Last year, about 75 percent of Americans who filed tax returns received a refund. The average amount of those refunds was around $2,800. While many say they will use that money responsibly, recent data shows much of it is used for splurges. How do you plan to spend your 2012 tax refund? Remember, even though it is 2013, your tax refund is for the year 2012.
How you say you will spend your tax refund
According to a survey released in February by TD Ameritrade, 47 percent of those expecting a tax refund planned to use it to beef up savings. Meanwhile, [...]
As of this writing, tax filing day is one month away. Many of you still haven’t filed your taxes yet though, have you? You know who you are. If you were married last year and are still debating whether to file jointly or to check the “married filing separately” status, here is the lowdown.
When not to check “married filing separately”
In most cases, it makes sense for a married couple to file jointly. There are many reasons for this beyond that there is only one tax return to worry about preparing.
The figure at which the tax brackets begin for joint filing [...]
Following its disastrous campaign for the last presidential election, the Republican party has faced some bouts of self-examination, with many within the party calling for reform and greater acceptance of minorities if it wishes to be the party of the people it once flattered itself to be. Rand Paul himself recently said “The Republican Party leadership is stale and moss-covered.” Yet, if a recent Conservative Political Action Conference speech given by Marco Rubio, famous for guzzling water in the middle of his rebuttal to the President’s last State of the Union address, is any indication, those realizations are being ignored [...]
The Department of Veterans Affairs, a.k.a. the VA, is swamped with a growing backlog of claims, a recent probe found. As a result, many veterans are waiting a year or more to receive the benefits they earned in the service of their country.
VA backlog grows 2,000 percent in four years
According to a new report from the Center for Investigative Reporting, the average wait time for veterans filing claims is 273 days. For those filing initial claims,the wait is even longer, between 316 and 327 days. If those first time filers are in major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and New [...]
More than 600,000 taxpayers using H&R Block could see lengthy delays in the procession of their tax returns, due to a filing error. Most of those affected are college students. The delay could affect the applications for federal financial aid for many.
H&R Block blunder involves education credits
The delay has to do with those using Form 8863, used to claim education credits, filed before February 22, because of new methods the IRS is using to process the forms. Students wishing to claim the credit encountered earlier delays because of the changes, with the IRS not accepting filings using the form before [...]
According to a Commerce Department report on Wednesday, March 13, retail sales grew from January to February by the largest margin seen in five months, and nearly double what some economists had predicted. That gain is likely driven by improved labor and housing markets, as well as rising stock prices.
Retail sales increase a ‘positive indicator’
Consumer spending drives 70 percent of the economy, so it is encouraging that retail sales rose 1.1 percent last month. That may not sound significant, but it is the largest single month of such growth since last fall, and another indicator that the economy is getting [...]
It is getting very difficult to know who consumers can trust anymore. The Better Business Bureau has, for the last century, been held up as the one bastion of integrity consumers can turn to for the real scoop on businesses. Now, however, the Southern California chapter has been stripped of its BBB status for its alleged “pay to play” scheme, offering higher ratings for paid members.
Largest Better Business Bureau chapter ousted
BBB of the Southland, the nation’s largest Better Business Bureau chapter, served the greater Los Angeles area. However, in the wake of an ABC investigation, it has been expelled from [...]
One alternative to costly student loans — that can hound a young professional years into his or her career — are 529 college savings plans. Last year, the average balance of 529 accounts grew to a record total. Still, few are using them.
Record year for 529 accounts
A new report from the College Savings Plans Network — a non-profit affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers — says that the average 529 plan grew to a record $17,174 last year. That is a 12 percent gain from 2011. The nation’s total 529 investments grew to $190.7 billion, another record. A [...]
In spite of natural disasters and budgetary cutbacks, public transportation in the U.S. had a record year in 2012. Much of that was driven by higher gas prices, increasingly heavy traffic and a recovering job market.
The rise of public transportation
According to a new report from the American Public Transportation Association, Americans took 10.52 billion trips last year on buses, subways and trains. That is an increase of 1.49 percent from the previous year, and the second-highest ridership total since 1957. The only recent year to surpass it was 2008, at the start of the Great Recession.
An increase was seen across [...]
The United States, generally considered a first-world nation, is rapidly losing its standing if one consider the security and life-style of it average citizens after retiring from the work force. According to a new survey, the U.S. ranks low in terms of retirement security and even lower in healthcare.
Global retirement security indexed
A new report by Paris-based Natixis Global Asset Management examines “how well retired citizens live in 150 nations,” according to 20 measures, including wealth, healthcare costs and “quality of life.” It’s conclusions surprised even those who prepared the report. The United States, long considered the place of opportunities, ranked [...]
Unlike most retailers, Costco is siding with President Obama in his call to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. In fact, it would do the President one better, supporting a minimum hourly wage of $10.10.
New bill to raise minimum wage
In his last State of the Union address, President Obama recommended raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour. Since then, a new bill, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, has been introduced, seeking to raise it even higher, to $10.10 per hour, and thereafter indexing it keep up with inflation.
The federal [...]
Former President Bill Clinton is appealing to the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which he signed into law, essentially barring federal recognition of same-sex marriages by defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Flip-flopping on Doma?
As the Supreme Court prepares to take another look at the law later this month, Clinton says he now believes it to be unconstitutional. Under it, he said, “same-sex couples, who are legally married in nine states and the District of Columbia, are denied the benefits of more than a thousand federal statutes and programs available to [...]
An unexpectedly-positive jobs report, released by the U.S. Department of Labor on March 8, showed more jobs added to the economy than was anticipated in February. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate that economists say must fall before the economy can grow, fell, to its lowest point in more than four years.
Bright jobs report amid uncertainty
Our economy is a fickle one. Amidst the hew and cry over tax hikes and meat-axe spending cuts comes one of Wall Street’s greatest weeks, and, on its heels, one of the rosiest jobs reports in recent memory.
The unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9 percent in January, [...]
The idea of a “pot tax” would have been unthinkable even a few years ago. Yet, some lawmakers are contemplating just that, on state and federal levels.
The inevitability of a ‘pot tax’
Marijuana is now legal for recreational consumption in Colorado and Washington state. In addition, it is legal for medical use in 18 states and Washington, D.C. The tide is slowly turning as more and more Americans are supporting amnesty for the Outlaw Hemp. And with acceptance comes the inevitable — taxation.
Several pushes for a “pot tax” have been made recently.
Contribution for Colorado Kush
Colorado’s Amendment 64 Implementation Task Force met [...]
A video went viral of over the first weekend of March. It’s title, “Wealth Inequality in America,” says it all. It lays out, in clear, accessible graphics, that the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans is far more vast than most people have even imagined.
Wealth inequality hinders saving
The mantra of personal finance gurus is “save, save, save!” Yet, statistics, surveys and reports continue to tell us that U.S. consumers still haven’t gotten the message. That they continue to save at a much slower rate than people in other industrialized nations. According to Daily Finance, the average American family [...]
A recent study found that, in the last decade, the debt rate has decreased dramatically for American young adults. While that sounds encouraging on the surface, in fact it reveals a troubling economic trend. The reason for the decline is that the bulk of young adults just have too few assets and too little income to get substantial credit.
Debt rate falls, not a positive sign
According to the Pew Research Center’s study, released late last month, between 2001 and 2010, the debt level of young adults under the age of 35 fell by 14 percent. Conversely, the debt of those over [...]