State/Local Feed

Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, certain limitations on some Schedule A claims and the sort-of still around personal exemption amount. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. Historically, around 70 percent of filers have claimed the standard deduction on... Read more →


Today, Nov. 5, 2019, voters in seven states — Colorado, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington — will decide, among other things, 32 statewide ballot measures. It's a variety of state constitutional amendments, initiatives, referendums, propositions and non-binding advisory recommendations. Tallying Texans' takes on taxes: Here in Texas, we're voting on four tax-related items. All are legislatively referred constitutional amendments. As the name indicates, the Texas legislature voted to put the questions to voters instead of taking up the matters themselves during the legislative session. It is a form of direct democracy. But it's also, as I see... Read more →


Even more intriguing, will Donald J. Trump now become social media's definitive Florida Man? Donald Trump, especially early in his presidency, spent a lot of time at Mar-a-Lago, his South Florida club and residence. Here, Trump and Melania in April 2017 welcomed the People's Republic of China president Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan to the Palm Beach abode. Now Trump says it, not Trump Tower in New York City, will be his official residence. (Photo via Trump's Twitter account and Wikipedia Commons). The hubby and I used to live in Donald J. Trump's future full-time home. Alas, for... Read more →


Brrrrr! is the new Boo! for Halloween 2019. That's true here in Central Texas where we're expecting a high temperature of 55, along with northerly wind gusts making it feel even chillier. Today is forecast to the be Austin's coldest Halloween day in 28 years. I know. This is nothing compared to other parts of the country. An early-season snowstorm will move through the Great Lakes this Halloween, with truly frigid temperatures across much of the Midwest and Northeast. The winter weather system, dubbed Bessie by The Weather Channel, also dropped half a foot of snow to Denver earlier in... Read more →


A candy-seeking skeleton goes trick-or-treating on Halloween. (Photo by Don Scarborough via Wikipedia Commons) OK, that youngster dressed like an Internal Revenue Service auditor might freak you out when you open your door the evening of Oct. 31. I apologize (sorta) for suggesting such a non-traditional Halloween costume in my previous post on how scary our taxes and the agency that collects them can be. But it's not all tax ghouls and goblins this spookiest part of the year. There are some tax treats that are available, too. Here are five tax benefits you might be able to take advantage... Read more →


Governments are always looking for ways to raise more revenue. That's true at every level. Those lawmakers also are always looking for ways to get the cash without antagonizing too many taxpayers, aka voters. So they come up with some creative taxes. Chicago leads the way with its unique tax of businesses on their use of remote computing services. Innovative tech tax: Known as the Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax, it applies to company data held on out-of-state provider stored on the internet — that still mysterious cloud that so many of us still don't understand — instead of on... Read more →


Leonardo DiCaprio living the rich life in a scene from The Great Gatsby. (Film publicity photo courtesy Warner Bros.) The hubby and I are of that age where we're thinking about our estate plan. I know, financial planners say that every age is a good one to think about your estate. Planning helps you accumulate it, not just decide where it goes after you're gone. Still, most people, rightly or wrongly, don't tend to think about their estates until they get older. One thing a lot of us won't have to worry about, at least not if we shuffle off... Read more →


Casper, with almost 58,000 residents, is the second-largest city in Wyoming. Despite having few metropolitan areas, the Cowboy State again reigns as the place with the best business tax climate. (Photo by Adbay via Wikipedia Commons) The focus on the economy tends to be national. But businesses and consumers deal with the economic — and tax — conditions of 50 different states and the District of Columbia. Each year, the Tax Foundation takes a look at those various and varying economies and issues its State Business Tax Climate Index. The annual analysis, says the Washington, D.C.-based tax think tank, provides... Read more →


Reduced salt isn't just an issue for road safety or healthier diets. It's a contentious part of the Republican tax reform law. UPDATED, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at 4:45 p.m. Many U.S. homeowners who each year face increased property taxes tend to hate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The Republican tax reform law, whose provisions largely took effect with 2018 tax year, has limited their ability to fully deduct their big local real estate tax bills on their federal tax returns. Senate Democrats today tried to repeal the Internal Revenue Service regulation that undercut state efforts to salvage... Read more →


Nome, Alaska, is one of the cities in The Last Frontier that collects a local sales tax. The state's Gold Rush city is among the municipalities that will be able to unite under a new plan to collect sales taxes on online purchases. (Image: Wikipedia Commons) Alaska is known in the tax world as the only state that has no income or sales tax. The key word here, though, is state. The Last Frontier's local jurisdictions are allowed to levy local sales taxes. These tax-collecting communities now have a plan to work together to collect tax on online sales. Creation... Read more →


Using taxes to try to shape people's actions is not new. A British monarch tried it back in 1678 with a beard tax. In modern times, governments worldwide have focused on sin taxes that typically are applied to things that aren't healthy, like cigarettes, fatty foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. One of the so-called soda taxes was approved by Philadelphia in 2016. It took effect on Jan. 1 of the next year, adding a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax to not just Cokes, as we Texans refer to all sodas, but also to sugary beverages like bottled and canned iced tea and sports drinks.... Read more →


The only thing that comes close to the chaos that is tax law is a telephone bill. Especially a cell phone bill. In addition to the phone charges — Remember those? That's when you use your device to talk to another person. — there are, among lots of other line items, things such as data charges, text charges and, of course, taxes. My monthly mobile phone bill is six pages long. One of those pages, thankfully sent digitally, is full of taxes and user fees. That's an excerpt of some them in the photo at the top of this post.... Read more →


It's Columbus Day. Stop. Before you start with the emails, yes, I know this second Monday in October is a controversial holiday. In recent years, many jurisdictions beyond the federal government have opted to spend today commemorating the original inhabitants of our country. That's why you'll read and hear about Indigenous Peoples' Day events today. pic.twitter.com/l2LymtmS2J — Bobby (@Bobbyobbo) October 14, 2019 But, like it or not, today still is officially Columbus Day, a celebration of Christopher Columbus' accidental discovery of North America. And it's still a federal holiday in the United States. Holiday tax effects: A federal holiday can... 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 →


You've now got one week, until next Tuesday, Oct. 15, to file your 2018 Form 1040 that you extended earlier this year. During these next seven days, you need to at least get a start on that return. The deadline will be here before you know it. And this time, there's no more time. Here are 9 tips and reminders to help you get that 1040 on its way to the IRS by next week. 1. Gather all your tax material. By now you should have every document you need to file your taxes. Double check. Now. There's no give... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service and its Security Summit partners have made major strides in recent years in fighting tax-related identity theft. Much of the effort has been in educating taxpayers and businesses about ways to recognize and avoid scams and other tax ID schemes. The IRS also has improved the way it works with taxpayers who do fall victim to identity thieves. Now Uncle Sam is expanding a way that taxpayers can be more proactive in fighting identity theft. The IRS' opt-in Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) now is available for the 2020 tax-filing season to taxpayers in... 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 →


This is a regular spread in our kitchen, not just on Taco Tuesday or today's National Taco Day. (Kay Bell photo) Today is National Taco Day, which raises a big question here in Texas. Why is there just one specific day celebrating taco consumption? (Corollary question: why isn't it on an alliterative Tuesday?) We Lone Star State residents consume vast quantities of soft and crispy/crunchy tacos multiple times every day, starting with the most important meal of the day, the breakfast taco. Various foodstuffs, various taxes: The day commemorating a Tex-Mex favorite also raises the question among tax geeks about... Read more →


We've yet to see autumn leaves here in Central Texas. It's still too hot and dry. But the arrival of October does bring another seasonal certainty: the Oct. 15 tax deadline. October is here and I've got to say that although it's still early, the month so far is disappointing. Here in Central Texas, by now we're usually enjoying daytime temperatures in the 80s, with overnight lows dropping into the 60s. That typically means our windows are open 24/7 to get full enjoyment of autumn weather. Not in 2019. We're at least 10 degrees higher both days and nights. One... Read more →


via GIPHY The Kansas City Chiefs, with its star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, is among the handful of teams that National Football League watchers say have a shot at winning Super Bowl LIV next February. But the Missouri professional football team could be facing a tougher fight off the field. Last week, the Chiefs' attorneys argued before the Missouri Supreme Court that most of the NFL team's expenditures on items to renovate Arrowhead Stadium almost a decade ago should not be subject to the state's sales tax. This current court tax battle, which started in 2014, is due to an appeal... Read more →