Autos Feed

Your highway tax dollars are back at work, at least through May 2015. The Senate approved a stopgap $11 billion transportation bill last night after that chamber decided not to fight with the House on the eve of Congress' annual summer break. The measure refills the Highway Trust Fund. That will keep around 6,000 state road and transit projects on track through next spring. Fight over fund's amount, timing: Transportation officials have been warning that the trust fund would be bankrupt any day now, so action before the recess was crucial. Just how much money for how long was at... Read more →


The Senate is expected to vote next week on a bill to refill the funding tank that fuels the nation's highway and mass-transit projects. The Highway Trust Fund essentially covers all federal highway and bridge projects. U.S. Transportation Department officials have been warning for months that the fund will run dry, possibly as soon as August. Emergency refill courtesy Fernando Rivadavia via POSTCARD from Mexico N°14 If that happens, warns the White House, 700,000 jobs could be lost and 100,000 active infrastructure projects already underway across the country could slow or stop altogether. Fearing the worst, which isn't a bad... Read more →


July 1 not only marks the middle of the year. It's the start of a new fiscal year for most state governments and that means new laws typically take effect. Here are some of the new tax statutes now on state books. Indiana has changed how it calculates tax on gasoline. Instead of the previous fixed 19-cent-per-gallon sales tax, the tax rate will be modified month-to-month. Specifically, the Hoosier State's gas usage tax rate now will be 7 percent of the average price of gas the previous month. That means, says the Indiana Department of Revenue, that the state's July... Read more →


Transportation Department Secretary Anthony R. Foxx has been warning Congress for months that the Highway Trust Fund, the main pot of money Uncle Sam uses to pay for his/our highways, is running low. If something isn't done quickly, DoT data indicates that the trust fund is likely to dip below the critical $4 billion funding level as soon as July. Sometime in August, the transit account is projected to fall below $1 billion. The problem is simple. As the chart below shows, not enough money is coming into the trust fund to meet the level of transportation spending that is... Read more →


It's summer, when most of us take vacations. Most of those trips are by car. That's why you tend to see gasoline prices go up in the summer. The only consolation in paying more at the pump is that the associated taxes and fees are supposed to help with road-related matters, such as repair and maintenance. Supposed to, but apparently not doing so in many cases and places. And folks in two states, Michigan and Massachusetts, are decidedly unhappy with their states' gas taxes. Michiganders mad about roads, taxes: Michigan drivers, as noted in this week's Weekly Tax Tip, are... Read more →


Has all the attention given Google's driverless car got you thinking about your auto? If you're a business owner, it could be the perfect vehicle. Photo courtesy Google It has no steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedal to mess with. You use your smartphone or tablet app to summon the vehicle, set your route, get in and go. Then just sit back and enjoy as the Google machine takes you to your destination. If it's to a business meeting, you can use the time you otherwise would be driving to polish your presentation. Or you can call your spouse to... Read more →


The best day in auto racing is two-thirds over, with the checkers having waved for the Formula 1 race along Monte Carlo's streets and at the Indianapolis 500. We race faces now await the green flag for NASCAR's longest race of the season, 600 miles that will end under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway. One of the reasons I like watching races is that I get glimpses of incredible pieces of engineering. That's especially true of the F1 vehicles. I seen some of these magnificent autos, both the racetrack and regular road versions, on trips the hubby and I... Read more →


Are you heading out this coming Memorial Day weekend? I hope you have a great break from your job or whatever you're trying to escape. One thing you won't be able to avoid, however, is taxes. If you're flying, you already know about the tax ding on your travel budget. Cost Breakdown of an Airline Ticket from Airlines for America (A4A) The biggest cost is for fuel (just scroll down the slide above), with 21 percent of your ticket price paying to fill up the jet. Tax adds to ticket prices: Federal taxes, however, are a close second at 20... Read more →


Just days before the April 15 filing deadline, the Internal Revenue Service reported that most taxpayers had already submitted their returns. Of the almost 113 million returns the IRS had in its hands on April 11, more than 85 million resulted in refunds. The latest federal tax refunds are a bit bigger than those received by players of early Monopoly games. The average refund amount as tax-filing season was winding down was $2,751. That's slightly larger than the average refund a year ago. It's also this week's By the Numbers figure. Have your received your refund from Uncle Sam yet?... Read more →


Are you as groggy as I am today? Twice a year I feel out of sorts as most of us shift our clocks ahead or back. Today marks the beginning of our annual transition to Daylight Saving Time, or DST; and sorry, Bart, there is no "s" appended to Daylight, according to horologists and the Associated Press stylebook. Since 2007, provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 have mandated an extra hour of DST. The disruption of our circadian rhythms has been going on for nearly a century. The debate as to whether it's worth it has been going... Read more →


Tax deductible mileage rate drops a half-cent in 2014

The busiest travel time every year is around Thanksgiving. But plenty of folks also hit the road for Christmas. Despite the craziness of the season and often messy, and dangerous, winter weather, we go. Why? Because, as Perry Como so melodiously notes, There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays. Your travel to and from family gatherings at any time of the year is all on your own dime. But as today's Christmas Tax Tip Tune notes, other types of travel are tax deductible. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service even makes it easier for you to figure your write-off... Read more →


Fewer of us will be going over the river or through the woods to grandma's house this Thanksgiving travel season, according to AAA. That's bad news not only for sad grandparents who won't see their families, but also for state treasuries. The drop in travel, especially of the vehicular variety, is going to cost states tax money. Overall, AAA projects that 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, which the travel group defines as starting today (Wednesday, Nov. 27) and wrapping up on Sunday, Dec. 1. That's a slight decrease from... Read more →


My clothes felt a bit snug as I got dressed this morning and I couldn't figure out why. Then I realized it's all the cake I've been enjoying in connection with recent special tax commemorations. This latest belated celebration is for the federal gas excise tax. Gas is expensive at the Canoncito station, but you might find -- Breaking Bad spoiler alert -- a nice watch atop that pay phone. On Oct. 1, 1993, the gas tax went from 14.1 cents per gallon to 18.4 cents per gallon. Sorry I missed the big day, but Congressional fighting over Obamacare and... Read more →


It's around 1,100 miles from the northeast corner of Texas to the southwest corner of New York, but the Empire State has been on my mind of late. No, it's not because I still can't erase from my mind's eye the Miley Cyrus performance (yeah, let's call it that since this is a family-friendly tax blog) at MTV's 2013 Video Music Awards in Brooklyn's Barclays Center. And no, it's not even because the 2013 professional football season is about to start with my Dallas Cowboys' hosting a Sept. 8 game against NFC East rival the New York Giants. It's because... Read more →


Are you taking a road trip this Labor Day weekend? You'll pay more for gas if you're traveling in one of these 10 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Washington. Those states, according to the American Petroleum Institute's July 2013 report (the oil industry trade group updates its data quarterly), top the list of taxes added to the pump price of gasoline. The listing above is alphabetical. Here's how they line up when you sort them based on the taxes charged per gallon of gas: California, total gas taxes = 71.9 cents per... Read more →


I've heard of traffic grinding to a halt because of shoppers jamming the roads in search of bargains, but this is a first for me. The Georgia Department of Transportation is keeping roads open around certain construction zones to make it easier for shoppers to take advantage of the state's upcoming sales tax holiday. Two days tax free: First, here's the scoop on the event that's driving folks into the state's stores. The Peach State's annual back-to-school tax-free event takes place Friday, Aug. 9, and Saturday, Aug. 10. On those two days, sales tax is waived on: Clothing and footwear... Read more →


The eyes of the tax world (OK, maybe just the eyes of tax geeks like me) have been focused on Washington, D.C. That's where the continuing Congressional hearings into the Internal Revenue Service's myriad missteps are playing out, as well as the Supreme Court's just announced Defense of Marriage Act ruling and the possibility hope that the tax-writing committees soon take up comprehensive tax reform. But a lot of tax action has taken place in the state capitals across the country. The Atlas of True Names from Kalimedia.com shows the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the familiar terms on... Read more →


A Washington State representative has some news for all you bicyclists who are feeling so smug about saving the environment. You're actually causing problems, says Rep. Ed Orcutt, a Republican from Kalama, Wash. Riding nonmotorized two-wheelers causes cyclists to have "an increased heart rate and respiration," according to Orcutt. And because of that exertion, "You would be giving off more CO2 if you are riding a bike than driving in a car." Orcutt's assessment first came via an email exchange with a constituent who questioned the wisdom of the proposed new bike tax, which is part of the state's transportation... Read more →


Virginia lawmakers last month passed a massive transportation bill. It's the first overhaul of the state's transportation funding since 1986 and is expected to bring in $880 million a year to help maintain 58,000 miles of roads. The plan includes a mix of taxes. The Old Dominion's 17½ cents-per-gallon retail gasoline tax will be replaced by a 3.5 percent wholesale tax on gasoline and a 6 percent levy on diesel fuel. The state's sales tax will go from 5 percent to 5.3 percent, with a portion of that increase slated for road projects. But the transportation funding component that caught... Read more →


Has the decision by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to eliminate telecommuting prompted your boss to issue a similar "get your butt into the office" edict? Sorry. I share your pain at having to now hit the road instead of commuting down the hall to your home office. But maybe the hassle of getting to work can be eased by some commuting tax breaks. Commuter benefits: Many workplaces offer their employees tax-free benefits to cover some of the costs of getting to and from the office. They're known by many names: Qualified Transportation Benefit (QTB), Commuter Savings Account (CSA) Commuter Expense... Read more →