- - Thursday, December 23, 2010

IRS

Tax changes will bring delays

Some taxpayers will be unable to file returns until mid-to-late February because of recent tax breaks approved by Congress in its lame-duck session, the IRS said Thursday.

Congress approved tax breaks for higher-education tuition, state and local sales taxes and out-of-pocket expenses for teachers in kindergarten through high school.

The IRS will need the extra time to reprogram its computers, but the delays will be minimal for taxpayers who itemize deductions and normally have to wait for financial documents.

“The majority of taxpayers will be able to fill out their tax returns and file them as they normally do,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We will do everything we can to minimize the impact of recent tax-law changes on other taxpayers. The IRS will work through the holidays and into the New Year to get our systems reprogrammed and ensure taxpayers have a smooth tax season.”

COMMERCE

New-home sales rise 5.5 percent

Construction of new homes increased in November, but not enough to signal better times are ahead for the battered housing industry.

The Commerce Department says sales of new homes rose 5.5 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 290,000 units. That gain came after sales had fallen to the second-lowest level in 47 years in October.

Economists think it could take three years to get back to a more normal rate of 600,000 sales per year, given a continued glut of unsold homes and falling prices.

TRANSPORTATION

Traffic upgrade hit by high costs

A new high-altitude air-traffic-control system is taking longer than expected to bring online and at higher costs than planned, a U.S. government watchdog said on Thursday.

The Federal Aviation Administration has already spent $1.8 billion on the system aimed at providing faster routes and safely packing more planes into the high-altitude cruising phase of flight.

Story Continues →