Economy

Tax

Sales tax holidays: Love them or hate them?

More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia have sales tax holidays that last at least a couple of days each year, some last much longer. Usually the holiday coincides with back-to-school time to give parents a break on outfitting their kids with necessities. What consumers can buy during the sales tax holidays varies by state, but generally includes clothing, shoes, classroom supplies, and computers, often with a dollar limit. Another popular item that pops up in sales tax holidays is energy efficient appliances for the home.

Financial executives see U.S. economy in recession

The U.S. economy has already entered a recession and the outlook remains negative according to a majority of chief financial officers and senior-level executive CPAs surveyed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School. For a third consecutive quarter, executive CPAs serving in business and industry continue to foresee slowing economic growth ahead, the latest AICPA-UNC Business and Industry Economic Outlook Survey shows.
Tax

Has the IRS overreached in audits of small businesses?

The National Small Business Association (NSBA), a small business advocacy group, has launched a new Web site, PreventIRSAbuse.org, designed to uncover potentially abusive Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audit tactics and inform its members about efforts by the IRS and Congress to use small business audits to enhance revenue. The NSBA site asks members to contribute their own experience with audits and challenges the fairness of the IRS characterization of the "Tax Gap."
Education & Careers

Illinois accountants offer money tips for college-bound students

If you're sending your son or daughter off to college, you’re probably warning them about the dangers of alcohol, drugs, or other habits that might hurt them in the future. The Illinois CPA Society suggests talking about money, too. Here are four tips to help them avoid a bad financial start in life: Stay Away from Credit Cards. Getting taken in by the easy money of a credit card is a problem that can stay with you years after leaving college. Credit card offers are abundant on campuses; don't be lured into signing up for a credit card by a T-shirt or other free gifts.

Economic anxiety has nearly tripled among consumers in past six months

Economic anxiety is not just rising, it is sprinting its way to new heights, with 61 percent of consumers saying they feel high or severe levels of anxiety, according to the most recent Yankelovich study fielded in June 2008.The latest Yankelovich tracking of economic worries finds that 37 percent of consumers feel severe economic anxiety, a number that has nearly tripled in only six months.
Tax

KPMG report lists most tax-favorable cities

San Juan, Puerto Rico, Baltimore, and Atlanta have the most favorable tax structures for businesses among U.S. cities/locations with populations exceeding 2 million, according to a study released recently by KPMG International (KPMG).Of the 35 large international cities highlighted in the study, San Juan, Baltimore and Atlanta all rank in the top ten -- first, eighth and ninth, respectively. And among the 10 countries in the study, the U.S.
Tax

Who bears the tax burden in the U.S.?

"Soak the rich" is a popular concept among some groups. Raise taxes on the wealthiest among us, and we'll raise revenue and be rolling in surplus cash, right? Everyone's got a story about some bazillionaire who picks his teeth with hundred dollar bills and never pays a red cent in taxes. But setting anecdotes and politics aside, a quick look at the facts will tell you, the notion that the U.S. can tax its way to prosperity is all wrong.

SEC roundtable on IFRS, GAAP, and subprime crisis

The Securities and Exchange Commission will host a roundtable on Monday, August 4 to analyze the performance of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (U.S. GAAP) during the recent period of market turmoil."This roundtable will provide the Commission with valuable insights from investors, issuers, auditors, and others about the way that both IFRS and U.S. GAAP performed in the context of the current pressures on the marketplace," said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox.
Education & Careers

Back to school shoppers planning to spend less this year

Retailers, hoping to boost sales, started bringing out back-to-school merchandise in June, just as the last school bells were ringing before summer vacation. The back-to-school shopping season usually lasts from mid-July until September, but this year 52 percent of consumers had already begun shopping for the coming school year by mid-July, up from 33 percent in 2007, according to a report from Citigroup Global Markets Inc., the Chicago Tribune reports.

Senate passes Housing bill; Bush promises to sign

After several passes back and forth between the House and Senate, on Saturday, in a rare weekend session, the U.S. Senate voted 72 to 13 to pass the bi-partisan Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, a bill passed by the House last Wednesday. President Bush has indicated he will sign the bill into law in spite of several objections he has to the bill.In the wake of 10 bank closings in the past 18 months, the new housing bill is the government's latest response to the national housing crisis.

House passes housing bailout bill; Bush signs

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, designed to reduce foreclosures, strengthen the housing market and shore up lending institutions will also change the amounts many taxpayers owe to the IRS, according to CCH. The Act passed the House last Wednesday, July 23, and the Senate is scheduled to follow suit shortly, with assurance from the White House that President Bush will sign the measure. Some of the tax provisions in the measure are aimed at raising revenue to pay for the bailout of the housing market. Other tax breaks are aimed at encouraging investment in low-income housing.
Education & Careers

CPAs offer back-to-school shopping tips for consumers

It's time to plan your back-to-school shopping budget, since most students head back to the classroom in late August or early September. With children wanting the latest trendy clothing items, and families trying to continuously clothe their growth spurts, the price tag can really add up. The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) recommends five ways to prepare for and save money on back-to-school expenses.1.

Survey finds companies underutilizing globalization strategies

According to the third annual RSM McGladrey Manufacturing and Wholesale Distribution National Survey (MWD) released last week, companies reporting their business conditions as "thriving and growing" declined by nearly 10 percent in the past year.

Lenders shutting the door to home equity lines of credit

Your home equity line of credit may no longer be the safety net you've grown accustomed to, whether you use it for large-scale home renovations or as an emergency fund when unexpected expenses pop up.Lenders are putting on the brakes - cutting off existing home equity lines of credit and limiting new lines. The Wall Street Journal reports major lenders, including Bank of America, Citibank, Countrywide Financial, Washington Mutual Bank, and USAA, have informed hundreds of thousands of customers that their lines of credit have been frozen this year.

Greenwashing: Is this business green or only greenish?

Green has many meanings. Green can mean fresh. But green cheese is spoiled. A green employee could be a rookie on the job, or a staff member who got sick eating the green cheese. A green bottom line is flush with profits. A green business is environmentally friendly. Of course there is the actual color green. And then . . . there's greenwash. Greenwash or green sheen occurs when a company understands that being green is good for business, therefore markets itself as green without making any real efforts toward being environmentally friendly.
Workplace Fitness

Economy is down but benefits remain stable

Despite recent challenges to the economy, employers are managing to maintain a balance in employee benefits, according to the 2008 Employee Benefits Survey released today by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) at its 60th Annual Conference.

Americans continue to give: Charitable donations surpass $300 billion mark

Despite paying more at the pump and the grocery store, Americans dug deep into their pockets and donated a record $306 billion to charities in 2007, accounting for 2.1 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product.A survey by the Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University showed it is the first time charitable giving has surpassed the $300 billion mark.

CPAs offer advice for cutting fuel costs

Now that the average cost of a gallon of gas is heading closer to $4, are you thinking about buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle? The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants advises that you consider all the costs involved in trading in the old for the new."Owners of automobiles need to look at the total cost of ownership when they evaluate swapping their gas-guzzler for a more economic vehicle," said Steven Levey, CPA/PFS, of GHP Horwath PC in Denver.

2008 net farm income expected to be another record breaker

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting that farm income in 2008 will be strong, perhaps higher than 2007 which was a record-breaking year. The USDA's Economic Research Service provides forecasts of farm income and expenses each year.For 2008, income is forecast to be $92.3 billion, the USDA reports, up 4.1 percent above the $88.7 billion farmers are estimated to have earned in 2007 and 51 percent above the 10-year average of $61.1 billion.
A&A

Merchant cash advances are increasingly popular among business owners

As small business owners scramble to secure the working capital they need to maintain smooth business operations and banks continue to reject more lending applications than ever, business owners are choosing new alternative financing options. Among the most popular of these options are merchant cash advances, also known as MCAs. A simple concept, merchant cash advances are cash advances based on a percentage of future credit card receivables which provide immediate working cash for businesses. Upon approval, the merchant cash advance is electronically wired to the recipient's bank account.

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