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Friday Financial Five – November 6, 2015

Friday, November 06, 2015

 

Budget deal still a work in progress

Getting a budget deal done before December is a major step for a usually punchless Congress, but it still isn’t finalized. The basic framework agreed to last week would help shore up the Social Security disability insurance program, which has been damaged by fraud and waste over the years. Facing a severe benefit cut, the agreed upon changes would increase how much is paid into the disability fund through payroll deductions. Medicare premium increases would also be curbed. However, there is some disagreement about the decrease in defense spending. Republicans would also like to eliminate federal spending on state health care exchanges and reduce some regulatory authority granted by Dodd-Frank. While it appeared Congress had reached agreement well ahead of schedule, it may be another case of a mid-December resolution.

Salesforce addresses gender pay inequality

Reports differ on the disparity between pay for the genders, but women are generally considered to be receiving 80 percent of men’s pay for similar work. Like the minimum wage, gender pay inequality has long been talked about but mostly met with inaction. In what is considered a major step forward, Salesforce, with more than three quarters of their 17,000 employees being male, adjusted salaries for their female employees against male counterparts. It’s considered the first occurrence of a large private company publicly addressing income differences.

Forbes ranks business climate in each state

For states to have an effective business climate, it’s imperative that workers are able to find desirable jobs and experience wage growth. The top of Forbes’ (http://www.forbes.com/best-states-for-business/) 2015 list of best business climates benefit from low entry costs and an absence of regulatory hurdles. Utah and Virginia again head the list, with Massachusetts ranking 18th despite coming in dead last in business costs and Rhode Island coming in 46th thanks to a low ranking in regulatory environment. Some interesting metrics added to this year’s rankings: commute times, prevalence of business litigation, and the state’s fiscal health, a factor that undoubtedly didn’t help Illinois’ ranking.

3rd Quarter GDP positive

Following a strong second quarter, Gross Domestic Product for the country met expectations with 1.5% annualized growth in the third quarter. Positive GDP numbers are always nice, but it’s still a far cry from an ideal economic output. The Commerce Department noted a drop in private investment, government spending, and a decrease in inventories. As with every quarter, the possibility of a revision exists as more details come in, but the perception of continued economic strength seems to have given Fed members confidence to finally hike rates in December.

Divorce and tax considerations

Divorce and taxes are two topics most people would rather not think about. Those going through the divorce process or newly divorced need to avoid certain tax pitfalls. “Payers” or “payees” of child support and spousal support may need guidance on deducting these amounts on a tax return. Generally speaking, child-support is non-taxable income to the person receiving it and not tax deductible for the person paying it. Conversely, spousal support is taxable to the person receiving it and tax deductible to the payer. If these payments are not structured properly in a divorce agreement, there are many ways the IRS can audit, re-classify these payments, and charge penalties and interest. Other topics of concern include the claiming of children for the tax credits and deduction of divorce related fees. The divorce process can be painful enough, so it helps not to compound it by absorbing unnecessary taxes and fees.

Dan Forbes, a CFP Board Ambassador, is a regular contributor on financial issues. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in East Greenwich, RI and can be reached at [email protected]

 

Related Slideshow: Slideshow: Oregon Receives Average Ranking for Business Climate

The state of Oregon is neither the best nor worst state to run a company, according to data pulled from nationwide business publications and testimonies from Oregon business owners.

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Thumbtack/Kauffman

Oregon receives a C+ grade for its overall friendliness to small businesses, according to a new survey conducted by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation.

The study, drawing upon over 12,000 pieces of data, provides new insights about the nation’s business climate using a state by state approach. Click here to read the full article.

Photo Credit: GoLocalProv.com

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CNBC

Top States for Business 2014

Oregon Ranking: 22

The survey notes Oregon’s “idyllic quality of life [and] healthy economy” but also its “struggling education system and high cost of living.” Read more here.

By Jim.henderson (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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Forbes

Best States for Business and Careers

Oregon Ranking: 19

Over the past 5 years, Oregon's economy has grown steadily, up 2.8% annually, which is the second best growth in the U.S. The state’s outlook is just as strong, with a forecasted 3.2% expansion per year. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Jim Larrison via Compfight cc

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Chief Executive

Best States for Doing Business 

Oregon Ranking: 38

Notable Quote: “Oregon is going to kill the small business owner’s incentives to remain in the state if the 13.6% maximum state income tax passes in November of 2014. Many of the successful small business owners will relocate to Washington state (0% income tax) or other states.” Read more here.

Photo Credit: GoLocalProv.com

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Tax Foundation

Tax Climate

Oregon Ranking: 12

High income and corporate tax rates are balanced out by low sales and property tax figures, putting Oregon in the #12 spot according to the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index system. 

"The Tax Foundation’s 2014 edition of the State Business Tax Climate Index enables business leaders, government policymakers, and taxpayers to gauge how their states’ tax systems compare." Read more here.

Photo Credit: GoLocalProv.com

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WalletHub

Best States to be a Taxpayer

WalletHub analyzed how state and local tax rates compare to the national median in all 50 years.  . Eight different types of taxation were compared to determine the following:  

"1) Which states have the highest and lowest tax rates; 2) how those rates compare to the national median; 3) which states offer the best tax rates when adjusted by the cost-of-living index."

Oregon Rank: 40

0% sales tax and the nation’s lowest alcohol tax are overcome by high income and gasoline taxes. Read more here.

Photo Credit: GoLocalProv.com

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ALEC

Economic Outlook for 2014

Oregon Ranking: 42

The 2014 economic outlook ranking helps determine how each state can expect to perform economically based on 15 policy areas that are proven determinants of economic success. Read more here.

Photo Credit: GoLocalProv.com

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US Chamber of Commerce Fo

This report goes state by state, addressing individual topics like Business Climate, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure, and Talent Pipeline.

Oregon receives an above average ranking, including a top-spot ranking in Productivity Growth, which indicates a state's shift toward higher-value jobs and industries. Read more here.

Photo Credit: GoLocalProv.com

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PEW Charitable Trusts

Oregon is among ten states to have the highest growth rates, according to Moody’s analytics.

Fast Job Growth Outlook Ranking: 7th

Job outlook is particularly strong out West, including Oregon. Categories like steady home construction, increasing levels of investment in high tech and the aerospace industry, and trade with Asia all are strong contributors to the positive forecast. Read more here.

Photo Credit: GoLocalProv.com

 
 

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