Finances Feed

Donald J. Trump wants the United States to renegotiate its federal debt. Erasing debt can help with individuals' cash flow, but it brings new tax considerations. I'll leave that economic debate to the experts in the dismal science. They already are all over Trump's CNBC interview, where the self-proclaimed "king of debt" addressed the issue of whether the United States should pay its debts in full. "I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told the cable financial news network. "And if the economy was good, it was good.... Read more →


The estate planning world is stunned by the news that Prince passed away without a will. Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo by Scott Penner CC BY-SA 3.0 via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons While lots of folks delay officially putting their final wishes on paper, the wealthiest among us, which definitely included The Purple One, tend to have a phalanx of advisers to take care of their money, including how it will be dealt with once they're gone. Such professional financial and tax advice is critical, especially if you have a lot of money and/or live in a state... Read more →


Timing is everything. Just ask all the Texans coping with the aftermath of recent spring storms and the unfortunate timing of the state's first storm-related tax holiday. Hail and its damage in Wylie, Texas, earlier in April. (Photos by Mary Ann Olson, left, and Wes Stephens, right, via The Weather Channel) On April 11, the Dallas-Ft. Worth areas was pummeled by storms, some of which produced softball size hail. Law enforcement agencies, media outlets and insurance companies were inundated with reports of shattered car windshields, broken windows in buildings and even holes in roofs. The next night, hailstones larger than... Read more →


When the idea to honor an American woman by placing her image on the $10 bill was raised back in mid-2015, it seemed like a great idea. The bill would be redesigned to feature a deserving woman and unveiled in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Then "Hamilton" happened. Click-boom! "Hamilton" star Lin-Manuel Miranda and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew pose for a photo in front of the Alexander Hamilton statue on the south side of the Treasury Department, March 14, 2016. (Official Treasury Photo by Chris... Read more →


Crain's New York Business may have shed some light on why Donald J. Trump doesn't want us to see his tax returns. The magazine reports that the billionaire real estate developer got a property tax break designed for New Yorkers making less than $500,000 a year. Michigan voters apparently weren't concerned about Trump's tax returns, giving him that state's GOP primary win on March 8. Numerous publications, as well as The Donald himself, say that the Republican presidential nominee front-runner is worth billions, although the exact dollar amounts vary. Trump makes it simple for us, noting that he's "really rich."... Read more →


And once again this election season, it comes back to Donald J. Trump. Ohio Gov. John Kasich released seven years' worth of partial tax returns on Saturday, March 5, following the previously set pattern of U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida. That leaves Trump as the only remaining candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who has not made public any of his tax filings. He promises he'll let us see his taxes … eventually. This Twitter photo posted Oct. 15, 2015, is the only glimpse we've had of any of Donald Trump's tax filings.... Read more →


If you work in the world's oldest profession, finances can be problematic. First, your job is illegal, so you don't want to do anything to draw unwanted attention to your line of work. Neither do your clients. So escorts, prostitutes and other types of sex workers tend to operate on a cash basis. That, however, raises the question of what to do with all those loose dollars. Even with today's minuscule interest rates, you don't want to keep cash under a mattress. Tracing cash transactions: Banks, despite all their problems, are generally safer than having a lot of dollars stashed... Read more →


Happy New Year! No, I haven't hit a time warp, although that could be cool! But I digress. Today is the start of the Year of the Monkey. Although 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, Chinese New Year parades still tend to be led by dragons. The Lunar New Year that began today is the biggest holiday in China. Thanks to the large communities of Chinese heritage throughout the world --- and because folks will jump at any chance to party -- it's a festive time worldwide. Although China officially operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunisolar... Read more →


When it comes to millennials' personal finances, a recent study by the tax and consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at George Washington University found eight trends among this generation born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990. These young adults: 1. Have inadequate financial knowledge, 2. Aren't happy with their current financial situation, 3. Worry about student loans, 4. Have debt that crosses economic and educational lines, 5. Are financially fragile, 6. Are heavy users of alternative financial services, 7. Sacrifice retirement accounts, and 8. Don't seek professional financial help. Before my millennial friends and... Read more →


I'm a big movie fan. I also am a personal finance/tax nut. So it's a big day for me as those two worlds converge. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association today announced its nominees for its annual Golden Globe awards. Two financially-themed movies, "99 Homes" and "The Big Short," were tabbed. Christian Bale, nominated for a Golden Globe as best lead actor, rocking out in a scene from "The Big Short." Both films are based on the housing industry collapse that followed the reckless subprime mortgages banks handed out right and left during the 2000s. That led to the disastrous (and... Read more →


Attention Golden State shoppers, your state tax collector might have some cash that could make your holiday gift buying easier. The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) says this past year it got back more than 49,000 personal income tax refunds that the U.S. Postal Service couldn't deliver. Those tens of thousands of tax checks total $28 million. The money is just waiting for its rightful owners to claim their portion of it. Most of the returned refunds, says the FTB, went to taxpayers who moved but didn't let the state tax office know their new addresses. The FTB suggests Californians... Read more →


For the last few months, the standing joke in our house has been that the first words the hubby and I say to each other every morning is, "Can we retire today?" Beach? Mountain cabin? A cruise? Traveling across Europe? What's your retirement dream? Start planning now to achieve it. OK. Maybe we don't ask that question first thing in the morning, but that's mainly because the hubby is not a morning person. But we have been paying closer attention to our retirement stash, as well as checking on what we can one day expect from Social Security. Calculating retirement... Read more →


This is truly an October surprise. The persistent partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill has been broken, at least when it comes to the country's key financial needs. The House and President Obama announced yesterday, Oct. 27, that they had agreed on the country's overall budgets for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years and extend the debt ceiling deadline to March 15, 2017. Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, joined by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), announced the two-year budget deal he and the Obama Administration hammered out. Click image to view the video. "This is a good deal. It's a solid... Read more →


Greece, despite another bailout from Eurozone lenders, is still struggling to get its economy together. Now it faces another internal threat: bartering. The New York Times reports that as the Mediterranean country "grapples with a continued downturn, bartering is gaining traction at the margins of the economy" because money is just not readily available. Liz Alderman writes: "Graphic artists are exchanging designs for olive oil. Accountants swap advice for office supplies. In the agricultural heartland and on the Greek islands, informal bartering, which has historically helped communities survive, has intensified as more people exchange fruits, vegetables, other crops, equipment, clothing... Read more →


It's almost time for school to start. For college students, or their parents, that means it's also almost time to start emptying out bank accounts. OK, maybe you don't have to liquidate all your assets to go to college nowadays, but it is expensive. Tuition is, of course, a major outlay. And most folks now pay for their continuing education by taking out loans. A lot of loans. New York Federal Reserve figures show that student debt hit $1.2 trillion in the first quarter of 2015. School-related money is owed by about 43 million Americans. That's why the ever-escalating cost... Read more →


Look out. Some hitchhiking private tax debt collectors could stall the Highway Trust Fund, which already is running on fumes. Claudette Colbert shows Clark Gable how to catch a ride in the classic film It Happened One Night. Their characters were much more welcome hitchhikers than are private collectors of tax debt who are hitching a ride on the Senate bill to pay for the Highway Trust Fund by July 31. Photo/movie trailer screenshot courtesy Wikipedia. The Senate late Wednesday, July 22, finally restarted its transportation funding effort thanks to a 62-36 vote that will let debate on the actual... Read more →


Most folks are bargain hunters, but women face some definite obstacles in getting the best price on many common consumer goods. For years, studies have consistently shown that women pay more than men for items like shampoo, deodorant, razors and shaving gel. The only thing that's changed is just how much more we pay, as inflation ups the prices every year. NBC correspondent Jeff Rossen's May 28 report for the Today Show details the price differentials between men's and women's personal hygiene products. This so-called pink tax now stands at around $1,400 a year more that female shoppers pay for... Read more →


This second Friday the 13th of 2015 is pretty scary for folks with money in the stock market. With just about an hour left in the trading day, the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P 500 are all down. Sure, the drops are just fractional. And reasoned, dedicated investors know that markets fluctuate, sometimes wildly. If you have a good long-term investment plan and are patient, you should come out OK. Still, if like the hubby and me you're hoping to return sooner rather than later, you probably double clutch a bit whenever the market goes down even a little. But, as... Read more →


Next week should be fun. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says that unless Congress increases the federal debt ceiling, the country will hit its borrowing limit on Monday, March 16. That deadline day is this week's By the Numbers figure. Lew, in a letter to Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, points out, just in case any lawmakers are unclear, that increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. "It simply allows the government to pay for expenditures Congress has already approved, thereby protecting the full faith and credit of the United States," writes Lew. Time... Read more →


The U.S. economy finally appears to be on an upward track. That's good news for the millions of folks who took serious financial hits during the persistent recession that began in 2008. Things were so bad back then that even the Internal Revenue Service decided to lend a helping hand. In 2009, the IRS showed its more compassionate side to taxpayers facing financial challenges, which included having difficulty paying their tax-due balances. The IRS committed to being more flexible in working with taxpayers having trouble paying Uncle Sam because of factors related to the weak economy. Thus began the Fresh... Read more →