State/Local Feed

School supplies are among the items that are sales-tax-free during some of this summer's state tax holidays. (Photo by Kay Bell) Shoppers in 15* states are gearing up for their summer state tax holidays. Mississippi and Tennessee are next in line, with those sales-tax-free events set for this coming weekend. But are they really saving? As I noted in my blurb for this week's tax tip on these summer 2017 event, they are bad public policy. How bad? Political gimmicks like sales tax holidays distract policymakers and taxpayers from genuine, permanent tax relief. If a state must offer a "holiday"... Read more →


Alfred Hitchcock nailed it in his 1955 cat burglar-turned-romance starring Grace Kelly and Gary Grant. The pair teamed up, with Grant's character using his expertise as a former jewel thief, to catch a new criminal in the wealthy playground of Monte Carlo, Monaco. (Click film screenshot to watch the movie trailer on YouTube.) The Internal Revenue Service apparently is taking a hint from a Hollywood classic. It's thinking like identity thieves to catch identity thieves. That was among the messages from IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in July 25 media teleconference. Cybercriminals are showing increasing savvy and tax expertise, particularly in... Read more →


Tom Hiddleston as Loki, left, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor prepare to take down some bad guys in "Thor: Ragnarok." That movie, coming to a theater near you in November, was one of the many Marvel Studios productions that got the lion's share of attention at Comic-Con 2017. (Click image for full Marvel Studios trailer at YouTube) Comic-Con, the geek event of the year, just wrapped up in San Diego. Not surprisingly, Marvel Studios and its stars were the big draws at the 2017 event. I'm not a big fan of comic books and their spin-off products, but I did... Read more →


Ark Encounter's replica of the vessel used in the Biblical tale of Noah and the flood is the largest timber frame structure in the world, according to the Kentucky theme park's website. It is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high. Ark Encounter, the evangelical/fundamentalist Christian theme park in Grant County, Kentucky, will have to stay afloat without the aid of $18 million in state tax breaks. The Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet sent the operators of the park, which features a massive replica of Noah's Ark, a letter last week notifying them that the park... Read more →


Alabama kicked off the annual back-to-school sales tax holiday 2017 season on July 21. Mississippi's and Tennessee's weekend events are at the end July. The 13 other summer sales tax savings periods aren't until August. The reconfigured table below — it's still alphabetical, but the immediately upcoming back-to-school tax holidays are now in bold type and once a state's tax holiday is over, it will be moved to the bottom of the listing — will help you keep track of the remaining sales-tax-free shopping days. With July half-way over, parents, students and especially retailers are variously anticipating and dreading school... Read more →


Some type of marijuana use is legal in more than half of the United States. State and local coffers get associated pot taxes, but that could stop if the feds start cracking down on what is still an illegal drug in Uncle Sam's eyes. (Photo courtesy GreenerCulture.com) U.S. Attorney General (for now) Jeff Sessions apparently really wants federal law enforcement to once again target marijuana. But a return to a tougher prosecution by Uncle Sam could produce some serious push-back from states where pot is legal if they show tax revenue results like Colorado. Since Colorado became the first the... Read more →


If you've been paying attention to Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with some Russians last summer, you know the White House has given two reasons for the get-together. The explanation that caught my tax eye was that the group talked about adoptions. The president's oldest son said that one of the Russian nationals came to Trump Tower to lobby for reversal of the Magnitsky Act. The law gets its name from attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in 2009 while being held in a Moscow prison. Foreign fight, domestic family effects: In 2012, the U.S. law bearing Magnitsky's name was enacted. It... Read more →


Your decision to stay in a private home or a traditional lodging option depends on lots of things, including the accommodations' costs that often have added occupancy taxes. (Image courtesy Reunion Vacation Homes) Are you booking your summer vacation stay via Airbnb? You might want to budget a bit more for lodging taxes. The popular private residential rental service collects sales and occupancy taxes on properties' leased in all or parts of 31 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Internationally, Airbnb also is acting as tax collector in six countries. Airbnb appears to... Read more →


As Amazon offers taxable deals on Prime Day tomorrow, Washington online shoppers — and marketplace sellers — are facing a new tattle-tale sales tax law. Most online shoppers are paying attention to Amazon's upcoming third annual Prime Day specials. Tomorrow, July 11, the cyber-retailing giant is offering special deals throughout the day (or some as early as this evening) to attract business. The savings might be enough to offset the sales taxes that Amazon now collects on products delivered to all states that collect them. The full collection of sales taxes across the United States was effective April 1. That... Read more →


Do your summer plans include doing a little shopping, either at home or while on vacation? Then you need to know the maximum sales tax rate you might face, especially if you're trying to stick to a budget. Some states and municipalities operate on a fiscal year that kicks in on July 1. That means tax changes — including levies on sales — often take effect as summer is rolling around. The Tax Foundation has taken a look at the plethora of state and local sales taxes effective at the start of this month and produced the map shown below... Read more →


One of Wimbledon's famed grass courts, which are the focus of the tennis — and betting — worlds as tournament matches started July 3. (Photo by Nic Gould via Flickr) Wimbledon, one of the crown jewels of professional tennis, begins today. You know what that means. Bookies across the United Kingdom are taking bets. Yes, sports betting is legal in Great Britain. It's also legal in much of Europe. In England, it's no problem to find the latest Wimbledon betting odds, along with tips on which players to stake your discretionary cash. Big global bucks: Sports betting across the pond... Read more →


Millions of Americans will be enjoying picnics and cookouts in advance of July 4 fireworks. In a few places, though, the sodas in those outings' coolers will cost a bit more. So-called soda taxes took effect in Oakland, California, and Boulder, Colorado, on July 1. A similar levy was scheduled in the Chicago area, but the day before a judge put Cook County's penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages on hold at least until July 12. Bay Area beverage battle: Oakland voters approved the tax, which applies to more than soda pop, in November 2016. The added tax, say supporters, should... Read more →


Filling up our cars nowadays is a far cry from the full-service days of yore. Yes, some of us are old enough to remember those types of stations, if not this particular one. We also are paying much more per gallon, thanks in part to gas taxes, some of which increased on July 1. (Pete's Route 66 Gas Station Museum photo by Loco Steve via Flickr) July 1 not only marks the start of the second half of the calendar year, but it's also a new fiscal operating year for many state governments. And that means some new taxes take... Read more →


Georgians who usually delay their back-to-school shopping until the end of July when the state's annual tax-free shopping weekend rolls around can go ahead and buy on their own timetable this year. Georgia has canceled its 2017 late summer sales tax holiday. Every summer, shoppers in around a dozen states can buy sales tax free school supplies thanks to tax holidays. That's not the case this year in Georgia, which has canceled its 2017 tax-free weekend event. (Photo by Kay Bell) The event had been penciled in for the weekend of July 29-30. Get out your taxable erasers, Georgia shoppers,... Read more →


Regardless of which month you marry, there are and will be tax matters to consider. Relaxing after the ceremony. (Photo by Barney Moss via Flickr) Ever wonder why June is "the" wedding month? Me, too. So I looked it up. The Old Farmer's Almanac, which I never realized was a go-to wedding planning resource, says that June is the most popular month to marry thanks to some ancient traditions. The Roman goddess Juno, for whom the sixth month was named, was the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing. So, says the Almanac,... Read more →


Tropical Storm Storm Cindy is now officially churning in the Gulf of Mexico, with a predicted landfall in a few days along the Texas-Louisiana border. That track could, of course change. And as meteorologists on the Weather Channel note, "it's not the name, but the rain." Tropical system precipitation typically reaches beyond the actual low pressure system, often well inland of coastal properties, and produces dangerous flooding. Such reports have come in from as far north as Atlanta today, with Cindy's expanded rain bands causing highway flooding in that city. Federal and state tax help for recovery efforts: As noted... Read more →


Walt Disney attorneys contend that the values of its properties are as inflated as these Disney World balloons and have gone to court to get new assessments. (Photo by Davidlohr Bueso via Flickr) Walt Disney's namesake recreational areas have built their vacation reputations on being the happiest places on Earth. But the company's tax lawyers are in decidedly bad moods after getting what they say are excessive tax year 2016 property value assessments of their Sunshine State parks. So Disney is taking the Orange Country, Florida, property appraiser to court. Dozens Disney tax suits: Disney Parks and Resorts have filed... Read more →


Donald J. Trump's got a lot of campaign promise policy issue irons in the fire. This week, he pulled one out a bit by deciding to let undocumented residents known as DREAMers stay in the United States. The decision was announced as part of a fact sheet released by Homeland Security late June 15. That document's next-to-last line notes: "The June 15, 2012 memorandum that created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in effect." A group of DREAMers, the undocumented youths who hope to remain in the United States, make their point during a 2016 presidential... Read more →


The Stars and Stripes. Old Glory. The Red, White and Blue. The Star Spangled Banner. Whatever name you use, today is the annual national celebration of the United States of America's flag, one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. U.S. Navy vessels commemorate Flag Day. (Photo courtesy U.S. Navy via Twitter) Flag, Flag Day history: The U.S. flag was adopted 240 years ago on June 14, 1777. From its beginnings at Betsy Ross' hands during the American Revolution to today when many residents of Puerto Rico are seeking to have another star added, Old Glory has changed with... Read more →


The winning Powerball numbers drawn Saturday, June 10, are 20-26-32-38-58 with the Powerball of 03. One lucky California ticket buyer can claim the $447.8 million jackpot. Talk about lucky. Not only did last night's (Saturday, June 10) Powerball winner match all six numbers to take the almost $448 million jackpot, that person lives in California. By the time of the drawing, the jackpot had grown into the seventh largest U.S. lottery ever. If the winner takes the single, lump-sum payout (which most winners do), he or she will get a check for just more than $279 million, according to lottery... Read more →