Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Stealth Toll Booth

Dear Daytonian,

After a road trip, if you get a bill for an unpaid toll, perhaps you've encountered a "stealth" toll booth.

During a trip late last year to North Carolina, I saw toll signs but never saw a toll booth, so I thought I just misinterpreted what I saw and just forgot about it.  A few months later I get a bill from NC Quick Pass for $1.12 and it took me awhile to figure out what it was for, as I knew I didn't run a toll booth.  Since the location was included on the bill, I used Google Street View to go find the toll booth and after going back and forth several times I finally figured out it.  I had never seen this type of toll "arch" before and I certainly hope they don't become popular.  You can see it for yourself at the link below.

One more reason to love Dayton, Ohio.,-78.8679726,3a,75y,184.75h,100.92t/am=t/data=!3m9!1e1!3m7!1sadG_renXN8JZkDrpc-VkBA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!9m2!1b1!2i41

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

States Taxing Social Security

Dear Daytonian,

Way back in 1984, the federal government began taxing Social Security benefits, but did you know that thirteen states, not including Ohio thank goodness, also tax those benefits to varying degrees.  The worst offenders are the eclectic combination of Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia, which mirror the federal tax rules.  Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Connecticut and Rhode Island have their own individual rules, all different of course.

I guess some states just want to tax you twice on the same money.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Driving On The Left

Dear Daytonian,

I'm happy to say that every state in the United States drives on the right side of the road.  Lucky us.

Did you know that 31% of the countries in the world drive on the left side, including England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan and South Africa, 75 countries in all.  Normally, but not always, the steering wheel, as shown below, is located on the right side of the car.  The stick shift, for those brave enough, is on your left-hand, but shifts in the familiar pattern, and the pedals are also the same, accelerator in the right, clutch on the left.  Thank goodness.

Left turns are easy, just like our right turns.  The slow lane is the left lane and entrance and exit ramps are left.  You drive slightly right-of-center, instead of slightly left-of-center, to keep even between the lane lines.  And to make things really fun, roads tend to be much narrower than here at home.

If you decide to give it a try, I strongly recommend buying the rental car agency's insurance protection and packing some anti-anxiety medication.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Downtown Parking

Dear Daytonian,

We all know that parking is plentiful in downtown Dayton with over 13,000 spaces between garages, surface lots and parking meters.  We pay in the $4 range for two hours of parking during weekdays and love that meters are free on weekends and after 6 p.m. weekdays.  Don't expect that love to follow you everywhere.

According to Parkopedia (full report at the link below), New York City leads the world in costly parking, coming in at $32.97 for two hours and $606.37 for monthly privileges.  Other U.S. cities that will cost you more than $10 for two hours are Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Detroit and Los Angeles.

Maybe I'm crazy, but having a car payment and a monthly parking bill for about the same amount of money just seems wrong.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Express Toll Lanes

Dear Daytonian,

Another traffic-related, government gotcha that you don't see anywhere around here, because our worst traffic is not that bad, are Express Toll Lanes.  They cater to the well-off traveller or business person on a friendly expense account that doesn't want to wait in traffic like the rest of us.  Unlike your regular toll road, these managed lanes use variable pricing, getting more expensive as demand increases to keep those lanes flowing well while everyone else fumes as they inch along to their destination.  The rules vary from route to route, so read up at the link below to carefully plan your next driving vacation.  Or just suck it up and drive at night.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Illinois Candy Tax

Dear Daytonian,

Computers have made many improvements in daily lives, but it's also allowed governments to get very granular when it comes to choosing what products to sock you for an extra tax bite.  For example, candy in Ohio follows the same rule as other foods; no tax unless consumed on premises.  Other states, as you can read at the link below, either tax or don't tax, and some have goofy rules, but the Prairie State takes the cake (pun intended). 

Illinois defines candy as a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces. Candy does not include any preparation that contains flour or requires refrigeration.  So if you purchase a Twix bar in Illinois you pay 1% in sales tax, but if buy a Snickers bar, you get jacked with a tax rate of 6.25%.  But I suppose when you're already a very highly taxed state, you have to find more revenue as stealthily as possible.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

State Tax Return Pages

Dear Daytonian,

Don't like filling out state tax returns?  Try doing it in our neighboring Hoosier state.

Back in 2016 I filled out very simple state tax returns for my stepson for both Ohio and Indiana.  Being neighboring Midwest states, how different could they be?  Night and day different.  The Ohio return consisted of four pages, two each for the IT-1040 and the Schedule of Credits, and was straight-forward.  The Indiana return totaled nine pages with two pages each for the IT-40PNR, Schedule A and Schedule H, single pages for Schedule D&E, Schedule CT-40PNR and Schedule F and had me triple-checking everything to make sure I didn't mess it up.

We even got dinged for a second stamp for proper postage.  And a couple aspirins.

Stealth Toll Booth

Dear Daytonian, After a road trip, if you get a bill for an unpaid toll, perhaps you've encountered a "stealth" toll booth. ...