The state of Missouri has about one payday or car-title lender for every 4,100 residents. The interest rate on short-term loans has an average APR of 455% statewide, when the national average is a still-horrific 391%. When a coalition of churches, unions, and community groups tried to cut the maximum interest rate to 36%, the effort failed miserably. Here’s why. [More]
Delta isn’t great about letting passengers volunteer to be bumped off an oversold flight instead of just bumping them by force. The company just doesn’t have enough CEOs to go around and offer seats to people who need to get home. Don’t take our word for it: the U.S. Department of Transportation gave them a public reprimand and ordered the airline to pay a penalty of $750,000. [More]
“I spotted this confused creamer at breakfast,” Jake wrote in an e-mail to Consumerist. “Glad I’m not lactose intolerant.” While it’s labeled “non-dairy,” it also has a milk allergy warning. How does that work? [More]
Are you a property owner? If someone sends you a solicitation or a bill asking for money in exchange for a copy of your deed, throw it away. That isn’t a thing. [More]
Boot camp-style fitness classes that meet outdoors in parks are a much more fun way to exercise than staring at your own sweaty face in a mirror. Do they affect life in the park enough that cities should require them to get permission before setting up shop and pay fees? The city of Santa Monica, California thinks “maybe,” and is considering such a policy.
You might find your novelty weapon-shaped cigarette lighter hilarious and totally innocent, but do you know who doesn’t agree with you? The Transportation Safety Administration. This didn’t occur to a passenger changing planes in Miami on his way to Haiti from Boston, and an entire concourse at Miami International Airport got shut down briefly this morning when the TSA noticed a grenade-shaped object in his carry-on.
It was pretty exciting for our household back in 1992 when Tax Dad got his first home office computer, and was able to use a primitive version of TurboTax to prepare his clients’ returns, instead of using a typewriter. In these days of Web filing, tax software from 1991 looks positively antiquated.
Here’s something to keep in mind as you wait in line at 11:30 PM on April 15th: filing your taxes could be so, so much easier. Bills have been put before Congress that would let taxpayers choose to have the Internal Revenue Service calculate their taxes due for them, and send them a bill or cut a refund check accordingly. Only there are companies lobbying to keep things exactly as they are. The biggest spenders aren’t accounting firms, or even Big Tax Cat. It’s Intuit, the maker of popular tax-filing program TurboTax. The company has spent more than $11 million lobbying to keep tax returns around forever. [More]
It’s been a month of change since the Dec. 14 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman. The alleged gunman also reportedly played video games, some of which are violent. That association with violence and guns has many in the government worried, including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, which has subsequently pulled nine video games from the state’s rest area plazas. [More]
Is a promotion offering discounts to customers who bring in a “current church bulletin” discriminatory or unfair to people who aren’t religious? One Pennyslvania restaurant won’t remove or re-word their 10% off promotion for churchgoers, saying that it’s helped business on Sundays. It has, but it also got the attention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Depending on your point of view, Joseph Caramadre of Cranston, R.I. is either an opportunist who scammed the terminally ill, or a great philanthropist who found a win-win loophole and made last few months of the dying easier and more comfortable. The federal prosecutors who charged him with wire and mail fraud leaned toward the former. [More]
At a time of fiscal crisis for governments everywhere, Adam has sort of an unusual problem. He wants his state government to take his money. He says that he paid his taxes on time, back in April, and they’ve come after him for penalties and interest because they seem to keep losing the checks that he sent them. Yes, checks, multiple. [More]
Sure, it’s not peak IRS season right now, but there is quite a variety of reasons that you might have to deal with the ever-present government agency anyway. Tax Cat is out of the office, vacationing at his offshore kitty condo in the Cayman Islands, so it’s up to reader Christopher, a tax preparer, to serve us up with handy tax advice. See, sometimes you have to call the IRS. You can’t avoid it. But so does everyone else in the country. What Christopher figured out is that the IRS call center doesn’t have fixed hours like most. Its open hours depend on what time zone you live in. His solution? Use a Google Voice number to fudge what time zone he’s in, and call late in the evening when the business day is done for most of the continental U.S.
News flash: you can’t work out by not working out. As we predicted in November, the Federal Trade Commission has settled with shoemaker Skechers over claims that their rounded-bottom Shape-Up shoes helped wearers to tone their lower-body muscles and lose weight. These claims were all over ads and promotional material for the shoes, including an ad that aired during the 2011 Super Bowl.
When Kat and her husband traded in their old Ford Focus, the dealership told them that they would be able to pay off the loan faster than the couple could. This was true, if by “faster” they meant “not at all.” See, Kat’s husband was wounded while serving in Afghanistan, and is due a $19,000 grant from the Veterans Administration to buy a vehicle. This grant is a check cut directly to the dealership. Two months later, the VA, acting with all of the swiftness and efficiency that government agencies are known for, hasn’t sent the check yet. Naturally, instead of actually contacting the couple about the issue, the dealership just went ahead and didn’t pay off the loan as promised. They won’t until the check from the VA shows up. This is affecting Kat’s husband’s credit, and is just generally rude.
Emily is a law student, and she spent last summer doing lawyer-type work and earning lawyer-type money. She mistakenly set up her withholding as if she were earning that much money year-round, though, so the government owes her a pretty sweet refund now that she’s returned to the poor, ascetic life of a student. She even filed her taxes super early so she can get that money back. Only the IRS has flagged her for extra-special review, delaying her refund, and no one she can get in touch with seems to care. “You should just get another job,” one helpful representative told her.
Accurate data entry is important. Need proof? Just ask the woman in Italy who was taken to the hospital for a dizzy spell after receiving a â‚¬32,000 ($44,500) parking ticket. How long does a car have to be parked to receive that kind of fine? About 1,800 years. Wait, what?
Buoyed by brisker consumer and business spending, The American economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.5% in the third quarter, according to a report released this morning by the U.S. Department of Commerce,