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$10,162. That's how much of a federal tax refund that Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence and his wife Karen received on their 2015 tax return. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, GOP vice presidential candidate, campaigning among Ohio State tailgaters during a stop earlier this month in the key Nov. 8 election state. (Photo via @mikepence Twitter account) Since the Pences' refund is almost four times the amount of the average tax refund of $2,732 (per Internal Revenue Service filing data through May 13), the $10,162 that the Pences are getting back from Uncle Sam also earns this week's By the... Read more →


It was a good Summer Olympics in Rio not only for Team USA, which won 121 medals, but also for Nike. A Nike factory store (NikeFactoryStoreVaughanMills_Wikimedia) The Oregon-based athletic apparel and shoe maker got lots of attention for its neon yellow/green shoes that most of the U.S. athletes sported on track and atop assorted medal podiums. Now, however, Nike is in an unwanted tax spotlight. Nike vs. IRS: Nike Inc. is fighting a nearly $223 million tax deficiency notice from the Internal Revenue Service. Uncle Sam's tax collector says the company owes the money after the agency rejected the way... Read more →


Saving soon and often for your or your children's college education is critical. But just as important as putting away higher education money is knowing when to take out that college fund cash. 529 plan benefits, possible pitfalls: This is especially true of the tax-favored 529 plans that states offer. Your deposits to a 529 plan are not tax deductible, but the funds grow tax-free. And when you or your child withdraws the money, there's no tax bill as long as you use the funds to pay for qualifying college costs. Withdrawing 529 money, however, is not as simple as... Read more →


The Republicans still want to repeal Obamacare, or as it's officially known the Affordable Care Act (ACA). They say so every chance they get, be it on Capitol Hill, the campaign trail or in the Party's 2016 official platform. The Democrats want to extend and, according to that Party's platform, move the 44th president's namesake legislation toward even broader universal health care. President Barack Obama meets with doctors at the White House. (Photo by White House photographer Pete Souza) But until either of those comes to pass, we've got to work with what we've got. And that means coverage requirements... Read more →


The Fourth of July is over, but if your neighborhood is anything like mine, you'll be hearing fireworks for another week or so. Yes, my neighbors are pyrotechnic scofflaws. Even if you don't participate in the literal lighting of firecrackers or bottle rockets post-July-4, there are still plenty of metaphorical tax fireworks that you can take advantage of as we head into the heart of summer. Here are five easy tax moves to consider in July. 1. Get storm ready. We've had four named tropical systems so far this Atlantic/Gulf of Mexico hurricane season. So far, thank goodness, there's been... Read more →


Being a parent is tough. Being a single parent is even tougher. Beach-combing with dad. Photo by YoTuT via Flickr. So on this Father's Day 2016, here's a shout out to the millions of dads who are taking care of their kids on their own. There were almost 2 million single fathers across the country in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That, according to the nation's official people counters, represents 16 percent of the single parent population. In conjunction with the annual day to honor dads, those 1.9 million single fathers also earn this week's By the Numbers... Read more →


Happy Mother's Day! There's no better Mother's Day gift for mom than a homemade "<3 U Mommy" message. (Photo by Donnie Ray Jones via Flickr) Whether you are a mom, have a mom, are planning to become a mom, or are married to a mom, chances are you're taking part in a special celebration this Sunday. Enjoy! Millions of magnificent moms: While mothers often feel like they're all alone when it comes to their kids, some data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that all types of mothers have lots of company. Overall, there are 43.5 million women between the... Read more →


One way to survive working on your tax return with a deadline looming -- April 18 this year -- is to make sure you don't make any easily avoidable filing mistakes. Similarly, you don't want to overlook any tax breaks. I guess that technically omitting a tax claim could be considered a mistake, but for the sake of keeping things clear -- and for providing an added blog post topic! -- I've separated them. Searching for tax breaks? Below are 18. (James Corden GIF via CBS.com/Corden) And to save you time in your search for ways to cut your tax... Read more →


When the hubby and I head to a sporting event where only young fans are given freebies, say a team-logo cup or a bobble-head doll, we joke that we should be able to rent a kid or two so we could get the goodies. Yes, we would take sports-related candy etc. from children! This baby didn't hamper dad's ability to snag a foul ball. Plus, he provides his parents with several potential tax saving options. Click image to see MLB video of the catch and story about the ensuing controversy. Well, one Missouri man allegedly took our jesting approach to... Read more →


"Millions flee Georgia for the safety of North Carolina's bathrooms," quipped New Yorker columnist Andy Borowitz after the Tar Heel State's governor signed into a law a measure that, among other things, revokes local protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The part of the bill that's gotten most attention is, as Borowitz notes, the one that requires transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender they were born with rather than the one they identify with. North Carolina is the first state to require this. Last year, Houston, Texas, passed a similar law for facilities... Read more →


During this presidential primary season, the cost of higher education has been a major campaign issue, especially on the Democratic side. Taking a study break. "University Life 159" by Francisco Osorio via Flickr. Sen. Bernie Sanders is proposing free college for all. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a plan for debt-free college. Business Insider has a side-by-side comparison of Sanders' College for All Act and Clinton's New College Compact. But until Clinton or Sanders is elected, students and their families will have to rely on existing educational tax breaks. Comparing current education tax benefits: The most popular are... Read more →


The hubby and I have no children. We often, however, seem to find ourselves at places and events chock full of families. For the most part, that's OK. Although we're child-free, we get a kick out of kids in small doses. They often provide some chuckles. Or as in the case of the poor baby pictured below, literal out loud laughs. Sorry, kiddo, but peas are good for you. Really! Plus, it always helps to know that when we get in our car and head home, it's just the two of us! Families still rule: We're in the minority. Most... Read more →


Nope, that headline date is not wrong. If you didn't file a federal tax return three years ago for the 2012 tax year and were due a refund, you must file that old paperwork by this year's April filing due date to get your money. For most of us, that's April 18, but it's a day later in Maine and Massachusetts thanks to Patriots Day celebrations in those two New England States. If you don't, then Uncle Sam gets to keep your refund. And that could be a sizable amount. Almost $1 billion unclaimed refunds: The Internal Revenue Service Federal... Read more →


It's been one of those weeks that makes me totally understand exactly why the TGIF acronym was created. Blarghhhh! Arghhhh! TGIF! The only solace for Milton Waddams, brilliantly played by Stephen Root, in "Office Space" is his red stapler. Huffington Post has even more GIFs from Mike Judge's 1999 workplace documentary comedy. We've all been there, thinking, at least temporarily, that work sucks. That it's time to get a new job. That being out of work for a while wouldn't be so bad. Or maybe the unbearable cube farm circumstances are a sign that it's time to take that entrepreneurial... Read more →


Go big or go home. That's not just a catchy tune. It's President Barack Obama's philosophy regarding his eighth and final fiscal year budget blueprint. Click image to watch American Authors' hit "Go Big or Go Home" via YouTube. Even when Congress and Commander in Chief get along, getting everything in an administration's annual budget is tough. When things are outright hostile like now -- in an unprecedented move, both the House and Senate budget committees, headed by Republicans, announced they won't hold hearings on Obama's proposal -- the chances of a lame-duck president getting what he wants fiscally is... Read more →


What do hearts and flowers, leaping amphibians and taxes have in common? February! The shortest month of the year is upon us. In 2016, however, it's a day longer because it's Leap Year, hence the frog allusion, adding a 29th day to our calendars. Then, of course, there's Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. And February also is a traditionally busy time for taxes. This is the month that most of us finally get all the tax statements we need to file our returns. And folks who filed early are anxiously awaiting their refunds. Whether you're working on your 2015 taxes or... Read more →


Many state and local governments have taken to taxes as a way to discourage gun ownership, or at least make some money on it. In Arizona, however, one lawmaker wants to give some gun owners a tax break. Rep. Steve Montenegro, Republican from Litchfield Park and House Majority Leader, wants to give a state tax credit to gun owners who take classes to learn how to handle their weapons. Yours truly holding a rifle under Lubbock Police Department supervision. This was when I was the police reporter for the local newspaper, working on a feature on the department's SWAT team... Read more →


Today is the first day of winter and it's supposed to hit 76 it hit 79 degrees here in Austin. Similar temperatures are forecast for the rest of this Christmas week. I thought we left such winter warmth behind us 10 years ago when we moved from South Florida back home to Texas. And for most winters over the last decade, we've had our share of the cold, like in 2011 and 2013 when we had snow and temperatures low enough to freeze our backyard fountain. Some winters in Austin, Texas, like this one in 2011 have been cold. But... Read more →


How are those Thanksgiving leftovers holding up? While you might be sick of the excess turkey, dressing and countless side dishes, too many people face the opposite problem. They don't have enough to eat every day. Food pantries and soup kitchens get a lot of attention during the holidays, and that's good. But they welcome help throughout the year. And some are getting it from nontraditional sources. Many hunters and the organizations that support them have charitable offshoots through which game meat is donated to help feed the hungry. A volunteer serves game meat at soup kitchen. Click image to... Read more →


To many, Donald Trump is a blowhard. But it turns out he has a legitimate connection to wind beyond his personal constant stream of hot air. The Republican presidential hopeful told a group of Iowa voters at a town hall meeting this week that he supports the federal tax credit for wind power producers. That's a pretty big surprise. Not just because Trump is actually talking about a piece of tax policy, but also given his hairdo you'd think he wouldn't be a big fan of wind. Yeah, I know, cheap and easy joke, but when someone walks into it,... Read more →