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The Most Interesting New “Taxes” Across the USA

The Most Interesting New “Taxes” Across the USA

In these difficult economic times, with governments at all levels (federal, state and municipal) struggling to balance their books while not increasing taxes on increasingly strapped citizens, some authorities are developing new and interesting ways to raise revenues.

July 1st is the first day in the new fiscal year for many states, so some of the new laws just took effect on that date. And while they may be termed “fines” or “penalties,” don’t mistake them for anything but new ways for governments to raise revenue without actually being seen to “increase taxes.”

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    Anti-Slow Poke Fine

    Florida has enacted the one fine that we all wish was in effect on every highway that we drive: the slow-poke fine. If you’re caught ambling along at 10 miles below the posted speed limit in the far left (aka passing) lane, you can be fined $60 as part of a brand-new “road rage” law.

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    This slow-poke ticket would also hit your driver’s license the same as would a speeding ticket, meaning it can increase your insurance rates. So if you tend to view the speed limit as something to be avoided, stay out of the “fast” lane or face the music.

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      Anti-Bullying Fine

      In tiny Monona, WI, the citizens have a zero tolerance for bullying. In this town, population 7500, bullying can range from schoolyard skirmishes to neighborhood disputes, and includes cyber-bullying as well as physical harassment.

      The penalty ranges from $114 for a first offense to $177 for a second, and parents can be penalized for their children’s actions once a warning has been issued.

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        Anti-Smoking Taxes

        Minnesota has just increased its tax per package of cigarettes from $1.23 to $2.83, making it the 6th highest tax in the country. New York state still reigns at the top of the list, though, with a tax of $4.85 per pack.

        Of course, all these high cigarette taxes tend to encourage inter-state smuggling, which is another issue entirely. The idea behind the high cigarette taxes, besides raising revenues, is that at some point a consumer will decide that the cost is too high, and will hopefully quit smoking.

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          Higher Taxes for Summer Drivers

          Eight states have higher gasoline taxes going into effect just in time for summer vacations. Since gas taxes tend to be channeled into road and bridge repairs, this measure is meant to align the cost with the drivers with the highest use.

          Wyoming raised its tax by ten cents per gallon, followed by Connecticut (4 cents), Maryland (4 cents), California (3.5 cents), North Carolina (2.5 cents), Georgia (2.5 cents), and Kentucky (2.4 cents). Two states, Virginia and Vermont, did actually choose to lower their gas taxes. Three states (Washington, Oregon and Texas) are evaluating some sort of VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) tax on electric vehicles, in order to assess owners of those vehicles for their use of the states roads and bridges. Since those vehicles don’t purchase gas and therefore don’t pay gas taxes (either state or federal), they are not paying a share of the upkeep and repair expenses.

          Virginia has addressed this issue already with a green-vehicle fee that is charged in addition to the normal registration fee on a vehicle. Owners of hybrid and pure-electric vehicles pay an annual $64 charge, under the assumption that they do not pay as much in gasoline taxes as drivers of conventional vehicles.

          Other Unusual Taxes

          If you buy a bagel in New York City, you have to pay a tax if you want the vendor to slice it, toast it or spread cream cheese on it for you. 8%, as a matter of fact, illustrating the difference between a bagel purchased for home consumption (tax exempt) and a bagel for on-site consumption (8% tax).

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          In Utah, businesses that hire nude or partially nude employees pay a 10% tax on services sold. Targeted at erotic dance clubs and escort services, the revenues go for treatment for sex offenders and investigation of internet crimes against children. And Maryland charges all homeowners and businesses a $2.50 per month sewage tax, which is also known as the “flush tax.”

          So the next time you’re faced with a tax that you think is unfair or ridiculous, think about some of the taxes in other states. You could be paying a blueberry tax, if you live in Maine, or a tax on fruit from vending machines if you live in California.

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          Published on July 4, 2018

          Top 10 Recommendations on Money Management Apps

          Top 10 Recommendations on Money Management Apps

          Don’t want to overspend your budget, swipe your credit card too many times, and feel like a financial mess? Instead of beating yourself up for the bad financial decisions you’ve ever made, create a new plan!

          The solution is simple, save more and spend less. But, we all know it’s easier said than done.

          One problem is finding quality apps that save you time and money, and aren’t just hype.

          Luckily, there’re many great money management apps available at your fingertips. Here are 10 reliable money management apps that can help you save money, and crush debt.

          1. Personal Capital

            When was the last time you’ve tracked your net worth? Probably months ago or maybe never. Personal Capital allows you to easily track your net worth and plan for retirement.

            Here are some of its main features:

            • Sync many investment accounts, and expenses (mortgage, credit cards, etc.) in one place
            • Discover hidden fees and how much they’re affecting your retirement plan
            • Wealth management for investors requiring a long-term strategy

            With Personal you’re free to track your expenses and net worth.

            Available for: iOS and Android

            2. Mint

              If your smartphone could only install a few apps, Mint would be one of them. Why? Because Mint tracks all your balances and bills in one place.

              Here are some of its main features:

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              • Effortlessly track all your bills and balances in one dashboard
              • Categorized expenses to understand where you spend your money
              • Uncover hidden fees, and determine your investment style with sophisticated retirement tools.

              Feel at ease with managing your money by a reputable company that isn’t going anywhere.

              Available for: iOS and Android

              3. YNAB

                Everyone needs a budget, there’s no way around it. YNAB (You Need A Budget) is an easy to use app that will change the way you think about money. Their motto is to “give every dollar a job”, and you’ll quickly discover why.

                Here are some of its main features:

                • Easily sync all bank accounts in one place
                • Visually see your debt paying progress with eye-catching charts and notifications
                • Customized categories setting saving goals

                The best part about YNAB is the community that comes along with it. You can hop on the YNAB forum to receive support, listen to the YNAB Podcast or stay tuned for their weekly videos.

                Available for: iOS and Android

                4. Wealthfront

                  Albert Einstein once said “compound interest is the eight wonder in the world”, and for a very good reason. The problem is, most people are scared or unwilling to learn the basics of investing. This is why Wealthfront is the perfect solution for the hands-off investors.

                  Here are some of its main features:

                  • Variety of investment account options including IRA, Roth IRA, and more
                  • Your portfolio composed of 7 different asset classes
                  • Automatically rebalanced portfolio
                  • Daily tax loss harvesting

                  Wealthfront is perfect for people requiring investment guidance, or prefer a hands-off solution.

                  Available for: iOS and Android

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                  5. Clarity Money

                    If you’re staying on top of your budget but want to take your finances to the next level, Clarity Money can help you. Clarity Money helps you stay under budget and build a personalized savings plan.

                    Here are some of its main features:

                    • Easily cancel subscriptions with one click
                    • Synchronize bank accounts fast
                    • Transfer money effortlessly between different accounts

                    Clarity Money isn’t an app that does it all. But, it does make transferring money and canceling subscriptions fast and efficient.

                    Available for: iOS and Android

                    6. Acorns

                      What if there was a way to quickly gain confidence in investing your money, without too much risk? There is, and Acorns is your solution. With Acorns’s technology, you’re able to make investments as small as $5.

                      Here are some of its main features:

                      • Automatic contribution option
                      • Customized portfolio tailored to your needs
                      • Low management fees ranging from $1-$2 per month

                      Stop wasting dollars on expensive coffee. Instead, invest them towards a brighter financial future.

                      Available for: iOS and Android

                      7. Albert

                        Do you budget by only subtracting your expenses from your income? If so, how would you discover any overpayments or extra money you could save? This is where Albert shines, and it does it all free.

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                        Here are some of its main features:

                        • Receive notifications for overpayments, hidden fees, and low balances
                        • An Automatic budget that’s built around your spending and income
                        • Easily track debt and set new financial goals

                        While Albert does offer a paid option, most of its core features are FREE. So, what better option to save?

                        Available for: iOS

                        8. Prism

                          Have you recently forgot to pay a bill because life got in the way? Prism automatically tracks your bills and syncs your bank accounts in one place.

                          Here are some of its main features:

                          • View all your account balances in one glance
                          • Bill due dates are automatically pulled and tracked
                          • Receive early reminders for upcoming bills

                          If your budget is on “fleek” but can’t seem to stay on top of your bills, Prism is your go-to app.

                          Available for: iOS, Android, Windows, Amazon

                          9. Mvelopes

                            Remember hearing about people using envelopes to budget their money? Well, Mvelopes is the new envelope system for this generation. Easily create monthly budgets and track your saving goals.

                            Here are some of its main features:

                            • Connect unlimited bank accounts
                            • Real-time budgeting with auto transaction syncing
                            • Low monthly $4 fee or $40 annual

                            Mvelopes can help you crush debt, save more, and help you stop overspending. With its low monthly fee, it’s worth a try.

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                            Available for: iOS and Android

                            10. Wallaby

                              Most people don’t have time to track their credit card’s changing rewards and interest rates. Because of this, you need help reaping the most of your credit card’s rewards. Wallaby is the app that will help you do just that.

                              Here are some of its main features:

                              • Automatic recommendations for the best credit card to use for each transaction
                              • A friendly user interface, displaying credit cards with their corresponding images
                              • Free to use

                              If you’re using the same credit card to make your purchases, you may be leaving money on the table. Give Wallaby a try if you’re ready to maximize your credit card’s rewards.

                              Available for: iOS and Android

                              Take control of your finances and experience financial freedom

                              Picture yourself staying on budget and saving more money than you’d ever imagined.

                              It took hard work and dedication but you’d finally learned how to manage your money. You have to start taking control of your spending and saving habits.

                              You now have a list of reliable apps that can help you build better money habits, what are you waiting for?

                              Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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