Personal Finance

Tax

Motorists Told To Drive Less As Gas Prices Peak

President Bush and the American Auto Association (AAA) are telling us to reduce our driving and not buy gas if we don’t need it. Gas prices continue to rise especially overnight and the analysts keep saying prices are going to get higher so much that the analysts seem to be setting the price of gas. Deliveries to independent gasoline stations are slowing down and the major stations are controlling their greed by splitting hairs when queried.
Tax

Accounting and Tax Relief for Business Owners Hit by Katrina

The financial impact of Hurricane Katrina will not be known for many days, even weeks. But that is not stopping the Internal Revenue Service or the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) from doing what they can as fast as they can.The IRS is offering taxpayers immediate relief in those counties and parishes that have been declared disaster areas by President Bush. The deadlines for making employment and excise tax deposits has been extended to September 23 while those for tax returns and other tax payments have been extended until October 31.
Education & Careers

Teaching Financial Independence to the Next Generation

While some young adults know how to make money, they might not know how to manage it. Parents still usually control, or have a hand in controlling, their children’s personal and even their business finances. Protecting a grown child’s money may seem natural but with education costs, spiking home costs, not to mention rising loan and credit card debt, transitioning control might be the best idea.“What is new is the increasing number of young adults unable to succeed financially on their own,” said John Gallo, an estate-planning attorney speaking with the Associated Press.
Technology

Issues and Impacts of Email Security: Financial Webinar

Security breaches and identity thefts are appearing in the news almost every day. At the same time clients, customers and even staff are demanding access to services, data and even each other, around the clock. When you are dealing with financial information, these competing interests become even harder to balance.A panel of experts from the banking industry, arguably the leaders in providing secure access to financial information is coming together to help organizations understand and manage the impact of the dueling concerns.
Practice Management

New Roth 401(k) Option Will Be Offered in January

Employers can offer a new 401(k) retirement account starting January 1, 2006. The Roth 401(k) merges the traditional 401(k) account with the tax benefits of the Roth IRA. The new Roth 401(k) is funded using after-tax dollars and withdrawals from the account are tax-free while the traditional 401(k) is funded with pre-tax dollars and withdrawals are taxed as income. The Roth IRA has income eligibility limitations for single filers making more than $110,000 a year and joint filers making more than $160,000 yearly.

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).

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