Personal Finance: Federal tax refunds running late
News from Sacramento Bee:

Tax refunds: Who doesn’t want one?

They’ve been in the news quite a bit lately, for reasons both good and not-so-good.

“It’s a pretty messed-up season,” said John Hogg, owner of 10 Jackson Hewitt Tax Services offices in Sacramento and Roseville. “The amount of refunds is far behind last year,” he said.

While the IRS isn’t putting out numbers on how many refunds have been issued so far this tax season, refunds got off to a bit of a bumpy start this year.

Blame it on a perfect storm of events: A late launch to the filing season, which started Jan. 30 – eight days later than usual – due to last-minute, “fiscal cliff” tax changes enacted by Congress; the inability of taxpayers to file for some credits until early March; and more diligent – but time-consuming – scrutiny of tax returns, part of the IRS’ beefed-up efforts to thwart identity theft and tax refund fraud.

Even Wal-Mart said it’s felt the impact of later-than-usual refunds. By this time last year, the giant retailer had cashed about $ 3 billion worth of checks related to tax refunds. This year, that amount is just $ 1.7 billion, the company said Thursday.

Some tax professionals like Hogg said they’re seeing lots of disappointed tax filers – who either can’t file yet or whose refunds are taking longer to arrive. Others, like Michael Hayes, H&R Block regio…………… continues on Sacramento Bee

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Arizona bill requires students to demonstrate skills in personal finance
News from Arizona Daily Star:

PHOENIX – Twenty years ago, accountant Sharon Lechter decided to devote her career to financial education and literacy after her oldest son graduated from high school and soon fell into credit card debt.

“I realized when my own child had that kind of problem, what about the kids that aren’t getting any financial education?” she said.

Now she and Pay Your Family First, the company she founded in 2007 to promote that education and literacy, are the driving forces behind a bill that would require Arizona high school students to display competency in personal finance in order to graduate.

SB 1449, authored by Sen. Kimberly Yee, R-Phoenix, was unanimously endorsed by the Senate Education Committee on Thursday.

Current state law requires high school students to demonstrate competency in reading, writing, math, science and social studies before graduating.

Lechter told the committee that Arizona should help students “so that they can become a master of their money, not a slave to their money.”

She said Utah, Tennessee, Missouri and Virginia require semester-long personal finance classes for graduation.

Angela Totman, vice president and chief operating officer of Pay Your Family First, said that many students lack an understanding of the connections between the money they bring in and the money they owe.

“Our children are…………… continues on Arizona Daily Star

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