State/Local Feed

In addition to working on federal tax returns for the 2020 tax year, taxpayers in most of the United States also must file state taxes. I used to do that when we lived in Maryland. But I've also spent most of my combined taxpaying life in Florida and my native and current home in Texas, two states without personal income taxes. Still, I remember the hassle, both of filing and paying from my days in the Old Line State. And I feel for all y'all dealing with dual — or more, thanks to changed 2020 work situations due to COVID-19... Read more →


In addition to looking for another job, folks who got unemployment benefits also have to deal with paying taxes on the payments and, in some cases, other complications. Unemployment benefits can be a lifesaver. That's been especially true during the year+ that we've been dealing with COVID-19 complications. Employers had to reduce services or close completely. In addition to the business costs, the establishments' workers were suddenly facing steep pay cuts or no pay at all. Congress has boosted state unemployment insurance (UI) benefits through much of the coronavirus pandemic. The latest federal UI add-on is set to expire in... Read more →


Winter can be gorgeous. It also can be disastrous, as all us Texans more accustomed to heat waves than winter storms found out last week. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's been near 80 degrees for the last two days in my part of Texas. This time last week, we were in the teens during the day, after single-digit overnight low — and record-breaking — cold temperatures. This surprisingly strong cold snap left a lot of damage. People lost power and water. Freezing pipes in freezing houses burst. Food was spoiled. Many are looking at weeks to even get repairs underway... Read more →


It's National Margarita Day! Each Feb. 22, the focus is on appreciating this popular tequila-based cocktail. Or as we call it here in Texas, every day. FX/FXX TV's spy-turned-private detective Sterling Archer offers his margarita recipe. If, however, you're looking for a drink that's a bit more elaborate that the basic one preferred by the animated (in so, so many ways!) and self-absorbed bon vivant, check out the Cooking Channel's top 28 margarita recipes. Personally, I prefer beer. But if a 'rita is your drink, I hope you enjoy a safe happy hour today — I hear they are quite... Read more →


The tax filing season clock is ticking, but will the alarm go off on April 15 as usual? That's the IRS plan for now, but some in Congress and the tax community would like Uncle Sam to extend the 2021 Tax Day deadline like happened last year. The Internal Revenue Service is insistent that despite a later than normal opening of the 2021 tax filing season, it will end as usual on April 15. Some lawmakers and members of the tax community, however, think this filing season needs to follow the 2020 example and be extended beyond the usual mid-April... Read more →


Just can't bring yourself to do your taxes? Don't worry. There's no rush (yet). And there are some good reasons to wait a bit before finishing your Form 1040. The 2021 tax filing season is finally underway. The Internal Revenue Service started processing returns on Friday, Feb. 12. A lot of the 1040 forms actually had been submitted electronically weeks earlier, and were just waiting for Uncle Sam to accept them. This is not unusual. Millions of taxpayers file as early as possible, with good reason, every year. But there's something to said for those of us who wait. Here... Read more →


Happy Valentine's Day! This Feb. 14, the hubby and I are snuggling, but today it's mainly to keep warm. Like much of North America, we're dealing with a serious arctic blast. I hope you and your sweetie are having a good Valentine's Day. And I hope you got exactly what you wanted from your love. In many cases, it might be something simple or homemade. Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering financial ramifications mean that spending on Valentine's Day gifts this year has dropped. Those celebrating plan to spend an average $164.76, down $32 on average per person,... Read more →


Tax Season 2021 is finally here! The Internal Revenue Service has started accepting tax returns and, more importantly, is now processing the filings as of today, Friday, Feb. 12. Millions have already filed. Most of them used tax software, either on their own or through the Free File program, which the IRS and its tax prep partners opened up a month ago. Those 1040 forms have been on hold. Now they've been transmitted to the IRS. Others, however, still have some work to do. We're waiting for some tax statements to straggle in, either to our snail mail or email... Read more →


Today's unemployment numbers offered a hopeful sign for the U.S. economy struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The news, however, is not so good for many who in 2020 got these out-of-work benefits. Many recipients of the emergency financial assistance are surprised to learn that unemployment benefits are taxable. Others are even more surprised at the amounts on their Form 1099-G. This is the document sent to taxpayers and copied to the Internal Revenue Service. While social media messages and comments on the ol' blog are purely anecdotal, it seems that quite a few folks think their 2020 unemployment benefits have... Read more →


Happy Monday to Patriots' — I mean Buccaneers' — fans. Your man Tom Brady did it again. Instead of the usual sports league drug tests, can we get a DNA sample to prove that the man is human? It's an even happier Monday for all y'all who collected on Super Bowl LV bets, both the ones on the on-field match-up and all the goofy prop bets for things only peripherally related to the National Football League championship game. The Internal Revenue Service is happy for you, too, as long as you report those winning wagers on your tax return. All... Read more →


The debate continues about whether gambling really provides states with substantial revenue. But one thing is settled. Regardless of how much, or little, money wagering brings into state coffers, it's here to stay. And Super Bowl Sunday is one reason more states are allowing sports betting within their borders, an option hey were given thank to the 2018 Supreme Court decision. Since last year's National Football League championship game, 36 million more American adults have gained the opportunity to bet legally in seven more jurisdictions: Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C. As today's Super Bowl LV gets... Read more →


Patrick Mahomes, a possible future GOAT, and his Kansas City Chiefs look to win a second consecutive Super Bowl. To do so, they'll have to control GOAT Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (CBS promotional photo) It's Super Bowl LV weekend. A very subdued one, in keeping with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The National Football League and CBS Sports are doing what they can to gin up excitement. And for the millions of us who'll watch on TV, that's probably enough. Heck, the match-up of Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady is probably enough. But cities across the country, even... Read more →


A GameStop store in an Alaska mall, circa 2013. (Photo by Bentley Mall via Wikipedia Commons) GameStop is a struggling brick-and-mortar enterprise that sells video games, gaming merchandise and consumer electronics through its, for now, more than 5,000 retail stores across the United States. The Grapevine, Texas-based company has been the focus recently of stock market moves that have intertwined day traders, stock buying apps, novice and naïve investors, Wall Street hedge funds and lots of rich guys with social media accounts who can afford to fan the overheated investing flames. I'm a Boglehead buy-and-hold type of investor, so I'll... Read more →


Pixabay via Pexels Members of the military have a lot of things to worry about. New enlistees are concerned whether they'll make it through basic training. Military personnel who are stationed far from their families worry about how spouses and children are faring. And, of course, those posted in dangerous parts of the world are in constant concern for their own safety. But every tax filing season, members of the military also must worry about taxes. Taxes for all, but some military breaks: Yes, with all the other responsibilities we place on the men and women who serve the United... Read more →


Being a homeowner can be a royal pain in the tush. I speak from experience. The hubby and I have bought a condo and five houses over the years. But, as you can tell from my buying string, it's my preferred living arrangement. And a lot of people joined us in the in the homeownership club in 2020. The National Association of Realtors says last year's housing boom was driven by sales of existing homes. The specific numbers from the NAR report released Jan. 22 show existing home sales totaled 5.64 million in 2020. That's 5.6 percent higher than in... Read more →


Photo by Kay Bell The 2021 filing season won't start until Feb. 12 this year. That's frustrating for the millions of taxpayers who traditionally are early return filers. It's more frustrating for those taxpayers who, because of COVID-19 complications (which also created this year's filing delay), are really counting on their tax refunds to cover expenses. This year's later than usual filing start means it is even more important to get those 1040 forms into the Internal Revenue Service as soon as the agency will take them. If you're still debating about when to file your taxes, here are seven... Read more →


Neighborhoods like this one are major tax revenue sources in many states. (Photo by Pictometry) Much is made here in Texas about our lack of a personal income tax, but I can tell you that doesn't mean millions of us residents are tax-free. There's a 6.25 state sales tax. And Austin is among the cities that also tacks on another 2 percentage points, meaning we pay 8.25 percent tax on most of our purchases. Then there's the county-collected annual tax on our home's value. Property tax pain: I paid our annual residential property tax bill this weekend and I can... Read more →


We got our first tax statement yesterday. It's our mortgage lender's Form 1098 with details on potentially tax-deductible amounts like loan interest and property taxes. This is just one of the documents that millions of taxpayers are awaiting so they can file their returns. In addition to tax-related home transactions, the various documents that are or soon will be on their way include documents detailing income, be it from wages, contract work or retirement accounts; investments; winnings and/or gambling proceeds; and in some cases, health care information. A handful of these documents must be submitted with Form 1040. Most, however,... Read more →


If you file your tax return as early as you can, mark Feb. 12 on your calendar. That's the day this year that the IRS will start accepting and processing 2020 returns. Are you ready for another wild tax season due to the coronavirus pandemic? Neither am I, but it looks like that's what will happen, at least to some degree. When the Internal Revenue Service today opened Free File, its online, no-cost tax preparation and e-filing option, at essentially the same time as it did last year, I was hopeful we were getting back to tax normal. But alas,... Read more →


Millions of taxpayers are facing a deadline at the end of this week. No, unfortunately I am not talking about the Jan. 15 mark that the Internal Revenue Service is required by law to meet in distributing the second round of COVID-19 economic relief payments. I'm talking about paying Uncle Sam instead of getting money from him. The final estimated tax payment for tax year 2020 is due on Friday, Jan. 15. Taking care of taxes yourself: Around 22 million individuals file these extra tax payments, which total four if you make them for the full tax year. They are... Read more →


UPDATE, Jan. 21, 2021: Congratulations to the owner of the $730.1 million winning Powerball ticket purchased in Western, Maryland. But there's still a chance for all us dreamers. The next Mega Millions jackpot on Friday, Jan. 22, will be at least $970 million — which would be the United States' third-largest lottery jackpot ever. Picking lucky numbers from a lottery game dispenser. More than $1 billion is up for grabs in the two nationwide lotteries. The Powerball jackpot is at $550 million. A solo Mega Millions winner will walk away with $600 million. Since I know you've got your lotteries... Read more →