WASHINGTON – A government watchdog says fewer than one in 10 callers were able to get help this tax season when they called an Internal Revenue Service help line for people with speech or hearing impairments.
Inspector General J. Russell George said overall phone service by the IRS improved during the 2010 tax season. But phone service for speech- or hearing-impaired callers declined.
More than 350,000 people called the IRS help line for people with speech or hearing impairments during tax season. Only 339 reached a real person. Some others received automated help. The report said that a total of about 9 percent were served.
The IRS says many people mistakenly call the line and hang up once they realize it is for people with hearing or speech impairments. Nevertheless, the agency said it plans to improve its services for 2011.
RAVENNA, Ohio – An Ohio judge has ordered a $2 million bond for a Florida man accused of murder in the shooting of a real estate agent whose body was found in a vacant home.
Fifty-nine-year-old Robert Grigelaitis of Fort Lauderdale was being held in the Portage County jail and appeared by video Thursday before Municipal Judge Mark Fankhauser.
Fankhauser set an Oct. 8 preliminary hearing. Court staff says Fankhauser also appointed the county public defender's office to represent Grigelaitis. Office chief Dennis Lager (LAH'-ger) said Thursday afternoon that he had not yet been notified of an appointment.
Grigelaitis is accused of killing Andrew VonStein, whose body was found last week in a home he was trying to sell in Ravenna. Grigelaitis has an addresses in the northeast Ohio city. He was arrested Tuesday in Turkey, N.C.
NEW YORK – Shares of Prudential Financial Inc. fell Thursday after the company said it agreed to pay $4.2 billion in cash for two Japanese life insurance units owned by AIG.
THE SPARK: American International Group Inc. is selling the units as part of its broader plan to repay government bailout money. The deal between AIG and Prudential includes $600,000 in third-party debt, bringing its total value to approximately $4.8 billion.
THE BIG PICTURE: The sale, which is expected to close in the first quarter, includes AIG Star Life Insurance Co. and AIG Edison Life Insurance Co. AIG will take a third-quarter charge of about $1.2 billion related to the sale.
THE ANALYSIS: In a note to investors, Standard & Poor's analyst Matthew Carroll said the AIG units will be a "strong strategic fit" with Prudential. He said he expected the transaction to have only a modest effect on Prudential's leverage in the near term. He affirmed his "A" and "A-1" ratings on the company's long-term and short-term counterparty ratings, respectively. His "AA-" financial strength ratings on its core insurance subsidiaries were also affirmed.
The outlooks on the ratings are stable.
Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings analyst Cynthia J. Crosson affirmed her "BBB-plus" issuer default and "BBB" senior debt ratings, saying that the acquisitions will strengthen Prudential's already strong position in the Japanese life insurance market.
SHARE ACTION: Prudential stock fell $2.23, or 3.9 percent, to $54.30 in afternoon trading.