Wednesday, January 26, 2011

IRS Provides I-Phone App

Source: IRS

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

FTC Offers Tips on Making the Most of Your Auto Warranty

Source: Federal Trade Commission

Can a dealer void your car’s warranty if you have someone else do routine maintenance on the vehicle?  The answer is no, and the Federal Trade Commission wants to make sure consumers know it.

Under federal law, it is illegal for manufacturers or dealers to refuse to honor a warranty or to deny coverage simply because someone other than the dealer did work on the car.  And dealers must be able to demonstrate that improper repair caused the damage that they refuse to cover.

The FTC, the nation’s consumer protection agency, offers these and other tips for American consumers to help them make smart decisions and get the most out of their auto warranties.  For example, if an independent mechanic improperly replaced a belt and the engine is damaged as a result, a manufacturer or dealer may only deny responsibility for fixing the engine under the warranty after demonstrating that the improper belt replacement – rather than some other defect – caused the engine damage.  However, the warranty would still be in effect for other parts of the car.

The same is true of ‘aftermarket’ parts made by a company other than the vehicle manufacturer or the original equipment manufacturer:  The manufacturer may not deny warranty coverage unless it can show that the aftermarket equipment caused the need for repairs.
Other tips from the FTC include:

  • Read the warranty that came with the car, or check the “Owners” section of the manufacturer’s website.
  • Be aware of when the warranty period ends, and get any problems that arise checked out beforehand.
  • Service the car at regular intervals, following the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule.
  • Keep all service records and receipts, regardless of who performs the service.  This includes oil changes, tire rotations, belt replacement, new brake pads, and inspections.  These receipts can be used to prove that the vehicle was properly maintained.
  • Complain if you believe yourwarranty claim has been denied unfairly.  Speak to a supervisor at the dealership, then go to the manufacturer or another dealer.  Consider filing a complaint with the state Attorney General, local consumer protection office, local Better Business Bureau, or the FTC.

The FTC works to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or get free information on consumer issues, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP ( 1-877-382-4357 ); TTY: 1-866-653-4261 . Watch a new video, How to File a Complaint, to learn more. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by more than 1,800 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Economics of the Dependent Exemption

Source: Urban Institute

Who Benefits From the Dependent Exemption?

Elaine Maag


The dependent exemption reduces taxable income by a fixed amount ($3,650 in 2010) for each qualifying child in the family. Benefits depend on a family's marginal tax rate. Low-income families receive a tax reduction of up to $365 per exemption compared to high income families that receive a tax reduction of $1,278 per exemption. Benefits flow mostly to families with relatively high incomes. In 2010, TPC estimates 1.5 percent of benefits will accrue to families in the lowest income quintile while 57.1 percent of benefits will accrue to families in the top 40 percent of the income distribution.

Read more.

Social Security: Lifetime Benefits and Costs

Source: Urban Institute

Social Security and Medicare Taxes and Benefits Over a Lifetime

C. Eugene Steuerle, Stephanie Rennane

Publication Date: January 03, 2011

How much will you pay in Social Security and Medicare taxes over your lifetime? And how much can you expect to get back in benefits? It depends on whether you're married, when you retire, and how much you've earned over a lifetime.

These tables provide estimates of the lifetime value of Social Security and Medicare benefits and taxes for typical workers in different generations at various earning levels. The "lifetime value of taxes" is based upon the value of accumulated taxes, as if those taxes were put into an account that earned a 2 percent real rate of return (that is, 2 percent plus inflation). The "lifetime value of benefits" represents the amount needed in an account (also earning a 2 percent real interest rate) to pay for those benefits.

View the tables: tables in PDF format | tables in Word format

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The New $100 Bill

Source: U.S. Treasury