National | Business

Issue: "Spain waves white flag," March 27, 2004


With the April 15 deadline for filing 2003 tax returns rapidly approaching, more and more Americans are turning to their home computers to complete the task.

Through March 5, the Internal Revenue Service reported that 37.1 million returns had been e-filed this year, more than 3.4 million ahead of last year's pace. The biggest increase is being seen in self-prepared online filings, which are up 23 percent.

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&quotPeople are filing electronically in record numbers," said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. &quotWe are committed to using technology to make tax filing easier, including filing electronically and using services available on IRS.gov."

One service on the IRS website that might be of interest for taxpayers who have already filed a return and are expecting money back is the &quotWhere's My Refund?" section.

By providing a Social Security number, filing status, and the refund amount, taxpayers can find out if the IRS received their return and whether it has been processed.

For those who filed by phone or online, the IRS says it will take seven days for the information to be available online and approximately three weeks to receive refunds. Returns mailed could take six weeks for processing and another six weeks to receive refunds.

Balance Sheet

With former CEO Bernard Ebbers facing federal fraud charges in the nation's largest accounting scandal, WorldCom's 2000 and 2001 profits were reduced nearly $65 billion. In restated financial records, WorldCom suffered a net loss of $48.9 billion in 2000 instead of the $4.7 billion profit it reported. In 2001, the company reported a $1.4 billion profit when the company actually lost $15.6 billion.

In testimony before Congress, Clear Channel Radio president John Hogan said he supported higher indecency fines for broadcasters. That's despite the fact that the FCC has proposed fines of more than $1 million in the past month against Clear Channel, which owns 1,200 stations nationwide.

Cinemark, which owns 296 movie theaters nationwide, has agreed to a $1.5 billion merger with Madison Dearborn Partners. Now showing on the theater trading block is Loews Cineplex, one of the world's largest chains with more than 320 theaters.

Amid the debate regarding outsourcing of American jobs, E-LOAN, Inc. is offering its customers the option of having their home equity loans processed in the United States or through its program in India. Through the first month of the pilot program, 86 percent of customers chose the outsourcing program where processing takes two fewer days.

Help wanted

For the first time in 18 months, more of America's leading CEOs say they are planning to increase employment in the coming months rather than cut jobs.

The survey conducted by The Business Roundtable found that 33 percent of top executives at 150 of the largest U.S. companies would add new workers in the next six months, while only 22 percent expect to reduce payroll.

That's a far cry from the group's October survey when just 12 percent of CEOs planned hiring increases. The number of executives planning to cut jobs had outnumbered those expecting to increase payroll since the Roundtable began surveying its members in 2002.

&quotAmerica's CEOs believe that the U.S. economy is on course for continued steady improvement over the next six months," said Pfizer CEO Hank A. McKinnell, chairman of the Roundtable. &quotWe are seeing a slow but steady improvement in the jobs picture, following on the heels of unprecedented productivity gains."

In addition to adding employees, the survey said 43 percent of executives plan to increase spending on new plants, equipment, and software over the next six months, while 50 percent said their investment would not change.

Overall, executives expect the economy to grow 3.7 percent this year, slightly higher than the 3.1 percent growth experienced last year.


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