State/Local Feed

You've got to give it to Alabama lawmakers. They don't mess around when they talk about sin taxes. Oh sure, the Alabama House Ways and Means Committee OK'ed a 25-cent-per-pack cigarette tax hike. But nicotine addiction is just a minor sin. And that tax was just a preview. The state's tax-writing committee last week also approved a 40 percent excise tax on pornographic materials. Alabama isn't censoring adult material, but some lawmaker do want to tax it heavily to help close the state's budget shortfall. You read right. Forty. 4-0. The size of the proposed tax and its titillating target... Read more →

Next week, Colorado's recreational marijuana users are in for a tax treat. On Wednesday, Sept. 16, the state's two marijuana related taxes, which come to a combined 25 percent, will be waived. Sweet Leaf marijuana retail shop in Denver, Colorado. Photo courtesy Colorado Pot Guide. For folks who enjoy taking time for a little toking, this is way better than any of the back-to-school sales tax holidays that 18 states held earlier this summer. Day off for sales and excise taxes: Thanks to the intricacies Colorado's Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) requirements, the state's 10 percent retail marijuana sales tax... Read more →

Tax identity theft techniques continue to morph. This summer, the con artists started sending out paper letters masquerading as real Internal Revenue Service tax-due notices. The move was made to counter real IRS warnings that he agency doesn't call taxpayers demanding payments. Now the persistent tax telephone scammers, who have illicitly pocketed millions from duped taxpayers since October 2013, are using spoofed phone numbers. In case you're not familiar with phone spoofing, it basically allows the caller's telephone number to appear to be another number on the recipient's caller ID screen. Email addresses also are spoofed by con artists trying... Read more →

Donald J. Trump, the leader for the Republican nomination for president, is still finalizing his plan to reform the country's tax system. Meanwhile, however, he still has to worry about his own taxes. Case in point, the real estate tax bill his Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, New York, is facing. Donald Trump's New York City area golf club is fighting its property tax assessment, seeking a lower value on the luxury property so it will get a nearly 90 percent cut in its latest property tax bill. Trump seeks less huge tax bill: The 140-acre property in... Read more →

How do you plan to spend your three-day Labor Day break? Some folks will go shopping. And if they're shopping in Louisiana and Mississippi for firearms, they'll save some tax dollars. At 12:01 a.m. today, Friday, Sept. 4, cash registers in those two states stopped added sales tax charges to certain firearm, ammunition and hunting supply purchases. The tax-free status remains in effect until midnight Sunday, Sept. 6. Both Louisiana and Mississippi officials have dubbed the three no-tax days as Second Amendment sales tax holidays. But rather than, for the most part, having to do with a well-regulated militia, the... Read more →

Seattle's new tax on guns and ammunition had one unchallenged weekend. The law establishes a tax of $25 for every firearm sold, as well as a tax of 2 cents for every ammunition round of .22 caliber or less and 5 cents for every other round of ammunition. In addition to the new gun taxes, the city also approved mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms to the Seattle Police Department. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, flanked by supporters, signs two pieces of gun safety legislation into law on Aug. 21. (Photo courtesy Seattle City Council) Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed... Read more →

Puerto Rico has been in the news a lot this year, and not for its attributes as a Caribbean vacation spot. Coast Guard Barque Eagle sailing past the 16th-century Fort San Felipe del Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on May 21, 2014, as it head for a four-day port call. Image courtesy the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System and Wikimedia Commons. The U.S. island territory has been criticized for being a tax haven for wealthy Americans. Its overall finances have come under scrutiny after Puerto Rican leaders wanted to declare bankruptcy to write off its $72 billion debt.... Read more →

All of us have to deal with the crazy that's the federal Internal Revenue Code. But on top of that, we also have to slog through the intricacies of our individual state tax laws. This applies to everyone, because 99.9 percent* of the time, we face some sort of state or local income and/or sales tax. Showy buckles are part of Texas' unofficial dress code. But if they are sold separately from belts, they are not considered tax-free clothing during Texas' tax holiday. Go figure. And some of those tax laws are whack, or to be more precise, totally out... Read more →

Everybody's a critic, even the New Jersey's chief economic officer if one state senator's tax credit for performers is enacted. Republican Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. this week renewed a push for his bill that would provide a tax break for so-called A-list performers in the Garden State. 50,000 fans packed the beach in Atlantic City to see to see pop band Maroon 5 and its popular front man Adam Levine. Click image for full story and video from Philadelphia ABC affiliate WPVI. The bill is designed to boost amusement offerings in Atlantic City. Under S. 2721, qualifying acts, which include... Read more →

New England shoppers this weekend are enjoying the final two back-to-school sales tax holidays of 2015. Massachusetts shoppers are taking advantage of no 6.25 percent state sales tax on most personal items costing $2,500 or less. The holiday began today, Saturday, Aug 15, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 16. Neighboring Connecticut holds a week-long tax holiday. It kicks off tomorrow, Sunday, Aug. 16, and offers shoppers relief from the state's 6.35 percent sales tax on clothing and footwear priced at $100 or less through next Saturday, Aug. 22. Saving on city taxes, too: While the holidays are the products of... Read more →

If you thought the legal wrangling surrounding Obamacare was fun, hang on. The U.S. Supreme Court soon could consider another tax case, this time involving the most popular sport in the United States. Cleveland plans to ask the country's highest court to decide whether it can continue to assess its current jock tax, the money it collects from visiting professional athletes. NFL players who come to Cleveland for games face not only a jock tax, which is under legal challenge, but also the Browns' Dawg Pound fans like this guy. In April, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that Cleveland's games-played... Read more →

This weekend is prime sales tax holiday season. Shoppers in 13 states will get a chance to trade beach bags for backpacks as part of the popular back-to-school tax-free events. Nine 3-day holidays: Starting today, Friday, Aug. 7, through Sunday, Aug. 9, nine states -- Alabama, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia -- are offering their residents three full days to pick up eligible products sans sales tax. Tax holidays also begin today in Iowa and Louisiana, but they end at midnight Saturday, Aug. 8. A week or more: Shoppers in Florida and Maryland get... Read more →

And here we are, into August. School will start in some places this month. Elsewhere, folks are sneaking in one final vacation trip. Regardless of whether you're packing the kiddos' lunches or packing for a final seasonal jaunt, you're probably just trying to stay cool during these Dog Days of summer. You also should be looking at some August Tax Moves that could help you keep you cool now and at filing season next year. Here are some ideas. Tax-free shopping: Few things are cooler than getting a tax bargain. That's possible for shoppers in 18 states that this summer... Read more →

From a tax standpoint, Alaska is a pretty cool location. The Last Frontier doesn't collect any individual income tax. It also doesn't have a state sales tax. Local Alaskan governments, however, do have the option to collect sales and other taxes. The additional local levies in Alaska cover such things as raw fish (you did see that Deadliest Catch episode featuring the tax collector, didn't you?), hotel and motel occupancy, fuel, gambling proceeds, liquor and tobacco. Right now, one of the most popular local tax collections is on tobacco. More tobacco taxes in Alaska: A dozen years ago, reports Jeannette... Read more →

Hello, Cleveland and the rest of the Buckeye State. Welcome to the state sales tax holiday fraternity. Ohio will hold its first-ever tax holiday next weekend, Aug. 7-9. Like many others, it's aimed at back-to-school shoppers and offers tax savings on certain clothing and school supplies. Meanwhile, Massachusetts once again took its sweet time in deciding whether to offer Bay State shoppers some sales tax savings. A measure for a mid-August holiday weekend finally cleared the legislature on Wednesday, July 29, and is awaiting the governor's signature. Georgia and Mississippi kick off the 2015 summer sales tax holidays this Friday,... Read more →

Those of us who constructed nine-planet models of our solar system for grade school science projects have been in space geek heaven these last couple of weeks. Pluto, which was demoted from planet to dwarf planet status, has been the recent focus of scientists and the space-loving public. NASA's New Horizons probe flew past Pluto on July 14, completing a 3-billion-mile journey that started almost a decade ago. Four images from New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto. Image Credit/Courtesy of NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI. As... Read more →

You can't blame tax cheats if one of Martha and the Vandellas' biggest hits has been playing on a loop in their heads of late. Thanks to a new global effort, tax evaders will have nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. Crossing borders to chase down tax cheats: Tax Inspectors Without Borders, or TIWB, is a new initiative from the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Its goal, is as its name indicates, is to send trained tax professionals from richer OECD nations into other, less-developed member countries to help beef up tax... Read more →

A tax battle between the nation's capital and seven online travel companies has ended with the websites being ordered to pay almost $61 million in sales taxes. The taxes, which apply to Washington, D.C., hotel rooms booked from 1998 to 2010, could be the largest tax settlement ever paid to the District of Columbia government. It also ends a tax fight between the national capital's tax collector and the online room reservation agents at Expedia,, Hotwire, Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity and Travelscape that began in 2011. Retail taxes due: At issue was the tax difference between applying Washington's 14.5 percent... Read more →

Stop me if you're heard this before. And before. And before. Yep, I'm talking, again, about tax extenders legislation. These 50+ temporary tax laws must be renewed periodically, with the one to two year extensions, sometimes retroactively, giving them their name. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Minority Member Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), left, and SFC Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will guide their tax-writing colleagues today in examining tax provisions that expired at the end of the 2014 tax year. (Official Senate Finance Committee photo) The current batch of extenders expired on Dec. 31, 2014, after being given new life retroactively for... Read more →

President Barack Obama made history last week when he became the first sitting commander in chief to a federal prison. But he wasn't the only public official looking to change some federal rules that relate to incarceration. President Barack Obama visited the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside of Oklahoma City on July 16. It was the first visit by a sitting U.S. President to a federal prison. Click image to view the White House's YouTube report on the visit. Taxes on court awards: Rep. Sam Johnson, a Republican who represents Texas' third congressional district covering the suburbs north and... Read more →