Economy

A&A

U.S. Falls out of the Index of Economic Freedom's Top 10

For the first time ever, the U.S. does not rank among the world's 10 freest economies in the Index of Economic Freedom, published annually by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. The U.S.' score in the 2005 Index did not change from 2004. But improvements in the economies of Chile, Australia and Iceland enabled all three to surpass the U. S., leaving it in a tie for 12th with Switzerland and out of the top 10 for the first time in the 11-year history of the Index.

Treasury and IRS Issue New Rules for 401(k) Plans

On Tuesday, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued final regulations governing 401(k) plans. The 401(k) plan is the most common type of employer-sponsored retirement plan, providing retirement income security for millions of American workers and their families.
Community News

Annual Salary Survey Shows it Pays to Hold CPA Designation

Over 2,800 respondents working in the accounting, finance and banking professions around the country responded to this voluntary online survey conducted by Careerbank.com.
Tax

IRS Issues Rules on Automatic Rollovers From Retirement Plans

Earlier this week, the Treasury Department and the IRS issued guidance on the new automatic (or default) rollover rules for qualified retirement plans.
A&A

SBA Seeks Comments on Small Business Size Standards

The U.S. Small Business Administration is seeking comments from the general public on key issues relating to its small business size standards, the rules used by the SBA and other federal agencies to determine whether a business is small.

Fannie Mae May Sell $5B of Preferred Stock

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae said Wednesday that it may sell as much as $5 billion of preferred stock to boost capital, Reuters reported.

CFOs Frustrated with Impact of Pensions on Companies' Financial Health

A new survey reveals that despite improved market performance, the negative impact of pension plans on profitability and the financial health of America's corporations continues to worsen. More than three-quarters (76%) of CFOs surveyed said pension plans are negatively impacting corporate finances, up 15% from a year ago. At the same time, that trend appears to be worsening, as an overwhelming majority of CFOs (86%) lack a sufficient level of control over the impact their defined benefit plan has on their company's corporate finances.
Community News

New Fannie Mae Executive Vows to 'Put Things Right'

Investors are hoping that management changes at Fannie Mae will bolster the company's reputation with regulators and Congress.Fannie Mae's board last Tuesday replaced the two top executives and fired its auditor, KPMG, as pressure mounted to make big changes in light of the company's accounting standards violations and the Securities and Exchange Commission's order for a restatement of possibly $9 billion.Chief Executive Officer Franklin D. Raines and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Howard were temporarily replaced by, respectively, Daniel H.
Community News

E&Y to Pay $125M to Settle Claims Over Failed Illinois Bank

Ernst & Young LLP will pay $125 million to settle claims stemming from its involvement in the failure of an Illinois savings bank, according to a consent order with the Office of Thrift Supervision.

California Sues Edward D. Jones Over Mutual Fund Deals

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has filed suit on behalf of the state against brokerage firm Edward D.
Tax

IRS Issues Optional Sales Tax Tables

The Internal Revenue Service has made available on its Web site Publication 600, Optional State Sales Tax Tables, which taxpayers may use for their 2004 returns. The IRS also will send Pub. 600 to all taxpayers who get a Form 1040 tax package.
A&A

American Express Announces Card Issuing Alliance with Citibank

American Express announced late last week that it has reached an agreement for Citibank to issue credit cards in the United States that will be accepted on the American Express global merchant network.American Express anticipates that the new credit card products developed by Citibank will be available in late 2005.Citibank will be responsible for issuing the cards, managing the customer relationships, providing service, billing and credit management and designing the card product features.
Technology

Debit Cards and Plastic Give Edge Over Paper

A survey conducted by the Federal Reserve confirms that electronic payments in the United States have exceeded check payments for the first time during 2003. Americans made over 44.5 billion electronic payment transactions in 2003, while the number of checks paid totaled 36.7 billion, according to recent surveys of U.S. depository financial institutions and electronic payments organizations. Electronic payments consist of such payment methods as credit cards, debit cards and automated clearinghouse (ACH) transactions, like direct debit.
A&A

Grant Thornton Posts Rise in Fiscal 2004 Revenues

Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International, last week reported that revenues climbed 23 percent in the fiscal year ended July 31, 2004 to $565 million. In fiscal 2003, the firm posted revenues of $458 million, up 25 percent from the previous year, leading the global accounting firms in U.S. growth.

Protect Your Beneficiary's Inheritance

By, Jeffery Voudrie, CFP - An inheritance is the precious fruit of years of labor. It is an expression of love. Nowadays, more than ever, an inheritance is something that should be protected. All too often, inheritances are squandered or lost because of a lack of planning by those giving it. Read on to discover how to easily change that.There are many dangers that can threaten the inheritance you leave your children or heirs. The number one concern of many of the people that I talk with is that an inheritance will be lost if the beneficiary gets divorced.
Tax

Consumers Now Have Access to Free Credit Reports, Enhanced Fraud Alerts

Starting December 1, 2004 consumers will begin to have more tools at their disposal to fight identity theft, protect against credit card fraud, and check-up on the health of their total credit picture under a new federal law. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2004 (FACT Act) was signed into law in December 2003 giving residents of the western part of the United States the right to a free copy of their credit report each year.
Tax

Treasury, IRS Issue Indexed Amounts for Health Savings Accounts

On Monday, the Treasury Department and IRS issued new guidance on the maximum contribution levels for Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and out-of-pocket spending limits for High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) that must be used in conjunction with HSAs. These amounts have been indexed for cost-of-living adjustments for 2005 and are included in Revenue Procedure 2004-71, which announces changes in several indexed amounts for purposes of the federal income tax. The minimum deductible required for HDHPs did not change.
Tax

IRS Implements New Program to Ensure High-Income Tax Compliance

The nation's highest income earners beware-the Internal Revenue Service has implemented a new program to assess whether high-income taxpayers are complying with federal income tax laws, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
Community News

PricewaterhouseCoopers Revenues Rise to $17.6 Billion

PricewaterhouseCoopers announced today that aggregate global gross revenues of PricewaterhouseCoopers firms for the fiscal year ended 30 June 2004 rose to $17.6 billion, an increase of 4% in local currencies and just over 11% in US dollars from the previous year's $15.8 billion. Aggregate net revenues increased by nearly $2 billion to $16.3 billion, an increase of 6% in local currencies and just over 13% in US dollars.
Education & Careers

Accounting Grads Face Best Job Prospects in Years

College graduates with accounting degrees are entering the working world at a good time - recruiters are eager, jobs are plentiful and offers are attractive. Four in five employers called the job market for new grads good, very good or excellent, according to a new survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Last year, fewer than two in five described the job market that way, the Associated Press reported.Observers say graduates are facing the best prospects since the dot.com boom. The survey predicted college hiring will increase 13 percent over last year.

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