During a water crisis in California, the state and local governments ran a program for residents, offering rebates to people who replaced their lawns and landscaping with plants that can survive drought conditions and don’t require constant watering. Now people who received rebates are getting a surprise in the mail: they’ve received letters saying that they have to pay federal taxes on that money. [More]
Were you thinking about doing some shopping this weekend, for back-to-school season or just in general? Find out whether your state is holding a tax holiday, where state sales taxes are waived on certain categories of items: usually clothes, but sometimes also personal electronics, appliances, and hunting supplies, including firearms. Tax holidays and their limits vary regionally and your county or municipality may not be participating; check the rules before you shop. However, make sure that you don’t confuse it for a shopping spree. [Consumer Reports]
By itself, your license plate doesn’t say much except in what state, month, and year you registered your car. But start tracking where and when that license plate goes, and you’ve suddenly got a whole huge pile of personal data about all the comings and goings in someone’s life. We’ve reported before that license plate scanning by public and private entities is both widespread and unregulated. Now, the ACLU is suing police in one state to get them to stop. [More]
Since David is a Consumerist reader, he’s probably known in his family as a generally savvy person to check with regarding all things financial. Or he’s just smart. Either way, a relative asked him about a letter offering help claiming an apparently abandoned insurance settlement. Was it a scam? Well, no. Not exactly. [More]
Comcast customers in northern California who call in for help won’t be talking to their neighbors anymore. Kabletown announced yesterday that they plan to shut down call centers in Livermore, Morgan Hill and Sacramento in November. The 1,000 employees affected will have the opportunity to receive severance packages, or to follow their jobs as they’re transferred to call centers in Oregon, Washington and Colorado. The interesting part, though, is what Comcast had to say about why they’re moving the jobs, then later retracted. [More]
Reader Justin may have discovered the real reason for California’s fiscal crisis. He owes the DMV $14, but says that the DMV doesn’t seem to want his money. Which is strange, since this is the opposite of how most people think of the DMV. Maybe they don’t have any lines, either. [More]
Lovers of books, free Internet access, and community gathering spaces, rejoice. The Philadelphia Free Library will not be closing on October 2nd, as previously threatened.
Ten years ago, Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports and owner of Consumerist) warned us all about the potential danger from bisphenol A (BPA) leeching from plastic containers into our food. It’s only in recent years that municipalities got around to banning the chemical—at least in containers designed for use by infants and small children.