Small business owner optimism remains high

Filed under: Banking & Finance |

The Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index dropped four points during the first quarter of 2007 to 110, compared to a record high of 114 during the fourth quarter of 2006.

The index tracks six measures (financial situation, cash flow, revenues, capital allocation, job hiring and credit availability) for current and future expectations.

Despite signs of a weakening economy, 90 percent of small business owners said they are satisfied owning their businesses and 78 percent would start again.

Women more stressed about retirement

Women worry more than men about financial preparedness, according to Wachovia’s Retirement Fitness Survey.

However, the respondents said that they feel better about their preparedness that they did two years ago.

“While women prioritize specific financial goals, like paying for college or managing the family’s daily finances, they aren’t necessarily taking specific steps toward achieving their long-term financial goals,” said Robert L. Reid, president of Wachovia’s Retirement and Investment Products Group. “Women overall are more likely than men to feel overwhelmed and distressed when faced with retirement planning.”

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they worry about preparing financially for retirement and 61 percent said they feel uncertainty. Thirty-nine percent of married women report not knowing how much money they have saved for retirement — significantly more than unmarried women, 27 percent.

Only 20 percent of married men and 28 percent of unmarried men do not know their total retirement savings.

Fewer women than men, 70 percent compared to 78 percent, have access to employer-sponsored defined contribution plans. And while there are no gender differences in contributions to plans among those who have them, women’s balances tend to be smaller because they are more likely to be out of the full-time work force to care for children and older parents.

The survey also showed that only one in eight consumers has a detailed plan showing how much they will need to save for retirement and how to get there.

SEC gets in joking spirit

The SEC was in the holiday spirit April Fools’ Day when they released a statement requiring publicly listed companies to provide the pays and perks of people such as celebrities and sports stars who sit on their boards and make more than their CEOs, called the “Katie Couric provision.”

SEC chairman Christopher Cox, who has a history of being an April Fools’ Day kidder, approved the joke, which was sent from a fictional spokeswoman named “April Fuhrst” and a fictional attorney named “Sue Offen.”

More reminders about how to properly file income taxes

The Internal Revenue Service is urging taxpayers to review their tax returns for common errors that could delay processing. The following are simple ways to avoid common tax return errors:

  • File electronically. Many common errors can be avoided or corrected by the computer software.
  • Use the peel-off label if mailing a return. You may line through and make necessary corrections right on the label. Be sure to fill in your Social Security number in the box provided. If you do not have a peel-off label, fill in all requested information clearly, including the Social Security numbers.
  • Check only one filing status and check the appropriate exemption boxes. Enter the correct Social Security numbers for each of those exemptions.
  • Use the correct Tax Table column for your filing status.
  • Double check all figures on the return. Math errors are common mistakes.
  • Make sure that the financial institution routing and account numbers you have entered on the return for a direct deposit of your refund are accurate. Incorrect numbers can cause the refund to be delayed or misdirected.
  • Sign and date the return. If filing a joint return, both spouses must sign and date the return.
  • Attach all Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, and other forms that reflect tax withheld to the front of the return. Attach all other necessary forms and schedules.
  • Remember to request the Telephone Excise Tax Refund. Most households are eligible for a one-time refund, typically between $30 and $60, that can be requested on your 2006 return.
  • Do you owe tax? If so, enclose a check or money order made payable to the “United States Treasury” and Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher. You also may choose to pay by credit card by contacting one of the credit card service providers.

On-site exam rule comments sought

The federal bank and thrift agencies are requesting comment about proposed rules that would make more small institutions eligible for 18-month on-site examination cycles.

The rules would allow associations with up to $500 million in assets and a deposit insurance rating of one or two to qualify for an 18-month, rather than a 12-month, on-site examination.

Until recently, only institutions with less than $250 million in total assets could qualify for an extended 18-month cycle.

To submit a comment, visit www.regulations.gov, select Comptroller of the Currency then click Submit.

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