Friday, March 04, 2005

in honor of tax season: money matters

The IRS reports the average refund is a couple of hundred dollars more this year. Nine percent increases across the board. The upswing is due to changes in the child tax credit, in part.

How to spend the refund?

MoneyCentral has ideas for your wallet. Increase your insurance deductible, put the dif in your savings acct. Lower insurance bills-- you'll still have money in your bank account to pay a higher deductible if you take a loss on something.

There's a number of other "tips" they offer that sound obvious to me. Pay down your credit card debt, make a house payment.

Please don't fall for these asinine Instant Tax Refunds...

They're loans. Some have interest rates of more than 100 percent. IRS E-file allows you a much faster refund, so there's no need for a high interest loan, even if you're in a big rush. Has anyone taken the bait on this? What was your experience?

In other areas...

The U.S. Senate is hammering out the details of Senator Ted Kennedy's bill that would raise federal minimum wage.

The Children's Defense Fund: Over 7.4 million workers today earn at or near the federal minimum wage. Of these, 5.3 million are adults (aged 20 or older) and 1.8 million are parents raising children under 18 years of age.

Contrary to a common perception, minimum wage jobs are not reserved for teens. In fact, most minimum wage workers are adults, and many are the key breadwinners in their families. Recent research shows that moderate increases in the minimum wage can help boost the earnings of many working poor families--including families leaving welfare for work--without resulting in a loss of job opportunities.

What about the cost threat to businesses, particularly the smaller ones?

With inflation, minimum wage buys less today than it did two decades ago.

States with a minimum wage higher than federal minimum. AFL-CIO has focused on state legislators of late, more than Congress, to get the wage laws passed.

Advocacy organizations for independent business groups are also fighting the state.