State/Local Feed

This image from the NASA/Landsat Operational Land Imager (OLI) was taken about three hours before Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 28 in Cayo Costa, Florida. (NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey, GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and roads from OpenStreetMap. Check out the companion video of Ian's path.) Everyone saw Ian coming. The White House approved an emergency declaration allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get ready to provide help to Floridians even as the system was "just"... Read more →


Cryptocurrency continues to make inroads into our daily lives, including our taxes. On Sept. 1, Colorado officially became the first U.S. state to allow its residents to pay their state taxes in bitcoin. It's a pretty safe assumption that those Centennial State residents who pay state taxes with bitcoin also will be forthcoming at the federal level when it comes to their digital assets. But for those who are less transparent, the Internal Revenue Service is stepping up its efforts to know about and collect on crypto transactions. Legal action against hidden crypto: Last week, the IRS obtained a so-called... Read more →


Just more than a year ago, a Parkville, Missouri, man pleaded guilty to charges filed in two separate federal investigations. One was a case involving conspiracy to commit wire and major program fraud. The defendant admitted to his role in a $335 million scheme to defraud federal programs that award contracts to firms owned by minorities, veterans, and service-disabled veterans. The second charge was one of tax evasion to the tune of $615,847. The Missouri man confessed to claiming fraudulent business expenses on his 2016 tax year return and filing false returns from 2013 to 2016. Last Thursday, Sept. 22,... Read more →


Satellite image of Hurricane Fiona's landfall on the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico at 3:35 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time on Sunday, Sept. 18. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo) Fiona, the first major hurricane of the 2022 tropical season, not only wiped out power to most of Puerto Rico, it also was responsible for four deaths on the island. Hurricane Fiona made landfall at the southwestern edge of Puerto Rico the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 18, but was big and strong enough to wreak havoc across the entire U.S. island territory. The strike came almost exactly five years after Hurricane... Read more →


Photo by Alexander Mils So far this year, 17 states have or will issue rebate money to their residents. Massachusetts is about to up that list count to 18, thanks to a 1986 state law. The Bay State's Department of Revenue this summer reported a fiscal-year-end tax revenue surplus of nearly $3 billion. Once the state auditor certifies the amount, which at the last unofficial count was $2.941 billion, the tax cap law known as Chapter 62F takes effect. The payback law, a referendum approved 36 years ago by Massachusetts voters, requires the state rebate its taxpayers a percentage of... Read more →


Inflation is still a concern, for consumers and politicians, but it is easing a bit (at least for some consumers). One reason for the change is falling gas prices. GasBuddy reported on Sept. 12 that for the thirteenth consecutive week, the nation’s average per-gallon gas price dropped. It went to $3.67 per gallon, down 7.6 cents from a week ago. AAA's daily tracker shows a Sept. 15 national per gallon average of $3.698. But those are averages. Your pump prices may vary. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, noted in the latest analysis that there are "drastically... Read more →


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Vicksburg District engineers at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant in Jackson, Mississippi, after flooding led to a water crisis in the state's capital city. The pumping system is getting back online. In the meantime, a couple of Uncle Sam's agencies are offering residents relief. (USACE photo by Sabrina Dalton via Wikipedia Commons) Thursday, Sept. 15, is the deadline for most taxpayers who must make third quarter estimated tax payments. Some Mississippi filer, however, get until next February. But the reason for the extension is not one they, or anyone, would want. Heavy rains... Read more →


Looking up provides a lovely view of the Idaho statehouse dome. Gem State lawmakers, however, recently went the other direction, lowering the state's top personal income tax rate and making it the lone flat tax amount collected on individual earnings starting in 2023. (Photo by Kencf0618 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0) I've spent most of my earnings life in no-individual-income tax states. I was born, grew up, and got my first jobs in Texas. After a stint in Maryland, which collects state and local income taxes, the hubby and I moved to Florida, another no personal income tax state.... Read more →


You've had that student loan for what seems like forever. So naturally, you're eager to take advantage of the debt forgiveness offered by the Biden Administration. But don't act too quickly or you could be a scam victim. Soon after President Joe Biden announced his plan that will erase in some cases up to $20,000 in undergraduate student loans, consumer advocates had some suggestions of their own. Beware of perps on the prowl with promises that they can get rid of your student loan obligation more quickly. Or get you even more loan relief if the federal plan doesn't cover... Read more →


UPDATED, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022: As the expression goes, that escalated quickly. Tropical Depression 9 is now Tropical Storm Ian. Florida is under a pre-landfall state of emergency, awaiting Ian's arrival, the timing of which is shown in the new National Hurricane Center graphic below. When TS Ian does come ashore, likely as a hurricane, it would be the first Atlantic hurricane to strike the United States this season, and the first system to directly impact the East Coast since Tropical Storm Colin in July. UPDATED, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022: As expected, the tropics are finally popping. Tropical Depression 9,... Read more →


One Martha's Vineyard vacationer had lots of questions when he was arrested for tax evasion following a minor traffic accident. The answer was a 'tax' typo. (Photo by Vadim Bogulov on Unsplash) Every taxpayer knows that a small mistake on a tax return could create big tax problems. A Philadelphia man found out a one-letter typo involving the word "tax" also carried a hefty price. Angus McCoubrey, who with his wife was vacationing last month on Martha's Vineyard, spent two nights in an island jail following a minor traffic accident. The jailing, however, wasn't for the fender bender. Instead, in... Read more →


Photo by Ben Vardi (Ben Vardi, Public Domain) It's the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend marking the end of summer. It's also three straight days of college football games. So, of course, folks are enjoying cookouts and/or tailgating. Both those events typically involve adult beverages, surreptitiously in the case of college football games, depending on where you're holding your "Go Team!" pre-game celebration. Today's multiple Saturday Shout Outs welcome this convergence of the United States' most popular sport and Labor Day weekend. First, there's the legal aspect of booze and parking lot football parties. Intoxalock looks at 5 Alcohol Laws... Read more →


College can be fun. Paying for it, not so much, especially when you have to take out loans. Some student borrowers are getting loan relief from the White House, but also might end up owing state taxes on their forgiven student debt. (Photo by cottonbro) Around 20 million folks who borrowed money to attend college got good news last week when President Joe Biden canceled a chunk of their student loan debt. The Biden plan's major component says that individuals earning less than $125,000 (or $250,000 for married couples or heads of households) a year will be eligible for up... Read more →


Photo by Mohd Jon Ramlan on Unsplash The Food and Drug Administration is now sifting through the public comments it received on its proposal to ban the sale of flavored cigars. It may take a while. The agency got more than 71,600 comments before the comment period ended on Aug. 2. The pro and con remarks came from individuals who sell as well as enjoy cigars. Businesses, large and small, along with their professional trade groups, also let the FDA know their positions. Health issues, freedom of personal choice, economic concerns, and potential increases in illegal tobacco product sales were... Read more →


The Biden Administration notched a big win last when the president signed the Inflation Relief Act into law. Despite the name, The Inflation Reduction Act is a slimmed-down version of the Joe Biden's original Build Back Better bill. The new law, which took effect on Aug. 16, doesn't have most of the social safety net provisions Biden wanted. It also, by some accounts, won't do much about inflation. But it does contain some major climate change provisions, will eventually lower the price Medicare recipients pay for some prescription drugs, raise taxes on corporations, and allow the Internal Revenue Service to... Read more →


Colorado, Oregon, New York, and Montana are the latest states selected for State Small Business Credit Initiative funds. Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash Small businesses revitalization is a key component of the U.S. economy's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. To help that sector's efforts, Uncle Sam continues to provide financial support. Some of the federal money comes from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), which was first established in 2010. The SSBCI was reauthorized and expanded in March 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The newly-reauthorized small business program has nearly $10 billion in federal... Read more →


CT and NJ shoppers get sales tax relief on classroom clothing and, in the Garden State, more at the end of this month. And then there were five. That's how many states remain in the August back-to-school tax holiday list. Three of them — in Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts — are this weekend. The other two, in Connecticut and New Jersey, will close out this month. Since most of the 19 states offering tax holidays this year have by now held their no-tax shopping events, all y'all know the drill. The table below has specific dates and links with tax-free... Read more →


St Louis, Missouri, residents are rescued from flood waters that swamped the city after record rainfall in late July. (Photo: West County EMS and Fire) Severe storms brought flooding rains to parts of eastern Missouri before moving into Kentucky. But Bluegrass State residents got Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Internal Revenue Service attention first, with that relief granted last week. But now, some Show Me State storm victims also are getting federal assistance, including some easing of certain tax filing and payment deadlines. The IRS today (Aug. 10) announced that Missouri individuals and businesses in the City of St.... Read more →


Photo by Daniel X. O'Neil via Flickr CC With things more or less back to whatever now counts as normal, kids (and parents) are counting down the days until school restarts. They're also looking, especially with inflation bumping up prices, for ways to save on necessary school supplies, which a recent National Retail Federation (NRF) survey found are expected to be around $864 this year. Sixteen states are offering ways to help their back-to-school shoppers. They're offering state (and in some cases local) sales tax holidays in August. Florida's two-week back-to-school tax holiday began July 25 and continues through midnight... Read more →


A Kentucky National Guardsman views flood damage in the southeastern part of the state on July 29 from a Blackhawk helicopter as the Bluegrass State unit flies in to provide help. (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Sgt. Jesse Elbouab via Flickr) Historic flooding ravaged southeastern Kentucky last week, destroying homes and killing at least 37 people. Tens of thousands who were spared the worst of the overwhelming water damage are coping with power losses. Now some of those folks are getting from help from the federal government. President Joe Biden declared the most severely hit parts of the Bluegrass... Read more →