Archive for February, 2011

IRS eases rules on liens or delinquent taxpayers

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 | Finance News

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service is trying to help people who owe back taxes, so it's reducing the number of property liens and easing rules for small businesses to enter into installment agreements.

As the economy has soured, the IRS has filed an increasing number of liens on property owned by delinquent taxpayers. Last year, the agency filed nearly 1.1 million liens, compared with 426,000 in 2001.

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman says the steps will help people get current on their tax bills while recognizing that many are struggling in a weak economy.

Liens are notices filed in land records to ensure the government can collect back taxes when property is sold. They also alert potential creditors that property owners owe back taxes.


Toyota recalls 2.17 million vehicles due to sudden-acceleration issues

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 | Finance News

Toyota-recallToyota just can’t catch a break. One year after Toyota accepted “full responsibility” for a slew of widely-reported instances of its vehicles suddenly accelerating out of control, the Japanese motor giant issued a recall of 2.17 million additional vehicles in the US today.

The recall, which includes vehicles from both the Lexus and Toyota brands, is due to problems with drivers-side floor mats jamming against the accelerator pedal, causing it to stick in a depressed position. This brings the total number of Toyota-made cars recalled since January 2009 to nearly 15 million.

The recall comes only slightly more than a week after the US government reported that it had found no evidence that Toyota’s electronic throttle systems were to blame for the “unintended accelerationâ€

According to an official statement from Toyota, the decision to recall was “voluntary,” though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it urged the company to issue the recall.

The models included in the most recent accelerator pedal/floor mat recall include approximately:

• 20,000 Lexus GS 300 and GS 350s from 2006 and 2007
• 372,000 Lexus RX models made between 2004 and early 2007
• 397,000 Toyota Highlander and Highlander HV models from 2004 to 2006
• 603,000 Toyota 4Runner models made in 2009
• 17,000 Lexus LX models made between 2009 and 2011
• 761,000 Toyota Rav4 models made from 2006 to 2010

So what exactly is the problem with the floor mats? Toyota explains via its website:

In the event that the floor carpet around the accelerator pedal is not properly replaced in the correct position after a service operation, there is a possibility that the plastic pad embedded into the floor carpet may interfere with the operation of the accelerator pedal.  If this occurs, the accelerator pedal may become temporarily stuck in a partially depressed position rather than returning to the idle position.

Owners of Lexus GS 300 and GS 350 All-Wheel Drive vehicles will receive notification of the recall by March 1. Those who own a Lexus RX or a Toyota Highlander will be notified as to how they can inspect for the problem, and will receive a second notification once replacement parts are available. Owners of 4Runner, LX 570, and Rav4 vehicles will also receive notification to inform them of the issue.


New home sales drop 12.6 percent in January

Thursday, February 24th, 2011 | Finance News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New U.S. single-family home sales fell more than expected in January, a government report showed on Thursday, pulled down by a plunge in activity in the country's West as a homebuyer state tax credit in California ended.

The Commerce Department said sales tumbled 12.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 unit annual rate after a downwardly revised 325,000-unit pace in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales sliding to a 310,000-unit pace last month from a previously reported 329,000 unit rate.

Compared to January last year sales were down 18.6 percent. Sales surged in December as buyers in California rushed to take advantage of the tax credit for new homes. Sales in the West plunged 36.5 percent after spiking 62.5 percent the prior month.

A glut of foreclosed houses on the market is putting pressure on new home sales, forcing builders to drastically scale back on construction projects. Analysts expect new home sales to remain depressed.

Data on Wednesday showed sales of previously owned homes were the highest in eight months in January, but were driven by a surge in purchases of distressed properties.

At January's sales pace, the supply of new homes on the market rose to 7.9 months' worth from 7.0 months' worth in December. There were 188,000 new homes available for sale last month, the lowest since December 1967.

The median sales price for a new home fell 1.9 percent last month from December to $230,600. Compared with January last year, the median price was up 5.7 percent.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Editing by Andrea Ricci)