefits. I'll be writing more on this shortly. You can read more on the annual benefits selection... Read more →


Märzen Oktoberfest beer photo courtesy Kegerator Oktoberfest celebrations are wrapping up here in the German communities of Central Texas, as well as around the rest of the Lone Star State, nation and world. That means we'll all be back to drinking our regular routine beers. What won't change are the federal and state excise taxes collected on brewskis. Tax price of imbibing: It's a notable amount. The Beer Institute says that more than 40 percent of the retail price of beer comes from taxes. A big chunk of that is from the federal alcohol tax of up to 58 cents... Read more →


The wealth-tax proposal advocated by Sen. Elizabeth Warren includes a hefty marriage penalty, according to one leading economist's analysis. (Photo courtesy Warren's Facebook page) It's another weekend, so that means it's time for another look at wealth tax proposals. Yeah, I know it seems like I'm in a bit of a rut, having posted about proposals from Democratic presidential hopefuls in recent weekends (on Aug. 18, Sept. 14 and a Monday, Sept. 16). But the suggested ways to get more money from the rich are still getting attention. Wealth tax roadblocks: Personally, I don't think any of these sweeping measures... Read more →


Flooding along I-10 in the Port Arthur, Texas, area due to Tropical Storm Imelda's excessive rain. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Office via Twitter) Coastal and East Texas is flashing back to 2017. That year, major Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. Many parts of Space City and the Gulf Coast are still recovering. Now it's Tropical Storm Imelda, which now has devolved into a depression, that has dropped way too much rain on the area. At least five people have died and the southeastern part of the Lone Star State is facing record-setting flooding. Google Maps Using nest egg to make... Read more →


via GIPHY If you've been following the pack of politicians seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, you know that ways to tax the wealthy is a common thread. But there are as many proposals to do that as there are White House wannabes, although Elizabeth Warren is leading in suggested changes to get more tax money from the rich. There's the general wealth tax, corporate book profits tax, new Social Security wage tax, new Social Security net investment income tax (NIIT), new estate tax and every Democrats' favorite, repealing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) lower rates for higher... Read more →


Some of the devastation facing Bahamians following Hurricane Dorian's direct hit on the islands. (Photo courtesy Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance via Facebook) Hurricane Dorian is still traveling up North America's eastern coastline, but it did its most damage on Sept. 2 when it made landfall as a Category 5 storm in The Bahamas. More than 40 people were killed and that toll is expected to rise. At least 70,000 people are homeless. Early estimates of property damage are around $7 billion in losses. Concerned people are looking for ways to help the residents of the island nation. This... Read more →


It's Friday. The last Friday of the month. A Friday heading into a three-day weekend. So I'm being lazy. I'm shifting Shout Out Saturday to Friday, or as I call it on these special days Focus Friday. The focus this Friday leading into the Labor Day weekend is tax laws. Lee Reems II, a Twitter tax pal and CEO of ClientWhys, CountingWorks.com and TaxBuzz.com obviously is a busy guy. But he still had the time this week to pull together a good overview of tax law changes still in the works in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs... Read more →


Yes, I know I've been fixated of late on computer security. First there was the ransomware warning. Then the new Internal Revenue Service impersonation tax identity theft scheme appeared. Part of the reason such topics have captured my fancy recently is that for the last week I've been away from my office a lot. That's meant doing much of my work on other systems. Even though I trust them, I always get a twinge of fear that somehow, someone will hack me. So thanks for bearing with me on my repetitive focus on computer — and tax — security, as... Read more →


Elizabeth Warren is a leader among Democratic presidential nominees in calling for a variety of new and increased taxes on the wealthy. (Photo courtesy Warren's Facebook page) Many of the folks trying to become the Democrat to challenge Donald J. Trump in 2020 support raising taxes on the wealthy. It's a popular U.S. campaign rallying cry, but globally, such taxes on net worth are vanishing. All for taking from the rich: The Democratic Party is bucking the global dying wealth tax trend. One of its top goals remains raising the top ordinary income tax rate, which the Tax Cuts and... Read more →


Oops! Someone at Topps was thinking about someone else when Shane, not Justin, Bieber's baseball card was produced. Did your mom throw out your baseball card collection when you went off to college? If so, you can start anew today, National Baseball Card Day, by picking up some brand spanking new cards. The Topps Company, the official trading card partner of Major League Baseball, is celebrating today by giving out free specially-made cards at MLB stadiums across the country, local hobby shops and a couple of major retailers. The new packs feature MLB stars and up-and-coming rookies. Lucky fans also... Read more →


The legendary outlaw Robin Hood, memorialized in this statue in Nottingham, England, took from the rich and gave to the poor. Nowadays, politicians offer Robin Hood style tax plans that increase levies on the wealthy to fund programs for lower income citizens. (Photo by sculptor James Woodford via Wikipedia Commons) If you've been following the cadre of campaigners for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, you know that several White House wannabes have offered tax plans calling for various tax hikes on richer Americans. The latest is from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose catch-all plan basically would, in... Read more →


We're halfway through the second year of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) and its effects, pro and con, are still being debated. Some of those disputes will play out in court, like the latest challenge to the tax reform law's limits on federal tax deductions for state and local taxes (SALT). This latest SALT legal action, brought by New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, was prompted by Treasury's and the Internal Revenue Service's regulation, finalized last month, that effectively guts the charitable workarounds these states had created to provide their residents full federal tax benefit of their state... Read more →


The Apollo 11 lunar landing mission crew, pictured from left to right, Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. (Photo courtesy NASA/Wikipedia Commons) Today, July 20, is a momentous day for science, the spirit of adventure and humanity. At 10:56 p.m. Eastern Time (9:56 p.m. in my West Texas hometown's Central Time zone), Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. I remember sitting on the floor in front of our black and white television with my younger brother. We had been allowed, actually encouraged, to stay up late to... Read more →


Do you simultaneously use multiple digital devices? Me, too. Our online addictions are big money for tech giants and now France and other European nations want to get a piece of the tax pie from the global conpanies. Poor Facebook and Twitter and Google. (You noticed the sarcasm font, right?) They were shut out of Donald J. Trump's Social Media Summit on Thursday, July 11, which didn't end too, well, sociably. Worse, that same day France approved a measure to tax the tech giants. Since most of us live inordinately digital lives nowadays, I'm giving an early Saturday Shout Out,... 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 →


National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson, shown here in a screen shot from an earlier C-SPAN appearance, takes parting shot at 'woefully inadequate' IRS customer service in her final report to Congress before she retires in July. Nina E. Olson is nothing if not consistent. The problem for taxpayers with this trait is that it means much of the change to and improvement of the Internal Revenue Service that Olson has championed for almost two decades remains unfinished. Olson is the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), at least for another few weeks. She was appointed to the IRS oversight post in... 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 →


Although the June 7 jobs report showed that U.S. unemployment held steady at 3.6 percent, its lowest level in nearly 50 years, wage growth also was slow. That might help explain this week's Saturday Shout Out article from MarketWatch that one-third of Americans say they need a side gig to pay expenses. "A lot of people are working side hustles because even though the economy is strong, wages are stagnant," Amanda Dixon, an analyst at Bankrate, told MarketWatch. "For a lot of Americans, expenses are rising, but there are no raises at work." Side gigs include everything from working as... Read more →


Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee when his party pushed through tax reform in December 2017, celebrates in June 2018 the six-month anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A new Congressional report, however, doesn't have much positive to say about the new tax law's first-year economic effects. During the rushed, ahem, debate of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in late 2017, its Republican sponsors touted the bill's economic benefits. The cuts to U.S. businesses would prompt more domestic investments. Workers would get bonuses and/or raises. This would speed up the... Read more →