State/Local Feed

Amazon's headquarters (center high rise) dominates downtown Seattle. Now the online retail giant is looking to build a second HQ in another North American city. (Photo courtesy Amazon) In June, Amazon acquired what many Austin residents felt was a part of the city's core, the organic grocer Whole Foods. Now Texas' capital city is looking to get something back from Amazon — the online retailer's second headquarters. But becoming home to that new facility also raises a big question: At what tax cost? Second HQ as big as the first: Amazon announced Sept. 7 that it's looking for a city... Read more →


Colorfully coiffed "Girls Trip" friends Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall and Queen Latifah partying in New Orleans. I've been a film fanatic from an early age. It started when I was a back-seat viewer on the family's regular summer night trips to the drive-in. Movies were a much needed break from real life in terrible times, like when Mom took my little brother and me to see "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" to get us away from the news of JFK's assassination. And the annual airing of "The Wizard of Oz" was must-see TV in our house, especially... Read more →


Houston paramedic Jesus Contreras, shown with some of his coworkers, was brought to the United States by his mother when he was just six. He is one of the almost 800,000 young people facing potential deportation if the Trump Administration revokes an Obama-instituted immigration leniency action. Click image to see the full NBC News report, via Twitter, on Contreras and the law. The White House is expected to make a decision on President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as soon as Tuesday, Sept. 5. UPDATE, Sept. 5: It's official. DACA is ending. In a press conference this... Read more →


People are still being rescued in flooded Houston, so very few — even those who made it through Hurricane Harvey relatively unscathed — are thinking about taxes right now. But when they do begin to face rebuilding their post-storm lives, one of the things they'll have to deal with is taxes. A Texas National Guard soldier rescues a woman from her Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston neighborhood. (Photo by 1Lt. Zachary West, 100th MPAD, via Flickr Creative Commons) The Internal Revenue Service has some good news for folks in Houston and its flooded surroundings, as well as those in other areas... Read more →


Oh, Photoshop. What would the internet be without you? Sometimes, doctored images are welcome innocent examples of good humor. Other times they are cruel and divisive. And the astounding photos tend to skyrocket during times of tragedy and disaster. Take, for example, the photo below of what @Jeggit's Tweet says is a shark swimming in a Houston street flooded by Hurricane Harvey. Jeggit gives us the option to believe it or not. Go with not. It's fake. Mashable has the details on the original shark photo, which over the years has been seen in edited online images swimming through flooded... Read more →


As Hurricane Harvey was bearing down on the Texas Gulf Coast, the Internal Revenue Service was providing some tax relief for victims of earlier natural disasters. Severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides in late July caused major damage in parts of West Virginia. Now some of those affected residents get extra time to tax care of tax responsibilities. Tax time, penalty relief: The IRS says that individuals who live or have a business in the West Virginia counties of Harrison, Marion, Marshall and Wetzel have extra time to meet certain tax deadlines that fall/fell between July 28 and Nov. 29.... Read more →


Tropical Storm Harvey is bringing the 2017 hurricane season to my home state. And while it's the Texas Gulf Coast that will take the first hit late Friday, Aug. 25/early Saturday, Aug. 26, the storm will be felt well inland. Including here in Austin. Meteorologists are forecasting that Harvey could be a Category 3 hurricane by the time it makes landfall. If so, it would be the first major hurricane to make U.S. landfall since Wilma in 2005. UPDATE Aug. 24, 2017, 5:30 p.m.: The dire predictions are looking like they are on the mark. This afternoon, Harvey was strong... Read more →


Marvel's reluctant superhero Jessica Jones, portrayed by Kristyn Ritter on the eponymous Netflix series, is back this month in The Defenders. She's why I subscribe. But will I, and millions of others, keep watching if streaming services are taxed? It's the weekend, so that means binge watching. Especially with The Defenders — gotta get me some more Jessica Jones! — now out on Netflix. I'm not alone in subscribing to a streaming service or two. It's a relatively cheap entertainment option, especially when you consider that the 10 or so bucks a month are still less than one night's price... Read more →


From 10:17 a.m. Pacific time until 2:47 p.m. Eastern time, give or take a few minutes before and after, on Monday, Aug. 21, millions of Americans will be watching — safely, please! — the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States in more than 38 years. The line shows the entire path of totality across the contiguous United States for the Aug. 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Click image for a larger view. (Map by Ernie Wright, NASA/Goddard/SVS) That also likely will mean a big boost in businesses, both long-established and pop-ups related to the astronomical event... Read more →


Many drivers worry about the accessibility of electric vehicle recharging stations. That's not a problem for the owners of these electric cars charging along an Ontario, Canada, street. (Photo courtesy EVObsession.com) President Donald Trump signed an executive order today designed to streamline the approval process for building roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Contractors and the transportation industry say that will help improve the building and repair of the country's roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects. Critics say the Administration's approach could lead to rubber stamping permits without adequate scrutiny, especially when it comes to environmental effects of such construction. One... Read more →


Downtown Seattle seen from Queen Anne Hill, with the Space Needle standing out and Mount Rainier in the background. (Photo by Rattlhed via Wikimedia Commons) Washington is one of seven states that does not have a personal income tax, but it’s largest city plans to collect one from its wealthiest residents. If the courts let it. On July 14, Seattle City Council bill 119002 became ordinance 125339, which beginning in 2018 will officially impose an income tax on high-income residents. The 2.25 percent tax will apply to individuals within the city's borders with an annual income exceeding $250,000 a year,... Read more →


You’ve had enough of being a wage slave. It’s time to start your own business. That means it’s also time to consider the tax implications of becoming your own boss. Here are four tax matters to think about as you plan your move from the corporate cubicle to your own self-employed suite. 1. Select a business structure. How you’ll run your business will affect your taxes. You have several choices. The most common forms (and the federal tax forms required) are: Sole Proprietorship (Schedule C or C-EZ as an attachment to your personal Form 1040, along with Schedule SE to... Read more →


I’ve mentioned in few posts already this month that it’s hot. Here in Central Texas, we’re in a stretch of triple-digit temperatures that are breaking records every day. That’s why our pantry is full of Cokes — that’s Texan for any kind of soft drink — and bottled water, since I like the carbonated kind. The refrigerator also is stocked with juices and, of course, beer. Our increased liquid diet every summer means that we pay added sales taxes based on what beverages are in our grocery cart. Soft drinks are subject to Texas state and local sales taxes, but... Read more →


August's Dog Days of Summer are a great time to make some hot tax moves — from energy-related tax breaks to tax holidays to tax help for education costs — that could produce cool tax savings. Hello August. I’m not going to say welcome because, well, you’re typically not a good guest. August is one of the worst weather months of the year, at least when it comes to basic comfort. It’s hot. In many places it’s humid. And the thrill of summer’s arrival back in late May has worn thin. That’s why so many people take time in August... Read more →


Every taxpayer is well aware of the length of the federal tax tentacles. What Congress does to the Internal Revenue Code affects state taxes, too. And it’s not just the residents who live in the states who are affected. It’s the states themselves. Even before any tax code changes have been made, many are already feeling the Trump Effect on their treasuries. “April income tax returns brought bad news for state budgets,” according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government. “Payments with tax returns usually arrive in April and early May, and often they are surprising. By mid-to-late May, states know... Read more →


Wisconsin workers soon could be working at new Foxconn plant if state lawmakers approve huge tax benefits for the Taiwanese electronics company. Are you worried that your next iPhone will cost more than you planned now that Foxconn is opening a plant in Wisconsin? The Taiwanese electronics supplier will be paying U.S. employees much more — an average of almost $54,000 a year plus benefits annually — than workers who put together Apple products in China. Don't be. Foxconn's American operation won't be making smartphone components. Instead, it will produce liquid-crystal display panels for televisions and computer screens. But Wisconsin... Read more →


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 →