State/Local Feed

Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard responding after Hurricane Laura destroyed much of Lake Charles. The Capital One Tower was among the properties severely damaged by the category 4 storm. (Photo by Josiah Pugh via Flickr/Wikipedia Commons) Hurricane season 2020 is almost over and Nov. 30 cannot get here soon enough for Louisiana residents. The Pelican State was pummeled by five storms this record-breaking year, including a category 4 which produced the strongest cyclonic wind speeds ever recorded in the state. So state officials are giving folks who are still trying to rebuild in the storms' wakes a chance to... Read more →


Voters' voices literally matter each election when initiatives are on ballots. Here are results of some tax questions that were decided by the 2020 electorate. Vice President Joseph R. Biden today was declared president-elect of the United States. It took longer than usual, but that part of Nov. 3 (Donald J. Trump legal challenges notwithstanding) is over. Decisions on the myriad ballot questions that also went before voters across the county on the first Tuesday of November came a bit sooner. Here's a quick look at the results of the tax initiatives in the order they were featured in my... Read more →


Image by Bessi via Pixabay Happy Halloween! It's a special one, as it comes — despite the pumpkin-hued image above — on a Blue Moon, the second full moon in a month. Celebrations this year also will be different for most of us. The COVID-19 pandemic means that Oct. 31 festivities will be really, truly scary during a time when mingling with strangers is traditional. We're likely to see more face masks than Michael Myers or Scream masks. But regardless of how or where you'll celebrate All Hallows' Eve, one thing likely will remain the same. There will be candy.... Read more →


In addition to selecting who gets to go to, or stay in, Washington, D.C., voters across the country on Nov. 3 will decide on a variety of ballot measures. This coming Election Day, citizens in 32 states will decide the fate of 120 statewide initiatives. There also are measures on the ballots in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. And yes, there are plenty of tax questions that will be decided. Ballotpedia, the Wisconsin-based nonprofit that's been tracking election data since 2007, says this year voters in 12 states will decide 19 tax-related ballot measures.... Read more →


Image by Daniela Hartmann via Flickr I joked on Twitter last week that coronavirus pandemic self-isolation has gotten to me so much that I'm considering buying all the gadgets whose ads keep popping up in my feed as holiday gifts. OK, I half joked. I've always tended to shop online anyway. COVID-19 has just moved me from 95 percent to 100 percent in that direction. And some of the items really are interesting. C'mon, admit it. You, too, wouldn't mind having a solar-power bird bath fountain or a pocket-sized, snowflake-shaped multi-tool. These items are even more appealing when you realize... Read more →


A quick Social Security note about for folks not yet at or near the benefits age about taxes on that pre-retirement income. More of it, known as the wage base, will be subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Details are in this post. Retirees checking on their investments. The income could make their Social Security benefits taxable. Today's a good day for millions of Social Security recipients. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that benefits will increase a bit next year. Older folks who get regular monthly Social Security payments, along with those who receive Supplemental Security Income... Read more →


It's a bit hard to keep track if you're still isolating due to the coronavirus pandemic, but welcome to another Monday federal holiday. Today is Columbus Day. Yes, it's still an official federal holiday. The White House issued an announcement lauding namesake Christopher Columbus that's getting a lot of pushback on social media from folks who prefer to use this October day to celebrate the United States' indigenous populations. We should use this day to learn about the history of indigenous people. #IndigenousPeoplesDay so for the next 24 hours this account will be a flood of me RTing Native excellence,... Read more →


Photo by Antonio Quagliata via Pexels.com The presidential election countdown clock it quietly ticking. In most national election years, the tax plans of the candidates get a lot of attention. Obviously, 2020 is not most years. Other things — OK, one thing, COVID-19 — have been the focus on the campaign trail. But it's still worth looking at the tax implications of a possible change in the Oval Office. GOP vs. Democratic plans: The Trump Administration will look to make permanent at least some of the Republicans' 2017 tax reform measure. The White House also has hinted at expanding some... Read more →


We're exactly one week away from Oct. 15, the day you must finally file your 2019 tax return that you extended earlier this year. Don't miss it. After next Thursday, there's no more time. And the IRS will start adding penalties and interest to any tax you might discover at this late date that you owe. Here are 8 tips and reminders to help you finish filling out that Form 1040 during these next seven days and get it on its way to the Internal Revenue Service by the deadline. 1. Gather all your tax material. OK, time to find... Read more →


A panoramic view of the University of Colorado's Folsom Field. The school has a deal worth more than $1.6 million dollars with an Australian sportsbook. (Photo by MECU via Wikipedia Commons) I hope your college football teams did better than mine did yesterday. I also hope that if you placed any bets on any National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) games, your selections netted you some extra cash. My aforementioned reference to the sad play of my teams is why I don't bet on sports, college or pro. But many people have been wagering legally on amateur college competitions since the... Read more →


Donald J. Trump posted this photo in 2016 on Twitter, saying it represented the size of his tax return filing. When we got a glimpse of Donald J. Trump's federal 2005 tax year filing back in 2017, one thing was very clear. Trump's personal tax situation is why during his initial presidential campaign he called for the elimination of the federal Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). The New York Times' recent exposé of more than two decades of Trump tax information, underscores his adversarial relationship with this parallel tax system. In the few years that Trump did pay federal income tax,... Read more →


Earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service implemented a push to encourage folks who didn't get COVID-19 economic relief payments to touch base with the tax agency to see if they're due any of this money. Overall, nearly 9 million individuals, or 8,863,344 to be exact, might be eligible for the stimulus help. That's a maximum of $1,200 per person, double that for married couples filing joint tax returns, plus $500 for each qualifying child. Millions of these economic impact payments, or EIPs, were sent automatically to qualifying individuals who had filed tax returns for the 2018 or 2019 tax... Read more →


These West Texas cattle don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their ranches' profitability. If drought has caused problems, the IRS is offering them some tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) When we city folks think of disaster preparation and animals, we're worrying about how to keep our pets safe during and after a major Mother Nature event. It's a bit more complicated when the animals are part of your livelihood. That's why farmers and ranchers in the path of potential disasters, like the flooding that now's across... Read more →


Most states' final quarter of fiscal year 2020 took a revenue hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But their annual tax collections, which were probably mostly electronic instead of as official state quarters, wasn't as bad as many had feared. (Photo — and coin collection — by Kay Bell) Most states wrapped up their 2020 fiscal year (FY) on June 30. As you might expect, those annual financial numbers were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. What is surprising, however, is that states' revenue situations weren't as bad as many had feared given the tax issues created by the coronavirus. Fourth-quarter... Read more →


If you're hoping for a second COVID-19 stimulus check, it's looking like you're going to have to wait until after the November election for Congress to act. However, there is better financial pandemic payment news for millions of folks who didn't get the first coronavirus economic impact payment (EIP). Non-filers left out of first payments: Nearly 9 million individuals missed out on the first payment, notes the Internal Revenue Service, because they didn't file a tax return for the 2018 or 2019 tax year. That was the info the IRS used to send out the EIPs that were authorized back... Read more →


Couple waiting to get married at San Francisco City Hall. (Photo by Brian Kusler via Flickr) One good thing has come of my self-imposed pandemic lock down. Seeking a distraction from the news channels I usually watch, I'm finally getting more of my money's worth from our cable account. I've been exploring the many channels the hubby and I typically tend to click right past. For the last week or so, I've tuned in to WEtv because of its run of CSI: Miami episodes. No judging, please! Actually, the TV is more like a talking lamp (really!). The dramatic intonations... Read more →


It's Labor Day weekend. This holiday usually is time for end-of-summer revelry, with a little leftover celebration of the workers whose efforts are recognized on the first Monday of each September. This year's a bit different. Social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic have, for the most part, limited the usual three-day weekend parties. As for the workers, COVID-19 also means more attention is paid this year on those who aren't laboring because they lost their jobs. COVID-19 response work ramifications:Health decisions by states, several of which reacted to the novel coronavirus earlier than Uncle Sam, led to widespread business closures... Read more →


The vehicle lights coming and going across Pennybacker Bridge in northwest Austin are lovely in the evening, but the image also illustrates, as photographer Manuel Garza (via Flickr) notes, "the traffic sucks." I can't speak for all the country's suburbs, but I know mine is pretty sure that our neighborhood will still be around after the coming presidential election even if Joe Biden does move into the White House. We are, however, a bit concerned about how our continuing life here outside Austin's downtown might be affected by a proposed real estate tax increase that also will be on our... Read more →


The coronavirus pandemic has not only affected sports leagues, athletes and fans, but also gamblers and the state tax collectors that have come to rely on that related tax revenue. Shortened seasons, revised playoff rounds, cardboard fans in stands. Still, Americans' love of sports and boredom with COVID-19 self-isolation, along with the events being televised, has helped the seasons continue. But the actual reduction in the games mean fewer events on which to place bets. Unless bettors make that up by betting more on the remaining games, associated revenue, tax and otherwise, is likely to fall. And now a new... Read more →


Donald J. Trump announced on Aug. 8 four executive actions to provide COVID-19 relief in the wake of the stalled Congressional talks. (White House photo via Twitter) By now everyone knows that Donald J. Trump decided to literally take COVID-19 relief into his own hands yesterday. Sitting at table in a meeting room at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, surrounded by media and club members who served as a smaller surrogate rally crowd to cheer him and boo the reporters, Trump sign four executive actions. One was a formal Executive Order. The other three were memoranda. He and his... Read more →