Poll Feed

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is today's entrant into the ever-expanding Republican field to be the party's 2016 nominee for the White House. He's the 14th official major GOP candidate. Click image to watch Chris Christie's announcement that he's seeking the 2016 GOP nomination for president. On the one hand, it's good so see so many people interested in contributing to the country's political dialog. On the other hand, with so many candidates who don't have any chance of ever sitting in the Oval Office, and that includes you Donald Trump, the odds of conducting any substantive policy debate are... Read more →

Most of us won't vote on tax-related ballot initiatives today, but taxes still will guide our choices, according to a recent poll. Public Opinion Strategies' (POS) national pre-election survey found that tax reform is a major concern for most voters. Overall, the Alexandria, Virginia-based political and public affairs research firm found that economic issues will be a deciding factor in how people vote today. Nearly all voters (96 percent) say economic issues are important to their vote. Almost three-quarters (74 percent) classify economic issues as "extremely" or "very important" in determining how they will cast their ballots. That sentiment was... Read more →

The tax world has just been turned on its head. A recent survey of New Jersey residents reveals that high property taxes are NOT their biggest concern. The results are a first for the Monmouth University-Asbury Park Press poll. In other recent polls, real estate bills at least tied for the number-one worry of New Jerseyans. The latest poll, released on Dec. 10, asked New Jerseyans to identify in their own words what they see as the state's most pressing issues. Job creation came in first at 35 percent. Taxes lower on the list: The state's property tax system came... Read more →

Just like Sen. Ted Cruz, I'm on my spouse's company health care policy. That and a Texas address are the only thing the Tea Party darling and I share. Because Ted and Heidi Nelson Cruz and the hubby and I have workplace-provided medical insurance, we get a chance in the coming weeks to decide exactly what type of coverage and other related workplace benefits we want for the coming year. Yep, it's annual workplace open enrollment season. Like many employer-provided plans, our options are part of a cafeteria plan, so named because they allow employees to select benefits from a... Read more →

Oct. 1, the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year, is more than half over. The stalemate between Congressional Republicans and Democrats over a stopgap spending bill is far from over. The biggest stumbling block is the continuing stubbornness insistence of House conservatives to tie Uncle Sam's operational costs to the president's signature health care law. The resistors, most of them recently elected thanks to Tea Party support, want Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is popularly known, either defunded or at least delayed for a year. That ship, folks, has sailed. The health care reform law's insurance coverage exchanges opened... Read more →

Maybe it was the rain. Mitt Romney has gone to two NASCAR races this year. Both times the events were delayed, one until the next day, by heavy showers. Sports fans are superstitious and perhaps followers of America's favorite auto racing series equated the politician's attendance with the disruptions. Or maybe NASCAR fans are no longer confined to traditional Southern red states. Whatever the reason, the latest Zogby Poll found NASCAR fans favored Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by 49 percent to 42 percent, respectively. That's outside the poll's 3.4 percent margin of error. Almost 10 percent were undecided. Click... Read more →

Republicans have gathered in Tampa to officially kick off their 2012 effort to have Mitt Romney move into the White House. The core of the Romney campaign is to focus on how he would revive the sluggish economy. But based on some recent national polls, Romney might want to keep his vice presidential choice, Paul Ryan, out of the spotlight in discussing economic issues. Ryan has been a U.S. Representative since 1999. During his almost 14 years in Congress, Ryan has moved up the Republican leadership ranks. He currently serves on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee and chairs the... Read more →

Politicians are always pointing to polls. Campaigns, at both the primary and national levels, rely, sometimes (often) inordinately, on what the public thinks at a particular time. Photo by Orange Duke Productions/iStock Once elected, legislative policy often is shaped to some (large) degree by which side has the higher percentage of public support. But when it comes to taxes, the answer is pretty consistent. We tend not to like them. We may accept that we need them to pay for government programs we like. During the ongoing budget deficit debate, Obama has cited polls indicating that most Americans want a... Read more →

What to do with your tax refund

As April was winding down, the number of e-filers was going up. More than 90 million tax returns were filed electronically through April 24, according to the IRS. As has been the trend over the last few years, more individuals in 2009 opted to electronically file their returns on their own. In fact, that segment of filers hit a record this year. For the first time, says the tax agency, more than 30 million individual income tax returns were filed from home computers. That's a 19 percent jump over last year. As the math indicates, that means around 60 million... Read more →

What are you worried about this tax filing season? If you're like the folks who participated in a recent CCH CompleteTax survey, you're concerned that you might be making costly mistakes or overlooking tax-saving breaks. Such worries could be well-founded. The poll of around 1,000 adults, commissioned by CCH and conducted by GfK Roper, also found that most people do not know which tax breaks offer the greatest benefits. Nearly two in three, or 66 percent, of taxpayers fear they may overlook tax breaks or make mistakes that could cost them in fines or penalties. When it comes to a... Read more →

I accidentally looked at a third quarter statement for one of my retirement accounts last week. Its value had dropped just 11 percent. If you'd told me a year ago that I'd be OK with a loss in value of "just 11 percent" on any investment, I'd have called you crazy. But crazy is what the market has been. And crazy is how many folks have been acting regarding their investments. Now, however, it looks like we might be in for a break. There are some indications that global markets are stabilizing a bit as investors digest steps taken to... Read more →

Coping with market chaos
and shrinking 401(k)s

I've done my part to help stabilize the market. I put money into the hubby's and my retirement accounts. A fat lot of good that did. The Dow tanked again today (worst week ever). But I still believe in sticking with stocks. As one analyst on CNBC said yesterday (yes, I'm still watching the financial news; and sorry, I didn't catch the guy's name), when you get out of the market you have to guess right twice: That it is indeed the correct time to pull your money, and When the market rebounds, and it eventually will, that it's time... Read more →

Retailers explore ways to get your rebate

Rebates start arriving today (revised delivery schedule here), and retailers are making a concerted effort to get you to spend your tax cash. The latest lure: Several retailers will give taxpayers extra spending money if they'll put their full rebate amount on a store gift card. The typical percentage add-on is 10 percent of the rebate amount. Pat Conroy of the consulting firm Deloitte & Touche told USAToday that linking the rebates to gift cards is a smart tactic because shoppers typically spend more than the value of a gift card when they use one. "The trick will be to... Read more →

Happy Tax Deadline Day!

The tax countdown clock (there in the right-hand column) is going through its final clicks. How about you? What are you up to today? I'm spending this April 15: Pulling my hair out and furiously crunching numbers! Enjoying the day because I already filed. Filing for an extension. Spending the refund I already received. Missing the tax deadline with reckless abandon! If you're still working on your 1040, let me refer you to a couple of pieces I put together this tax season, both here on the ol' blog and for other publications: Common tax-filing mistakes Overlooked tax breaks Payment... Read more →

Practice voting

Want some practice voting electronically before your ballot really counts next Tuesday? Then participate in our expired tax deduction poll here on Don't Mess With Taxes' home page (upper left corner). We want to know which now dead, but soon to be resurrected (we hope!) deduction will help cut your coming tax bill the most. I can't presume to predict my overall readership's voting propensities, but I suspect those from here in Texas, where everyone complains about sales taxes, are likely to want that itemized write-off back. But blog readers and poll voters in my quasi-back yard of Austin, home... Read more →

Here's something Jack Bauer can't fix in 24 hours

Jack Bauer is the man to call when the country is just 24 hours away from annihilation by ultimate bad guys (or gals; to my mind, no one has matched Nina Myers' first season of evil conniving). But Jack is definitely not the man to call for financial advice. As I watched Kiefer Sutherland pick up his first Emmy award on Sunday night for bringing Jack's round-the-clock derring-do to life, the financial wonk in me started thinking about how Jack gets by the other 8,736 hours a year. It's not a pretty picture. Let's start with his retirement savings. Between... Read more →

For the record: Poll Archive

Want to know what readers were thinking? This is the place. All Don't Mess With Taxes polls will eventually end up here. Poll #18: How are you dealing with the stock market meltdown? (question posted 10/10/08; results posted 10/20/08) 44% said: I have a regular investment program and I'm sticking with it. 12% said: I'm leaving current holdings alone, but not investing new money. 24% said: I'm buying bargains. 9% said: I bailed out and put my money into FDIC-insured instruments. 9% said: I'm ignoring it, hoping the market will eventually work itself out. 2% said: I'm taking other approaches.... Read more →