Economy

Tax

Debit Card Fraud Jumps

Thieves are finding new ways to steal from us. In stealing account information, they have made an end run around the PIN code system and started producing counterfeit ATM cards to steal money directly from related accounts.
A&A

'Worst Yet' Federal Budget for Small Businesses

Nearly half of the 100 federal programs that assist small businesses would end and another 40 would be cut drastically, if President Bush's fiscal 2007 budget request is approved.Advertisement

Warm Weather Lures Shoppers to Spend; Housing Still Weak

Factories responded to an increase in consumer spending in January, by cranking up production in February.
A&A

Study: Northeast Tax Codes Unfriendly to Businesses

A new study pinpoints the Northeastern states as having some of the worst business tax systems in the country.New York has earned the dubious distinction of having the most unfriendly business tax climate in the country.

Health Spending Increases

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that total health care spending will grow from its current 16.2 percent of the economy to 20 percent by 2015. This translates to each person spending $12,320 annually, according to USA Today. Nationally projected, we will spend more than $4 trillion on health care by 2015.
Tax

White House Pushes Tax Cuts in Face of Other Advice

The Treasury reports that tax proposals pressed by the White House will cost the government billions in revenue, according to the Washington Post. The White House wants to make permanent the tax breaks for dividends and capital gains that expire at year end, 2008. These tax breaks would cost the government $7.74 billion in 2008 and $37.02 billion in 2009, according to its “Blue Book” description of revenue proposals in the president’s fiscal 2007 budget.
Technology

GoDirect Campaign Aimed at Baby Boomers

A nationwide telephone survey of 1,400 adults sponsored by The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks, part of their join GoDirect initiative, revealed that, contrary to widely held perceptions, baby boomers are less inclined to use direct deposit than today’s seniors, a U.S. Treasury press release reports.
A&A

Greenspan and Bernanke: Day of Transition

After Alan Greenspan retires on January 31, Ben Bernanke is the new Fed Chairman. It’s an election year and “We’re going to see a show like we’ve never seen for two decades,” predicted Kevin Hassett, chief economist at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conservative think tank. Rising interest rates will be a clear topic of focus for lawmakers. Forbes describes the Fed’s raising of the Fed funds rate as heartless.
Community News

The Coming Senior Migration

A new study shows the cascading effect of taxes on the retirement population. The state of Wisconsin lost $4.7 billion in household net worth between 1995 and 2000, although gaining 4,400 households during the period. The study was completed by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WTA).Todd Berry, WTA president, explained for Gazette Extra that tax structure is important for Wisconsin and other states to consider as they lose highly paid, or well educated residents to other states, such as Florida.
Education & Careers

Jobless Claims Plunge

Those applying for U.S. state unemployment benefits decreased by 35,000 to a seasonally adjusted 291,000 in the last week of 2006. The Labor Department reports this is the lowest figure since September 2000. The Labor Department cautioned that this data at this time of year is volatile because of the holidays and large expected swings in seasonal employment. The four-week moving average for new claims also hit the lowest figure since August 20th, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.

Sales of New Homes Down; Number of Unsold Homes Increasing

Sales of new homes fell 11 percent in November, after setting a record in October, and the number of houses for sale jumped 3 percent, the Commerce Department reported last week, according to the New York Times. Median prices for new homes -- $225,200 -- is nearly unchanged from last year at this time, the report said. While new homes sales for the first eleven months of 2005 set a record for the fifth straight year, economists predict a leveling off in 2006, because rising interest rates will affect costs for home builders and mortgage rates for potential buyers.
Practice Management

Financial Services Advertising Spending Increasing

The top ad-spending category may not be financial services now, but its third ranking may only be temporary this year. USAToday reports that the financial services category is up $3.8 billion for the first half of 2005, according to ad tracker TNS Media Intelligence. Financial services broke the top five in 2002, with a 2 percent increase in spending to reach a $5.9 billion total. USAToday reports that spending in this category topped $6.7 billion, with a 12 percent jump in spending in 2003 and jumped further in 2004, to 16 percent, to reach $7.8 billion in spending.

October Trade Deficit Takes Unexpected Reversal

The U.S. trade deficit increased, to a record $68.9 billion, in October. Reuters reports the actual figure far exceeded expectations. The deficit widened to record levels with Canada, Mexico, the European Union, and OPEC countries. This November report also showed an easing of inflationary pressures stemming from high energy costs and may have shown a rise in the dollar. The Commerce Department reported the deficit increased 4.4 percent over September figure, which grew 11.9 percent over the August figure, according to Reuters.
A&A

October Capital Inflows Hit Record Highs

A Treasury Department report released last week shows that capital inflows into U.S. assets surged to $106.8 billion following last month’s revised record $101.7 billion figure. These numbers offset the October trade deficit of $68.9 billion, with room to spare. Analysts had expected the October figure to fall to $75.4 billion. Foreigners increased their investments in U.S. equities and corporate bond holdings by $10.6 billion and $34.1 billion in net purchases, respectively, in October. Net official foreign purchasers picked up $4.9 billion in U.S.
Community News

Looking Inside the Ohio Society of CPAs Business Poll

One-in-five certified public accountants (CPAs) across Ohio are predicting a significant number of Ohio employers will eliminate health-care benefits for their employees in 2006. Sixty-seven percent of participants responding to The Ohio Society of CPAs 2005 Statewide Ohio Business Poll estimate that health insurance costs would rise between 10 and 20 percent in 2006 causing employers to explore new ways of controlling health-care costs. “Ohio CPAs have a keen insight into the financial issues facing Ohioans today,” Ohio Society Executive Board Chair, Janice L.
Tax

Louisiana’s First Sales Tax Holiday is This Weekend

If you’ve put off your holiday shopping and live in or near Louisiana, you’re getting a break this weekend. The 2005 Sales Tax Holiday, passed during a special session of the state legislature last month, will be in effect Friday, December 16, to Sunday, December 18. Shoppers throughout Louisiana, will save 4 cents on every dollar of the first $2,500 of the purchase price on most individual items. The tax holiday applies only to the 4 percent that is the state portion of the sales tax.
Technology

Record ATM Fees Could Be Impacting Checking Balances

Automated Teller Machines (ATM) fees have hit a record high according to Bankrate.com’s latest survey of large banks and thrifts. The fees are leaving many balances short despite rising interest rates.The key findings of the semi-annual survey, which compares checking accounts and ATM fees offered by large banks and thrifts in the 25 largest markets with a sampling of checking accounts available at online banks, include:The fee for using the “wrong” ATM – one owned by a bank other than the bank issuing the ATM card – hit an all-time record high.
A&A

So-So-So: Flat Start to Holiday Shopping Season

The holiday shopping season officially began at midnight Friday morning. Early signs were encouraging as crowds gathered to take advantage of huge sales and deeply discounted prices designed to lure in shoppers. The plan may have not have worked as intended, however. Shoppers came, but spending on Friday was virtually unchanged from the previous year, according to ShopperTrack RCT Corp. which tracks total sales at more than 45,000 retail outlets.The ShopperTrack data indicates total sales dropped 0.9 percent to $8 billion from a year ago.

Top IPOs for 2005 Cover Wide Range of Industries

Initial public offerings that performed best this year turned up some surprises.Nine companies that made their debuts on U.S. markets saw the value of their shares more than double, and they were not all technology-based upstarts.
Community News

Bernanke Nomination Approved By Senate Banking Committee

The Federal Reserve is closer to finding a replacement for Alan Greenspan, who will be retiring as Chairman in January. The Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee has recommended Ben Bernanke’s confirmation to the full Senate. Bernanke serves as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors as well as a former Princeton economics professor and Fed governor.Bernanke’s nomination received its only opposition from Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY). Bunning voiced concerns that Bernanke was not enough of an independent thinker as the outgoing Greenspan has demonstrated.

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