Good morning, early-rising Louisiana and Texas shoppers! I know all y'all are headed out to take first advantage of your states' special sales tax holidays this holiday weekend. Both Louisiana's hurricane preparedness reduced-sales-tax event and Texas' no-sales-tax on certain Energy Star appliances and water-saving devices started at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, May 27. The Pelican State's tax holiday, however, is shorter. Louisiana shoppers have only today and Sunday, May 28, to purchase tax-exempt items to help them through the coming 2017 hurricane season. The Lone Star State's tax holiday continues through Memorial Day Monday, May 29. Here are the highlights... Read more →


Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey), center, makes a point as he and fellow Problem Solvers Caucus member Rep. Tom Reed (R-New York), right, talk with MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle about their efforts in late April to prevent a federal government shutdown. Click image to watch the full interview. The email topic line said something about the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, so naturally I almost hit delete thinking that such an oxymoron had to be spam. But curiosity got the better of me. I opened the message. Lo and behold, the Problem Solvers Caucus is a real deal. How effective it can... Read more →


Most Obamacare attention this week has been on the been on the revised Congressional Budget Office estimates that show the GOP bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would cause fewer people (only 23 million vs. 24 million) to lose coverage, but at a higher cost ($31 billion more than the March version of the bill) to Uncle Sam's bottom line. But at the same time, nuts and bolts work on the American Health Care Act, or AHCA as the Republican bill is known, also continued at the Congressional committee level. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) in March... Read more →


When Donald J. Trump gets back from his first trip abroad as president, he's going to come home to something all homeowners dread. There's a problem at the house. OK, with Trump we have to ask which house? While there's plenty going on and going wrong in Washington, D.C., right now, I'm talking about the abode 45 calls the Winter White House, otherwise known as Mar-a-Lago. One of the views of Ma-a-Lago showcased on the private club's website. A sinkhole opened up this week in the street outside his landmark Palm Beach, Florida mansion. Traffic alert first: The news of... Read more →


Mick Mulvaney, the Trump Administration's Office of Management and Budget Director, met the press this morning to discuss the 45th president's fiscal year 2018 budget proposal. (Screenshot of C-SPAN broadcast; click image to watch the full event) It's official. The amount of money going to the Internal Revenue Service under Donald J. Trump's first federal budget gets cut yet again. The White House today released its fiscal year 2018 budget. As expected from the Administration's so-called skinny budget made public in March, the fully fleshed out $4.1 trillion plan proposes cuts to long-time safety net programs for lower income Americans... Read more →


Remember that recent economic analysis that said Americans were more in debt than they've been in almost a decade? The bulk of that debt is housing related, but student debt also is a big contributor to the growing owing. Households today are borrowing differently than they did nine years ago, note New York Times reporters Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley. The latest data show that student loan debt, driven by soaring tuition costs, makes up 11 percent of total household debt, up from 5 percent in the third quarter of 2008. Nice days mean students can turn their college campus... Read more →


Bees are critical for pollinating not just flowers, but food crops. That's why in some cases, states exempt them and other beneficial insects from taxes. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) Don't squash that bug! It might be worth a tax break. "While many states offer sales and use tax exemptions for agricultural products used for farming purposes, the states differ in their tax treatment of beneficial insects," writes Emilie Burnette at BNA's SALT Talk Blog. (For non-tax types who found this post by Googling "insect," SALT is the acronym for state and local tax.) She cites California, where the Golden State's... Read more →


The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated on this day 67 years ago. President Harry S. Truman led the effort to establish a single holiday to thank U.S. military members for their service in support of our country. On Aug. 31, 1949, Truman's Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day to replace the separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. It was a logical move given the unification under Truman's administration of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense. President John F. Kennedy established Armed Forces Day as an official holiday in... Read more →


Today, May 19, is National Bike to Work Day, the high point of National Bike to Work Month. I didn't bike to work today or any other May day, mainly because I work from home. I just walk down the hall to my office and get started. OK, after first eating breakfast, thumbing through the newspapers and brewing a cup of coffee. The other reason I don't bike to work is obvious in the photo below. Both tires on my bike (the red one in front), as well as on the hubby's, are flat. As flat as the proverbial pancakes.... Read more →


Americans have again dived into the deep end of the personal debt pool "Americans have now borrowed more money than they had at the height of the credit bubble in 2008, just as the global financial system began to collapse," write Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley in today's New York Times' DealB%k column. The $12.73 trillion in debt reported in the first quarter of 2017 is comprised mainly of housing-related borrowing. But there is a bit of good news here. Here's hoping that the new residents find being homeowners as sweet as these house warming cupcakes. (Photo by Danl Lurle... Read more →


In his new book, "The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis — and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance," Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse says young people in the U.S. are failing to launch. He explained to Elaine Quijano on "Red & Blue" how we ended up here and what Americans can do to prepare for adulthood. (Click image to view CBSN video) Sen. Ben Sasse swears that his book is not just 320 pages of old man "get off my lawn" rants at neighbor kids. First of all, the 45-year-old Sasse is far from old. Plus, says the Nebraska... Read more →


Federal tax reform is still a ways off, but the prospect of an Internal Revenue Code rewrite already has prompted Oklahoma to change one of its tax laws. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin on May 12 signed legislation that will decouple the Sooner State's standard deduction from the current federal standard deduction. The reason for the change? If the Trump Administration's proposal to double the federal standard deduction eventually becomes part of the tax law of the land, Oklahoma stands to lose a lot of tax revenue. Federal, state tax ties: Oklahoma's tax system, like that of many states with income... Read more →


Last week's cyberattack has affected more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries. The ransomware program known as WannaCry encrypts information on computers and demands targeted users pay $300 in order to regain access to their machines. The good news here in the U.S. is that so far, no federal systems have been affected by the global ransomware attack, according to Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert, who appeared at today's regular White House press briefing. The bad news is that a few companies have been hit and the government is still unaware of who was behind the attack. And as this... Read more →


Happy Mother's Day! What a perfect day to talk about tax audits. You don't see the connection? Then you missed the season finale last week of the CBS show "Mom." I'm not really a fan, but it was on in the background as we were fixing dinner. Scene from the May 11 season finale of CBS sitcom "Mom," where the characters portrayed by Anna Faris and Allison Janney consult an attorney, played by Leonard Roberts, about some tax trouble. (Photo courtesy CBS) But as I was chopping veggies I heard "the IRS put a lien on my account." So naturally... Read more →


Based on how much Mom is enjoying her homemade card, I'm sure she'll absolutely love the creatively wrapped Mother's Day gift. (Photo by Loren Kerns via Flickr CC) Moms usually embrace the adage that it's the thought that counts when it comes to Mother's Day gifts. They love those macaroni picture frames we made as kids as much as the store-bought gifts we started giving them as soon as we were making our own money. But state treasurers don't agree. In the 45 states and District of Columbia that collect sales tax, they are hoping we spend a lot on... Read more →


In an exclusive NBC News interview with Lester Holt, the president mentioned the letter, released today, that discusses what his attorneys say show only tangential connections to Russian money. Click image to watch the full NBC news interview. Still no Donald J. Trump tax returns, but today we got another letter from his lawyers regarding his taxes, specifically whether there was any Russian-sourced income on his filings over the last 10 years. The letter, from partners Sheri Dillon and William Nelson of the Washington, D.C., branch of international law firm Morgan Lewis, was addressed to Trump and "hereby confirm[ed] the... Read more →