Money Matters - Simplified

Taxes

Poll: Tax rebate checks unconvincing

Princeton, N.J. -- Rebate checks sent to U.S. taxpayers have done little to convince consumers that the economy is doing well, Gallup researchers said Thursday.

Of those respondents in a recent survey who have received checks, 43 percent indicated the U.S. economy was in "poor" shape, Gallup said. Sixteen 16 percent of the respondents with rebate checks in hand indicated the economy was in "excellent" or "good" shape, Gallup said.

The figures were nearly identical to those who hadn't received checks.

Eighty-eight percent of those who have received checks indicated the economy was getting worse. Those without checks indicated the same view 86 percent of the time, Gallup said.

"Although reports indicate that May retail spending did increase ... rebate penetration was quite low as May began and had only reached about (one-third) of all adults by the time May ended," Gallup said.

Don't Kill Our Dividends


In May 2003, President Bush signed into law the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (JGTRRA), which reduced the tax rate on qualified corporate dividends and long-term capital gains to 15% (in most cases). Without an act of Congress, however, JGTRRA will not last beyond 2010.

Act Fast and Kiss Your Returns Goodbye


The market was not very kind as this year began. In the dawning months of 2008, the S&P 500 index continued a drop that began last fall, before recently recovering. While the market overall is down only 2% year to date, many individual stocks have suffered worse.

The Financial Earthquake That Never Happened


We've come to expect the Federal Reserve to ride to the rescue and shore up financial markets. But yesterday, similar help came from an unusual source: the Supreme Court.

European Union to close tax havens

Brussels -- Finance ministers from the European Union have agreed to rewrite rules on savings tax in an effort to curtail tax havens, EU's tax commissioner said Friday.

Tax Commissioner Laszlo Kovacs the new rules would be sensitive to Germany's input in the wake of a tax fraud investigation that encompassed 1,400 people, 600 of them from Germany, the EU Observer reported.

The changes would improve communication between banks and "orient the commission in what way we can … formulate amendments of the directive to close the loopholes, Kovacs said.

Germany estimates it losses $46 billion a year in tax fraud each year, the report said.

Copyright 2008 by United Press International.

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Taxes: True or False?

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When It Pays to Be Tax-Free

Investors who keep their cash in savings accounts have seen their interest rates cut quite sharply over the past few months. ING 's (NYSE: ING) ING Direct and HSBC 's (NYSE: HBC) HSBC Direct online savings accounts, for example, now shell out just 3.1% and 3.55% APY, respectively -- down from more than 4.5% last year.

Can You Make Money Paying Your Taxes?

Do you love doing your taxes? Me too. And the day we dread -- April 16 -- is not that far away, when we'll no longer be so focused on our taxes, and we'll have to wait another 11 to 12 months before preparing our next returns. It's awful, isn't it?

Tricks

It's a scene that too many people repeat every year: sitting at your desk on April 14, hunched over a pile of papers and forms, trying to make heads or tails of your taxes before the filing deadline.