Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.

IRS: Over $1 Billion Owed to 1 Million Taxpayers for 2008

While your working on your taxes over the next few months, it may be a good idea to check and be sure that you filed your 2008 tax return. The Internal Revenue Service announced on Thursday that it has over one billion dollars in unclaimed tax refunds for the tax year 2008, and says the deadline for claiming these forgotten funds is April 17, 2012. (This year’s tax deadline is two days later than usual because...
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Housing Market Looking Up

The housing recovery has been slow and the small progress has often been hampered by a step or two backwards. But overall, industry experts generally speak positively about the direction of the real estate market.Last month, new home sales last month dipped 0.9% from December’s revised figures, but remain 3.5% above levels from January 2011, the National Association of Home Builders reported on Friday. Also, the inventory of new homes for sale continued to drop to...
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Health Savings Accounts

As the cost of health care continues to rise, consumers flocked to tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts in record numbers last year. J.P. Morgan Treasury Services said the average Chase HSA balance of $1,547 in 2011 is 4% higher than it was in 2010, and that the average balance of nearly $1000 for new Chase HSA accounts rose to its highest level in 7 years. The bank said that the average taxpayer in the 28% tax bracket...
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Pending Homes Sale Slip 3.5% in December

Pending home sales slipped 3.5% in December after reaching a 19-month high, but were 5.6% above levels from the same month in 2010, the National Association of Realtors reported on Wednesday. Pending home sales are contracts that have not yet gone to closing, and are a good indicator of sales to be completed within the next one to two months. The Pending Home Sales Index fell from 100.1 in November to 96.6 in December. An index...
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Tax Return Deadline Extended to April 17th This Year

Now that the holiday season has passed, it’s time to start thinking about the next big event - tax season. The Internal Revenue Service announced that the deadline for filing 2011 tax returns and paying any taxes due will be on a Tuesday, April 17th this year. You will have two more days because the normal tax due date falls on a Sunday and the 16th is Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of...
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Consumer Confidence Surges in November but Remains Historically Low

Amid better jobs reports and pre-holiday spending, consumers have a more positive outlook on the economy for the first time since summer.Consumers’ overall feelings about the economy surged in November, according to a report released by the Conference Board on Tuesday. Consumer confidence - which measures - rose in November to 56 from 40.9 in October. The Present Situation index rose to 38.3 from 27.1, and the Expectations index rose to 67.8 from 50.Says Lynn Franco,...
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Existing Home Sales Increase 1.4% in October

The inventory of existing homes on the market fell in October and the pace of home sales increased to a level 13.5% above what they were a year ago, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors on Monday.October sales rose 1.4% from the previous month, to a seasonally-adjusted annual pace of 4.97 million. At the current sales pace, there was an 8 month supply of homes on the market - down from...
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Big Banks Nix Plans to Increase Debit Card Fees

Several banks announced they will nix their plans to increase debit card fees in response to consumer outcry. Wells Fargo said in a statement on Friday that they will cancel their five-state pilot program for a $3 a month debit card fee. Ed Kadletz, head of Wells Fargo’s Debit and Prepaid Cards, said, “As we adjust to changes in our business, we will continue to stay attuned to what our customers want. This means understanding their...
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FTC: Drug Makers Continue to Delay Cheaper Generics for Consumers

Many cost-conscious Americans choose to opt-out of the prescription drug benefit with their health plan in order to save on their premium. I’m one of them. I’m generally healthy and don’t need medications on a routine basis - it only makes sense.I pay out-of-pocket for any medications prescribed to me, and I often skip filling the prescription altogether if I feel I don’t really need what the doctor ordered. So far no problems.But when I do...
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FHFA Announces Redesigned HARP to Help Underwater Borrowers

Homeowners who are strapped with loans that are more than their homes are worth may be able to get some help for their traditionally hard-to-refinance underwater mortgage. The Federal Housing Finance Agency on Monday announced changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) for loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. With input from lenders, mortgage insurers, and other mortgage participants, the agency has redesigned HARP in an effort to attract more borrowers that can...
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