National / International News

VIDEO: The skyscraper that casts no shadow

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 15:00
A team of architects in London has developed a way of creating skyscrapers that cast no shadow, using the latest computer design software.

VIDEO: Jake Yapp's Labour manifesto in 60 secs

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 14:58
Comedian Jake Yapp closes BBC Newsnight programme with his rendition of the Labour manifesto in 60 seconds.

Rodgers hopeful of Champions League

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 14:43
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes Manchester City have "opened the door" to Champions League qualification.

VIDEO: Fukushima robot fails to respond

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 14:39
The company that owns the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan has been forced to abandon a new robot inside one of the damaged reactor vessels.

Liverpool aware of Sterling pictures

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 14:35
Raheem Sterling will be spoken to by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers after being pictured apparently taking nitrous oxide.

Remove 'Ebola man', Nicaragua tells US

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 14:21
Nicaragua quarantines a US embassy man who has travelled to Liberia and asks Washington to remove him over Ebola concerns.

'Wardrobe fall death' man in court

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 14:00
The owner of a care home appears in court charged with breaching health and safety rules after a resident was found dead underneath a wardrobe.

VIDEO: Eurovision star Ronnie Carroll dies

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 13:59
The death is announced of Belfast-born singer Ronnie Carroll, who represented the UK on successive years at the Eurovision Song Contest in the early 1960s.

Bell hits ton as England take charge

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 13:45
A fluent 143 from Ian Bell helps England recover from 34-3 to reach 341-5 in the first Test against West Indies in Antigua.

Rubio 'Very Confident' He's Ready To Be President On 'Day No. 1'

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-13 13:39

The Florida senator could be the youngest Republican in the presidential field, but he is fully confident he has the experience to lead.

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US concern over Iran missile deal

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 13:36
The US raises concerns with Russia after the Kremlin lifted a ban on supplying Iran with S-300 air defence missile systems.

Clear Fruit Brandies Pack An Orchard Into A Bottle

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-13 13:23

French-style eaux de vie have made a comeback in the U.S. thanks to the farm-to-table movement. Dozens of distilleries are now crafting dry, fragrant spirits from fruits that might have been wasted.

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UK 'subsidising' migrants, says Gill

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 13:15
The British welfare system is subsidising workers from across the world, says UKIP's leader in Wales.

Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 13:10
Liverpool move to within four points of the top four as Raheem Sterling scores in an ultimately comfortable win.

Man charged with car boot murder

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 12:56
A 26-year-old man is to appear in court charged with murdering north Belfast man Kyle Neil.

Blackwater Security Guards Handed Lengthy Sentences For Iraqi Killings

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-13 12:40

Three of the Blackwater security guards were found guilty of manslaughter and voluntary manslaughter, while a fourth was convicted of first-degree murder.

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Why do people overpay their taxes, then get refunds?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2015-04-13 12:34

As of the first week of April, 2015, 99 million taxpayers had filed their individual returns with the IRS. Of those, more than 77 million—or approximately 77 percent—had received refunds. The average refund was running $2,815, about $20 higher than the same time in 2014.

Overall, 118 million American taxpayers (including individuals and businesses) received tax refunds in 2014 (for the 2013 tax year); they got a total of $373.5 billion back from the IRS. All told, the IRS collected $3.1 trillion in gross taxes in 2014, including business and individual income taxes, estate, gift, excise, and employment taxes.

Listener John Thomas of Nevada asked this question: “I’ve always wondered why so many people seem to overpay their taxes and then have to claim a refund. I’m wondering whether there’s a conspiracy there with the government encouraging people to overpay, because they get free money essentially until people get their refund.”

CPA Rich Sotta in Portland, Oregon, says a lot of his tax-preparation clients intentionally have too much withheld, knowing from prior years’ experience that they will get a substantial refund—often several thousand dollars or more. “It’s so they don’t have a huge tax bill they have to pay in April,” says Sotta. “It’s peace of mind knowing that they’re getting refunds.” He says some taxpayers want a buffer in case their tax situation changes and their tax bill goes up unexpectedly—for instance, if they have sources of income that fluctuate year-to-year.

Sotta says, it’s true, letting the government over-withhold is like giving the government an interest-free loan. But, he says, “if you aren’t of the habit of being able to budget for yourself, I think it’s a way of saving.” Otherwise, he says, those people would fritter away the extra income in their paychecks away.

That predictable April refund windfall can be used by taxpayers to make a big-ticket purchase, take a vacation, pay down debt or build savings.

Hersh Shefrin, a professor of behavioral finance at Santa Clara University, says research shows most taxpayers who receive refunds do indeed devote a substantial portion to intended uses like this, rather than splurging and spending most of it right away.

Shefrin says the refund also triggers a response in our brains: “It lights up the reward centers—the nucleus accumbens is the area that gets activated. And there is a dopamine rush when the check actually arrives and you open it. It has a positive hedonic effect.”

Shefrin says engineering a large refund through over-withholding can also be evidence of smart, self-aware financial planning. “People recognize they have difficulty accumulating enough savings on their own. So they look for ways to help themselves counter the temptations of everyday life.”

Roberton Williams, a fellow at the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center, dismisses the idea of an IRS conspiracy to get American taxpayers to over-withhold, in order to make more money available for government spending. He says if the IRS encouraged more withholding, some taxpayers could wind up in trouble in April if their tax bills were higher than expected.

Williams acknowledges that if the government wasn’t getting more than $300 billion in tax withholding payments that it will ultimately refund, it would have to borrow more. But, right now the government’s borrowing costs are low, less than 1 percent. “Essentially, what the taxpayers are doing is giving the government a short-term loan,” says Williams. “That makes it easier for the government to cover its bills in the short run, it doesn’t have to borrow as much. But in the long run, it all washes out.”

New York Investigates Retailers For Unpredictable Work Schedules

NPR News - Mon, 2015-04-13 12:33

Retailers rely on systems that require workers to be ready to work a shift — whether or not they end up working. The state attorney general is looking into the way big retailers handle scheduling.

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Eurovision star Ronnie Carroll dies

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 12:30
Ronnie Carroll, a former UK Eurovision contestant who was due to stand in the 2015 general election, has died at the age of 80.

VIDEO: Nick Robinson on Labour's manifesto

BBC - Mon, 2015-04-13 12:27
Nick Robinson gives his assessment of Labour's election manifesto launched by leader Ed Miliband on Monday.