All things taxes (5×8 – 3/25/11)

A tax-free GE, how to make a million bucks in Minnesota, the longevity game, end of the line for Porky’s, and likin’ Minnesota.


1) A TAX-FREE GE

If taxes are killing American businesses, GE should be doing very well. It made $14.2 billion in 2010, $5 billion of it in the U.S. The New York Times reports today that because of its fierce lobbying for tax breaks and sheltering of profits, it will pay no taxes and, in fact, get millions back from the U.S. Treasury. You’re going to think of it this weekend when you sit down to do your taxes, aren’t you?

The company says the tax breaks protect American jobs, but the workforce in the U.S. has declined, the newspaper says.

In Minnesota, by the way, $97 million in business tax refunds are being released under bills signed this week by Gov. Dayton. They were delayed in December.

MPR’s Tom Scheck reveals how lawmakers at the Capitol have played the annual shell game to balance the budget this year, moving money from accounts that voters, in some cases, wanted spent on specific things:


For example, the House Public Safety budget bill uses several pots of money currently dedicated to other ongoing expenses. The bill takes nearly $15 million from a police training fund, a fire training fund and a fund used to build a statewide public safety radio system. The funds are collected from 911 fees on telephone bills.

2) THE GOD-BLESS-AMERICA STORY OF THE DAY

Who needs big publishing houses and agents?. An Austin, Minnesota woman is making money like a spam e-mail. She’s writing e-books and selling them online and making money, the Associated Press reports:


She sold a few hundred books last May, and the numbers slowly grew to a few thousand before spiking to more than 100,000 in December. Monthly sales reports (Amanda) Hocking provided to The Associated Press showed more than 333,000 sold in January and another 300,000 in February, enough to back her claim to have sold between $1.4 million to $2 million in e-books.

E-book sales have taken off along with sales of electronic reading devices. The Yankee Group, a Boston research firm, estimates e-book sales will generate $2.3 billion in revenue in the U.S. by 2013, nearly nine times that of 2009. Their appeal has become even stronger as Borders shuts down more than 200 superstores and millions of e-readers were given last December as holiday gifts.

3) THE LONGEVITY GAME

This has been a week to consider whether anyone would want to live forever. MPR’s Midmorning earlier this week considered new science research into the possibility people could live forever.

But would you want to?

Now a typical Mary Lucia-type question. If you could know how long you’ll live, would you want to? If the answer is no, don’t check out The Longevity Game.

4) VANISHING PORKY’S?

It may be the end of the line for Porky’s in St. Paul. The owner is considering selling out to a developer of senior housing, the Pioneer Press reports. Sigh!

5) LIKIN’ MINNESOTA

Explore Minnesota has unveiled its new TV spot. Note the letter “g” has no apparent purpose in this commercial.

Bonus: The first lady of Guatamala is divorcing her husband so she can run in an election to succeed him. Here comes the punch line: “I am divorcing my husband but getting married to the people.” Guatamala’s laws prevent any relatives from succeeding someone in office.

TODAY’S QUESTION

A new study suggests that Minnesotans who struggle with hunger are collectively missing 100 million meals each year. Whose responsibility should it be to end hunger?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: How will Minnesota reach a deal to cut its $5 billion deficit? Leading Democrats in the Legislature offer their view (Gov. Dayton and Republican leaders were previously interviewed).

Second hour: From battlefields to crime scenes, chief Hennepin County medical examiner Andrew Baker has seen death in many forms. And he says he views every victim as his patient. He discusses the science of forensics, and why what we see on TV doesn’t reflect reality.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: MPR News investigation: “Following the Firearms: Gun Violence in Minneapolis.”

Second hour: American RadioWorks documentary about women in the iron mines, “No Place for a Woman.”

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: A look at how ancient volcanic

eruptions could have formed the building blocks for life on Earth

Second hour: How researchers are using technology to measure emotions

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All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - MPR’s Tom Roberts reports that more than half of Minnesota counties gained population over the past decade, including a corridor of strong growth through the lakes area of northern Minnesota. Where are the new people coming from? How did the recession impact population trends? And what about the losers?

  • Jim Hart

    Bob, you’re kind of overlooking the point of the Amanda Hocking story – she made tons of money self pubbing online, but ultimately opted to potentially make slightly less money by going a traditional publishing route, because successfully self publishing is a lot more than just writing. The fact that she was successful as a self publisher yet still opted for traditional publishing is a fairly big story, I think.

  • J Beger

    oof. Mauer should really stick to baseball.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re GE tax status:

    Damn those overfed food stamp recipients! And those lazy teachers with pensions sucking at the public teet?!? And tax payer funded public broadcasting?!? Communists!!!

    Don’t you ungrateful leeches understand?!?

    THE BUSINESS OF AMERICA IS BUSINESS!!!!!

    (And if you can’t get it through your thick heads, we’ll move overseas :-)

  • Catherine

    Porky’s??!?!!? Noooooooo!!! Where am I going to get my deliciously greasy burgers with the onion ring on top if they close?!?!?!?

  • http://norwegianity.wordpress.com Mark Gisleson

    Interesting longevity game. I was up to 86 and then it lopped eight years off my life for smoking pot, marijuana being exactly the same thing as smoking crack, I guess.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Re Bonus: The first lady of Guatamala….:

    The term “truth is stranger than fiction” was coined with Guatemala in mind.

    Former dictator/president Rios Montt argued that he should be allowed to serve two terms (prohibited by the constitution), because the first time he held office (“served” doesn’t quite seem to fit), he wasn’t actually elected, but took the office in a coup.