State/Local Feed

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 →


Most of us are cheering the rapidly approaching end of tumultuous 2020. I definitely am right there with you with some pre-New Year's Eve joyfulness. But take a little time off from your anticipatory year-end celebrations to check out these tax moves. These final three tax tasks for the final three days of the year could pay off at filing time in 2021. 1. Know the value of donating items instead of cash. You have until Dec. 31 to donate to an IRS-qualified charity so you can claim the gift as a deduction on your 2020 tax return. If you... Read more →


UPDATE, Dec. 29, 2020, 4:20 p.m. CST: Good news for those who saw their unemployment benefits lapse by the delayed signing of the second COVID relief bill. The Department of Labor say they will get the full 11 weeks of benefits, although most will have to wait a few weeks for state agencies to reprogram the package's provisions into their computers. To reflect this decision, the original headline "Millions out of luck and money as federal unemployment assistance ends" was changed. UPDATE, Dec. 27, 2020, 7:34 p.m. CST: The presidential COVID bill holdout is over. Donald J. Trump tonight signed... Read more →


Santa Claus, Indiana, is one of many merrily named communities across the country. However, this Christmas-year-round town is the only one with an official U.S. Postal Service Santa postmark. (Photo by tengrrl via Flickr CC) Ho! Ho! Ho! And Merry Christmas Eve from all the holiday themed towns across the United States. There are the municipalities dubbed North Pole in New York, Colorado, Alaska and yes, it's even OK in Oklahoma. For those who revel in the season's greenery we have up the road from me Garland, Texas, as well as virtual forest full of Evergreens. There's an Evergreen in... Read more →


Movie burglar Harry Lime, played by Joe Pesci (left), cases the house where Kevin McCallister, played by Macaulay Culkin, was left "Home Alone" leading up to Christmas Day. (Image courtesy 20th Century Fox) "Home Alone" has been a beloved Christmas movie since it was released in November 1990. Young Kevin McCallister's adventures foiling inept burglars as his frazzled and forgetful family frantically tries to make it home to him by Dec. 25 have delighted audiences for 30 years. It's also been an annual favorite of Illinois tax collectors. Yes, home where the titular alone youngster repeatedly bested the Wet Bandits... Read more →


It's been a tough year for millions. In addition to worrying about keeping themselves and their families safe during the coronavirus pandemic, millions have lost their jobs. But there may be a little bit of help for those relying on government payments as 2020 winds down. The House and Senate are working on a compromise COVID-19 relief bill. It's huge and there still are congressional hurdles to overcome, but right now the proposal calls for a federal unemployment benefit of $300 a week for 16 weeks. That's welcome news for the nearly 13 million Americans who, without Congressional help, are... Read more →


Plain old tobacco cigarette smuggling is costing many states much-needed tax revenue. Yes, the House last week decided to decriminalize marijuana. The bill's bipartisan passage (really!) was the first ever Capitol Hill vote to legalize — and tax— cannabis. It's not going anywhere in the waning days of the 116th Congress. It might have a shot in the next one, which convenes in January 2021, depending on what happens with Georgia's runoffs for two Senate seats. The federal stance on weed is frustrating for the 36 states that have legalized the plant for medicinal purposes, along with the 15 jurisdictions... Read more →


Photo by Emanuel Kluge via Flickr CC Could the COVID-19 pandemic produce changes in tax systems worldwide? That's what one global economic group thinks could and should happen. There's no argument about the revenue problems caused by the coronavirus in 2020. They are being felt acutely as we head into the heart of the year's holiday season. In addition to the coronavirus' disruption of traditional get-togethers due to health concerns, there's the pandemic's financial component. COVID-19 business cutbacks and closures have left too many with reduced, or no, paychecks. Businesses that are open are seeing fewer customers because of those... Read more →


This year's fresh greenery component to our otherwise fake fir Christmas decorations. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's the first weekend of December. That means millions of folks are untangling light strings, digging out cherished family holiday tchotchkes and making their homes merry and bright. In many homes, a Christmas tree is the center of the celebration. Fake fir, real celebration: For all but one Christmas over our decades of marriage, the hubby and I have had an artificial tree. Our lone live tree December was our first in Florida because I was missing the season's traditional chill. I soon got... Read more →