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Thursday
Feb102011

US Airways Unloads Increased Fees on Heavy Luggage

Photo Courtesy - USAir [dot] com(TEMPE, Ariz.) -- Here's a little reminder for anyone planning to fly US Airways in the near future: travel light.

The carrier announced a series of price hikes for passengers who insist on taking everything with them but the kitchen sink.

These new prices, which apply to flights purchased now for travel on or after March 1, mean bags weighing between 50 and 70 pounds will cost $90, up from $50.  Previously, people hauling bags weighing more than 70 pounds were charged $100.  But, effective immediately, the fee is now $175.

US Airways said that checked bags fees will remain at $25 and $35 for the first and second bags respectively.  However, the price of all bags checked after that jumps from $100 to $125 each.

So far, no other airlines has announced similar price hikes for overweight and oversized luggage sizes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb102011

IRS Establishes Initiative for Taxpayers Hiding Assets Offshore

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Internal Revenue Service announced a new voluntary disclosure initiative intended to "bring offshore money back into the U.S. tax system" allowing people with undisclosed income hidden overseas to "get current with their taxes," the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

According to the limited-time offer, Americans who have been hiding money in offshore accounts have until August to fess up and avoid jail time.  The initiative would require those who come forward to pay back taxes, interest and reduced penalties. 

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said the risk to individuals hiding assets offshore is increasing due to new laws forcing foreign banks to hand over information on American depositors.

Taxpayers have until the Aug. 31 deadline to file "all original and amended tax returns," the agency stated.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

Facebook Opens Office in Hong Kong, Second in Asia

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HONG KONG) - Social networking giant Facebook is set to expand its global operations with an office in Hong Kong, reports the BBC.

The office will be its second in Asia after one was opened in Singapore last year. The site, however, continues to be banned from operating in China where the company would have access to an additional 450 million Internet users.

Facebook currently has 500 million users worldwide.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

Activision to Disband 'Guitar Hero' Franchise

Photo Courtesy - Activision(NEW YORK) - Amid a drop in revenue, the maker of the popular video game Guitar Hero plans to disband the franchise, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Activision Blizzard Inc. reported a drop in net revenue to $1.43 billion, down from $1.56 billion. The Call of Duty: Black Ops publisher also reported a $233 million loss in shares, although adjusted earnings of 53 cents per share beat analyst expectations.

The companies outlook for the current quarter is falling short of industry expectations as shares drop in after-hours trading.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

Big Banks to Charge Fees for Low Checking Balances

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) - If you don't have a large amount of cash in your checking account, you may have to start paying a hefty fee to keep it, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Four of the country's largest banks - Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Citibank - will start charging monthly fees to customers who carry a low balance in their checking accounts. The charges could add up to as much as $100 a year.

"Wealthy consumers will be able to avoid these charges by maintaining high balances," Jeremy T. Rosenblum, a Philadelphia lawyer and consumer finance specialist, told the Los Angeles Times. "But for the poor and moderate-income people whose balances are lower, it's going to be much harder to avoid these fees."

The new fees are likely the result of new regulations on the banking industry that limit late fees and overdraft penalties that provided billions in revenue to the banks each year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

Bernanke: Could Take 10 Years For Unemployment to Go Down

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A sobering assessment on how long it may take to reduce unemployment has come from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
 
He warned congress it could take four years or more and up to 10 years to reduce unemployment to what he called normal levels.
 
Bernanke told congress that despite a sustained economic recovery, reducing unemployment will be painfully slow.    

Urging reform of the tax laws, and a plan to reduce the deficit, the fed chairman expressed some optimism that an economic recovery may help. "We have seen increased evidence that a self-sustaining recovery in consumer and business spending may be taking hold," said Bernanke.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

Nissan Reports 78 Percent Jump in Profits for Third Quarter

Photo Courtesy - Nissan North America(TOKYO) -- A day after Toyota reported a bad third quarter, Nissan announced the opposite news.

Nissan's latest financial report released Wednesday shows profits for the Japanese automaker jumped 78 percent in the third quarter, compared to the same time period the previous year.  Nissan said its net profit was 80.1 billion yen -- the equivalent of $972 million -- for the three months leading to the end of December.  During the same time last year, the automaker profitted 45 billion yen.

Nissan said strong sales in North America and Asia helped offset sluggish sales back home in Japan.

The company also raised its vehicle sales forecast for the full year -- up 19 percent from the previous fiscal year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

Sprint Unveils First Dual-Touchscreen Smart Phone

Photo Courtesy - Sprint(NEW YORK) -- Amid Verizon's acquisition of the iPhone, Sprint is stepping up its game, announcing the first dual-touchscreen smart phone to be sold in the wireless market.

On Monday night, the wireless provider unveiled the Kyocera Echo, a two-screen smart phone that uses Android software.  The phone will feature two 3.5-inch screens that will operate independently from each other, allowing users to to multi-task or drag elements from one screen to the other.

The Echo will be available exclusively through Sprint this spring and will go for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year contract.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

Tax Tip: Using Filing Software? Make Sure It's Up To Date

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A growing number of taxpayers are becoming increasingly comfortable using computer software to file their returns.

“It’s going to guide you through it, help you find things that you might not have thought of on your own, and have all of the checks in there to make sure that your math is accurate,” said H&R Block’s Kathy Pickering.  “You’d be surprised how many people make simple math errors.”

Proponents of tax-filing software say it’s easy to file electronically.

“If you choose direct deposit as well, that’s when you can get your refund in as few as 10 days,” said Jodie Reynolds at the IRS.

A note of caution: because last year’s tax bill was passed so late, many software makers were forced to ship their products before all the tax code was written.  Make sure to update your software before filing your claim.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb092011

IRS Giving Tax Evaders a Second Chance Again

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Americans who cheated on their taxes and fled the U.S. rather than pay their debts to Uncle Sam are being offered partial amnesty by the Internal Revenue Service.

In a plan announced Tuesday, the IRS says the agency is giving scofflaws outside the country the opportunity to settle their tax bills with the government and pay reduced fines without serving jail time under a new voluntary disclosure program that expires Aug. 31.

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman remarked that these tax evaders can either do it the easy way or they can make things tougher for themselves.

Shulman delivered the following message to citizens who've hidden their assets elsewhere: "If we find you, you face harsher penalties and the possibility of jail time.  If you come in voluntarily, you pay a steep price but avoid going to jail."

This new program isn't quite as forgiving as a 2009 program that found 15,000 tax cheats living abroad with offshore accounts.  In all, about 2,000 of those cases have been closed with the IRS getting back approximately $400 million.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio