State/Local Feed

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 →


Governments are always looking for ways to raise more revenue. That's true at every level. Those lawmakers also are always looking for ways to get the cash without antagonizing too many taxpayers, aka voters. So they come up with some creative taxes. Chicago leads the way with its unique tax of businesses on their use of remote computing services. Innovative tech tax: Known as the Personal Property Lease Transaction Tax, it applies to company data held on out-of-state provider stored on the internet — that still mysterious cloud that so many of us still don't understand — instead of on... Read more →


Leonardo DiCaprio living the rich life in a scene from The Great Gatsby. (Film publicity photo courtesy Warner Bros.) The hubby and I are of that age where we're thinking about our estate plan. I know, financial planners say that every age is a good one to think about your estate. Planning helps you accumulate it, not just decide where it goes after you're gone. Still, most people, rightly or wrongly, don't tend to think about their estates until they get older. One thing a lot of us won't have to worry about, at least not if we shuffle off... Read more →


Casper, with almost 58,000 residents, is the second-largest city in Wyoming. Despite having few metropolitan areas, the Cowboy State again reigns as the place with the best business tax climate. (Photo by Adbay via Wikipedia Commons) The focus on the economy tends to be national. But businesses and consumers deal with the economic — and tax — conditions of 50 different states and the District of Columbia. Each year, the Tax Foundation takes a look at those various and varying economies and issues its State Business Tax Climate Index. The annual analysis, says the Washington, D.C.-based tax think tank, provides... Read more →


Reduced salt isn't just an issue for road safety or healthier diets. It's a contentious part of the Republican tax reform law. UPDATED, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, at 4:45 p.m. Many U.S. homeowners who each year face increased property taxes tend to hate the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The Republican tax reform law, whose provisions largely took effect with 2018 tax year, has limited their ability to fully deduct their big local real estate tax bills on their federal tax returns. Senate Democrats today tried to repeal the Internal Revenue Service regulation that undercut state efforts to salvage... Read more →


Nome, Alaska, is one of the cities in The Last Frontier that collects a local sales tax. The state's Gold Rush city is among the municipalities that will be able to unite under a new plan to collect sales taxes on online purchases. (Image: Wikipedia Commons) Alaska is known in the tax world as the only state that has no income or sales tax. The key word here, though, is state. The Last Frontier's local jurisdictions are allowed to levy local sales taxes. These tax-collecting communities now have a plan to work together to collect tax on online sales. Creation... Read more →


Using taxes to try to shape people's actions is not new. A British monarch tried it back in 1678 with a beard tax. In modern times, governments worldwide have focused on sin taxes that typically are applied to things that aren't healthy, like cigarettes, fatty foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. One of the so-called soda taxes was approved by Philadelphia in 2016. It took effect on Jan. 1 of the next year, adding a 1.5-cents-per-ounce tax to not just Cokes, as we Texans refer to all sodas, but also to sugary beverages like bottled and canned iced tea and sports drinks.... Read more →


The only thing that comes close to the chaos that is tax law is a telephone bill. Especially a cell phone bill. In addition to the phone charges — Remember those? That's when you use your device to talk to another person. — there are, among lots of other line items, things such as data charges, text charges and, of course, taxes. My monthly mobile phone bill is six pages long. One of those pages, thankfully sent digitally, is full of taxes and user fees. That's an excerpt of some them in the photo at the top of this post.... Read more →


It's Columbus Day. Stop. Before you start with the emails, yes, I know this second Monday in October is a controversial holiday. In recent years, many jurisdictions beyond the federal government have opted to spend today commemorating the original inhabitants of our country. That's why you'll read and hear about Indigenous Peoples' Day events today. pic.twitter.com/l2LymtmS2J — Bobby (@Bobbyobbo) October 14, 2019 But, like it or not, today still is officially Columbus Day, a celebration of Christopher Columbus' accidental discovery of North America. And it's still a federal holiday in the United States. Holiday tax effects: A federal holiday can... Read more →


More than a dozen states now provide marketplace options to health care shoppers. And although the federal enrollment mandate and penalty is gone, some states still require their residents to get coverage or pay a price. Plus, federal tax help remains for some seeking medical insurance on their own. The annual employee benefits enrollment period, usually referred to as open season, is underway or about to begin across the country. During these weeks, workers choose from an array of employer-provided and usually tax-favored benefits. I'll be writing more on this shortly. You can read more on the annual benefits selection... Read more →