Economy

A&A

Student Loan Interest Rates to Fall to All-Time Lows

Interest rates on federally guaranteed student loans will drop to historic lows again this summer, potentially saving both new and current education loan borrowers thousands of dollars in interest over the life of their loans. These record-low rates will help families and students finance college this fall. "College financing has never been more affordable," said Tom Joyce, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Sallie Mae.
Tax

U.S. House Passes Child Tax Credit Bill

Last week the House voted to permanently extend the $1000-per-child tax credit. This measure approved last week would make permanent the $1,000-per-child credit that President Bush secured in 2001. That 2001 legislation would have slowly doubled an existing $500 credit through 2010. Last year, Congress raised the credit to $1,000 immediately, but only through 2004.
Community News

Women Business Owners Underserved According to a New Survey

The results of the survey of women business owners conducted by National City Corporation (NYSE: NCC) were announced today. Women entrepreneurs have a 50 percent or greater stake in nearly half (48 percent) of all privately-held businesses in the United States and they generate approximately $2.3 trillion in sales and employ 19.1 million people nationwide, according to the Center for Women's Business Research.
A&A

Business-Owned Life Insurance is Topic of Latest GAO Report

A recent report out by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) titled BUSINESS-OWNED LIFE INSURANCE - More Data Could Be Useful in Making Tax Policy Decisions looks into the subject of Business Owned Life Insurance. Federal and state regulators, in pursuing their regulatory responsibilities, have collected limited data on the prevalence and use of business-owned life insurance. Federal bank regulators have collected more data than other regulators.
A&A

Vanguard’s Founder Calls For Better Fund Governance, Highlights Nine Emerging Issues

In a speech before the Mutual Fund Regulation and Compliance Conference entitled, "Mutual Funds in the Coming Century ... While We're At It, Let's Build A Better World," John Bogle called on the mutual fund industry to heed the Investment Company Act of 1940, which requires that mutual funds be managed in the interest of the fund shareholders, and not in the interest of their managers. Mr.
A&A

BBB Ranks Top Business Inquiries and Complaints During 2003

The nation's Better Business Bureaus (BBBs) this week reported that services provided to consumers and businesses in 2003 surged to 52.9 million, up 27 percent from the 41.5 million instances of service provided in 2002. Pre-purchase Information: Pre-buying inquiries in the United States increased to 48.8 million in 2003, up nearly 28 percent from 38.2 million in 2002. These requests included 30.8 million BBB reliability reports on businesses located in the U.S.
Tax

House Passes Temporary Alternative Minimum Tax Relief

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed to extend the Middle-Class Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act through 2005 by a bipartisan vote of 333-89. The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) is supposed to target the most prosperous of Americans to ensure they pay taxes. Instead, the AMT too often hits middle-income American families because tax rates have not been adjusted for inflation since 1993. This bill expands the standard deductions for the AMT to $40,250 for individuals and $58,000 for married couples.
A&A

Women-Owned Businesses Growing Twice National Average

Nearly half of all privately held firms in the U.S. -- 10.6 million -- are owned 50 percent or more by women, says a new Center for Women's Business Research study sponsored by Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC). According to the study, "Women-Owned Businesses in 2004," between 1997 and 2004 the number of women-owned firms with employees were estimated to grow over 28 percent, nearly three times the rate of all privately held firms, and twice the national rate of all firms.
Tax

House Extends Tax Cut for Married Couples

If the House has its way, married couples will no longer be penalized because their combined earnings push them into a higher tax bracket.The House on Wednesday voted 323-95 to make President Bush’s tax cut permanent, reducing the so-called "marriage penalty," the New York Times reported. The plan now goes to the Senate, which is apparently more divided about how to pay for future tax cuts.The marriage-penalty provision was a popular tax cut, but it was scheduled to expire at the end of this year.
A&A

Federal Government Unveils New $50 Bill

Ulysses S. Grant is getting a face-lift. Grant, who has adorned the $50 bill since 1913, will debut with his new look this week in the latest of the bill redesigns done to ward off counterfeiters.Production of the new $50s will begin this summer at the printing plant in Ft. Worth, TX, where the new look was unveiled this week.
Community News

Outsourcing to India to Increase 50% Next Year

All the talk against foreign outsourcing this political season has not translated into action by U.S. executives, who plan to send 50 percent more work to India next year.According to a study by Ernst & Young, while opposition to outsourcing has intensified in the presidential campaign and among union groups, the flow of work to India has remained constant, the Financial Times of London reported. "The sentiment is very strong.
A&A

Fast Growth Companies Regaining Their Stride

Back to the future! Revenue growth targets for America's "Trendsetter" companies are at their highest—and worries about market demand at their lowest—in more than three years, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers study. Disproportionate new hiring and capital investments are planned by the fastest growers—suggesting that if others can achieve a threshold level of growth, more new jobs and greater investments will follow.
A&A

IRS Awards $7.5 Million to Tax Clinics Assisting Low Income Taxpayers

The National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson, announced that the Internal Revenue Service has awarded $7.5 million in matching grants to Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs). This amount will fund 135 clinics in 2004.
A&A

2004 Retirement Confidence Survey: Percentage of Americans Saving Stagnant Since 2001

What will it take to get more Americans to save and plan for retirement? Despite a recovering economy and efforts to educate the population about the importance of planning and saving for retirement, the percentage of Americans who say they are saving for retirement remains stagnant.
Tax

While Corporate Profits Soared, Tax Bill Dropped to Zero

More than 60 percent of U.S. corporations paid no federal taxes from 1996 through 2000, when the economy surged along with corporate profits, a new report says.The Wall Street Journal reported that the analysis of Internal Revenue Service data, conducted by the General Accounting Office, also found that about 70 percent of foreign-owned companies doing business in the U.S. paid no federal taxes during the late 1990s."Too many corporations are finagling ways to dodge paying Uncle Sam, despite the benefits they receive from this country," said Sen.

Poll Says CEO Confidence Hits 20-Year High

A new survey says chief executives’ confidence in the U.S. economy has risen to the highest level in 20 years."Half of all CEOs surveyed anticipate an increase in hiring plans over the course of the year, suggesting labor market growth should gain momentum in the months ahead," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board's consumer research center.A year ago, only 16 percent of CEOs surveyed believed employment levels in their industry would increase, Reuters reported.The Department of Labor announced Friday that U.S.
A&A

IRS Says Credit-Counseling Firms May Face Prosecution

IRS Commissioner Mark Everson has threatened criminal prosecution and revocation of tax-exempt status for credit counseling companies that charge high fees and even fail to send money to the creditors of their debt-ridden customers.Everson told a Senate subcommittee on Wednesday that his agency’s audits "may very well result in the lifting of some tax exemptions and, in fact, criminal referrals to the Department of Justice." Testifying before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee's investigative panel, Everson said audits on one-third of the $1 billion nonprofit industry should be com
A&A

Homeowners Could See New Tax Break on PMI

Congress is considering a new tax deduction for homebuyers who could not afford a down payment amounting to 20 percent of the purchase price.Those homeowners have to pay private mortgage insurance, which banks and lenders charge when the down payment is below the 20 percent threshold. The Associated Press reported that under a tax plan before Congress, millions of lower-income homeowners would be able deduct that cost, which is significant in some cases.For example, the owner of a $160,000 house would pay $50 to $80 every month for private mortgage insurance, also known as PMI.
Tax

Who Deserves a (Tax) Break Today?

What do adoptive parents, historic barn restorers and food bank supporters have in common? They’re all eligible for tax credits in certain states.Now some New York legislators want to give tax credits to nurses, volunteer firefighters and residents who buy gym memberships. While some say the proposed legislation is a good way to encourage socially responsible behavior, critics say it complicates the tax system and is less honest than simply giving such groups money outright.
Technology

Senators Battle Over Internet Taxation; a Consumer Victory for Now

A group of about 10 Republicans and Democrats introduced legislation yesterday to keep telecommunications companies from taxing consumer Internet access for at least another two years.An earlier moratorium expired in November and legislators have battled over how to replace it with an earlier Senate bill that would have blocked the moratorium in the future. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Thomas R.

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