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Fed is expected this week to stick to low-rate policies

The U.S. economy is strengthening on the fuel of more job growth, rising home prices and solid retail sales. Just don’t expect the Federal Reserve to let up in its drive to keep stimulating the economy with record-low interest rates.

Not yet, anyway.

Read more at The Washington Post…

Volatile gas prices drove the CPI up sharply last month

The Labor Department reported on Friday that consumer prices rose in February by the fastest rate since 2009. Last month, the consumer price index grew by 0.7 percent. That’s up from zero-percent price growth in both January and December.

Read more at US News…

Rising Gas Prices Deliver Another Blow to Consumers

Will the average family have anything left to spend on extras?  For many, the return of the 2 percent payroll tax was enough of a setback.  Now, with gas topping $4 a gallon in some areas, consumers are scrambling to pay the pump…and the rest of their bills.

After 32 straight days of increases, gas prices could scuttle more than a household budget— they could sink the fragile economic recovery.

Read more at The Fiscal Times…

Are you doing a quarterly retirement plan loan checkup?

With a down economy, many employers are seeing an increase in loan requests from retirement plan participants.  With an increase in loan requests comes an increase in loan administrative concerns.  In fact,IRS officials have informally stated that they are seeing an increase both in loan applications and in loan defaults.

Read more at Lexology…

‘Permanent’ transfer tax relief at last

For the first time in more than a decade, Congress has enacted a permanent set of estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax rules. While Congress can always change the law, there is no automatic “sunset” or change built into the current law.

Read more at Lexology…

New HIPAA regulations will require providers to revise notices of privacy practices

Since the publication of the final HIPAA Omnibus Rule (the “Omnibus Rule”) on January 17, 2013, health care publications have been replete with summaries highlighting changes. What seems to be lacking, however, are practical pointers on what Covered Entities need to do to come into compliance with the new regulations by the compliance deadline, September 23, 2013. One HIPAA-driven form which will certainly require updating due to changes in the regulations is the Covered Entity’s Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP).

Read more at Lexology…

Hackers Are Multiplying and Targeting the U.S.

Editors note: This story mostly focuses on shoring up vulnerabilities of government agencies and large corporations, but small and medium businesses need to take the threat seriously as well. Here’s the story…

Dire warnings from Washington about a “cyber Pearl Harbor” envision a single surprise strike from a formidable enemy that could destroy power plants nationwide, disable the financial system or cripple the U.S. government.

But those on the front lines say it isn’t all about protecting U.S. government and corporate networks from a single sudden attack. They report fending off many intrusions at once from perhaps dozens of countries, plus well-funded electronic guerrillas and skilled criminals.

Read more at The Fiscal Times…

Penny Wise: Time to Kill the One-Cent Coin?

President Obama dropped a bombshell in an online “Fireside Chat” Thursday that could reverberate — and shatter piggy banks — across the nation. Our commander-in-chief, it seems, wants to do away with the penny. Each one-cent piece costs 2.4 cents to mint and distribute, so the U.S. government loses money every time it puts one into circulation. The savings from eliminating the copper and zinc coins won’t result in huge savings for the government, but it still makes sense, Obama says, as “anytime we’re spending more money on something that people don’t actually use, that’s an example of something we should probably change.”

Read more at The Fiscal Times…

Experts dispute value of Obama’s proposal to hike minimum wage

Advocates of a proposal to raise the minimum wage argue that it will lift millions of low-wage workers out of poverty, but opponents say the plan would have the opposite effect, killing jobs and making it more difficult for some to find work.

Read more at The Hill…

Taxpayers The IRS Is Targeting This Year

Out of the millions of tax returns that are filed with the IRS each year, a certain percentage are inevitably flagged and chosen to be audited. In some cases, this is because the taxpayer filing the return is already being investigated for tax fraud or other crimes, while other returns are merely selected at random. The formula that the IRS uses to flag returns for random audit, known as the Discriminant Function, is a highly classified secret known only to a few. However, there are several types of returns that the IRS tends to focus on in general. Filers with returns that fall into one of these categories must accept that there is a higher probability that they will be audited than other taxpayers. Some of the types of returns that the IRS tends to scrutinize more closely include:

Read more at Investopedia…

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