State/Local Feed

Millions are watching NFL playoffs today. But millions of other esports fans enjoy competitions like this match between Dallas Fuel and New York Excelsior at the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles last June, the second season of the Overwatch League. Among those also watching esports closely are state tax collectors. (Image by Dallas Fuel via Wikipedia Commons CC BY 3.0) Tonight, we'll know which two National Football League (NFL) teams will be in South Florida next month to play in Super Bowl LIV. While you can never predict who'll win any game — just ask the previously heavily favored Baltimore... Read more →


You just read my post on tax filing requirements (thanks!) and discovered you don't have to file a Form 1040 this year. So, as fictional television attorney (though not a tax specialist) Jimmy McGill might say, "'S'all good, man." Right? Not necessarily. Sometimes even if you don't have to file a federal tax return, it's to your benefit to do so. Here are 10 situations when you should send the Internal Revenue Service a return: You're due a refund. This often is the case if you had federal income tax withheld. The only way to get any of that prepaid... Read more →


The 2020 filing season starts on Jan. 27 and millions of taxpayers already are ready to send their 1040s to the Internal Revenue Service on that day. Most of these folks are expecting refunds. But that's just one reason to file your taxes early. Here are six reasons to finish up your Form 1040 and get it to the IRS ASAP. 1. To get your refund sooner. Yes, a tax refund is always the top reason to file your taxes as early as you can. I could go on (and on and on) about how it's better to adjust your... Read more →


The individual tax filing season doesn't officially open until Jan. 27, but you're ready to file your taxes. Or are you? Tax filing, whether you do it yourself via tax software that you buy, use online or access via Free File or hand off the annual task to a tax pro, requires its own specific preparation. You've got to have all your tax-related documentation before you can start filling out that Form 1040. Here's a checklist of forms and documents you'll need to complete your taxes, as well as a look at tax situations you need to consider before filing.... Read more →


Supporters of a minimum wage increase at rally in Chicago last year. (Photo: Charles Edward Miller licensed under CC by SA 2.0; cover of the National Employment Law Project 2020 report) New tax laws aren't the only ones that went into effect on New Year's Day across the United States. A record number of states, cities and counties have or will boost their minimum wages in 2020. On or around this Jan. 1st, the minimum wage increased in 21 states. Another 26 cities and counties also hiked their baseline pay at the start of this year. In the coming months,... Read more →


How Texans see the United States. Each new year brings hope. A flip of the calendar pages, and the suddenly clean slate, at least metaphorically, means better things ahead are possible for us personally, professionally, financially and, of course, on the tax front (taxically, which spellcheck wants to change to toxically…). When it comes to taxes, the goal every year is to pay less. While we're still working under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes at the federal level, we still see some changes in 2020. Notably, especially when it comes to our always hoped for lower tax... Read more →


Paying property tax bills by Dec. 31 used to be a surefire way for many filers to bump up their Schedule A deductions enough to make itemizing more advantageous than using the standard deduction. That's no longer the case thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). In addition to capping state and local real estate tax deductions at $10,000, the tax reform bill also nearly doubled prior tax law's standard amounts. So fewer folks are worrying about paying tax bills that may be due later, like the end of next January here in the Austin area, by year's... Read more →


"Do nothing" has long been the derisive descriptor attached to the U.S. Congress. Actually, though, the House and Senate could more accurately be described as a legislative body that does things that don't have any chance of becoming law. That's the case most recently with a bill that would eliminate, at least temporarily, the $10,000 cap on tax deductible state and local taxes, referred to by the acronym SALT. Cutting SALT in the tax diet: The House last week narrowly passed, by a 218 to 206 margin, H.R. 5377, dubbed the Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act. The... Read more →


Christmas is next week! So of course you're thinking about filing your 2019 tax return. Maybe not this coming week. But you will soon. And when you do think about it, if you're like most U.S. taxpayers, you'll use tax software. E-filing encouraged: The Internal Revenue Service encourages us — and in the case of most paid tax preparers, requires — to use the tax preparation programs and accompanying electronic filing option. We follow those prompts and pushes. This year, more than 138 million returns were e-filed. That was almost 89 percent of all the 1040s and other annual returns... Read more →


Record-setting Cyber Monday sales means more porches across the United States will look like this. But the remote sales' boost to state tax coffers wasn't as big as some expected. $9.4 billion. That's how much U.S. shoppers spent on the just-passed Cyber Monday. That was nearly 20 percent more than last year's $7.9 billion tally for the annual and over-hyped Monday-after-Thanksgiving online shopping day. Obviously, the $9.4 billion in sales is a Cyber Monday record. Also obviously, all those online transactions will help out the state treasuries that now, in the wake of the Supreme Court's Wayfair 2018 decision, are... Read more →


Current state and local taxes deduction limit on federal Form 1040 Schedule A. We're wrapping up the second full year of living with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) but some things still feel unfinished. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service continue to issue guidance on various provisions, tax forms still are being tweaked, economists can't agree on the tax bill's economic effects and a key legal battle is still raging. The courtroom drama is about, you guessed it, TCJA's $10,000 limit on state and local taxes itemized federal deductions. Fighting a low-SALT tax diet: In July 2018, New... Read more →


Some food delivery apps apparently are shorting states when it comes to sales tax on the delivery fees. The 2019 holiday shopping season is officially underway. The kickoff remains Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, as many shoppers remain committed to post-Turkey Day sales. Early data from Adobe Analytics shows in-store sales were up 4 percent from last year. But consumer patterns are changing. The store of choice for more and more of us is the internet, which is open 24/7 365 days a year. Online Black Friday sales were up early in the day by more than 19 percent... Read more →


Photo by Garry Knight via Flickr CC You decided to skip the road trip this Thanksgiving, but you still gotta touch base with the family. Today's technology offers lots of options. But many of us still use our newfangled wireless phones for that old-fashioned task of talking. We're also paying more taxes to do so. Cell phone taxes rising: A typical American household with four wireless phones paying $100 per month for taxable wireless service can expect to pay about $260 per year in taxes, fees and surcharges, according to the Tax Foundation. That's up from $229 in 2018. The... Read more →


More than 55 million people are expected to travel this Thanksgiving week, according to AAA, with the majority of them doing so via vehicle. If you're among this group of travelers, drive safely! (Photo by Reinis Traldas via Flickr CC) The hubby and I aren't going over the Pedernales River or through the Hill Country meadows this Thanksgiving. In fact, we usually don't. We have our own small family spread of Texas smoked brisket, sausage and all the yummy sides like ranch beans, coleslaw and potato salad. We do incorporate a few traditional Turkey Day elements into our November holiday.... Read more →


Photo by Elaine Smith via Flickr CC It's been more than a year since the Supreme Court said states could collect online sales taxes from retailers who don't have any physical presence, aka nexus, in their states. But the internet tax collection process is still evolving. Going from a system where nationwide online sellers rarely if ever collected sales taxes from their customers to one — or actually multiple given the various tax system of states — where these purchasing levies are collected is not easy. Still, progress has been made. Online sales tax collection evolution: These taxes still are... Read more →


Welcome to Part 2 of the ol' blog's 2020 series on tax inflation adjustments. We started on Nov. 6 with a look at next year's income tax brackets and rates. Today we look at standard and itemized deductions, certain limitations on some Schedule A claims and the sort-of still around personal exemption amount. Note: The 2020 figures in this post apply to 2020 returns to be filed in 2021. For comparison purposes, you'll also find 2019 amounts to be used in filing 2019 returns due April 15, 2020. Historically, around 70 percent of filers have claimed the standard deduction on... Read more →


Today, Nov. 5, 2019, voters in seven states — Colorado, Kansas, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington — will decide, among other things, 32 statewide ballot measures. It's a variety of state constitutional amendments, initiatives, referendums, propositions and non-binding advisory recommendations. Tallying Texans' takes on taxes: Here in Texas, we're voting on four tax-related items. All are legislatively referred constitutional amendments. As the name indicates, the Texas legislature voted to put the questions to voters instead of taking up the matters themselves during the legislative session. It is a form of direct democracy. But it's also, as I see... Read more →


Even more intriguing, will Donald J. Trump now become social media's definitive Florida Man? Donald Trump, especially early in his presidency, spent a lot of time at Mar-a-Lago, his South Florida club and residence. Here, Trump and Melania in April 2017 welcomed the People's Republic of China president Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan to the Palm Beach abode. Now Trump says it, not Trump Tower in New York City, will be his official residence. (Photo via Trump's Twitter account and Wikipedia Commons). The hubby and I used to live in Donald J. Trump's future full-time home. Alas, for... Read more →


Brrrrr! is the new Boo! for Halloween 2019. That's true here in Central Texas where we're expecting a high temperature of 55, along with northerly wind gusts making it feel even chillier. Today is forecast to the be Austin's coldest Halloween day in 28 years. I know. This is nothing compared to other parts of the country. An early-season snowstorm will move through the Great Lakes this Halloween, with truly frigid temperatures across much of the Midwest and Northeast. The winter weather system, dubbed Bessie by The Weather Channel, also dropped half a foot of snow to Denver earlier in... Read more →


A candy-seeking skeleton goes trick-or-treating on Halloween. (Photo by Don Scarborough via Wikipedia Commons) OK, that youngster dressed like an Internal Revenue Service auditor might freak you out when you open your door the evening of Oct. 31. I apologize (sorta) for suggesting such a non-traditional Halloween costume in my previous post on how scary our taxes and the agency that collects them can be. But it's not all tax ghouls and goblins this spookiest part of the year. There are some tax treats that are available, too. Here are five tax benefits you might be able to take advantage... Read more →