State/Local Feed

Millions of taxpayers are facing a deadline at the end of this week. No, unfortunately I am not talking about the Jan. 15 mark that the Internal Revenue Service is required by law to meet in distributing the second round of COVID-19 economic relief payments. I'm talking about paying Uncle Sam instead of getting money from him. The final estimated tax payment for tax year 2020 is due on Friday, Jan. 15. Taking care of taxes yourself: Around 22 million individuals file these extra tax payments, which total four if you make them for the full tax year. They are... Read more →


UPDATE, Jan. 13, 2021: There was no big winner in the Jan. 12 Mega Millions drawing, although some lucky ticket holders matched enough numbers to have a nice pocketful of spending (and taxable) cash. This nationwide lottery jackpot is now $750 million. Picking lucky numbers from a lottery game dispenser. More than $1 billion is up for grabs in the two nationwide lotteries. The Powerball jackpot is at $550 million. A solo Mega Millions winner will walk away with $600 million. Since I know you've got your lotteries tickets in hand, here are six tax and financial tips in case... Read more →


Most of us are cheering the rapidly approaching end of tumultuous 2020. I definitely am right there with you with some pre-New Year's Eve joyfulness. But take a little time off from your anticipatory year-end celebrations to check out these tax moves. These final three tax tasks for the final three days of the year could pay off at filing time in 2021. 1. Know the value of donating items instead of cash. You have until Dec. 31 to donate to an IRS-qualified charity so you can claim the gift as a deduction on your 2020 tax return. If you... Read more →


UPDATE, Dec. 29, 2020, 4:20 p.m. CST: Good news for those who saw their unemployment benefits lapse by the delayed signing of the second COVID relief bill. The Department of Labor say they will get the full 11 weeks of benefits, although most will have to wait a few weeks for state agencies to reprogram the package's provisions into their computers. To reflect this decision, the original headline "Millions out of luck and money as federal unemployment assistance ends" was changed. UPDATE, Dec. 27, 2020, 7:34 p.m. CST: The presidential COVID bill holdout is over. Donald J. Trump tonight signed... Read more →


Santa Claus, Indiana, is one of many merrily named communities across the country. However, this Christmas-year-round town is the only one with an official U.S. Postal Service Santa postmark. (Photo by tengrrl via Flickr CC) Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas Eve from all the holiday themed towns across the United States. There are the municipalities dubbed North Pole in New York, Colorado, Alaska and yes, it's even OK in Oklahoma. For those who revel in the season's greenery we have up the road from me Garland, Texas, as well as virtual forest full of Evergreens. There's an Evergreen in... Read more →


Movie burglar Harry Lime, played by Joe Pesci (left), cases the house where Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, was left "Home Alone" leading up to Christmas Day. (Image courtesy 20th Century Fox) "Home Alone" has been a beloved Christmas movie since it was released in November 1990. Young Kevin McCallister's adventures foiling inept burglars as his frazzled and forgetful family frantically tries to make it home to him by Dec. 25 have delighted audiences for 30 years. It's also been an annual favorite of Illinois tax collectors. Yes, home where the titular alone youngster repeatedly bested the Wet Bandits... Read more →


It's been a tough year for millions. In addition to worrying about keeping themselves and their families safe during the coronavirus pandemic, millions have lost their jobs. But there may be a little bit of help for those relying on government payments as 2020 winds down. The House and Senate are working on a compromise COVID-19 relief bill. It's huge and there still are congressional hurdles to overcome, but right now the proposal calls for a federal unemployment benefit of $300 a week for 16 weeks. That's welcome news for the nearly 13 million Americans who, without Congressional help, are... Read more →


Plain old tobacco cigarette smuggling is costing many states much-needed tax revenue. Yes, the House last week decided to decriminalize marijuana. The bill's bipartisan passage (really!) was the first ever Capitol Hill vote to legalize — and tax— cannabis. It's not going anywhere in the waning days of the 116th Congress. It might have a shot in the next one, which convenes in January 2021, depending on what happens with Georgia's runoffs for two Senate seats. The federal stance on weed is frustrating for the 36 states that have legalized the plant for medicinal purposes, along with the 15 jurisdictions... Read more →


Photo by Emanuel Kluge via Flickr CC Could the COVID-19 pandemic produce changes in tax systems worldwide? That's what one global economic group thinks could and should happen. There's no argument about the revenue problems caused by the coronavirus in 2020. They are being felt acutely as we head into the heart of the year's holiday season. In addition to the coronavirus' disruption of traditional get-togethers due to health concerns, there's the pandemic's financial component. COVID-19 business cutbacks and closures have left too many with reduced, or no, paychecks. Businesses that are open are seeing fewer customers because of those... Read more →


This year's fresh greenery component to our otherwise fake fir Christmas decorations. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's the first weekend of December. That means millions of folks are untangling light strings, digging out cherished family holiday tchotchkes and making their homes merry and bright. In many homes, a Christmas tree is the center of the celebration. Fake fir, real celebration: For all but one Christmas over our decades of marriage, the hubby and I have had an artificial tree. Our lone live tree December was our first in Florida because I was missing the season's traditional chill. I soon got... Read more →


We need to follow Santa Claus' example this month. Just as he checks his naughty or nice list, we need to check on tax moves to make by Dec. 31. It's December. 2020 and its craziness is almost over! Are you ready? Specifically, are you ready for the holidays? For those of us still committed to pandemic precautions, it's going to be a different, and yes, a bit less jolly, season. But one thing is the same as in previous Decembers. We still need to make some tax moves before Jan. 1. Some December tax moves will demand a little... Read more →


Millions of Americans have been spending most of their time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic. And a good portion of them began holiday shopping online before this Black Friday or the upcoming Cyber Monday. But small businesses are hoping consumers will spend some of those dollars tomorrow, the annual shopping holiday known as Small Businesses Saturday. The event was started in 2010 by credit card company American Express. The U.S. Small Business Administration has officially cosponsored Small Business Saturday since 2011, noting that it has become an important part of small businesses' busiest shopping season. And once again,... Read more →


Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard responding after Hurricane Laura destroyed much of Lake Charles. The Capital One Tower was among the properties severely damaged by the category 4 storm. (Photo by Josiah Pugh via Flickr/Wikipedia Commons) Hurricane season 2020 is almost over and Nov. 30 cannot get here soon enough for Louisiana residents. The Pelican State was pummeled by five storms this record-breaking year, including a category 4 which produced the strongest cyclonic wind speeds ever recorded in the state. So state officials are giving folks who are still trying to rebuild in the storms' wakes a chance to... Read more →


Voters' voices literally matter each election when initiatives are on ballots. Here are results of some tax questions that were decided by the 2020 electorate. Vice President Joseph R. Biden today was declared president-elect of the United States. It took longer than usual, but that part of Nov. 3 (Donald J. Trump legal challenges notwithstanding) is over. Decisions on the myriad ballot questions that also went before voters across the county on the first Tuesday of November came a bit sooner. Here's a quick look at the results of the tax initiatives in the order they were featured in my... Read more →


Image by Bessi via Pixabay Happy Halloween! It's a special one, as it comes — despite the pumpkin-hued image above — on a Blue Moon, the second full moon in a month. Celebrations this year also will be different for most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic means that Oct. 31 festivities will be really, truly scary during a time when mingling with strangers is traditional. We're likely to see more face masks than Michael Myers or Scream masks. But regardless of how or where you'll celebrate All Hallows' Eve, one thing likely will remain the same. There will be candy.... Read more →


In addition to selecting who gets to go to, or stay in, Washington, D.C., voters across the country on Nov. 3 will decide on a variety of ballot measures. This coming Election Day, citizens in 32 states will decide the fate of 120 statewide initiatives. There also are measures on the ballots in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And yes, there are plenty of tax questions that will be decided. Ballotpedia, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit that's been tracking election data since 2007, says this year voters in 12 states will decide 19 tax-related ballot measures.... Read more →


Image by Daniela Hartmann via Flickr I joked on Twitter last week that coronavirus pandemic self-isolation has gotten to me so much that I'm considering buying all the gadgets whose ads keep popping up in my feed as holiday gifts. OK, I half joked. I've always tended to shop online anyway. COVID-19 has just moved me from 95 percent to 100 percent in that direction. And some of the items really are interesting. C'mon, admit it. You, too, wouldn't mind having a solar-power bird bath fountain or a pocket-sized, snowflake-shaped multi-tool. These items are even more appealing when you realize... Read more →


A quick Social Security note about for folks not yet at or near the benefits age about taxes on that pre-retirement income. More of it, known as the wage base, will be subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Details are in this post. Retirees checking on their investments. The income could make their Social Security benefits taxable. Today's a good day for millions of Social Security recipients. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that benefits will increase a bit next year. Older folks who get regular monthly Social Security payments, along with those who receive Supplemental Security Income... Read more →


It's a bit hard to keep track if you're still isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic, but welcome to another Monday federal holiday. Today is Columbus Day. Yes, it's still an official federal holiday. The White House issued an announcement lauding namesake Christopher Columbus that's getting a lot of pushback on social media from folks who prefer to use this October day to celebrate the United States' indigenous populations. We should use this day to learn about the history of indigenous people. #IndigenousPeoplesDay so for the next 24 hours this account will be a flood of me RTing Native excellence,... Read more →


Photo by Antonio Quagliata via Pexels.com The presidential election countdown clock it quietly ticking. In most national election years, the tax plans of the candidates get a lot of attention. Obviously, 2020 is not most years. Other things — OK, one thing, COVID-19 — have been the focus on the campaign trail. But it's still worth looking at the tax implications of a possible change in the Oval Office. GOP vs. Democratic plans: The Trump Administration will look to make permanent at least some of the Republicans' 2017 tax reform measure. The White House also has hinted at expanding some... Read more →