State/Local Feed

420 Day celebrant photo by GoToVan via Flickr Happy 420 Day, when marijuana smokers commemorate cannabis. It's not surprising that the origins of this unofficial holiday to celebrate weed are fuzzy. Some say it's based on the California police or penal code number 420 that designates marijuana smoking. Not true. Another theory is that there are 420 active chemicals in marijuana. That count must have been made after a few tokes over the line. There are more than 500 active ingredients in marijuana, with only about 70 or so being cannabinoids unique to the plant. A more likely explanation is... Read more →


How accommodating is your state's tax system? Kiplinger lists the top 10 most tax-friendly states. Most U.S. taxpayers are breathing a sigh of relief as this week winds down. They made it through Tax Day 2019, getting their annual federal return to Uncle Sam. Millions also filed their state returns at the same time. They live in the 43 states and District of Columbia that collect some sort of personal income tax. The majority of those state tax departments follow the Internal Revenue Service's filing time frame. But not all. Five states have return due dates that are a tad... Read more →


Most U.S. taxpayers filed their annual tax returns or got extension on Monday, April 15. But what about folks who missed the Tax Day deadline? Don't panic, but don't procrastinate any longer. The IRS is serious about hearing from you each April. It imposes three main filing-related penalties, the harshest of which is for not filing. Here are four things late-filing steps you need to take ASAP. 1. File a return. Yes, the filing deadline is over. But still get the IRS a return. Now. You need to get something into the IRS system that will show the tax man... Read more →


Tax Day every April is the biggie for individual taxpayers. That's when our annual Form 1040 is due. And yes, I know this year there are two Tax Days, since Patriot Day celebrants in Maine and Massachusetts get until April 17 to send in their federal returns. But most of us must meet the April 15 deadline, so that's what I focus on in this post. Completing a 1040, however, is not the only mid-April tax deadline. It's just one of the 10 tax tasks listed below that many taxpayers also must make by next Monday, April 15. 1. File... Read more →


Driving vacations are much more enjoyable when gasoline is cheap and the person behind the wheel isn't as amped up as this guy! The surest sign that summer is on the way is not temperature changes, but increasing gasoline prices. Oil companies traditionally take advantage of the seasonal shift, as families here in Texas and elsewhere across the country load up their cars — and fill up the gas tanks — to hit the road. Not too long ago, I topped off my tank with regular at $1.89 per gallon. Today the lowest price I've seen in the area is... Read more →


Umbrellas at the Venetian in Las Vegas (Photo by Kay Bell) April is the proverbial month of showers. That typically refers to the rain that falls to nourish the flowers that are predicted to arrive in May. But this month also is known for personal precipitation. Yep, I'm talking tax-time tears. Some folks will cry when they discover how much they owe. Others will shed tears of frustration as they struggle to decipher the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes that affect returns for the first time this 2019 filing season. And for others, it will be tears of... Read more →


March Madness is heating up. We're down to the Elite 8. I usually don't pay too much attention to college basketball, or college sports in general. I follow the professional games because I like to yell at the players, and I feel much more comfortable cursing guys who're pocketing beaucoup bucks instead of unpaid college athletes. I am in the minority, even in my house. The hubby has been sneaking some TV time watching the NCAA men's basketball championship tournament, though truth be told that's mainly because our alma matter, Texas Tech, is doing pretty well. Only the ELITE remain!#MarchMadness... Read more →


March 29 is Vietnam Veterans Day. This day commemorates the sacrifices of the 9 million Americans who served in the Vietnam War. All veterans are eligible for a variety of benefits, from discounts that can facilitated by the Department of Veteran Affairs' veterans ID card program to critical VA healthcare, thanks to their service. There also are special considerations for U.S. military personnel who are still serving, particularly in the tax area. With the April tax deadline quickly approaching, today's Vietnam Veterans Day also is a good time to review the tax breaks and resources available to current duty service... Read more →


Hope springs eternal for MLB fans on Opening Day. I'm looking forward to this season bringing another World Series pennant to join the 2017 one in the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park. (Photo by me, taken at the 'Stros' championship celebration with fans at their home opener on April 2, 2018) Today is a holiday in our house. It's Opening Day for Major League Baseball. Our formal celebration of the sport's first games of the year began when we lived in the Washington, D.C. area. In those days, there were no Nationals. The Baltimore Orioles ruled the MidAtlantic baseball world,... Read more →


UPDATE, Thursday, March 28: Well, I'm not the new Powerball multimillionaire. The lottery jackpot, which hit $768.4 million before the drawing last night, is going to the lucky person who bought the winning ticket in New Berlin, Wisconsin. But save this post. There will be other chances to win! Yes, I bought a ticket for the March 27 drawing of the $750 million and counting Powerball lottery. Yes, I know the odds of winning the jackpot, which is the fourth largest Powerball prize in U.S. history, are about 1 in 292 million. I know many of my hardcore personal financial... Read more →


Photo by Kumar's Edit via Flickr I've been married a long time. To the same guy. Marriage is not always easy and we don't even have a boss stirring up trouble between us. But we've made it through the tough times. And now as we patch things up when we do have our differences, we joke that we're staying together because it would be a bigger hassle to divorce. Sometimes, though, couples can't work through their troubles and decide to officially end their marriages. When that happens, among all the other issues, there are tax matters to consider. Here are... Read more →


Photo by GotCredit via Flickr CC Most of the focus on tax refunds this year has been on how many people are unpleasantly surprised by how small they are. In many (probably most) cases, the relatively small refunds are because people didn't adjust their payroll withholding last year to account for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes to income tax rates and earnings brackets. Now we have another refund situation that also can be blamed on filers, or actually on nonfilers. Yes, I'm talking about the annual announcement by the Internal Revenue Service that millions of folks who... Read more →


Happy St. Patrick's Day! March 17 is one the top days for beer drinkers, ranking up there with New Year's Eve and Mardi Gras celebrations. Guinness says 13 million pints of its stout will be consumed worldwide today in celebration of the Emerald Isle's patron saint. The average number of drinks is just more than 4 per person. The folks making all the Erin go Bragh toasts and the establishments selling the drinks aren't the only ones celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Here in the United States, all that beer, green or otherwise, and other alcoholic beverages are taxed. Sales tax... Read more →


Nobody likes to owe taxes at filing time. And if you owe too much, you could face added penalties for not having enough money withheld or underpaying estimated taxes throughout the year. But every year, lots of folks find they have to write a check to the U.S. Treasury or set up a payment plan with the Internal Revenue Service. The financial technology company SmartAsset.com recently took a look at where the U.S. taxpayers have the biggest tax bills. High plains tax bills: Sorry, Dakotans. You are the unlucky winners. Yep, residents of both South and North and South Dakota... Read more →


R. Kelly performing in in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as part of his 2006 "Mr. Show Biz Presents: The Light it Up Tour. (Photo by Nicholas Ballasy via Wikipedia Commons) Singer-songwriter R. Kelly is (once again) facing serious criminal charges, but a more common complaint is what has landed him in jail. The 52-year-old R&B singer was arrested March 6 after a court hearing that he failed to pay more than $161,000 in back child support. (Update: Kelly was released from jail on March 9 after making the overdue support payments.) Incarceration for failure to meet court-ordered family payments happens... Read more →


I admit it, as a native Texan I get a kick out of this depiction of Lone Star State residents' skewed point of view of the United States. Click the image for a larger view of the map, which was part of a calendar I bought at Marfa Book Company while revisiting my West Texas roots a few years ago. Here on the ol' blog, I tend to focus on federal tax filings. That's because almost all of us at some point in our lives have to file paperwork with the Internal Revenue Service. But there also are state, and... Read more →


Victorian Valentine courtesy School of Art, Kimball Jenkins Estate It's fitting that Valentine's Day — it's this Thursday in case the most romantic day of the year is sneaking up on you — comes during tax filing season. While most of us marry for love, finances and the related taxes are a big part of our coupled relationships. Here's a look at five love and taxes considerations. 1. Marriage date matters. Your wedding day is important to the Internal Revenue Service. No, the tax collector doesn't want to send you an anniversary card. But when you said "I do" matters... Read more →


Updated Feb. 20, 2019 We're well into the 2019 tax filing season and things have been a little slow, thanks in large part to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history that hampered Internal Revenue Service preparations for the millions of tax returns it receives each year. Still, millions of taxpayers already have filed their returns. After the second week of the filing season, which ended on Feb. 8, the IRS had received almost 29 million returns. Most, if not all, of those filers were expecting refunds, although some were unpleasantly surprised. At least, though, they have their taxes out... Read more →


Super Bowl Sunday is the single largest betting day of the year. And now, Nevada is no longer is the only state where bettors can place legal sports wagers. A historic Super Bowl LIII will finally kick off in Atlanta late Sunday, Feb. 3, afternoon. It's the is the first National Football League championship game where legal sports gambling has expanded beyond Nevada. Bettors now also can head to casinos or other betting establishments in Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or West Virginia to put their money down on the NFL's biggest game. You can bet... Read more →


Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in Baz Luhrmann's 2013 movie The Great Gatsby. (Photo courtesy Warner Bros.) We're about to go into a tax filing season under a new tax law that, despite plan promoters' promises, gives major tax breaks to wealthier taxpayers. That law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), is also why a lot of Democrats are looking at ways to at least revise the Republican-written tax bill. The U.S. Constitution says that tax measures must originate in the House of Representatives. Some in that chamber, now under Democratic control after last fall's midterm elections, would like... Read more →