Money Matters - Simplified


New tax doubles cigarette prices in Illinois

The prices of cigarettes have skyrocketed in Illinois as the new tax on the commodity came into effect Sunday. The new levy has meant that an average smoker who shelled out 98 cents for a pack has to now dole out $1.98, an increase in excess of 100 percent.

Parents Aging? Here's How to Handle Their Finances

Your parents handled your finances with ease when you were young, it’s time you take charge of their finances and prevent any future financial troubles in their life.

Why Activision Blizzard's Earnings Are Outstanding

Although business headlines still tout earnings numbers, many investors have moved past net earnings as a measure of a company's economic output. That's because earnings are very often less trustworthy than cash flow, since earnings are more open to manipulation based on dubious judgment calls.

Snipes surrenders to begin prison sentence

Philadelphia -- Film star Wesley Snipes surrendered as ordered Thursday and is to begin his three-year sentence for tax evasion in a Pennsylvania prison, officials told TMZ.

"Wesley Snipes has self-surrendered to the minimum security Federal Prison Camp at the Federal Correctional Institution McKean, in Bradford, Pa.," said Traci Billingsley, chief public information officer for the Bureau of Prisons.

"Wesley Snipes has arrived and is at the prison facility in Pa.," added prison spokesman Ed Ross, TMZ said.

Gold slides with dollar index higher

New York -- Gold prices slid under $1,400 per ounce in New York, losing $17.60 or 1.2 percent Tuesday, as the dollar index rose 0.5 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost ground for the second consecutive day, dropping 3.03 points or 0.03 percent, as early gains prompted by an announced agreement to extend the George W. Bush era tax cuts failed to hold.

On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gold lost $17.60 to $1,398.50 per troy ounce. Crude oil prices for January delivery lost $1.19 cents to $88.19 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar was mixed in Asia and Europe. The euro fell to $1.3263 from Monday's $1.3314. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 83.48 yen from Monday's 82.66 yen.

Conrad: Tie tax cuts to tax reform

Washington -- Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said he would accept limited extensions of the George W. Bush tax cuts tied to tax reform.

Adding to a debate that is beginning to brew in earnest in the lame duck session of Congress in Washington, Conrad said, "I would go for changing the tax system fundamentally. And I'd have an extension (of the tax cuts) until that was accomplished," The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The fundamental breakdown of the debate has been Republicans favoring an extension of all the Bush-era tax breaks, including breaks for individuals earning over $200,000 or families with a net income over $250,000.

President Barack Obama favors the extension for all but the wealthiest taxpayers.

Most Commonly Ignored Tax Deductions

Our complex tax code often makes us hand over our hard earned money as taxes when in fact we were eligible for a deduction.

Watchdogs: Mistakes add up at supermarket

New York -- Consumer watchdogs say U.S. grocery stores frequently overcharge customers through scanning errors and by taxing non-taxable items.

The percentage of scanning errors range from the low single digits -- 3 percent found by watchdogs in California, 4 percent in Wisconsin and 5 percent in North Carolina -- to a quarter to half of stores checked -- in Vermont, 25 percent of stores were found to violate scanning regulations, and in a recent check in New York City found 50 percent of nearly 1,000 supermarkets failed to get the prices right at the register, ABC News reported Monday.

Crocodile Dundee free to leave Australia

Sydney -- Paul "Crocodile Dundee" Hogen is free to leave Australia after settling a tax dispute, his attorney says.

Hogan's lawyer issued a statement saying the actor will be allowed to fly back to Los Angeles but must provide security.

Hogen, who resides in Los Angeles with his wife and son, has been in a long running dispute with the Australian Tax Office over the amount of taxes he owes in Australia. He returned to Australia to attend the funeral of his mother when the Australian Tax Office placed a travel restriction on him and prevented him from leaving the county.

Hogen is best known for his performance as Crocodile Dundee -- the wise cracking crocodile poacher who travels to New York City.

Bagel shops shirking sliced tax

New York -- Several New York bagel shops are skirting the tax for sliced bagels and one says he landed in hot water with state authorities for not following the rule.

The state requires bagel shops to charge the 8.875 percent prepared food tax for sliced bagels -- a charge that does not cover unsliced bagels -- even without toppings, but some workers at stores including Daniel's Bagels and Murray's Bagels have been neglecting to the charge the tax for sliced bagels with no toppings, the New York Post reported Wednesday.