Personal Finance

Seeking Wounded Soldiers with Debt

Recognizing that the U.S. military is not always administered with military precision, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, which became law in 2003, protects active-duty military members against foreclosures, evictions, repossessions and default judgments. It also caps interest on their debts at 6 percent. But what happens when a service member is wounded and separates from the military?In some cases, at least, it seems the debts are being referred to credit bureaus and collection agencies.

Good News for US Employer Pension Funds

New research shows that pension plans in the United States (US) are four times more likely to be fully funded than occupational in the United Kingdom (UK). In a company press release, Aon Consulting reports that only 5 percent of UK pension plans are fully funded compared to 20 percent of US pension plans for year-end 2004 based on company annual reports.

U.S. Nonprofits Are Accounting for Huge Increase in Donations

Donations to U.S. charities, not including tsunami relief contributions, soared in the first quarter of 2005, according to a report in Knight Ridder Newspapers. Analysts attribute the surge to an improving economy, increasing use of internet giving and individual generosity.
Tax

Teacher Spending Earns a Tax Break

Amidst the flurry of back-to-school shopping and sales, it’s easy to lose track of spending. For teachers and other educators, it is especially important to put those receipts somewhere safe, because they may lower their 2005 taxes.According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), up to $250 of qualified expenses may be deducted when figuring the adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2005 of any individual working at least 900 hours during the school year as a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide in a public or private elementary or secondary school.

Few Options for Medicare Part D Drug Benefit

Although several details of the new Medicare Part D drug benefit plan are yet to be set, seniors who don’t enroll for the prescription drug coverage will be penalized 12 percent for each year they delay in signing up for the program. Some seniors wouldn’t need to enroll in the program because they have no current drug bills or small drug bills at least.

New Bankruptcy Reform

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 will become law on October 17 In the face of rising bankruptcy filings. Although bankruptcy filings 2.6% for the first quarter of this year, they rose 12% in the second quarter compared to the same period in 2004 according to LexisNexis. The Act’s new certification requirements and restrictive debtor-means tests, means some attorneys are considering not taking these specialized cases after it goes into effect.
Community News

Not Your Usual Summer Camp

The first day of camp is always exciting. The kids are eager for fun and ready to learn new things. For the group of middle-schoolers from across North Carolina attending Camp Challenge at the 4-H Education Center, it is more than that.
Tax

Expected Back-To-School Spending Increases

Back-to-school shopping is expected to increase this year according to MasterCard International’s second annual Back to School Spending Index survey. College age and under students might expect to have an average of $573 spent on them by their parents this year in preparation for the new school year according to the survey. The National Retail Federation reports that we Americans spent a total of $40.6 billion in back-to-school shopping in 2004.
Tax

Pass It On: Inheriting an Individual Retirement Arrangement

The first Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) were created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) in 1974. Since then, the spotlight has been on promoting the creation, funding and use of IRAs. Recently, however, another side of IRAs has begun coming into the light: inheriting IRAs.In general, only surviving spouses can treat inherited IRAs as their own. Everyone else should rename the inherited IRA to be “for the benefit of (the beneficiary)” to reduce the income tax owed on the amount inherited.

CPAs Hold Umbrella of Protection Against Gathering ‘Legal Storm’

Like a sudden summer thunderstorm, the surprising number of ERISA-related lawsuits filed last year – more than 11,000 according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts – seems to have blown in out of nowhere.In reality, the Department of Labor has been predicting this “Legal Storm” for more than a year.

Personal Ethics and On-the-Job Standards in Politics

Members of Congress who travel routinely on official trips for their congressional committees or make weekly visits to their home districts accumulate substantial frequent flier miles. If they travel at the invitation of private groups they gain more mileage credits. Yet, the Associated Press reports lawmakers are not required to disclose their mileage on reports about trips or on their annual ethics statements.Representative Ray LaHood, Republican of Illinois, uses the frequent flier miles for upgrades and personal free trips. “There’s no question, it’s a definite benefit.

American Consumers Still Lacking Credit Score Savvy

The gap between Americans who know about credit scores and those who don’t is growing GMAC Mortgage division vice president Paul Fein told MarketWatch. He was commenting on a recent survey conducted by Caravan Opinion Research Corp., for GMAC Mortgage which indicated only 7 percent of respondents knew a credit score of 800 or better gets the best rate while 62 percent admitted they did not know what score earned the best rates.“Some people understand it and some people have no idea that there’s this credit-scoring system,” Fein is quoted by MarketWatch as saying.
Tax

Accounting for Uncertain Tax Positions

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued an Exposure Draft on Accounting to Uncertain Tax Positions on Thursday, July 14, 2005. The Exposure Draft would apply to all tax positions accounted for in accordance with FASB Statement No.
Community News

AICPA’s Award-Winning Financial Literacy Campaign

The 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program developed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has received a 2005 Summit Award from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).

Lose Weight Build Wealth

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Federal Trade Commission to Receive ID Theft Data from Financial Firms

Financial service companies will soon be sharing consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other law enforcement agencies to help victims of identity theft. The Identity Theft Assistance Center (ITAC) will begin sharing identity theft information with these organizations in less than six weeks. The ITAC is operated by the non-profit Identity Theft Assistance Corporation and supported by 48 major financial service companies. ITAC will begin passing information to the FTC and the FTC will then distribute that information to national law enforcement organizations.
Tax

Have a Home and Exchange It, Too

Many people are making significant gains in today’s hot real estate market. They are also creating significant tax burdens for themselves. Two popular methods for reducing or eliminating these tax burdens are Section 121, the Home Sale Exclusion, and Section 1031, Like Exchange break. Section 121 allows a taxpayer to exclude gains (up to $250,000 individual or $500,000 married couple) realized on the sale or exchange of property owned and used as the taxpayer’s principal residence for at least two of the five years prior to the sale or exchange.
Tax

FEMA Wants $27M Back from Floridians

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says it has overpaid more than 6,000 Floridians whose homes were damaged by last summer's four hurricanes, and the agency wants more than $27 million back.FEMA is trying to recoup overpayments from 6,579 people who received federal aid after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne hit Florida last August and September. FEMA said it paid for items like generators and appliances that were later covered by property-insurance policies.

Celebrate Independence Day Close to Home

Even though summer only officially started June 21st, the Fourth of July holiday marks summer’s halfway point for many people. Rising travel costs, however, have many people looking for options close to home for the coming holiday weekend. “Once school is out, Summer’s the time to step back and take a different view of life,” says Ken Haller, M.D. assistant professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University and pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
A&A

eBay Accounting Assistant Available For Use With QuickBooks

The release of the eBay Accounting Assistant helps eBay sellers make better, more informed decisions. Developed using the QuickBooks® Software Development Kit, Accounting Assistant automatically downloads a seller’s eBay and PayPal transaction information into QuickBooks, allowing them to track their business financials and make better business decisions with greater ease. PayPal is an eBay company.According to Intuit, 80% of all small businesses use QuickBooks.

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