By Amanda L. Richter, CPA
Check your mailbox because you might have a check waiting for you from the State of Virginia. Now through October 15, 2019, tax relief refunds are being sent out to eligible taxpayers. This Virginia refund is the state legislation’s response to the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that was passed in December 2017. (See our previous publication on the TCJA for more information pertaining to significant individual income tax law changes.) Eligible taxpayers can receive refunds up to $110 for a single taxpayer and $220 for married couples filing joint.
To determine if you are eligible for the refund you must have filed a 2018 Virginia income tax return by July 1, 2019 and had a Virginia tax liability. If you filed a resident Virginia income tax return, Form 760, the tax liability is reported on line 19 Net Amount of Tax. The amount of your refund may be reduced by any credits that you received. Credits can include the Virginia Earned Income Credit, or credits for tax paid to other states.
If you did not receive your refund by October 15th and you believe that you are eligible for it, contact the Virginia Department of Taxation at 804-367-8031 for more information pertaining to your account. Please keep in mind that any tax refund, including this one, can be withheld to payback your outstanding tax liability including debts to the IRS, local governments, courts, or state agencies.
Ask Kit Kat: Rescued Tiger
Hook Law Center: Kit Kat, what can you tell us about a tiger rescued in Texas from an abusive situation?
Kit Kat: Well, this is a sad tale, which has a happy ending. Loki, as he is now known, was found in Houston, Texas in February 2019 in an unlocked cage in an abandoned house. Someone looking for a quiet place to smoke marijuana just happened to stumble upon him. Fortunately, the person was not hurt, but the situation could have ended badly had it been a tiger, other than Loki, who is very gentle. Statistics show that, since 1990, 24 people have been killed and almost 300 injured, by exotic pets which were not properly housed. According to Debbie Leahy, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) captive wildlife manager, “These are incredibly dangerous animals, and when people keep them in flimsy backyard cages—or in the case of the Houston tiger, in a flimsy cage inside an abandoned home—it poses a significant danger to the community.”
Exotic pets, unfortunately, are so cute when small, and many are bred for photo shoots and traveling zoos. Once they grow beyond the cute stage, they are then likely to end up in inappropriate situations such as Loki did. Also, those taken from their mothers too early, can have problems in socialization. If the tigers do not have proper living quarters, problems can develop with their foot pads from standing on concrete for long periods. Improper diet can cause bone disease, and even limb deformities.
Loki has found himself to be in quite a nice situation now, however. He will live out the rest of his life at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, run by a HSUS-affiliate in Murchison, Texas. He has a large pen and has access to trees, pools of water, and other natural vegetation. His former owner has been charged with animal cruelty, and he lost his rights to Loki. Efforts are underway to protect future abuse of large animals via the proposed federal Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R.1380). It was reintroduced in February and would prohibit individuals and unqualified exhibitors from breeding and possessing big cat species. Thank goodness there are organizations like HSUS which work to protect animals who cannot protect themselves. (“The tiger next door,” All Animals, Sept/Oct 2019, p. 8-9)