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Wednesday
Apr062011

Tax Tip: Deducting for Charitable Donations

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Giving money to your favorite charity qualifies as a tax deduction, but "the key is if you make a charitable contribution, get a receipt or make sure your bank account shows who you've made a charitable contribution to," says Eric Smith with the IRS.

The money must go to a registered nonprofit group, religious organization or charity.

Have you donated clothing to organizations like Goodwill or the Salvation Army?

"If you can keep a list of -- 'Okay, there were four pair of pants and two shirts and the pants are valued at $3 and the shirts are at $2.'  That would be really good documentation to be able to provide."

Expenses involved in charitable work may also be deductible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

UCLA Studies Show Stigma of Joblessness Is Immediate

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Economists have known for years that long-term unemployment can greatly reduce a person's chances of finding another job.  But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have found that the stigma of being unemployed begins the minute the person walks out the door.

"We're finding that people actually judge the unemployed as not good people compared to the employed," Geoffrey Ho, a doctoral candidate in human resources who led three studies of the psychological burden borne by the unemployed, said in a telephone interview.

It's not new that potential employers tend to shy away from hiring someone who has been unemployed for a long time.  The longer a person is out of work, the less likely it is that he or she will ever find another job, according to many studies.  That's partly because of "skill decay," especially in high-tech fields where the game can change on a daily basis, but it's also because of nagging doubts over the abilities, competence and confidence of a person who is unable to find work for months or even years.

What's new, however, is the finding that a worker's stock begins to decline immediately.  It's not a huge drop, at least initially, but it's significant, according to the UCLA studies.

The first two studies drew from UCLA databases, and most of the participants were students, who presumably have little or no experience in hiring people.  But the third was from a national database maintained by Amazon and widely used by researchers.  It is believed to be representative of the nation as a whole.

Participants in all three studies were given resumes from job seekers which told much about their lives, such as education, work record, experiences, and other factors.  Some of the participants were told the applicant was still employed.  The rest were told that he or she had been unemployed for just a few days.  The only difference was whether the person was still employed.

The participants were asked to rate the applicant on competence, including whether the person seemed confident, capable, efficient, intelligent, and skillful.  They were also asked if the person is friendly, good natured, sincere, trustworthy, warm and well intentioned.

"We were surprised to find that, all things being equal, unemployed applicants were viewed as less competent, warm and hirable than employed individuals," Ho said.  "We were also surprised to see how little the terms of departure mattered.  Job candidates who said they voluntarily left a position faced the same stigma as job candidates who said they had been laid off or terminated."

Only when the job loss was in no way attributable to the individual, such as bankruptcy by the employer, did the disadvantage of being unemployed disappear, the researchers said. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr062011

Get Cash, Gift Cards by Trading in Your Old Gadgets

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Many consumers who have old cell phones, e-readers, laptops and video games lying around could be banking on them if they turned them in.

Several websites, like Gazelle.com, pay consumers in cash or gift cards for trading in their old gadgets.  You simply need to answer a few questions on the site and then "they will literally send you a box, they'll send you a prepaid shipping label and they'll just take your item back," says ABC News' Technology Contributor Andrea Smith.

Nextworth.com is another such site, which has a partnership with retail giant Target.  Consumers looking to turn in their old devices with Nextworth can go to a Target store and "they will right there on the spot give you a Target gift card," says Smith. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

AMC's 'Smart MovieSnacks' Provide Healthier Options for Movie Patrons

AMC Theatres(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- AMC Theatres announced this week that moviegoers will be able to make healthier choices with the addition of the entertainment company's AMC Smart MovieSnacks.

The snack pack, now available at all AMC Theatres in the U.S., will include Chiquita Fruit Chips, a 20 oz. Dasani water, an Odwalla Bar Chocolate Chip Trail Mix and PopCorners popped corn chips.  AMC notes that each included snack consists of all natural ingredients, vitamins and other nutrients.

"At AMC, we are all about giving our guests choices -- in the type and format of entertainment they watch and the food and beverages they consume," AMC Senior Vice President George Patterson said in a written statement.

According to Patterson, AMC recognizes that some guests desire more options beyond the traditional concession offerings.

The company selected the included items after testing hundreds of products, with a guest panel modeling Smart MovieSnacks on the school competitive food and beverage guidelines of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation.

The bundled snacks will be available to AMC patrons for $7.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Alabama Math Whiz, 9, Launches Web Business

Comstock/Thinkstock (FLORENCE, Ala.) -- Silicon Valley superstars, you'd better watch out. Your next big competitor might not be a college dropout, but a grade school whiz kid.

Last month, nine-year-old Maggie Huang of Florence, Alabama, started her very own business. And it wasn't a lemonade stand or cookie table set up outside her house, but a Web startup called SmartMaggie.com.

"It's about business stuff and you can post problems on it," she said. "[Visitors] can ask about a general business problem -- installing [Microsoft] Access questions and mathematics questions. Stuff like that."

Want some help tackling Microsoft Office's database software? Or building your own website? Or even answering basic math questions? Maybe Maggie can help.

So far, the young site hasn't attracted too much attention and, for now, Maggie said she'll answer questions for free. But she said she'll consider charging customers for services once the business takes off.

"I just, like, make websites and Web design [and] create databases and then they pay me," she said.

Like your average fourth grader, Maggie said she likes to play soccer, watch the Disney Channel and read. But when it comes to math, the young entrepreneur is hardly average at all.

Yingping Huang, Maggie's father and associate professor of computer science at the University of North Alabama, said she first showed her talent as a toddler. At three, he said, she figured out how to multiply seven by seven by counting it all out in her head. "She amazed me," he said.

Since then, he's supplemented her school lessons with his own instruction, even teaching her some college-level math.

The University of North Alabama even made a special exemption to allow Maggie to join an "early scholars" math program reserved for middle and high school students. She also recently won second place in the international Math Kangaroo competition and is among the youngest certified Microsoft Office Specialists in the world, Huang said.

SmartMaggie.com was intended to be an extension of her education, he said. So with some help from the local business development center, he said they helped Maggie launch SmartMaggie.com, LLC.

Maggie said she's not certain about her future career plans, but said she'll "probably" keep working with computers and math.

But if she decides to try her hand at tech startups, she's already learned one key lesson: "Making a business does take a lot of patience, because sometimes you don't get the work and you have to wait until something happens," Maggie said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Markets Mixed at Tuesday's Close

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It was a mixed finish for the markets Tuesday as investors are still digesting the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest meeting.

The Dow closed down six points, the Nasdaq gained two and the S&P lost a fraction of a point.

The Federal Reserve says a big jump in energy prices could weaken the economy and unleash inflation.  As a result, credit could be more difficult to come by this year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Southwest Emergency Landing: Boeing Knew of 737 Crack Problem

David Madison/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- Aviation giant Boeing admitted on Tuesday that it was aware of weaknesses in its 737 classic jets, but it never expected a 15-year-old Southwest Airlines jet to crack open in mid-flight.

In a conference call with reporters, Boeing officials acknowledged that they knew of problems with the lap-joint that binds together the fuselage of the plane, but they didn't expect the problem to surface until the 737 jets had experienced many more takeoff and landing cycles.

"Our plan was to recommend inspections at 60,000 cycles. Obviously, none are close to that at this point in time," said Paul Richter, the chief project engineer for Boeing's 737 classic. "It is regrettable that we had to accelerate our plans based on an event of this nature."

The 15-year-old Southwest Airlines jet, which tore open along its lap joint last Friday, had only 39,000 takeoff and landing cycles.

Boeing's 737 classics were manufactured from 1984 until 2000. In 1993, Boeing redesigned its 737 due to problems with the lap-joint design, but the problem Southwest jet was manufactured after that redesign.

Boeing will now recommend that all 737 jets that cross the 30,000-cycle threshold be inspected for fatigue cracks. The inspections are to be repeated after every 500 flight cycles.

The number of affected jets now stands at 175 worldwide, though that will eventually climb to over 500 jets as the 737s age and acquire more flight cycles.

Boeing said that the newer 737 currently in production has a different lap-joint design and should not experience cracking.

Boeing's admission comes as the federal government prepares to order emergency inspections on those 175 jets and considers a wholesale reassessment of its approach to plane inspections. Inspections will initially focus on 175 planes, used by airlines around the world, that make frequent takeoffs and landings. Eighty of the planes are in service in the United States, most of them for Southwest Airlines.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Geithner: Raise Debt Ceiling or Risk Another Financial Crisis

Lauren Victoria Burke/ABC NEWS(WASHINGTON) -- In testimony Tuesday before a Senate Appropriations panel, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner again emphasized to Congress that failure to raise the country’s debt limit would have “catastrophic” consequences and make the recent financial crisis appear “modest in comparison.”

“Default by the United States would precipitate a crisis worse than the one we just went through. I think it would make the crisis we went through look modest in comparison. It would force us of course to cut critical payments to our seniors and it would be a reckless, irresponsible act to this country. I find it inconceivable that the Congress would not act to increase the limit.”

The Treasury boss then said that if lawmakers do not raise the debt ceiling, it could cause a number of “inconceivable” consequences, such as a dramatic rise in unemployment.

“It would be catastrophic. I mean, if you call into question the willingness of the government of the United States to meet its obligations, you will shake the basic foundation of the entire global financial system. It is inconceivable that America would do that. And of course I am totally confident that Congress will act to avoid that,” Geithner said.

“It will raise dramatically the borrowing costs permanently for all Americans. Every business for a very long period time would face a much higher cost of borrowing. Every family would face a much higher cost of borrowing. Unemployment would rise dramatically. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of businesses would fail. And of course you would shake the confidence of the world in U.S. financial assets and Treasuries. It would be a deeply irresponsible act, again inconceivable.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Toyota Denies Reports It's Shutting Down American Plants in April

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Despite reports that Toyota will close down all of its North American plants later this month, the Japanese automaker has denied these claims, saying that no such decision has been made.

In a statement released Monday, Toyota said, "Contrary to recent headlines, nothing has changed from our update from March 23 regarding our North American operations."

That update stated production interruptions at its 13 North American plants are "likely" but that it was "too early to predict" where the interruptions will take place and how long they will last.

Toyota added that it continues to assess their supply base in Japan following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Apr052011

Report: 10 Fastest-Dying US Industries

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- If you had to warn away some earnest youth from choosing a doomed career, which should it be?

A new report by the market research company IBISWorld names 10 U.S. industries, which, if not actually dead, are heading that way fast.  Some, such as manufactured housing, theoretically could get better and enjoy a healthy future.  Others, though, such as record stores, cannot.

"While the U.S. economy is headed further into recovery, not every industry is performing well," writes the report's author, Toon Van Beeck.

Every industry, he says, goes through its own lifecycle -- growth, maturity and decline.  IBIS combed its data base of some 700 industries and studied 200 that were in decline.  From those it identified 10 that it considers "standouts."

All the following, says Van Beeck, are "on the verge of extinction:"

1. Record retailers
2. Dealers in manufactured housing
3. Wired telecommunications carriers
4. Textile mills
5. Newspaper publishers
6. Apparel manufacturers
7. DVD, game and video rental stores
8. Providers of video postproduction services
9. The photofinishing industry
10. Renters of formal wear and costumes

Any company or industry, of course, can suffer a temporary setback.  But companies in the 10 industries fingered by IBISWorld suffer from illnesses more intractable and lasting.

All 10 industries are in long-term decline.  From 2000 to 2010, each experienced a sizeable contraction both of revenue and of its total number of establishments.  Looking forward, further deterioration in both is forecast for each industry between now and 2016.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio