More people than ever filing taxes from home

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

The Internal Revenue Service has announced that the number of taxpayers who e-file their taxes from home computers is up almost 17 percent from last year.

So far this season, 70 percent of all returns have been e-filed, compared to 68 percent for the same period last year.

More than 13 million returns have been filed this tax season by people e-filing from their homes, up from just over 11 million for the same period last year.

Also, more people are choosing to have their tax refunds directly deposited than ever before.

The IRS has directly deposited nearly 40 million refunds, or 70 percent of all refunds issued this year. That’s up from 67 percent of the total for the same period last year.

Piper Jaffray expanding Springs presence

Piper Jaffray and Co. has announced plans to expand its Colorado Springs presence.

The Piper Jaffray office is located at 2 North Cascade Ave. in the Holly Sugar Building. Officials said they plan to expand the number of advisers and move to a larger location this spring.

The news comes after the hiring of Colorado Springs Branch Manager James Ranals, who spent 34 years with RBC Dain Rauscher.

Piper Jaffray has offices in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Durango, Evergreen, Littleton, and Pueblo. Among the six offices, the firm employs 54 financial advisers and 89 other employees.

IRS seeks taxpayer advocates

The Internal Revenue Service is inviting the public to apply for positions on its Taxpayer Advocacy Panel.

The panel provides a forum for residents of all 50 states to make suggestions about IRS decision making.

Members of the panel will provide input and make recommendations to the IRS about customer-service issues. They will identify and prioritize taxpayer issues, report annually to the IRS, participate in meetings where taxpayers are invited to raise concerns about their experiences with the IRS and refer taxpayers to the IRS offices best able to address their issues.

To qualify as a TAP member, applicants must be U.S. citizens and be able to commit 300 to 500 hours during the year to the panel. In addition, they must be current with their tax obligations and pass a criminal background check.

Applications are available through the Milwaukee TAP Office, 310 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53203-2221 or at www.improveirs.org

Applications must be received by April 28.

Bank of America covering niche market

The newly merged Bank of America and MBNA credit card company will start offering credit cards tied to The San Francisco-based travel company Olivia, which caters primarily to the lesbian community.

The Olivia cards will allow holders to earn points for items such as airline tickets and hotel reservations.

The credit card company also offers cards tied to National Football League teams and retailers such as L.L. Bean and Bass Pro Shops.

Olivia’s chief executive officer, Amy Errett, applauded the creditor for recognizing that the agency is the leading travel company that offers lifestyle-specific travel plans.

Wells Fargo & Co. estimates there are about 15 million gays and lesbians living in the United States. About 75 percent have incomes above the national average and they are twice as likely to own a small business as non-gays.

Errett said gay marketing is a fairly established idea and noted that during a time of growing awareness of the purchasing power of different ethnic groups, gays and lesbian purchasing power is estimated to be about $640 billion this year.

MBNA is a subsidiary of Bank of America, the nation’s second-largest bank, which bought the credit card company last year for $35 billion.

Bank of America now has 40 million active credit card accounts, making it one of the world’s largest payments-services companies and issuers of credit, debit and prepaid cards.

S.C. to offer tax breaks to banks

The South Carolina Legislature has given initial approval to a plan that would provide tax incentives to banks that offer a large number of jobs.

The legislation says banks moving to South Carolina could be eligible for incentives if they add jobs, build new facilities or establish corporate headquarters within the state.

Banking industry officials defended the plan, saying the tax breaks for banks are similar to tax incentives other industries receive and that banks have been unfairly left out of the tax-break equations.

J.P. Morgan teaming with Quiznos

J.P. Morgan Partners LLC said Monday it will become an ownership partner of Denver-based Quiznos.

Quiznos CEO Rick Schaden said he expects the partnership to take the privately held sandwich chain to the next level of marketing.

Terms of the agreement between Quiznos and J.P. Morgan Partners, a private equity affiliate of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., were not disclosed.

Rob Larimer covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.