- Created on 23 October 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Here's more fallout from the government's partial shutdown: Early tax filers will have to wait an extra week or two to get tax refunds next year.
The Internal Revenue Service said Tuesday it will delay the start of next year's filing season by up to two weeks to give programmers time to finish updating the agency's computers.
The 16-day shutdown, which ended last week, came at a critical time as the agency was working to update more than 50 systems used to process returns, the IRS said in a statement.
The filing season had been set to start Jan. 21. Acting IRS head Danny Werfel said the agency is working to shorten the delay and will announce the exact start date in December.
The delay will affect early filers, many of whom rush their returns to the IRS so they can get refunds quickly.
The April 15 deadline for filing individual tax returns, which is set by law, remains unchanged.
"Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right," Werfel said. "The adjustment to the start of the filing season provides us the necessary time to program, test and validate our systems so that we can provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation's taxpayers."
This is the second year in a row the agency will have to push back the date when it starts processing tax returns. This year, the agency delayed filing season until Jan. 30 for most filers because Congress made last-minute changes to the tax law.
Federal income tax refunds averaged more than $2,800 this year. The IRS issued more than $228 billion in refunds this year. Most of that money was issued before March 1.
- Created on 22 October 2013
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, introduces the new iPad Air on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo / /Marcio Jose Sanchez)
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple unveiled a new, thinner, lighter tablet called the "iPad Air" along with a slew of new Macs ahead of the holiday shopping season as it faces growing competition from rival gadget makers.
The Cupertino, Calif. company made the announcements Tuesday at an event in San Francisco. The iPad Air weighs just 1 pound, compared with 1.4 pounds for the previous version. Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller called the tablet a "screaming fast iPad." He said it is eight times faster than the original iPad that came out in 2010.
The iPad Air will go on sale Nov. 1 and start at $499 for a model with 16 gigabytes of memory, while the iPad 2 will continue selling at $399. A new iPad Mini, meanwhile, will be available later in November starting at $399 for a 16-gigabyte model.
The iPad's market share has been eroding compared with cheaper rivals running Google Inc.'s Android operating system. Research firm Gartner Inc. estimates that Android tablets will end 2013 with a 50 percent share of the worldwide market versus 49 percent for the iPad. Just two years ago, the iPad commanded a 65 percent market share compared to 30 percent for Android tablets.
Apple sold 14.6 million iPads in the June quarter, down 14 percent from the same time last year. It was the first year-over-year decline in iPad sales. Nonetheless, Apple CEO Tim Cook touted that Apple has sold 170 million iPads since the tablets launched three years ago.
Apple also refreshed its computer lineup. A new, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is thinner and lighter, Schiller said, adding that the laptop has up to 9 hours of battery life, enough to "watch the entire trilogy of 'The Black Knight' on one charge." The notebook's new price is lower: $1,299, compared with $1,499 for the previous version.
A larger MacBook Pro, with a 15-inch monitor and 256 gigabytes of storage starts at $1,999, compared with $2,199 for the previous version.
The Mac Pro, a high-end desktop computer aimed at what Apple calls "power users," will be available in December for $2,999.
The company also said that its latest computer operating system, Mavericks, is available free of charge.
Apple also says nearly two-thirds of its mobile devices are running iOS7, the revised operating system it released in September. Twenty million people have listened to iTunes Radio about a month after its release.
- Created on 21 October 2013
With a new iPad likely around the corner, iPad trade-ins are on the rise -- and selling prices are falling fast.
Companies like Gazelle and NextWorth, which buy used electronic devices, say they're experiencing a surge of customers trading in their old iPads. The spike began Tuesday, when Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) announced it has an upcoming event Oct. 22. Apple is widely expected to be giving its tablet its first big redesign in more than a year and a half.
At Gazelle, iPad trade-ins have soared to their highest level this year. IPads now make up 20% of items traded in on Gazelle's website, up from 11% a week ago.
"Previous generations all look the same," said Anthony Scarsella, Gazelle's chief gadget officer. The new iPad could have more processing power, a better camera and even use Apple's latest Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
Meanwhile, NextWorth saw its weekly iPad trade-ins more than triple this week.
But consumers looking for a good deal had better act fast, lest they be affected by the basic forces of economics. The surge in supply of trade-in iPads means trade-in prices are dropping.
Data provided by NextWorth show that iPad prices drop after Apple unveils a new tablet - and even more when a new iPad hits store shelves. Last year, trade-in values for the iPad dropped 4% when Apple unveiled its latest-generation iPad in October. The trade-in price fell by another 10% when the tablet hit store shelves in November.
If you're trading in: Let's say you've got a mid-range iPad 2 (black, 32 GB with WiFi) in good condition -- but not flawless. Last year, that could have fetched $300. How about now?
CNNMoney looked at the prevailing prices online Wednesday:
Amazon: If you're willing to wait around for a buyer, you post your iPad for sale on Amazon and easily sell it for $350. Amazon also has a trade-in program, offering $189.
Apple: Probably the worst deal out there, because of how restrictive it is. The Apple Reuse and Recycling Program offers $136 -- but only in the form of an Apple Store gift card.
Gazelle: $190. It's also more forgiving on nicks and scratches.
NextWorth: $180. It's also accommodating on the tablet's condition.
Best Buy: This one's a bit tricky, because "good" is the best listed condition. But if it's "fair," you only get $130.
GameStop: After an in-store inspection, you can choose between $161 in cash or a $202 in store credit.
RadioShack: $150 if you include the power adapter.
SellOldiPad.com: $269. You'll get your money faster if you send it in your own box instead of waiting for the company to ship a box to you.
eBay: You're the seller so it's totally up to you. But it can easily go for $265 -- whenever a buyer eventually finds you.
- Created on 21 October 2013
A McDonald's Corp. logo shines in front of a restaurant on 42nd Street in Times Square in New York, U.S., on Saturday, October 20, 2013. Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Getty
McDonald's announced Monday that it raked in $1.5 billion in profits in the third quarter, up 5 percent from last year.
The number is strikingly close to the $1.2 billion taxpayers are shelling out to help pay public assistance to the McDonald's work force, according to a report released last week by the National Employment Law Project.
The echoing numbers are simply a coincidence, but underscore the immense profits that the chain continues to pull in while its workers simply struggle to afford food, medical help and housing. The public assistance McDonald's workers receive comes via food stamps, welfare, Medicaid and other federal programs, according to the NELP report.
In a statement to The Huffington Post, McDonald's emphasized that workers get training and the opportunity for career advancement. The company also said that its franchisees pay competitive wages that are based on "local wage laws."
Those wages are stunningly low. Frontline fast-food workers make a median wage of $8.94 an hour, according to a recent Reuters report. "Fast-food workers work only 24 hours a week on average — at $8.94 an hour, this adds up to barely $11,000 a year," wrote Christine Owens for Reuters in August.
With wages that low, front-line fast food workers are more than twice as likely as the typical worker to participate in a government assistance program, according to the NELP report.
The National Restaurant Association, an industry trade group, last week labeled the NELP report, and the data on which it was based, "misleading," since they "fail to recognize that the majority of lower-wage employees works part-time to supplement a family income."
There's ample evidence that an increasing number of workers primarily rely on fast-food wages. Roughly one-quarter of fast-food workers are raising a child, and approximately 70 percent are adults between the ages of 20 and 64, according to the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research.
While there's been a dearth of so-called middle-class jobs since the recession ended, the fast food industry's been hiring. Since the recession ended, almost 70 percent of all jobs created have been in historically low-wage sectors like fast food.
Defenders of the fast food industry point out that many chains heavily rely on franchisees working on small margins to turn a profit, which makes any potential wage increase difficult.
But altogether, the fast food industry is annually costing American taxpayers nearly $7 billion, while taking in hundreds of billions year after year:
McDonald's attributed its growing profit to a U.S. Monopoly promotion and recent successes in the U.K. and Russia, according to the AP.