State/Local Feed

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 →


If you drive you've got to be thrilled with the price of gas right now. Every time I've filled up my car over the past six months, I've snapped a shot of just how cheap it is. That $1.419 a gallon photo to the left was from last weekend. As I drove past my local gas station yesterday, I saw that it had dropped two more cents. Low pump prices, however, could mean more taxes for motorists in nine states where, says the Tax Justice Blog, lawmakers are seriously considering gas tax hikes. So which drivers should be worried? Those... Read more →


One easy -- and scary -- way to know that we're at the peak of tax filing season is to look at the number of questionable emails, text messages and phone calls you're getting from folks seeking details about your taxes. Just this month, I've received two calls from the ubiquitous fake Internal Revenue Service agents threatening me with legal action. The first one, which was left as a message on my office answering machine, was obviously a poorly done mechanical scare tactic. The second call came a few days later, also from a bot, but better quality. I answered... Read more →


What's one way to get state lawmakers to consider tax legislation? Threaten to effectively shut down one of its top college football programs. That's exactly what new Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards did. The Louisiana governor's budget warning has hit the state like a bolt of lightning. He says that without tax increases, there could be no LSU football this fall. Click image to view the SI Wire video report via Campus Rush. Edwards, a Democrat who succeeded Republican Bobby Jindal, took to the airwaves last week to outline the state's economic woes before the Louisiana legislature convened Feb. 14... Read more →


If you live in Maryland and your significant other isn't particularly romantic, you might be able to pick up a useful Valentine's Day gift and save on some taxes. The Old Line State this long holiday weekend is waiving its 6 percent sales tax -- which is this week's By the Numbers figure -- on purchases of qualifying energy efficient items. The sales tax holiday began at 12:01 a.m. today, Saturday, Feb. 13 (sorry for the late notice; I had a busy day!) and continues until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15. The Comptroller of Maryland special Web page says the... 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 →


The legislative merging of international manufacturing and the Internet is complete. The Senate this afternoon finally approved H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, which the House handily passed last December. Part of the bill permanently prohibits any tax -- and even removes the few existing levies -- on Internet access. Internet access vs. Internet sales taxes: Senate action on the measure, which primarily streamlines the U.S. Customs system and eases the border clearance process for much shipping and international commerce, had been slowed by lawmakers who also wanted to consider Internet sales taxes as part... 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 →


North Pole officials have decided to tax pot. No, not that North Pole, although that would explain why Santa eats so many cookies in a single night. Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska. (Photo by Nicole Bizinski/Santa Claus House) We're talking North Pole, Alaska, a community of around 2,200 just southeast of Fairbanks. The treasury of the town with the official motto "where the spirit of Christmas lives year 'round" got an early gift on Feb. 1 when city council members decided to tax both wholesale and retail marijuana transactions. The 6 percent sales tax will apply to pot... 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 →


The list of states warning taxpayers that they'll have to wait longer for their tax refunds is growing. But don't blame the state tax collectors. Anger should be directed at the increasing number of criminals who are stealing individuals' personal data and then using it to file fraudulent tax returns, at federal and state levels. Illinois, Louisiana and Utah revenue departments were the first to announce that new security protocols would mean more time to verify and process state returns. Now we've gotten similar messages from Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Carolina tax officials. South Carolina: Let's start down... Read more →


The 2016 federal tax filing season is now officially underway, at both federal and state levels. Do you have to pay state income taxes? If so, your filing season opens today, Jan. 19, too. The Internal Revenue Service actually opened the electronic door to its Free File option on Friday, Jan. 15. Any returns filed over the long holiday weekend using one of the 13 tax software programs available this year were held until today. But now, those 1040s are in the IRS system. And those of us who use tax software on our devices or who still file using... Read more →


The buzz about the biggest U.S. lottery ever continues, as we wait for the rest of the Powerball winners to come forward. So far, just Jim and Lisa Robinson, the Tennessee ticket buyers, have claimed their portion of the $1.5 billion prize. Many lottery veterans and financial experts have questioned the couple's public acceptance of their millions (they're taking the lump sum payment), but what's done is done. Jim and Lisa Robinson (she's in the fuchsia jacket, with her husband to the left of her in this screenshot), America's newest lottery millionaires, talk about their good luck. Click image to... 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 →


Powerball Update, Jan. 10, 2016: There are some new millionaires in America this morning, including three Texans (one here in Austin, who, sad for me, is not me) who matched 5 of 6 Powerball numbers last night. But there was no Powerball big jackpot winner, so the drawing on Wednesday, Jan. 13, night will be for more than $1 billion for the first time. This morning it was $1.3 billion, with a cash lump sum payout of $806 million. This post applies to the latest winners, as well as the lucky person/people who win on Wednesday. A Lottery is a... Read more →


I hope you enjoyed your online holiday shopping spree last month, South Carolinians. Amazon is now collecting sales tax on products you order. Palmetto State shoppers have been buying from the online retail giant tax free since 2011. That year, South Carolina lawmakers agreed to the tax collection waiver as part of a deal that encouraged the Seattle-based company to build a distribution center in Lexington County. The e-tailer now has a second South Carolina facility in Spartanburg. Both operations employ more than 1,500 workers. S.C. sales tax time: But effective Jan. 1, South Carolina shoppers have had to include... Read more →


The 43 states that collect some type of income tax from their residents plan to follow the Internal Revenue Service schedule and start their 2016 tax-filing seasons on Jan. 19. But when it comes to refunds associated with 2015 filings, the federal and some state calendars diverge dramatically. The IRS, so far, is sticking with its hope prediction that it will issue more than 90 percent of refunds this year within at least 21 days after it receives the electronically filed returns. Illinois, Louisiana and Utah officials, however, are saying not so fast. They have alerted their taxpayers that in... 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 →


How will you toast the arrival of 2016? I briefly thought about trying out hard cider this New Year's Eve. But that would require putting on a clean T-shirt, getting out of the house, driving to a liquor store and making the purchase. That's not going to happen. Instead, at midnight the hubby and I will finally pop the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine we've had in our fridge for, well, years. Yeah, we're not really big drinkers. If there's no fizz in that Flat Creek Cellars sparkling almond wine, then we'll rely on our fallback alcoholic beverage:... Read more →