Why the IRS may send you less money this year

The smartest insight and analysis, from all perspectives, rounded up from around the web:

“Millions of people are getting hit with a surprise tax bill,” said Matthew Yglesias at Vox. Twitter is aflame with outrage from early filers who typically get refunds and are instead finding they owe money for 2018, when the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul took effect. “We’re paying $5,000 more in taxes for 2018. Imagine our surprise! We voted for you …” said one typical tweet addressed to @realDonaldTrump. The truth is “somewhat more complicated.” Yes, a significant number of people are paying more. The average refund check so far is down 8 percent — $170 — from this time last year, and 4.6 million more filers this year are expected to owe money. The issue here, though, is the refund, not the total tax bite. Historically, 75 percent of tax-payers have overpaid and gotten refunds. But starting last year the Treasury Department adjusted withholding amounts so that most people had less deducted from their paychecks. Many people who typically got refunds now face a bill instead. So instead of pleasing voters, the tax law has created a horde of angry citizens convinced they’re paying more.

They’re very likely not, said Jim Tankersley and Matt Phillips at The New York Times. “Independent analyses, including by the Tax Policy Center in Washington, project that the vast majority of Americans received a tax cut from the new law in its first year.” Only 5 percent of filers are actually paying more as a result of the overhaul, and that includes high earners hit by the elimination of the state and local tax deduction. But fewer people claiming refunds has implications for the economy as well as for the GOP. Refund season typically brings an “injection …read more

Source:: The Week – Business


As dollar stores storm into cities, some see downsides

By Rachel Siegel | The Washington Post

TULSA, Okla. — Vanessa Hall-Harper, a lifelong resident of this city’s poorest area, has viewed the opening of dollar stores in recent years with trepidation. The stores were a reminder of the blight, she said, and they blocked grocers and others from opening. So when she was elected to the City Council, she fought back, ushering in restrictions on new stores.

“The community said, ‘We don’t want any more dollar stores,’” she said. “We need grocery stores, clothing, shoes — things that you need to live.”

Tulsa is one of several cities grappling with uncomfortable questions from the rise of dollar stores in urban America. These stores have gained attention as success stories in the country’s most economically distressed places — largely rural counties with few retail options. Two main chains, Dollar General and Dollar Tree (which owns Family Dollar), operate more than 30,000 stores nationally and plan to open thousands more, vastly outnumbering Walmarts and other retailers.

In cities, dollar stores trade in economic despair, with many residents saying they are a vital source of cheap staples. But as the stores cluster in low-income neighborhoods, their critics worry they are not just a response to poverty — but a cause. Residents fear the stores deter other business, especially in neighborhoods without grocers or options for healthy food. Dollar stores rarely sell fresh produce or meats, but they undercut grocery stores on prices of everyday items, often pushing them out of business.

In Tulsa and elsewhere, the questions are whether dollar stores are the last retail option for low-income America — and whether restrictions like Hall-Harper’s can make a difference.

The companies say their target customers depend on them for items as basic as toilet paper, especially in areas where no other retailers will venture.

“The Dollar General customer is …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


H-1B premium processing resumed for more applicants

Some companies left out after federal authorities last month resumed the “premium processing” option for certain H-1B applications will now receive the service.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration in April suspended premium processing, which costs $1,410 for processing within 15 days, citing a backlog and a surge in applications in recent years. The suspension applied to applications for H-1Bs subject to the annual cap of 85,000 new visas, which includes 20,000 visas for use by holders of a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. school. On Jan. 28, the suspension was partially lifted and the agency resumed premium processing for applications filed in April 2018 for the fiscal year 2019 visa lottery.

Now, the service has been resumed for H-1B applications filed on or before Dec. 21, 2018, the agency announced Friday. Still out in the cold are applications filed on Dec. 22, 2018 or afterward.

The agency initially said the suspension would last till Sept. 10, 2018, but then extended it, saying it would last through an estimated date of Feb. 19 of this year.

Silicon Valley technology companies rely heavily on the H-1B, pushing to increase the number of visas issued, arguing they need them for securing the world’s top talent. Critics point to reported abuses, and contend that tech firms and outsourcers use the H-1B to replace Americans with cheaper foreign labor. The H-1B program has become a target for the administration of President Donald Trump, which has boosted scrutiny of applications and imposed new policies, most recently by changing the lottery to favor applications for more highly educated graduates of U.S. schools.

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


WeWork unveils new downtown San Jose offices, eyes more sites in city

SAN JOSE — WeWork on Friday formally unveiled a new set of offices in downtown San Jose’s River Park Towers complex, using the event to announce that the office is the first California site of the co-working company’s endeavor to offer discount rates for startups and fledgling entrepreneurs.

This new office in River Park Tower, perched on the banks of the banks of the Guadalupe River, means WeWork now has 2,700 downtown San Jose members — employees of companies that sublease co-working spaces in offices that WeWork has leased.

“We have opened two locations in San Jose, and we are looking to double again in size here,” said Elton Kwok, general manager, Northern California for WeWork. Besides the River Park Tower operation at 333 W. San Carlos St., We Work also has leased a location at 75 E. Santa Clara St., both in downtown San Jose.

While not formally open, 152 N. Third St. as a third location for WeWork, according to the co-working company’s website. WeWork now is eyeing a fourth location it hopes to open by year’s end.

“We are looking for a location right now,” Kwok said.

The West San Carlos Street site also is home to an emerging WeWork concept: WeWork Labs has space on the fifth floor where it will offer discounts of 10 percent to startups and new entrepreneurs whose enterprises show promise.

Akin to the quest for affordable housing, the idea here is the affordable office.

“With WeWork Labs, we want to provide local entrepreneurs with resources so they can grow and succeed,” said Bailey Dodds, expansion manager North America for WeWork. “Our goal is to provide resources for startups, for high-growth new companies.”

Tech titans such as Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon, through combinations of property purchases and building leases, have gobbled up a vast amount of space in Silicon …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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