Wealthy families paying highest tax bill in 30 years…without the increases
Wealthy families are paying some of the largest federal tax bills in over 30 years while the rest of the population continues to pay historically low rates, according to the Associated Press. According to a report from the Congressional Budget Office, the average tax bill for high income families is the highest it has been since they began tracking in 1979 while low income and middle income families are not paying as much as they used to. The Tax Policy Center indicates that those in the top 20 percent of income in the nation will pay 27.2 percent in taxes while the top 1 percent, those with average incomes of $1.4 million, will pay an average of 35.5 percent. Those in the bottom 20 percent of households will not pay anything and will get credits from the government, giving them a negative tax rate. The middle 20 percent of US households, those making an average of $46,000, will pay 13.8 percent in federal taxes this year, lower than the average historical rate of 16 percent.
Student loan securities hot despite defaults
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that due to the desire for return, investors are purchasing securities backed by student loans, despite the fact the student loans default rates are growing. Last week, SLM Corp., otherwise known as Sallie Mae, the largest student lender, sold $1.1 billion of securities backed by private student loans. Demand for the riskiest loans was 15 times greater than the supply. On Monday, SecondMarket Holdings, Inc., a trading platform known best for private stock shares, will allow lenders to issue student loan securities direct to investors. Unlike the federal government, which indicates that 31 percent of student loans are currently 90 days or more late, Sallie Mae does credit checks for student loans. Sallie Mae indicates that only 4.6 percent of its loans are currently more than 90 days late.
French promise no new austerity measures
The French finance minister says his government will not enact any more austerity measures this year even though it won’t meet its deficit goal because of slow growth, according to the Associated Press. The French government had promised to reduce its deficit to 3 percent of GDP this year to meet European Union rules. France has not yet asked the EU for an extension. The government will not enact additional tax hikes nor will it cut spending.
Swiss vote for corporate pay curbs
A referendum in Switzerland has introduced a broad set of pay curbs for executives that include giving shareholders a binding vote on executive compensation, banning corporate haloes, requiring annual re-elections of directors and criminal sanctions for non-compliance. The referendum passed with a 68 percent vote, according to the Financial Times. The Netherlands is considering tightening its policies and Britain just recently put limits on top bankers’ bonuses.
US car sales up 3.7 percent
US auto sales rose 3.7 percent to 1.2 million in February, according to the Wall Street Journal. Low interest rates and pent up demand are considered the reasons for the increase. GM said its sales rose 7.2 percent while Ford saw an increase of 9.3 percent. Chrysler reported a 4.1 percent increase and Toyota saw a 4.3 percent increase. Honda said its sales declined 2 percent and Nissan sales declined 6.6 percent. Sales of pickup trucks have also increased. GM said its Silverado pickup sales rose 30 percent compared to a year ago. There were concerns that the increased payroll taxes would impact sales, but apparently the fears were not realized.
Home prices soar
The Case-Shiller Index measures the value of homes in 20 cities and indicates that average home prices as of February have increased 6.8 percent year over year. According to USA Today, New York City is the only city where prices fell. In seven cities, average increases were in the double digit percentages. These cities include Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Detroit, San Francisco and Phoenix. Phoenix had a 23 percent rise in home prices in 2012. This follows a 49.8 percent drop in home prices in the last six years.
Catherine S. McBreen is President of Millionaire Corner. McBreen plans and develops content for Millionaire Corner. Catherine balances editorial content to meet the informational needs of both new and seasoned investors. She designs special monthly surveys on topical issues affecting the economic environment.
McBreen has a B.S. in speech communications from Northwestern University and a J.D. from DePail University College of Law. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the Illinois Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.
Well-known for her expertise in the affluent and retirement arenas, McBreen is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. She has been quoted widely by the financial media, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Research, Private Asset Management, On Wall Street, Reuters, Bloomberg News, The Dow Jones Newswires and Worth. Cathy has appeared as a guest on CNBC Closing Bell, First Business Morning News, Neal Cavuto at Fox Business News, ABC and CBS radio.
McBreen is co-author with Spectrem President George H. Walper, Jr. of the book "Get Rich, Stay Rich, Pass It On: The Wealth-Accumulation Secrets of America's Richest Families" (Portfolio, January 2008)
Catherine is the mother of four and is involved in many school and community events.