Personal Finance

Slow Growth for US Economy in 1st Quarter

The Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the broadest measure of the overall health of the American economy, grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent during the first quarter of 2005, down from 3.8 percent the previous quarter, according to the Commerce Department. The “pot hole” was blamed on reduced spending by consumers and businesses, probably compensating for higher energy prices.

The Fed's Gramlich Says New Law May Not Fix Predatory Lending

Legislation that would create a federal standard to curtail predatory mortgage lending may not result in system that is more friendly to consumers, says Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich.The House is considering two bills that would create federal rules to clamp down on predatory lending practices on mortgages and home equity lines of credit.
Tax

Too Many Tax Breaks? Commission Says: Yes!

President Bush’s Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform has concluded that Americans have too many deductions and tax credits available to them.

Mint to Produce 24-Karat Gold Coin

With demand for gold coins on the rise globally, the U.S. Mint announced plans this week to begin offering a new 24-karat gold bullion coin early next year, the Associated Press reported.The Mint currently offers a 22-karat American Eagle gold bullion coin, which contains 91.67 percent gold and the rest is made up of other alloys. To achieve the 24-karat tag, the new coin must contain 99.99 percent gold, the AP reported.The new coin will be the Mint's first 24-karat gold coin and is being made in response to investors demand for the purer gold coin.
Tax

REITs Offer Tax Advantages

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have lost some of the luster lately. Fear of larger tax bills and rising interest rates, have discouraged many investors from adding REITs to their personal financial plans. New research from the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (Nareit) and published in the Wall Street Journal (April 19, 2005, Eastern edition) indicates the tax burden may be lower than previously thought.By law, REITs have to pass a large portion of the income they generate directly to investors.

President Bush Signs New Bankruptcy Bill

President Bush on Wednesday signed legislation rewriting the nation’s bankruptcy law. The new law, opposed by consumer rights groups, makes it harder for debt-ridden consumers to wipe that debt out by declaring bankruptcy.
Technology

Getting Out of the Office Taxed at Almost 17%

If you are thinking of getting out of the office after tax season, you might not want to take your cell phone along. As light as the phones themselves have become, they carry a heavy tax burden.The average wireless tax burden is approximately 17 percent but can be as high as 20 percent. In four states (New York, Nebraska, Florida and Illinois) and the District of Columbia, more than 20 percent of the monthly bill goes toward federal, state, and local taxes and fees.
Education & Careers

National Pay Equity Day

April 19, 2005 is National Pay Equity Day. Each year the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) organizes one day dedicated to raising awareness about issues of unfair pay among women and people of color. Pay Equity Day is observed in April because that is how long into the current year a woman must work to earn the same as a man earned the previous year. A Tuesday was selected because that is the day when women’s wages catch up with men’s wages from the previous week.It is tempting to think that the wage gap no longer exists.

Survey: Future Retirees are Confident, but Shouldn't Be

Most Americans need a major reality check when it comes to their retirement.A survey of U.S.
Tax

Millions of Taxpayers to Request Extensions

Can you get an extension to file your tax return? Yes. Can you delay payment of any taxes due? No.Nearly 9 million taxpayers are expected to request four-month filing extensions, but the reprieves offered by the Internal Revenue Service don't include taxes owed, which still must be posted on April 15 to avoid penalties.Automatic extensions can be done with a phone call, a few mouse clicks or a single piece of paper, the Associated Press reported. When requesting an extension, taxpayers must estimate taxes due and include the a check or authorize an electronic bank withdrawal.
Tax

Tax Deadline: File Even if You Can't Pay

Small business owners who find themselves with a big tax bill and not enough money to pay for it must play it straight with the Internal Revenue Service, tax advisers say.True, you'll have to figure out how to pay, but don't give in to the temptation to file your return late.
Technology

QuickBooks Online Edition Wins Customer Service Award

Happy employees equal happy customers.This simple equation describes the philosophy at Intuit Inc.'s QuickBooks Online Edition, which recently won the top customer service award from the Service and Support Professionals Association, a trade group for the tech support industry.With less than 5 percent employee turnover for the year, 98 percent job satisfaction and customer satisfaction rates of 90 percent, QuickBooks Online Edition received SSPA's STAR Award for Best Practices in Managing People.SSPA Executive Director Bill Rose said the business demonstrated real innovations in organ
Technology

Adobe Surveys Taxpayers on Electronic Filing

A new survey released yesterday by Adobe Systems Incorporated found that American taxpayers are growing more comfortable with the Internet and more than half of those surveyed plan to file their taxes electronically this year.The survey of 1,000 U.S. taxpayers, which was done by phone during the week of Feb. 21.

Mental Accounting: How to Justify Spending That Can't Be Justified

We've all done it: Convinced ourselves that our tax refund is really “free money” and therefore can be spent on a big-screen TV, vacation or fancy dinners.Call it “intaxication,” defined by one clever Washington Post reader as “euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.”Intaxication may not be a real word, but the phenomenon is.
Technology

IRS Says E-Filing Growing More Popular

More taxpayers filed their taxes electronically this year than ever before.For the first time, the Internal Revenue Service predicts that more than half of all individual tax returns will be e-filed. Through March 25, 66 percent of all returns, or 49 million, were e-filed. The increase is 7 percent over last year. “More and more taxpayers are turning to e-file and other electronic programs,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson in a statement. “This shapes up as a really strong year.
Tax

Accountants Remain Untapped Resource for Many Real Estate Investors

Commercial real estate investors who don’t seek the advice of certified public accountants could be missing out on valuable tax savings according to a recent survey sponsored by Bayview Financial Exchange Services (also known as Bayview 1031).The survey of randomly selected readers of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) CPA Insider e-newsletter between February 8 and 22, 2005, found that clients do not tap their CPA’s knowledge of Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Tax

IRS Probes Nonprofit Sector

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Mark Everson has notified the Senate Finance Committee of his concerns about possible wide-scale evasion and abuse within the rapidly expanding nonprofit sector, the Washington Post reported."We can see that tax abuse is increasingly present in the sector," and unless the government takes effective steps to curb it, such organizations risk "the loss of the faith and support that the public has always given to this sector," Everson said in his letter, which laid out the abuses his agency has uncovered.

Supreme Court Protects IRAs in Bankruptcy Filings

If you are facing a bankruptcy proceeding, you can rest a little easier now that the Supreme Court has ruled your individual retirement accounts (IRAs) can't be seized.The court's unanimous decision puts IRAs on the list with Social Security benefits, 401(k)s and pension as assets that may not be touched by creditors in a bankruptcy case.However, President Bush has indicated his support for a bill working its way through Congress that would make it difficult for many people to declare bankruptcy, the Wall Street Journal reported.With more than 1.6 million people filing for bankruptcy
Tax

Analyst Predicts Stock Market Won't Take Annual April Dip

April is often a rough month for the stock market as Americans reach into their pockets-and their portfolios-to pay the taxman, but one analyst says that trend may be offset by higher-than-expected withholding rates, MarketWatch reported.Mark Hulbert, the founder of Hulbert Financial Digest in Annandale, VA, has been tracking the advice of more than 160 financial newsletters since 1980. In his MarketWatch column, Hulbert quoted Madeline Schnapp, a senior research analyst at TrimTabs Investment Research and editor of two of that firm's newsletters, TrimTabs Personal Income and TrimTabs U.S.
A&A

Certified Divorce Financial Analysts Ease the Way for Couples

Ending a marriage is a painful prospect for most couples but it becomes even more complicated for those with extensive financial assets. Enter the certified divorce financial analyst to simplify matters.The Springfield (MO) News-Leaders reported that more and more couples, especially those who own businesses together, are seeking the services of CDFAs to help them navigate the often-tricky path to divorce. The certification is offered by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, which was founded in 1993.

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