IRS seeking new issues for resolution program

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

The Internal Revenue Service is encouraging business taxpayers, associations and other interested parties to submit topics for resolution involving a controversy, a dispute or an unnecessary burden on taxpayers to the Industry Issue Resolution Program.

The objective of the IIR program is to resolve business tax issues common to significant numbers of taxpayers through new and improved guidance.

Recent results of the program include:

  • Clarification regarding circumstances when facsimile signatures may be used to sign employment tax forms. (Revenue Procedure 2005-39)
  • Explanation of the circumstances under which insurance companies that make incentive payments to health care providers will be permitted to include those payments in unpaid losses. The revenue procedure also provides procedures under which a taxpayer may obtain automatic consent of the commissioner to change their accounting method for such payments. (Revenue Procedure 2004-41)

The deadline to submit an issue for consideration for the 2007-08 Treasury and IRS Guidance Priority List is March 31.

Housing slowdown challenges bank loan growth

The Winter 2006 edition of the FDIC Outlook shows that the recent slowdown in residential construction could reduce the demand for mortgages and commercial real estate and construction loans.

“Going forward, insured banking institutions should pay careful attention to risk-management processes in this slower-growth environment,” said Sheila C. Bair, chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

The report also shows that the ongoing expansion in service industries such as professional and business services appears to be offsetting the effects of the slowdown in housing, and to a significant degree, the Midwest automobile sector.

For the Kansas City Region, which includes Colorado, the report said that the area’s unique rural and agricultural nature makes it increasingly vulnerable to ongoing rural depopulation, changes in agricultural policy and long-term water shortages.

The 2006 Winter edition of FDIC Outlook is available at www.fdic.gov/bank/analytical/regional/index.html.

Colorado Scholars Choice is one of the best

Colorado Scholars Choice is one of the best 529 college savings plans, according to Morningstar Inc., a Chicago-based research firm.

Also selected among the best were Maryland’s College Investment Plan, Nebraska College Savings, Utah’s Educational Saving Plan Trust and the Virginia CollegeAmerica plan.

Listed among the worst 529 plans were Alabama’s Higher Education 529 Fund, Nebraska’s AIM College Savings Fund, West Virginia’s Cornerstone SMART529, Leaders SMART529 and Missouri’s MOST 529 Advisor.

Wells Fargo commended for small business site

Wells Fargo & Co.’s small business Web site has been ranked No. 1 for the best online customer experience for small business customers among the top 40 national and regional banks by Change Sciences Group, a national research firm.

CSG reports that the site is four times easier to use and more informative than the lowest ranked and more than two and a half times better than the average site. The evaluation also accounted for helpfulness of content, ease of navigation, layout and data entry, and the quality of the look and feel.

BoA, MedImpact team up for health-care offering

Bank of America and MedImpact have developed a program to help employers and employees manage the rising cost of health care. The program includes a fully integrated consumer-directed health care platform and a rewards-based credit card.

This is Bank of America’s first health care offering that delivers a co-branded rewards card and an account-based benefit product set, including health savings accounts, which enables MedImpact to offer MedEmpower, an integrated account-based benefits package which also includes flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, debit cards, account and claims administration, marketing, communication and education services.

The benefits platform will support any HMO, PPO or HDHP and will eventually include wellness information, decision support tools and rewards.

MedImpact also is providing its clients a Bank of America credit card with WorldPoints, which offers cardholders double reward points for net retail purchases of medical services and pharmaceuticals. The points can be redeemed for merchandise, travel, cash back or cash that can be deposited into a health savings account.

Chase announces initiative to simplify credit card use

Chase has announced an initiative that should make it easier for card members to understand and manage their accounts.

Chase Card Services’ “Clear and Simple Initiative” is organized around three central themes: tools to empower customers, financial literacy and education, and clearer disclosure of terms.

“We continually review our practices and policies and make adjustments to improve their value,” said Carter Franke, chief marketing officer of Chase Card Services.

Lorna Gutierrez covers banking and finance for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.