Economy

Tax

Social Security raises wage ceiling, increases benefits

Effective January 1, 2008, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $102,000 from $97,500. Of the estimated 164 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2008, nearly 12 million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.The Social Security Administration also announced that monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 54 million Americans will increase 2.3 percent in 2008.
Tax

States benefit, or not, from federal spending

Some states feast at the expense of others, according to the Tax Foundation's latest annual analysis of federal taxing and spending patterns.Using newly released Fiscal Year 2005 spending data from the Census Bureau's annual Consolidated Federal Funds Report, the Tax Foundation compared the federal tax burden in each state with the amount of federal spending in each state.

Credit card fraud soars, despite new safeguards

New fraud-prevention technology has made credit card crime more difficult in the U.K., but it is increasing in other countries that have not adopted "chip-and-pin" safeguards. Chip-and-pin credit cards are cards containing electronic chips that contain the information otherwise found on magnetic strips.According to the Association of Payment Clearing Services (APACS), the U.K. clearing service, credit card crime in the U.K. dropped 4 percent in the first half of this year, compared with the first six months of 2006.
Technology

SEC suspends trading on three companies in Anti-Spam Initiative

The Securities and Exchange Commission has continued its assault on stock market e-mail spam by suspending trading in the securities of three companies that haven't provided adequate and accurate information about themselves to the investing public.The trading suspensions are part of the Commission's Anti-Spam Initiative announced earlier this year that cuts the profit potential for stock-touting spam and is credited for a significant worldwide reduction of financial spam.

Pending legislation could allow bankrupts to discharge some mortgage amounts

In an effort to prevent a predicted siege of foreclosures, Representatives Brad Miller (D-NC) and Linda Sánchez (D-CA) have introduced legislation that would repeal the mortgage exception in the bankruptcy code, allowing a judge to change the priority value of primary residence mortgages or alter interest rates.Called the Emergency Home Ownership and Mortgage Equity Protection Act (H.R.

Increasing numbers of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck

Sixty-seven percent of American employees are living paycheck to paycheck, according to results released this week from the 2007 "Getting Paid In America" survey.The online survey by the American Payroll Association asked respondents how difficult it would be to meet their current financial obligations if their paycheck were delayed for a week. An overwhelming 31,640 of more than 47,000 respondents said they'd find it difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheck were delayed.

Social Security reform takes one step forward

The Treasury is studying reform methods to make the Social Security system sound.
Tax

IRS reaches out to foreclosure victims with resource site

The Internal Revenue Service has unveiled a new section of IRS.gov for people who have lost their homes due to foreclosure.

Increased financial hiring expected in fourth quarter

Financial executives polled for the Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index expect hiring in accounting and finance to accelerate during the fourth quarter of 2007. Nine percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) surveyed said they plan to add full-time employees and 3 percent expect staff reductions. The net 6 percent increase is up three points from the third-quarter projection.The national report is based on interviews with more than 1,400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 20 or more employees.

CPAs provide mortgage and refinancing tips in today's subprime climate

The domino effect of the subprime mortgage crisis has affected not only the housing and construction markets but has also trickled down to other credit markets, affecting those attempting to secure car and other personal loans. With uncertainty abounding, members of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants (NYSSCPA) are advising consumers to tread carefully. Howard Landsberg, CPA, chair of the NYSSCPA Real Estate Committee, encourages patience. “People should refinance now, but wait to purchase a home.

Critics complain about plans to help real estate foreclosure victims

Lewis Uhler, president of the National Tax Limitation Committee, has criticized proposals to bail out the so-called "subprime" lending industry. With potential losses hitting $100 billion, he said "Borrowers, lenders, and investors must be held responsible for their own mistakes."During the rising real estate market, lenders provided mortgages to poorer credit risks. The so-called "subprime" lending market ran more than $600 billion last year alone.

Tax relief proposed for homeowners in foreclosure

President Bush has proposed expanding the reach of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in an attempt to provide some relief for homeowners who can't meet their mortgage payments. He has also suggested that the government should stop taxing the benefit some homeowners receive when mortgage debt is forgiven.In a Rose Garden news conference on Friday, the President stated, "It's not the government's job to bail out speculators, or those who made the decision to buy a home they knew they could never afford.

Finance professionals are putting in more hours on the job

A new global report shows that many financial professionals are putting in more hours on the job than just two years ago, but exactly how much time varies widely by country. The Robert Half International research also suggests a trend toward increased accessibility of financial managers outside of the office.Among the findings:Forty-five percent of U.S. finance managers surveyed said their hours have increased over the last two years. Among those, two-thirds said they now work an additional five to 15 hours a week.U.S.

New study reveals Americans choose to generously give to others

While nine in 10 Americans regularly donate to charitable causes, a new survey indicates that women are more likely to give than men, and that older Americans are more generous with their cash than their younger counterparts - who prefer to volunteer time rather than write a check.The telephone survey, commissioned in July by SunTrust Bank, polled 2,058 adults over the age of 18 to gauge public opinions and beliefs about charitable giving in the U.S.According to the survey, respondents were also most likely to support causes relating to their church or other religious organization (53 pe

Homeowners in foreclosure might face an income tax liability

When he could no longer make payments on his home in Allentown Pennsylvania, and the lender, Wells Fargo, foreclosed on his $106,000 mortgage in 2005, William Stout thought he could make a fresh start, according to a report in The New York Times. But in July, Stout and his new wife received a bill from the Internal Revenue Service for $34,603 in taxes, penalties and late fees on income resulting from Cancellation of Debt (COD). Wells Fargo was unable to sell the home at auction at the time and purchased the home for $1.

Study: Corporate analysts take favors

A recent joint study prepared by two professors at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas shows that nearly two-thirds of surveyed investment firm analysts received favors from company executives in exchange for preferential treatment when rating stocks. UT accounting associate professor Michael Clement and UM management professor James Westphal sent 4,500 questionnaires to financial analysts between 2001 and 2003 and sent follow up surveys to hundreds of executives at the large and mid-size public companies covered by the analysts.
Tax

Hoosier pays huge tax bill in coins and $1 bills

If you're not from Indiana, you might not have heard of the large property tax increases that were assessed this year in some of the counties. Cary Malchow, a homeowner in Muncie, Indiana is one taxpayer who was affected by the increase, and he decided to make a statement with his tax payment.In an unusual form of protest, Malchow didn't refuse to pay his bill. Instead, he chose to pay the bill in person, in cash. Lots of cash.

Got a dollar? Survey reveals most Americans can't name nation's founding fathers

A survey commissioned by the United States Mint has found that most Americans don't know that Thomas Jefferson was the nation's third president and a shockingly small number could name the first four presidents in order. The United States Mint released the findings of the Presidential $1 Coin Survey, as the third Presidential $1 coin featuring Jefferson heads into circulation nationwide today."That's what's great about the Presidential $1 Coin Program," said United States Mint Director Ed Moy in a recent event for the new Jefferson coin at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington.

Reverse mortgages are gaining ground

Advertising for reverse mortgages featuring well known actors like James Garner and Robert Wagner and aimed at the over-62 viewer is publicizing a product that as yet has achieved only 1 percent market penetration, according to a report in the Philadelphia Enquirer, but analysts suggest that this product may become a major source of money for retirees in the coming years.
Education & Careers

Starting accounting salaries rise 2.3 percent

Employers continue to offer higher starting salaries to new college graduates across many disciplines, according to the Summer 2007 issue of Salary Survey, a quarterly report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). "This continues the positive trend reported in the Winter and Spring issues of Salary Survey," said Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director. "The increased hiring of new college graduates as reported in the NACE Job Outlook 2007 Spring Update survey is translating into even higher average starting salary offers," she added.

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