SPOILER ALERT! It shouldn’t be a surprise that the IRS has now come out with new regulations aimed at negating the primary “workaround” to the federal tax cap for state and local taxes, proposed by a number of high-tax states, including New York.

On another front, so that all hope may not yet be lost, New York is one of a number of high-tax states that have filed suit against the Treasury and the IRS, asserting that the $10,000 tax cap, which was included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, is unconstitutional. Then there is that other hope — the possibility that if a different political party comes back into power the tax cap may be eliminated or at least increased.

The workaround in question would recharacterize state and local tax payments as charitable contributions. The new IRS regulation essentially applies one of the basic principles of our legal system, which is to look at substance over form. It is something that I looked at almost every day as a judge. On the other hand, as an attorney, I cannot honestly say that I may never have argued for form over substance. So in the end — a payment, made in satisfaction of a state or local tax liability, is still a tax payment for purposes of the tax cap.

As we have discussed in a prior column, the increased standard deduction and rate cuts under the tax reform legislation are possible, in part, because of the additional revenue generated by the tax cap. If the cap is going to be with us forever, it makes you wonder if taxpayers in the high tax states may demand that serious efforts finally be made to reduce those state and local
taxes.

If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that when I see something that I think is happening more than in the past, I try to confirm if it is actually true, or if I am just having another
senior moment. So lately, it seemed to me that I was seeing more pickup trucks on the road than ever. Fortunately, it was not a senior moment.

It turns out, from my research, that automakers sold 2.8 million full - and mid-size pickup trucks in 2017, a 4.8 percent increase over 2016. In addition, pickup trucks accounted for 16.4 percent of all U.S. auto sales, up over 1 percent from 2016.

So, why are those gas guzzling, often expensive, pickup trucks becoming so popular? According to quora.com, here are some of the reasons to have a pickup truck, even if you don’t actually use it for hauling things. For some owners, a pickup truck is a “lifestyle” vehicle, an expression of themselves, whether they ever haul anything more than groceries in it. It makes a statement of strength and independence for some. Another reason is that some people are quite large, and getting in and out of a pickup truck is a lot easier than a passenger car or even many SUVs. Also, they appeal to a larger base of owners, because they handle better and are more comfortable and stylish than ever before. They even have new technology to help park in tighter spaces, and can be loaded up, just like a passenger car or SUV, with all those great features people love, and even look pretty good going out to dinner on Saturday night.

Finally, as we have previously discussed, because camping is more popular, a loaded up, comfortable, and stylish pickup can be great for hauling those campers. As I see it, just like the phenomenal rise in popularity of SUVs, there will be more and more pickups on the road in the future, especially if more “cool” people drive them and the economy remains good.

On a final subject, that I just became aware of from an article that my daughter-in–law sent me, because I am always talking about helicopter parents, is that new parenting style — lawnmower parents. I only include it here in a finance column, because it may indirectly affect people’s pocketbooks, just like being a pet parent. According to a piece in the Dallas News, in the world of education, the term Helicopter Parent has become quite well known. In essence, these parents hover over their children, constantly pressuring them to accomplish tasks to perfection. A newer, and in some people’s opinion a more damaging parenting style, has developed over the past decade and become kindly known as Lawnmower Parenting. These are parents who constantly clear all obstacles from their children's paths so they never have to deal with problems for themselves. I have also seen them referred to as bulldozer or snowplow parents.

In this piece they pointed out two problems. First, our kids are becoming increasingly entitled, thinking that everything comes easily; and second, because kids grow up without experiencing much, or even any failure in their lives, they have no coping mechanisms to overcome adversity. Here are three questions suggested to ask a child if they face failure: What role did I play in this particular failure? What could I have done differently to be more successful? How can I learn from this experience?

I think that you may have to up your parenting budget, and perhaps learn how to get less sleep and time for yourself, if you plan to do things like these, as set out by cafemom.com. Step in to break up an argument, rather than letting your child and another child work it out. In order to avoid play date fights, you hand-pick meeker, younger friends for your child. If you can, you hold your child back in school so that they will be one of the oldest, biggest ones. Learn to fake your child’s handwriting, so that you can really help with their homework. Argue with teachers over every grade that is not an A. Join the PTA, or a sports or performance board, not because you care about the issues, but just so that you can be in a better position to advance your child. Finally, write your child’s college admissions essay, and make a big donation to their “dream school." Time to start saving!

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo.