Pop Culture Feed

The 2016 Republican National Convention started today. So did the latest round of stories about what the GOP must do to make Donald J. Trump, its expected presidential nominee, more electable. Richard Hatch (far right, front row), winner of the first "Survivor" show in 2000, makes his case as a contestant in 2011 on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice." Hatch was fired by The Donald, but some suggest Hatch's "Survivor" strategy could help Trump win the presidency. There's the typical approach of moving toward the political center. That the path that's been taken over the years by both Democratic and Republican... Read more →


Attention Pennsylvania digital aficionados, your electronic addictions are about to cost you a bit more. Gov. Tom Wolf on July 13 signed into law his state's fiscal 2017 revenue package. Among its provisions is an extension of the Keystone State's 6 percent sales and use tax to digital downloads of books, music, satellite radio and video and audio streaming. The new tax collection will take effect Aug. 1. It's expected to bring in nearly $47 million in its first year. Those millions of dollars in extra revenue are tempting targets for this week's By the Numbers honor. So is the... Read more →


Sports fans tend to be, well, fanatic. To many, it's what a player does during the game, not his or her off-field antics that matter. Moment of the Champions League final with FC Barcelona's Leo Messi, left, going against Patrice Evra of Juventus at Olympiastadion in Berlin on June 6, 2015. (Photo by Biser Todorov via Wikimedia Commons) That kind of no-questions-asked support was what the Barcelona football -- or soccer, as most Americans call the sport -- team was counting on in the wake of its star player's tax evasion conviction. Public outreach, tax backlash: Last week after Lionel... Read more →


"Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!" Everyone connected to "Hamilton" will be raising a glass and singing that Schuyler Sisters lyric later tonight after Broadway's annual awards ceremony is complete. The ground- and record-breaking musical is nominated for 16 Tony awards (yes, that's a new record, too). The show about the $10 Founding Father likely won't set a new record for wins, in part because many of its actors are competing against each other. But it should take home the statuette for top musical. And beyond the creative realm, Hamilton is already... Read more →


Federal drug officials are considering removing marijuana's Schedule 1 classification, reports USA Today. A DEA agent carries confiscated marijuana plants to be destroyed. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) decision, which is expected this summer, would make it easier for researchers to work with the plant. Currently, weed is in the same legal category as heroin, LSD and bath salts. As a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana is deemed to have "no currently accepted medical treatment use." Residents and lawmakers in 24 states and the District of Columbia disagree; they permit some form of medical marijuana use. Recreational weed and taxes: Colorado,... Read more →


Be still, my heart. Daveed Diggs talked about taxes! Diggs, one of the Tony-nominated stars of the Broadway smash "Hamilton," was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night. He of course talked about his dual roles as America's favorite fighting Frenchman Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Lin-Manuel Miranda's $10 Founding Father musical. Pre-Broadway jobs: However, just before getting the "Hamilton" parts, the accomplished rapper was at home in Los Angeles and was between gigs. To make ends meet, Diggs delivered catering "in my tore-up Honda Civic … mostly fajitas … at minimum wage, no less." When he got... Read more →


It's Derby Day. No, not the hat, although fancy chapeaux are a big part of the big race in the Bluegrass State. Well-dressed racing fans at the 2008 Kentucky Derby. Photo by Lee Burchfield via Flickr. It's the running of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. Thanks to American Pharoah's wins last year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky; Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland; and Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, we're starting a new quest for the world's best thoroughbred. Winning race bets are taxable: The tax focus on this and other big... 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 →


Here's a tax-related travel tip. Mail your return before you head out to your favorite festival. Some of the attendees of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival's opening weekend, April 15-17, tried to fulfill their tax-filing duties. Unfortunately for them, the Coachella campground's post office is not a full-service facility. Instead, the small operation is more of an intermediary between festival-goers and the real local post office in Indio, California, proper. The temporary Coachella post office this year is housed in a life-sized version of a Lincoln Log cabin, according to The Orange County Register. It was put together,... Read more →


There are many nicknames for marijuana. Weed. Pot. Mary Jane. Cash cow. OK, that last one isn't an official moniker for pot. But it is how many state legislators see the mood altering herb. And it could be a reason why 4/20 could one day be celebrated nationwide. Photo by GoToVan via Flickr CC Pot's tax payoff: Nearly $700 million of medical and recreational marijuana was sold in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational use of pot, in 2014. Data through last November shows that the 2015 numbers have already passed the 2014 mark, with nearly $895... 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 →


Are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day? Probably at least in some fashion. Everybody and their dogs love celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Photo by Michael Shehan Obeysek via Flickr. The National Retail Federation's annual St. Patrick's Day Spending Survey finds that more than 125 million Americans are planning to party this March 17th. The poll, conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics for NRF, says the St. Paddy's celebrants are expected to spend an average of $35.37 per person on green garb, festive food and more. And most of those expenditures will include some tax costs. No toasts for beverage taxes: Let's... Read more →


The calendar says it's Thursday, March 3, but unofficially it's Pile on Donald Trump Day. It began with the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee excoriating Trump, calling the New York real estate developer a "fraud" and "phony" whose name-based brand is built on "dishonesty." Donald Trump sporting his America-themed presidential campaign hat. "He's playing the members of the American public for suckers,” Mitt Romney said of Trump in 17-minute speech delivered at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. "He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is... Read more →


Super Bowl winners get it all. More fan adoration. Parades. A flashy piece of jewelry. Trips to Disney World. More taxes. Around a million Denver Broncos fans, including 24,000+ truant schoolchildren, thronged the Colorado capital on Feb. 9 to welcome home their NFL Champions. Photo by Enrico C. Meyer via Twitter. For many of the players in the NFL championship game, that last "benefit" is more than they bargained for. In fact, note a couple of tax attorneys, some of the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers players actually lost money by playing in Super Bowl 50. Wait. What? How is... 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 →


I am not a big gambler. Sure, as long-time readers of the ol' blog know, I buy lottery tickets. Way too many lottery tickets. But when the hubby and I go to Las Vegas, we go for the shows -- Cirque du Soleil, Penn and Teller, Blue Man Group -- not the betting. Today, however, is one of my favorite days of the year and it's not because of the Super Bowl itself, but because of the prop bets. (Full disclosure: That will change when the Cowboys finally get back to the championship game.) Beyoncé's appearance in today's Super Bowl... Read more →


Even before the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers players step onto the field at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, we'll already have one big winner. Click screenshot to view full NFL Super Bowl 50 trailer on YouTube. The National Football League will pocket millions thanks to the Super Bowl host city's agreement to hand over all its big game-related sales tax revenue to the league. Yep, the NFL, which made $12 billion over the 2014-15 season, demands that cities awarded the Super Bowl waive or reimburse sales tax on ticket sales and parking passes. What Super Bowl cities lose:... Read more →


It's Oscar nomination day! Let the arguments begin over who was properly recognized (yay Bryan Cranston for "Trumbo"), who was snubbed (Idris Elba and Johnny Depp both ignored!) and who surprised (yay again, this time for great film composer Carter Burwell) film fans and the industry by getting Academy Award nods. I'm sure someone already is researching which of the Best Film nominees got film tax credits. I suspect they all did, just like last year's batch. And one thing is for sure when it comes to future award-worthy movies. If they're made in New Jersey, the film makers will... Read more →


I live in gun-crazy Texas. Some folks would say the word "gun" is unnecessary. I'm Lone Star State born and bred, but many days I agree with that disparaging assessment, more so now that we have full open carry of weapons. But for every Wild West wannabe piece of legislation, there are acts to try to counter gun violence across the country. At the national level, President Barack Obama just announced executive office steps he plans to take to tighten the nation’s gun laws. Locally, states and cities have taken tougher gun stands with a modicum of success. Last December,... Read more →


Yes, I know we're in the midst of college football's bowl season. And many NFL teams are still in the hunt for a spot in professional football's playoffs. But baseball recently got my attention. Part of my sporting focus shift is that the two NFL teams I cheer for, the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens, are incredibly sucky this year and out of the playoff picture. The main reason, though, that I'm looking at Major League Baseball in late December is because 2015 is a record-setting year for the league's luxury tax. Multiple luxury tax records: The Los Angeles Dodgers... Read more →