State/Local Feed

Contributing to a 529 plan is one tax move you need to work into your hectic year-end holiday schedule since most states require you do so by Dec. 31 in order to claim associated state tax benefits on your next tax return. We're almost halfway through December. Are you feeling the holiday crunch? Sorry, but I'm here to add to it. As I've already nagged suggested back in November and earlier this month, you need to take care of some year-end tax tasks, too. One of those tax moves — contributing to a youngster's 529 plan — is worth another... Read more →


Public shaming is seen by some as a way to get folks to pay overdue taxes. If you're naughty when it comes to paying — or rather not paying — your California tax bill, then everybody, not just Santa, can know. That's the official word from the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation's top jurists decided on Monday, Dec. 10, that they won't consider a case challenging California's tax delinquent list. That means the names of the state's Top 500 tax delinquents will remain public. No High Court hearing: At issue was the Golden State law that requires the publication of... Read more →


I've never been a big shopper. So when the ability to virtually peruse shelves and racks came along, it was like a gift from heaven. I am not alone. Even folks who enjoy the in-store experience have been shifting to online shopping in recent years. Cyber Monday 2018 hit a new shopping record. You'd think that this burst of online shopping would be good for state tax departments, more of which are now getting additional sales tax money following this summer's 5-to-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair. That ruling struck down the prior Quill nexus requirement... Read more →


George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States, lying in state at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, Dec. 3. (Screenshot from C-SPAN video.) President George H.W. Bush, who passed away Nov. 30 at age 94 at his Houston home, will be honored today, Wednesday, Dec. 5, at a state funeral at Washington National Cathedral. The current President and First Lady, along with four others commanders-in-chief — the late 43rd president's son George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, along with their wives — are among the dignitaries from around the world who will be... Read more →


Truman the cat guarding presents under the Christmas tree. (Photo by Shawn Kinkade via Flickr CC) Ho, Ho, Ho, Happy Holidays! December is here. Time to decorate and, most importantly, get cracking on those gift lists. If you're not into frantic, crowd-fighting, last-minute shopping trips, here are five easy tax-related gifts for just about everyone on your nice list, including yourself. 1. Give to your favorite charities. You're probably already well aware of this option, since nonprofits have been sending out year-end donation solicitations since Halloween. Their urgency can be forgiven a bit more this year because of the tax... Read more →


North Carolina flooding in the wake of extensive hurricane rains. Photo courtesy Federal Emergency Management Agency A bill that would extend some expired tax laws, enact a handful of new ones and correct some errors in last year's tax reform bill is now before the House of Representatives. The extensive and expensive — the Congressional Budget Office estimates it will add another $55 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years — measure has a decent chance of clearing the House, where all it needs is the votes of the Republicans who control that chamber. Its chances in... Read more →


Did you get all your shopping done on Cyber Monday? A lot of us did. Adobe, which tracks the multitude of transactions among major U.S. retailers, projects that online sales this Cyber Monday will be $7.8 billion. That's an 18.3 percent increase from the $6.6 billion spent last year on the Monday after Thanksgiving. If that figure is reached (or bettered), it would make Cyber Monday the highest-selling day of the 2018 holiday season. Those sales amounts seem to support the argument made by online sales tax advocates that the levies wouldn't materially deter cyber shoppers. Court opens door for... Read more →


Have you stopped by your locally-owned shops today to show some Small Business Saturday support? This specially designated holiday shopping day was initiated by a major credit card, American Express, in 2010 as a way to encourage shoppers to encourage Black Friday bargain hunters to expand their buying to small, local retailers. The next year the Shop Small movement had gained enough momentum to receive boosts from all 50 state and many local officials, as well as nationally. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution in support of the day. And this year, New Mexico lawmakers have gone even further... Read more →


The post-Thanksgiving shopping ad inserts, stacked at left, consumed more newsprint than my local newspaper in which they were stuffed! Welcome to the first holiday shopping season after the U.S. Supreme Court's Wayfair decision. That ruling last June OK'ed states' efforts to collect sales tax from companies even if they don't have a physical presence, aka nexus, in the locales. Some states were champing at the bit and quickly enacted or tweaked laws mandating at least some sellers, generally those of larger size, start collecting from their customers and sending the tax cash to the appropriate offices. Others are being... Read more →


It's turkey time! Thanksgiving spread photo courtesy Zeetz Jones via Flickr CC. Happy Turkey Day! I hope you and yours are having a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. It's subdued at our house this year, just the hubby and me. My mom is spending the day with some extended family. Plus, due to some dining issues created by recent oral surgery, our menu — OK, my menu — is limited to mashed potatoes and gravy. That means the hubby gets to pig out for the both of us. But I'm thankful that I can still enjoy the super creamy pumpkin pie that... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2019 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 15 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, personal exemptions and limitations on these tax situations that apply to some taxpayers. Note: The 2019 figures apply to 2019 returns to be filed in 2020. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2018 amounts to be used in filing 2018 returns due April 15, 2019. Internal Revenue Service data show that year after year, around 70 percent of filers claim the standard... Read more →


Updated Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018 Smoke from the Camp, Hill and Woolsey fires now burning in California as seen via NASA satellite images. Earthquakes have been displaced as the most feared nature disaster in California. Wildfires, which once again are ravaging the Golden State, now are the biggest perennial natural threat, as evidenced by the latest rash of devastating and deadly flame outbreaks. Firefighters are battling three wildfires across the state. The Camp Fire, named after Camp Creek Road, is now the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. As of Monday, Nov. 12, morning, the fire was responsible... Read more →


Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! The choices you make in today's mi... Read more →


Voters across the United States will vote for Congressional and state candidates that will have a profound effect on their lives for the next several years. But just as important are the fates of 155 statewide ballot measures that voters in 37 states will be asked to decide on Nov. 6. And many of those initiatives are about taxes. With a week to go before the midterm elections, here's a bit of background on ballot measures and a look at some of the notable tax-related issues that many of us will decide. Sin taxes not a sure thing: Since we're... Read more →


Homes along Lake LBJ sustained flood damage after recent torrential rains sent Central Texas waterways over their banks. The effect of too many days of too much rain is indicated by the debris and dumpsters outside the homes, as well as the lake's water up to the tree canopy and the usually blue water turned muddy by the waters that rushed into it from upstream. (Photo taken Oct. 18, 2018, by Kay Bell) We had a magnificent weather weekend, with two gorgeous days in the Austin area and we get to start this new week with more sunshine and full... Read more →


The only thing better than winning the humongous Powerball jackpot, now at $620 million and growing, or the ginormous, largest ever Mega Millions prize of $1.6 billion $1.6 billion — yes -illion with a B — is owing as little tax as possible. When someone finally hits the two national lotteries' winning numbers, the winner most likely will take the big winnings in a lump sum rather than in equal payments over 30 years. That's $354.3 million in cash all at once for one Powerball winner. A single Mega Millions winner will net $904 million in quick cash. The U.S.... Read more →


Most folks agree that Wyoming is one of the most naturally beautiful states in the country. But tax experts have different opinions on its taxes and who they help and hurt. (Grand Teton National Park photo courtesy Wyoming Office of Tourism) One of the great things about taxes is that the policies that create them, the tax laws themselves and who and how they affect millions of taxpayers can be parsed so many ways. Take, for example, two recent analyses of state taxes. Tax Foundation each year issues its State Business Tax Climate Index (SBTCI). This analysis of states' tax... Read more →


Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House's tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, and his Republican colleagues in June celebrated the six-month anniversary of their major tax reform bill. Back then, they thought the new tax laws would give them a political edge in the coming November elections. They thought wrong. (Photo courtesy U.S. Speaker of the House) When the Republican controlled House and Senate passed a major tax reform bill last December, it was supposed to be a twofer. First, enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) fulfilled long-standing GOP fiscal and political goals of reducing taxes... Read more →


Politics often is a dirty business. Mudslinging is ubiquitous nowadays. In one governor's race, an even messier substance is involved. A common complaint about politics is all the associated mudslinging. Such is the case in Illinois' gubernatorial race. But it's even messier, less desirable stuff that's come into political play. J.B. Pritzker, the Democrat running for Prairie State governor, removed his estate's toilets to lower the property's real estate tax. Renovation vs. removal: It's not a new revelation. The Chicago Sun-Times reported in May 2017 that Pritzker bought the historic mansion next door to his existing Chicago Gold Coast home,... Read more →


Hey, Uncle Sam, one of the funniest actresses out there is not feeling very cheerful right now and it's your fault. Tiffany Haddish is looking for a little gratitude from your tax collector. In a recent Instagram video, the award-winning star of the just-released "Night School" asked the Internal Revenue Service why, even though she pays her taxes "on time every year all the time," she never gets any thanks for her efforts. She doesn't let her state tax officials, the California State Franchise Tax Board, off the hook either for their similar lack of tax love. Shout outs all... Read more →