State tax tidbits Feed

All of us have to deal with the crazy that's the federal Internal Revenue Code. But on top of that, we also have to slog through the intricacies of our individual state tax laws. This applies to everyone, because 99.9 percent* of the time, we face some sort of state or local income and/or sales tax. Showy buckles are part of Texas' unofficial dress code. But if they are sold separately from belts, they are not considered tax-free clothing during Texas' tax holiday. Go figure. And some of those tax laws are whack, or to be more precise, totally out... Read more →

Three days of the shortest month of the year -- and tax-filing season -- have already passed. I guess it's true what they say: time flies when you're having tax fun. The celebrations began on Feb. 1, at least by the Patriots fans. The IRS also enjoyed the day since all those Super Bowl winning bets are taxable. The NFL championship game is just one special, and tax-related, day in February. There's Groundhog Day on Feb. 2. It's a perfect reminder that you don't want to be caught in a Bill Murray loop and end up doing your taxes over... Read more →

If you're hitting the road to a new destination this Thanksgiving holiday, you've probably been looking at a road map. Take a tax break from those red and blue highways and check out the even more colorful Tax Foundation's map of possible tax bracket creep across the United States. Bracket creep is as icky as it sounds. It flares up, notes the Washington, D.C.-based group, when tax brackets aren't indexed for inflation. Without that adjustment, as a taxpayer's earnings increase, that added money will be taxed at higher rates. You could contract this terrible tax affliction if you live in... Read more →

This is starting to be the least surprising news ever, but we really, really don't think very much of Congress. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that Americans' views of Republican leaders in Congress remain at near-historic lows. Democratic leaders are viewed somewhat more positively, though more of us still disapprove than approve of their job performance. So what can Representatives and Senators do to get a little love? Some members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are proposing that they tax pay cuts. "No Budget, No Pay" bills in both the House and Senate would hold... Read more →

It's Friday. As the song goes, we've all been working for the weekend and that means as soon as we clock out today, we're heading off to celebrate with an adult beverage. Most of my friends are wine drinkers. Me, I'm a beer fan. I mean really, when it's hot outside, or your plate of Tex-Mex is hot and spicy, there's no better thing than a cold brew. And have you ever tried taking a long, refreshing chug of wine? Can't do it. Vino just doesn't work like an icy beer. I just checked my refrigerator and was stunned to... Read more →

I'm still recovering from a recent business trip, but I spent most of the morning making arrangements for more out-of-town travel. Amid all the hassle of searching for convenient and cheap airfare, not to mention sorting through hotel options, my only consolation is that I'm not headed to Chicago. Chill, Chicagoans. I've been to many conferences in your city and I love it. But according to the 2012 survey of travel-related taxes by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation, Chicago is the costliest destination for visitors. Every year, GBTA analyzes taxes on hotel stays, car rentals and restaurant meals... Read more →

Experts on both taxes and American history were quick to note that my By the Numbers post on states tax filing deadlines that diverge from the IRS due date neglected to discuss the locales that recognize Patriots' Day. This legal holiday in Maine and Massachusetts commemorates the first battles of the Revolutionary War at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. Image courtesy Boston University School of Education Patriots' Day was originally celebrated on the actual day that Americans fired their first musket shots for freedom, but the holiday eventually was moved to create a three-day weekend. It's now officially... Read more →

The annual tax filing deadline is five weeks away. Most taxpayers also have to meet that same timetable for their state tax returns. But residents of 12 states don't have to worry about double duty on April 15 -- or April 18 this filing season, thanks to the convergence of the usual deadline and a special D.C. holiday -- because their states don't follow the IRS filing due date. And those tax calendar renegades represent this week's By the Numbers figure, an even dozen. Of course, folks who live in seven of those 12 states don't have to worry at... Read more →

Lights, cameras, state tax credits!

Academy Award nominee John C. Reilly was asked recently about his experiences in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for filming of the movie of the same name. But there was one problem. The film wasn't made there. "I was excited to go. I was doing research, I was checking out the city," Reilly said in the June 28 issue of New York magazine. "And then Iowa abolished their tax credit for movies and we had to shoot in Ann Arbor." Well, the Hawkeye State had a good reason for closing down its movie production tax break. The Iowa film credit program was... Read more →

Wyoming is a very taxpayer friendly state. It doesn't levy a personal or corporate income tax. Neither does it impose a tax on intangible assets such as bank accounts, stocks or bonds. So where does Wyoming get its operating revenue? In part from sales taxes. Like in many other jurisdictions, however, most food items are exempt from the state's sale tax. And also like in many other jurisdictions, just what is considered food, and therefore nontaxable, is often interesting. Take, for example, wedding cakes. If you pick up your big day's cake from a Wyoming grocery store or bakery, the... Read more →

Fans of the television show Grey's Anatomy know that the medical staff of that fictional Seattle hospital often encounter dramatic workplace threats. But a tax credit enacted in 2006 was designed to help reduce one at least one very real peril that Washington state medical staff face. Health care workers suffer more musculoskeletal disorders that any other employment sector in the state and have higher injury rates than other dangerous occupations, according to the Washington State Nurse Association. The traumas typically come from the manual moving, transferring and re-positioning of patients. To reduce such injuries, part of the Hospital Safe... Read more →

As a kid in West Texas, when the Fourth of July rolled around my friends and I would head out to the countryside to set off fireworks. When the weather was dry, which it usually was, the threat of a scrub fire ignited by a wayward bottle rocket was very real. Since the time my friends and I were firebugs, the fire departments that must deal with such blazes have gotten some help from the Texas tax collector. On Oct. 1, 2001, the Lone Star State enacted a 2 percent tax on the purchase of small fireworks sold to the... Read more →

Several states publicize the names of taxpayers who are accused of not paying their bills. South Dakota tax officials don't mess with that intermediate stage. They cut right to the chase and post an online list of tax convictions. Maybe South Dakotans are inspired by the likes of Honest Abe and the president who couldn't tell a lie looking down from that famous Black Hills cliff. Whatever the reason, business owners who violate the state's tax laws get the added ignominy of seeing their crimes and punishment available to anyone with an Internet connection. Updated monthly, the March list of... Read more →

In addition to being a prime vacation destination, Las Vegas hosts hundreds of conventions, conferences and trade shows each year. The influx of visitors definitely helps out the Silver State's treasury, and officials are determined to get every possible cent from the visitors. If you're a vendor attending an event, tradeshow or convention in Sin City or elsewhere in Nevada, state tax collectors want you to know that you need to contact the event promoter to get your "one-time permit" to sell in the state. And that selling means collecting state sales tax. These temporary sellers must turn over whatever... Read more →

Florida residents escape personal income, inheritance, gift or intangible personal property taxes. But the Sunshine State has to get operating funds from somewhere, so it collects a variety of other taxes and fees. One of the state's major revenue raisers is sales tax. Now, however, it looks like that levy on some high-dollar purchases may be reduced. As part of a nearly $90 million package of tax breaks approved last week by the Florida House, buyers of mega yachts would see their sales taxes capped at $18,000. Supporters of the yacht sales tax break argue that it would help Florida... Read more →

One of the most popular ways to see Alaska is via cruise ship, and that travel option may soon be a bit cheaper. Gov. Sean Parnell wants the legislature to cut the per passenger tax from $46 to $34.50. In addition, the governor's proposal would allow for deductions of local charges which would in some cases bring the cruise head tax down to less than $20. If Last Frontier lawmakers do approve the tax cut, it also could help resolve a federal lawsuit fighting the state's cruise tax, which was enacted in 2006 as a way to raise money for... Read more →

Louisiana Louisiana parents and guardians of school children, be sure to look closely at Schedule E of your tax return this filing season. This year on the form you can claim eligible expenses related to three new education deductions. As the name indicates, the Elementary and Secondary School Tuition Deduction covers tuition and fees for a dependent child's enrollment, kindergarten through grades 12, in qualifying public and nonpublic elementary or secondary schools. Eligible costs include tuition, fees, uniforms, textbooks and other supplies required by the school. The Educational Expenses for Home-Schooled Children also is self-explanatory. Pelican State taxpayers get a... Read more →

Before Virginia was home to U.S. presidents, provided headquarters for the Pentagon and CIA, or was for lovers, it was a major agricultural center. That history is underscored by the variety of agriculture taxes the state still collects. Of the 16 miscellaneous taxes listed in the Virginia Tax Facts, half are connected to agriculture. They are a corn assessment, cotton assessment, egg excise tax, forest products tax, peanut excise tax, sheep assessment. small grains assessment and soybean assessment. Heck, you can even make an argument for considering the cigarette and tobacco products taxes as agricultural levies since farming of the... Read more →

Iowa parents will want to take a look at line 48 of their tax returns. That's where they can claim the state's Tuition and Textbook Credit. This tax break is available to taxpayers with youngsters in grades kindergarten through 12 in an Iowa school. The credit is 25 percent of the first $1,000 paid for each dependent child's tuition and textbooks at an accredited school. For the credit purposes, tuition means any charges for the expense of personnel, buildings, equipment and materials other than textbooks, as well as other costs that relate to the teaching of subjects legally and commonly... Read more →

Congress failed to take action on the federal estate tax last year, but Delaware lawmakers had no such trouble. In what most observers called a surprisingly quick response to the state's budget crisis, Delaware reinstated its estate tax. The legislation reauthorizing the tax was introduced in the Delaware House of Representatives on June 29, 2009, and passed the same day. It cleared the state Senate the next day and was signed by the governor on July 1, 2009. Now estates of Delaware residents who die on and after the July signing date are subject to the tax. The First State... Read more →