State/Local Feed

Packed and ready to hit the road this Memorial Day weekend! Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer and apparently we are ready for the lazy, hazy season. AAA says that travel during this long holiday weekend is expected to be at near-record levels. And it actually began on Thursday. More than 41.5 million Americans will travel this Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA. That's nearly 5 percent more than last year and the most in more than a dozen years. You know what that means. Travel delays, especially in urban areas this afternoon where holiday revelers heading... Read more →


A tropical system off of Mexico's Yucatan peninsula is expected to move north over the Memorial Day weekend. (The Weather Channel screenshot) The 2018 tropical storm season has arrived a bit early. Officially, the Atlantic (and Gulf of Mexico) hurricane season doesn't start each year until June 1. But the weather gods operate on their own schedules, so we often get early forming storms. That's the current situation. A tropical system has developed off the eastern coast of Yucatan, Mexico, and is expected to move north, ruining the Memorial Day weekend for thousands of Gulf Coast residents and vacationers. Depending... Read more →


Expensive real estate no longer provides owners unlimited federal property tax deductions. The Internal Revenue Service announced today that it will make an announcement about states efforts to provide taxpayers workarounds to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's $10,000 limit on state and local tax (SALT) federal deductions. The issue has arisen as a handful of states have enacted or are considering law changes to allow their residents to make contributions to state accounts, from which their state taxes then are paid. State "charity" workarounds: Essentially, the states' general approaches have been to effectively turn the tax payments into charitable... Read more →


The beach view of the newest Trump South Florida property. (Photo via Zillow) While many homeowners are in the process of protesting their residential property appraisals in the hopes of lowering their tax bills, Donald J. Trump is adding to his potential property taxes. The Trump Organization recently closed on a waterfront mansion just across the street in Palm Beach, Florida, from Mar-a-Lago. The property at 1125 South Ocean Boulevard was on the market for $23.9 million, but the Trumps got it for $18.5 million. Friendly transaction: The price break probably didn't take a lot of haggling. The 8,270-square-feet property,... Read more →


California has the highest gas tax in the United States. Opponents are hoping to repeal it via a ballot measure this November. I filled up my mid-sized Chevy sedan's tank this morning, something I do every two weeks or so. I was stunned to see my local gas station, which usually sells gas at the lower end of the prevailing price scale, had regular unleaded going for $2.63 a gallon. That's a more than 50-cent hike from my previous tank top-off in April. It also put the Austin area (or at least my neighborhood) closer than it's been for a... Read more →


Teachers give more than their time and energy to students. They literally pay in many instances to help their students learn. That's why educators were pleased when the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act left the above-the-line deduction for their out-of-pocket expenses in the tax code. This tax break, which is claimed directly on Form 1040 with no need to fill out a Schedule A, lets a single filing teacher claim $250 spent toward classroom supplies. For married educators, $500 in personal payment for school supplies can be deducted (or more technically subtracted from filers' gross income) on their joint tax... Read more →


Every bettor in the United States after today's Supreme Court ruling that opens up sports betting nationwide. (Source: Giphy.com) That whoop you heard this morning was celebrating sports fans all across American who like to drop a few (or more) bucks on their favorites sports match-ups. The possibility that they can do so closer to home now an option thanks to today's (May 14, 2018) Supreme Court decision. Place your bets: The nation's highest court ruled 7-2 that a federal law that has effectively limited sports betting to Nevada for more than a quarter century is unconstitutional. The case, brought... Read more →


Jacksonville, Florida, officials might have trouble keeping their lights on if some of the city's residents don't pay their delinquent tax bills. (Photo courtesy Visit Jacksonville) Jacksonville, home to around 880,000 residents, is the largest city in the Sunshine State. It takes a lot of money to run a municipality of that size. Some of its residents, however, have decided not to pay. Their free ride, though, won't last for much longer. $58 million unpaid: More than 35,000 people owe a combined total of $58 million in unpaid taxes to the city of Jacksonville, according to WJXT News4Jax. That's almost... Read more →


Bitcoin fans contend that their currency is just as valid as any other money. But they've not had a lot of luck in convincing most people of that. Cryptocurrency aficionados thought they had taken a major step toward wider acceptance in February when the Arizona Senate approved a bill that would have allowed for, beginning in 2020, the payment of state income taxes in bitcoin or other digital currency approved by the Arizona Department of Revenue (ADoR). Four months later, that's no longer a possibility. Crypto pay stripped from bill: When Senate Bill 1091 went to the Arizona House for... Read more →


Substantially more than half of Americans say recreational marijuana use should be legalized. The October 2017 Pew Research Center survey that found the pro-marijuana majority is the latest analysis that documents a steady increase in weed acceptance over the past decade. The currently slow-but-steady support for weed — the 61 percent approval in the latest survey is up just 4 percentage points from a 2016 poll, but it's nearly double the 31 percent pro-pot results recorded in 2000 — offers hope to the marijuana industry. Part of that pro-pot progress is the herb's prospects as a job creator and revenue... Read more →


Photo by woodleywonderworks via Flickr CC We got a little bit of rain last night as a cool front moved through Central Texas. Other parts of my native state, however, were pummeled by large hail. It's not the first damaging weather to hit Texas this spring and it definitely won't be the last, as the annual storm season begins to ramp up in the next few weeks. Starting this weekend, however, Lone Star State residents get some tax help in getting ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw out way. Certain storm preparation supplies will be tax free as the... Read more →


While millions of U.S. taxpayers were focusing last week on 2017 tax returns, a tax benchmark slipped past us. Tax Freedom Day 2018 arrived on April 19, a day after this year's revised Tax Day filing deadline and 109 days into the year. This day, according to the Washington, D.C.-based tax policy group The Tax Foundation, represents how long Americans as a whole have to work in order to pay the nation's tax burden. The nonprofit takes all federal, state, and local taxes and divides them by the nation’s income. The Tax Foundation has been making the annual calculations since... Read more →


Missouri taxpayers who have federal tax refunds burning holes in their pockets have a tax-saving way to spend that money. Today, Thursday, April 19, is the start of the state's annual Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday. Since 2009, this week-long event provides buyers the opportunity to purchase qualifying new Energy Star appliances without paying any state sales tax on the items. That's an immediate savings of 4.225 percent that, during the other 51 weeks of the year, would be added to these appliances' prices. Plus, depending on where you live (or travel to buy), the sales tax savings could be... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service had issues with some of its online systems on Tuesday, April 17, the day that was supposed to be the filing deadline for our 2017 tax returns. Those problems notwithstanding, e-fling and electronically paying any tax that's due today, Wednesday, April 18 — yes, today, the new filing deadline provided by the IRS to make up for its online inconveniences yesterday — is still the best move for many filers. The agency for years has been encouraging, and in some cases forcing, electronic filing and paying of taxes. The reasons are that it's easier (definitely for... Read more →


Tax Day is less than a week away. But finishing up your 2017 Form 1040 is not the only tax task facing millions of Americans. Here are 10 tax matters that must be taken care of by April 17. 1. File your 2017 tax year federal tax return. Yeah, I started with the easy (so to speak), obvious one. But it is the reason for the tax season. If you don't get your return into or on the way if snail mailing by Tax Day, the late-filing penalty is 5 percent of the additional taxes owed amount for every month... Read more →


Most taxpayers have never itemized their deductions. And the new tax law that took effect this year will ensure that even fewer filers fill out a Schedule A. By nearly doubling the standard deduction amounts, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) will prompt more folks to use them instead of messing with the record keeping and extra paperwork itemized deductions require. Plus, as I'm sure you've heard by now, starting with the 2018 tax year and running through, for now, 2025, other TCJA changes will make itemizing even less valuable. The amount of state and local taxes, including your... Read more →


New York magazine's Nov. 13-26, 2017, cover featured Cardi B. Click to see full image. (Photograph by Hassan Hajjaj) Things have been going great for Bronx-born rapper Cardi B. She was the musical guest on last night's Saturday Night Live, hosted by "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman. It seems a New York magazine cover last November got it right when it proclaimed she was made to be this famous. On her way to membership in music and pop culture's top echelon, Cardi B's career has covered an astoundingly wide spectrum. After losing her job as a teenage employee at an... Read more →


We got our notice of appraisal for our house last week. It was, as has been the case for the last few years, higher. If we were selling our house right now, we'd be thrilled. But we're not moving (yet). This week, we got our monthly neighborhood newsletter. It included a local Realtor's ad touting local listings. One was for a house down the block. The asking price was $300,000 more than our appraisal notice. Yes, that home is a bit larger than our house. And it has a pool. But is it worth $300,000 more than our home? The... Read more →


Tax Day 2018 is almost here. This mid-April deadline, which falls on April 17 this year due to the Emancipation Day federal holiday in Washington, D.C., means that millions of us are in the midst of finishing up our federal tax returns. Many filers also are doing double tax duty right now. That's because they live in a state that taxes some portion of income. And most of those income tax collecting states follow the IRS filing calendar. That means those states' deadlines this year also are April 17. No, some or all state taxable income: Here in Texas, the... Read more →


Welcome April, the Internal Revenue Service favorite month. It's when millions of us file our returns and, despite the billions of dollars in refunds that are sent (eventually), many filers also settle up with Uncle Sam. Those folks who owe tend to be the ones who enter April with tax tasks still to complete. If you're one of the procrastinators, here are some things your absolutely must do by Tuesday, April 17, again because the Emancipation Day federal holiday is celebrated in the IRS headquarters' home of Washington, D.C. That's two more days than usual, but not enough if you've... Read more →