Around the Valley: Trout fishing season, state taxes & climate change

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Unemployment is income in RI

The Rhode Island Division of Taxation has determined that while state residents will be able to deduct up to $10,200 of unemployment compensation on their federal personal income tax returns under a recent federal law change, the full amount of unemployment received must be marked as income on state returns.

“Under federal legislation enacted on March 11, 2021, if a taxpayer received unemployment benefits in 2020 and the taxpayer’s federal adjusted gross income was less than $150,000 for 2020, the first $10,200 of the taxpayer’s unemployment benefits is excluded from income for federal tax purposes for 2020,” noted a release from the Rhode Island Department of Revenue. “In contrast to the federal law, for Rhode Island tax purposes, existing Rhode Island law remains unchanged with respect to the tax treatment of unemployment benefits. Thus, for Rhode Island personal income tax purposes, unemployment compensation continues to be included as income.”

According to the release this week, the division is in the process of revising certain forms and instructions relating to the guidance and will post the revised documents, “as soon as possible.”

House passes act on carbon reduction

The state House of Representatives approved legislation this week sponsored by Rep. Lauren Carson to update Rhode Island’s climate-emission reduction goals and to make them enforceable.

The 2021 Act on Climate (2021-H 5445A) would make the state’s climate goals outlined in the Resilient Rhode Island Act of 2014 more ambitious and updated with current science, according to a release on the legislation. Under the bill, the state would develop a plan to reduce all climate emissions from transportation, buildings and heating, and electricity used economy-wide in the state to 10 percent below 1990 levels this year, 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2040 and net-zero by 2050.

A vote on the bill was split on party lines with Republicans opposed to the legislation.

The bill now goes to Senate, which last week approved identical legislation (2021-S 0078A) sponsored by Sen. Dawn Euer.

The House and Senate will reconcile differences between the bills and, assuming no major conflicts arise, then send the bill to Gov. Dan McKee to be signed into law.

Trout season

The Department of Environmental Management has announced that Rhode Island trout stocked lakes, ponds, rivers and streams will open for fishing at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7. DEM will be filing an emergency regulation opening the freshwater trout fishing season early this year in order to eliminate the large crowds that often accompany the traditional Opening Day of trout fishing season in April.  Fishing before the official Opening Day in any trout stocked waters is illegal and considered poaching.

 If you arrive at a favorite fishing spot and find that crowds are forming, those fishing are advised to leave and choose a different location or return at another time or day. Check Reopeningri.com and current Executive Orders for current guidance on group sizes for social gatherings. There are many enjoyable fishing locations statewide.

DEM’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is stocking over 60,000 hatchery-raised rainbow, brook, golden rainbow and brown trout in more than 100 waterways across the state. In addition, 4,000 Sebago salmon will be stocked statewide. Again this year, hatchery-raised golden rainbow trout are being stocked for Opening Day. These trout are a color variation of a rainbow trout and provide an exciting angling experience. Anglers who catch a golden trout from April 7 through April 20 will receive a free golden trout pin. Take a picture of your catch and send it to dem.fishri@dem.ri.gov.

Click here for a complete list of stocked waters.

The following locations will not be stocked because of potential crowding issues, problems with access for stocking, or water level issues:

  • Children-only fishing ponds
  • Dundery Brook and Wigwam Pond, Little Compton
  • Foster Green Acres, Foster
  • Geneva Brook and Pond, North Providence
  • Memorial Park Pond, Johnston
  • Spring Grove Pond, Glocester
  • Lake Tiogue, Coventry
  • Wallum Lake, Burrillville

If conditions improve these sites may be stocked later this spring, according to RI DEM. Restocking will occur, but stocking locations will not be announced in advance to minimize crowds the agency noted. Visit DEM’s website for an up-to-date list of trout stocking locations.

A 2021 fishing license is required for anglers 15 years of age and older. A Trout Conservation Stamp is also required of anyone wishing to keep or possess a trout or to fish in a catch-and-release or “fly-fishing only” area. Trout Stamps are not required for persons possessing trout taken from a lake or pond that shares a border with Rhode Island. Fishing licenses can only be purchased online at www.dem.ri.gov/huntfish.

The daily creel and possession limit for trout is five from April 7 through November 30 and two from December 1, through February 28, 2022. The use of external felt soled or any natural or synthetic porous material capable of absorbing water in any freshwaters in Rhode Island is strictly prohibited. This includes any waters shared with adjacent states in which Rhode Island fishing regulations apply. For more information on preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, which can be transported in felt soles or other porous materials, click here.

Anglers must follow these guidelines during the COVID-19 public health crisis as follows:

● Do not visit lakes, ponds or other fishing areas if you feel ill or are exhibiting symptoms of illness.

● Plan trips to new areas where the fishing pressure may be less.

● Maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet between persons.

● Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to and during your fishing trip. Wash your hands, carry hand sanitizer, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and avoid surfaces that are touched often.

●Avoid direct contact with ticks that can transmit Lyme Disease and other diseases:

Anglers are advised to take the following safety precautions on Opening Day:

● Stand back from the shoreline and be aware of surroundings.

● If fishing from a boat, always wear a life jacket, and ensure boats are seaworthy before going out on the water.

● Don’t drink alcohol while operating a boat.

● Always stay in the boat; water temperatures are low and the risk of drowning because of cold water is high.

● If the boat capsizes, remain with the boat where you are more likely to be seen by rescuers. Swim for shore only if wearing a life jacket, if the likelihood of rescue is low, or if you are close to shore and not able to climb back into or on top of the boat.

State law requires that boaters always have personal flotation devices for each person, and that they do not drink and operate a boat. Boaters should also be sure their craft is seaworthy before going out on the state’s waterways. For more information on Rhode Island boating laws, click here.

DEM advises everyone to follow guidance about COVID-19 from Governor McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Health. More information about COVID-19 and Rhode Island’s response can be found here: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/

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