State/Local Feed

Many Social Security recipients are celebrating the announcement that their benefits will increase in 2022. But if you get other income to help you enjoy your retirement, you could owe tax on your government benefits. There's some good news for the around 72 million people who receive Social Security benefits, either as retirees or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients (or both). The Social Security Administration announced* on Wednesday, Oct. 13, that they will see a 5.9 percent increase in their benefit checks in 2022. It's the largest increase to the government benefits, which primarily go to retirees, in nearly four... Read more →


Welcome to another Monday federal holiday. Today is Columbus Day. It's not necessarily manic, unless you're spending it finally finishing your 2020 tax return that you got extended until Oct. 15. In that case, this post for tax procrastinators might help. As with many — OK, all — retailers use these three-day federal holidays as reasons for sales. And usually tacky TV commercials. Got your mattress bargain yet? Then there are the associated celebrations. Parades. The coronavirus-delayed Boston Marathon this year. Myriad special events nationwide honoring special people associated with day or its origins or its namesake. Evolving views of... Read more →


Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels Hello, ultimate tax procrastinators. You now have just a week to finish your Form 1040 and get it to the Internal Revenue Service. A piece of cake for all y'all who push thing to the last minute, right? Ooooh-kaaaay. It's your tax life … and possible tax costs if you mess up anything or, yikes, miss this due date. But just in case you're open to a little at-the-wire tax filing advice, here are six questions, and some answers from me, to ask yourself in these last seven days until Oct 15. 1. Do... Read more →


These cattle out in the West Texas Big Bend area don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their ranches' profitability. The IRS is once offering some ranchers and farmers special drought-related tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) I grocery shop every week and there are a few items that I always purchase. Beef is one of them. You're not surprised, are you? I am a Texan. That consistent shopping list means I get week-to-week comparisons of my regular items. And, as other shoppers have noticed, meat prices, particularly... Read more →


As the fight continues on Capitol Hill over how to pay for President Joe Biden's economic and infrastructure plans, property taxes are getting a lot of attention. In one case, it's the real and continuing battle by some lawmakers to repeal or at least revise the itemized deduction limit on state and local taxes, including income and real estate levies collected at those governmental levels. In the other, it's a false claim about a new, nationwide real estate tax. SALT deduction change: First, a look at the real taxes, the state and local taxes, or SALT, collected by almost every... Read more →


Despite companies reopening as we've moved into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of folks filing for unemployment is raising some concerns. Yes, unemployment applications still are trending near the lowest levels of the pandemic. But first-time applicants for the benefits have edged higher the past three weeks. Today's numbers from the Department of Labor (DoL) for the week ending Sept. 25 showed seasonally adjusted initial claims of 362,000. That's an increase of 11,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 351,000. And it's the highest since the 377,000 tally for the week ended Aug. 7. There... Read more →


The loss of tax revenue is substantial, since most states collect tax (or are supposed to) on all their meals, from eat-in to pick up to delivery. Tasty and taxable. (Photo by Adrienn via Pexels) Running a restaurant poses many challenges. Dealing with increased food costs. Hiring and training staff. Finding an accessible and affordable location. Complying with health and other regulatory rules. Paying taxes. The tax consideration is getting special attention in California, where an extended investigation reveals that around a fifth of the state's restaurants are using high-tech methods to skip out on taxes. "The California Department of... Read more →


Is the fifth time the charm? The owners of cannabis businesses legal in their states certainly hope that modified multiple maxim is true. The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act would allow cannabis businesses in the 36 states with retail dispensaries (that are taxed) to operate the same way their non-marijuana related colleagues do. They could pay their federal taxes with a check, secure loans to expand their operations, and accept bank debit card transactions by customers. Right now, that's all problematic at best. Businesses that sell marijuana are limited in their banking options since the plant still is... Read more →


Photo by sarachicad via Flickr CC Since COVID-19 lockdowns began in March 2020, both employers and employees have been struggling to recover. There was hope when vaccines became widely available in early 2021, things would change. Coronavirus jab hesitancy and the Delta variant wrecked that. Some blamed added federal unemployment benefits on the trouble companies had finding staff when they reopened. Others said it was the businesses' fault for not offering better wages and benefits. Now, in the midst of the Great Resignation in which millions of workers have opted not to return to their prior workplaces, companies are still... Read more →


I spend way too much time on social media, specifically Twitter. I like the quick hit, hyperbolic, melodramatic tone of many of the folks I follow. One Tweet in particular caught my eye last week with its dismissal of LuLaRoe clothing. Geraldine DeRuiter, who blogs at The Everywhereist, is not a fan. "LulaRoe clothing has spread like a spandex pox over my local thrift store. Shirts and skirts and dresses, all so bizarrely ugly, and not a good sort of ugly, but a strange, sad, I-think-maybe-humanity-should-go-extinct kind of ugly."https://t.co/voUOOQRRCf — Geraldine (@everywhereist) September 19, 2021 After I quit laughing, I... Read more →


Sin taxes, those government levies on products or activities generally deemed as not good for us, typically are a favorite revenue raiser for states. Now Uncle Sam, or at least Capitol Hill Democrats looking for ways to pay for their proposed $3.5 trillion economic package, are taking a page from their state tax counterparts. One of the suggested taxes is a hike of the current federal excise tax on cigarettes and cigars. Another is a new tax on vaping. The House Ways and Means Committee summary of the taxes says: This provision doubles the current rate of excise taxes on... Read more →


The Great Resignation created by folks deciding not to return to their jobs after extended COVID-19 absences has led to a lot of new businesses. That means there a many new bosses out there, most of them dealing with a different part of the Internal Revenue Service for the first time. As business owners, they potentially face new types of taxes. Exactly which taxes depend largely on how their new company is established. That's why selection of a business entity is a major tax decision. Business entity options: As part of 2021's National Small Business Week, sponsored annually by the... Read more →


Updated, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, to add just-announced Hurricane Ida relief for some Pennsylvania taxpayers. Just two weeks ago, we were awaiting Hurricane Ida. Since then, Hurricane Larry went spinning into the North Atlantic and Tropical Storm Mindy rushed across parts of Florida and Georgia. Today. Sept. 13, Tropical Storm Nicholas is heading toward a Texas Gulf Coast landfall, after which it will send more rain into already water-logged Louisiana. But we're still dealing with Ida's deadly fallout in states beyond landfalling Louisiana. After coming ashore near New Orleans as a category 4 on Aug. 29, she moved northeastward across... Read more →


A record number of unemployment claims were filed due to COVID-19 layoffs. But billions of dollars of those benefits went to crooks who falsely filed for them. The weekly jobless reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are always watched closely. They're seen as a sign of how well (or not) the economy is doing. The reports of how many people are (or aren't) looking for work have taken on added significance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest count was good news. BLS' Sept. 2 report showed that the United States saw the least number of new unemployment... Read more →


Last November, Louisiana voters in 55 of the state's 64 parishes approved sports betting. Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the necessary enacting bills into law in June. And this month, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board passed emergency sports betting rules, effective Aug. 23, to start the licensing process and finalize permanent rules. The process probably isn't streamlined enough to allow bettors to put down cash on the Thursday, Sept. 9, meeting of my frustratingly underachieving Cowboys and the current Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers, which kicks off the 2021 National Football League (NFL) season. But the hope of sports betting supporters... Read more →


Republicans in the Mississippi legislature are again pushing for their state to end its personal income tax and replace some of the revenue that would be lost with a higher sales tax. This is not a Magnolia State receipt. Mississippi's sales tax is 7 percent, with the tax change plan calling for it to go to 9.25 percent. I get it. People hate paying income taxes, even when they know the money pays for things that are important to their communities. But things gotta be paid for somehow. That's the question facing Mississippi lawmakers and residents as the state once... Read more →


Tonight's Powerball drawing is $304 million*. If your numbers don't come up, or even if they do, you can check out Mega Millions' drawing on Friday, Aug. 27, for a jackpot that by then will be more than the current $288 million**. *UPDATE, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021: No big winner last night. That pushes the Powerball jackpot for Saturday's, Aug. 28, drawing to, right now, $322 million. **UPDATE, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021: Stop me if you're heard this, but no big Mega Millions winner on Aug. 27. That means the Tuesday, Aug. 31, jackpot will be at least $306 million.... Read more →


The devastating Haitian earthquake. Deadly flooding in Tennessee and North Carolina. Tropical Storm Henri damage in the Northeast. Drought-fueled destructive wildfires in California. Add the global Delta surge that's exacerbating the COVID-19 pandemic and it does seem, as my grandmother would say, that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. If you've managed to avoid any or all of these disasters and want to help those who are less fortunate, thanks. Here are some ways to do so. Myriad mechanisms to give: The standard big dog nonprofits, American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, remain the go-to donation... Read more →


Image by Hucklebarry from Pixabay When the hubby and I started out our life together, we were young and poor. Like watching every cent poor. That included our food budget. All those decades ago, our regular Monday night meal was macaroni and cheese. In the budget-conscious beginning, it was store brand boxed mac and cheese mix. As our earnings increased, we upgraded to brand name boxes. We knew were doing OK when Monday Meal morphed into the frozen version. We still have Monday Meal, but not exclusively on the first weekday. But it's still a quick dinner that we supplement... Read more →


It's fitting that I just learned today, late in the day, that Aug. 10 is National Lazy Day. I definitely will note this date on next year's calendar, if I can muster the energy, so I make the most of it in 2022. National Day Calendar, which keeps track of the myriad special designations for our 365 (plus one in a Leap Year), doesn't have much information on National Lazy Day. That would require some work, which is antithetical to the day's commemoration. But it does say that Aug. 10 is the day where we are given permission to relax... Read more →