Money

Average tax refund jumps to $3,100, dents Democrat claims of tax cut trickery

The average tax refund so far this filing season is more than $3,100, the Treasury Department reported Thursday, putting things on track and denting Democrats’ claims that the 2017 tax cuts were actually hurting Americans’ wallets. Returns are still coming in more slowly than in 2018, and not as many have been finalized by the IRS. But the average refund is $3,143, topping last year’s $3,103. That’s a major change from just a week ago, when the average refund was about $2,600 — and some prominent Democrats suggested the 2017 tax overhaul had backfired. “The average tax refund is down about $170 compared to last year,” Sen. Kamala D. Harris tweeted Feb. 11, little more than a week into the tax-filing season. “Let’s call the president’s tax cut what it is: a middle-class tax hike to line the pockets of already wealthy corporations and the 1 percent.” News outlets, meanwhile, sought out people whose refunds were smaller and used them as evidence of the tax law’s troubles. The IRS, and GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill, called the complaints premature. They predicted things would sort out once the filing season was in full swing and people could file tax returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Child Tax Credit. Refunds for returns claiming those tax credits must be held until Feb. 15, as a fraud-prevention method. Now that those refunds are being processed, it’s boosted the numbers. “The increase in the weekly data is primarily due to the remainder of the Earned Income Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits being paid out this week,” the Treasury Department said. “Despite the higher refund average, we remind taxpayers that weekly filing season data is variable and will continue to fluctuate. We caution against drawing broad conclusions on refunds overall this early in the filing season.” Treasury officials also said refunds aren’t the same as a tax bill. Most Americans pay taxes throughout the year in withholdings from their paychecks. Refunds are the amount they overpaid during the year. So a smaller refund means they left less of their money in the hands of the IRS throughout the year, according to tax analysts.

Opinion/Analysis: How the Trump economic miracle shatters the left

The Trump economy is firing on all cylinders, which means only one thing: The left is petrified. Last week brought economic news so good that it sent the Democrats and their fellow travelers in the Resistance Media into full bury-then-ignore mode. Their pathological hatred of the president blocks them from reporting the truth about the booming economy he is delivering, lest it make him look good (heaven forbid) and help him politically (a fate worse than death). They also know that since it’s always “the economy, Stupid,” they’d be damaging his potential 2020 opponent, which must be avoided at all costs. Given the dazzling December economic data, it’s no wonder the press gave it short shrift. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy added a whopping 312,000 jobs, far more than the expected 176,000. After revisions, job gains have averaged an impressive 254,000 per month over the past three months. Job growth in 2018 (an average of 220,000 per month) passed that of both 2016 (195,000) and 2017 (182,000). Payrolls increased by 2.6 million in 2018, the highest since 2015. The sunny jobs picture encouraged 419,000 new workers to enter the workforce and sent the labor force participation rate up to 63.1 percent. Unemployment rates among blacks, Latinos and women are at or near historic lows. Job growth has also meant significant wage growth. Wages are up a stunning 3.2 percent from last year and .4 percent from November. December was the third straight month that the yearlong growth in nominal average hourly earnings was above 3 percent in nearly a decade; the last time we saw that trend was April 2009. Wages are also being given an assist by inflation being kept in check. The jobs boom is being felt across most major sectors: Construction (a reliable indicator of economic growth) added 38,000 jobs in December and saw a total of 280,000 new jobs in 2018. Retail added 24,000 jobs in December, with 92,000 for the year. Health care jobs increased by 50,000 last month and by 346,000 for the year. And perhaps the most politically and economically important of them all: Manufacturing added 32,000 jobs in December and a stunning 284,000 new jobs in 2018. That represents an increase of 12 percent over 2017, and a major achievement for Mr. Trump. During the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency, the only sector that experienced consistently expanding job growth was government. At the same time, he presided over the net loss of 210,000 manufacturing jobs. In mid-2016, Mr. Obama was asked about the loss of those jobs, and candidate Trump’s promise to bring them back. “Well, how exactly are you going to do that?” Mr. Obama asked. “What exactly are you going to do? There’s no answer to it. “He just says, ‘Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.’ Well, what, how exactly are you going to negotiate that?” Mr. Obama continued. “What magic wand do you have? And usually the answer is, he doesn’t have an answer.” Turns out Mr. Trump did have an answer. It was to ratchet down the globalism Mr. Obama and his fellow elites insisted was inevitable and move to put America — its workers, taxpayers, industries and interests — first. Mr. Trump’s “magic wand” was simple economic common sense: Pro-growth policies of tax cuts, widespread deregulation, unleashing the energy sector and renegotiating trade policies that had long decimated American manufacturing (another thing the elites told us couldn’t be done). During the campaign, Mr. Trump’s economic agenda was roundly derided and dismissed as unfair and unworkable by Mr. Obama, Hillary Clinton and countless other ruling class overlords. They knew that Mr. Trump mustn’t be allowed to win the presidency, for they knew that if these policies were to take root, they would work. The economy would grow, jobs would return, manufacturing would boom, international trading partners that had long taken advantage of the United States would begin negotiating, prosperity would reappear and yes, America would be made great again. This they could not abide, which explains at least in part their dark, frantic machinations to prevent his election, and post-November 2016, to hobble his ability to govern effectively. His astounding economic track record is their worst nightmare. It puts the lie to the nonsense Mr. Obama, the Democrats and the media have been shoveling for years: That anemic economic growth, high unemployment, the collapse of manufacturing and grotesque trade imbalances were the “new normal.” It also pointedly demonstrates that the statist vision — radical wealth redistribution, socialized medicine, green energy chimeras, social justice enforcement, limits on free speech, private property and gun ownership, and the rule of the leftist mob — creates only tyranny, poverty, injustice and servitude. (Note the deflection: These are things the left claims to want to eradicate.) Mr. Trump and his economic thunderbolt are exposing the left and its policies as irredeemably bankrupt, economically and morally. And that is perhaps the biggest reason why they must try to destroy him.

Agreed..  Thanks to Dr. Monica Crowley for that spot-on op-ed.     🙂

4 ways to protect yourself from credit card fraud

Unless you avoid using credit cards altogether, no one can fully prevent credit card fraud. The Federal Trade Commission says in 2017, credit card fraud was the biggest type of identity theft in the United States with over 133,000 cases reported. The problem is only getting worse. People with existing credit card accounts filed 20% more fraud reports in 2017 compared to the year prior. “The amount of credit card transactions that occur every day, it creates a larger opportunity for the bad guys to get a hold of that information,” says Trevor Buxton, fraud communications manager at PNC Bank. He says there are four ways consumers can protect themselves from credit card fraud. Click here to learn more.

🙂

Dow jumps 250 points to record high as Apple rises and trade-war fears simmer down

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its first record high since January on Thursday as gains in Apple and a decrease in trade fears lifted the 30-stock index. The Dow rose 250 points as Boeing, Caterpillar and Apple outperformed. The S&P 500 also rose 0.7 percent to an all-time high, its first since late August, as materials and tech outperformed. President Donald Trump touted the S&P 500’s record in a tweet, saying, “S&P 500 HITS ALL-TIME HIGH Congratulations USA!” Art Cashin, director of floor operations for UBS, said the Dow’s record should be a bullish confirmation of the high reached by the Dow Transports last week. “That should be a Dow theory buy signal,” Cashin said. “According to the theory, the economy is supposed to be improving and therefore you have six to nine months of a higher stock market.” The Nasdaq Composite also rose 0.9 percent as Amazon gained 1.1 percent ahead of an event where they are expected to unveil new Alexa-powered devices. Apple, meanwhile, jumped 1.6 percent. Boeing and Caterpillar, two bellwethers for trade, rose 1.1 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Great news in this Trump economy!!!   For more, click on the text above.      🙂

Median U.S. Household Income Rose in 2017, Considered Highest on Record

The median U.S. household income rose for the third year in a row in 2017, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau released Wednesday. The Census data showed that median household income increased in 2017 to $61,372, an increase of 1.8 percent after taking inflation into account, and is considered to be the highest on record. Although the household income level is considered to be the highest ever recorded, census officials say it is about the same, when adjusted for inflation, as in 1999 and 2007. The median household income also rose for the third year in a row, although the growth rate increased 3.2 percent in 2016 and 5.2 percent in 2015. The increase in household income over the past year comes as the poverty rate in America has declined and more Americans are participating in the workforce. The poverty rate dropped to 12.3 percent, marking a decrease in the poverty rate for the third year in a row, while the number of Americans working full-time jobs went up by 2.4 million in 2017. “We’re continuing to see that shift from part-time, part-year work to year-round, full-time work,” Trudi Renwick, an economist at the Census Bureau, told the Wall Street Journal. Much of these gains in household income and workforce participation come as the economy’s strength continues to climb in 2018. The American economy added 201,000 jobs in August 2018 and the unemployment rate has stayed low at 3.9 percent. Jobless claims also fell to a record-low of 203,000—the lowest level for claims since 1969. The 2017 data on median household income also does not fully include the effects of President Trump’s tax cuts instituted at the end of 2017, which caused incomes to rise in 2018 through the initial tax cuts and the tax reform bonuses many companies provided to their employees.

Stocks Hit Record Highs Following Trade Deal with Mexico

Stocks jumped higher Monday following the announcement that the U.S. and Mexico have reached a new trade deal. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite both hit record highs. The Nasdaq was up 0.91 percent, while the S&P 500 rose 0.77 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose slightly more than 1 percent. News of the deal appeared to reassure investors that the Trump administration can make solid progress on trade deals. Shares of traditional U.S. automakers were some of the best performers of the day. General Motors was up 4.8 percent. Ford rose 3.2 percent. Goodyear Tire & Rubber rose 3.27 percent. Shares of Tesla, however, fell by more than 1 percent.

Great news today!!    🙂

Trump urges six-month earnings reports to replace quarterly reports

President Trump called for an end to quarterly earnings reports in a tweet early Friday morning, instead advocating for a six-month system that he said would allow for greater flexibility for businesses. “Making the United States business friendly is key to job growth!” he wrote in a second tweet. Trump said he reached out to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and asked them to study potential implications of a system change. FOX Business reached out to the Securities and Exchange Commission for comment. In June, nearly 200 business moguls Opens a New Window. from the Business Roundtable – including JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon and Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett – urged companies to shift away from releasing quarterly earnings guidance, which they said is harming the economy. According to these CEOs, short-term earnings guidance can stunt economic growth by shifting companies’ investments away from technology, hiring and research and development in order to meet quarterly earnings forecasts, which too often can be affected by factors outside of a company’s control, like commodity-price fluctuations, stock-market volatility and the weather. “The pressure to meet short-term earnings estimates has contributed to the decline in the number of public companies in America over the past two decades,” Dimon and Buffett wrote in an op-ed that appeared in The Wall Street Journal. Opens a New Window. In a 2017 paper, Opens a New Window. a Boston University economics professor, Stephen Terry, studied the effects of short-termism on investment, and found that companies that just meet their earnings forecasts tend to exhibit lower growth in research and development — suggesting that companies intentionally hold off on investing in those areas to meet quarterly numbers. Terry concluded that this system ultimately lowers economic growth in the U.S. by .01 percent annually.