Between slumping prices and low mortgage rates, it's a good time to look for real estate bargains. But thanks to tightened lending standards, legions of young would-be homebuyers aren't exactly in a position to take advantage of the opportunity. That's where their parents come in: One in three first-time buyers received either a gift or a loan from their families to help buy a home in 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Our government is utterly broke. There are signs everywhere one looks. Social Security can no longer afford to send us our annual benefit statements. The House can no longer afford its congressional pages. The Pentagon can no longer afford the pension and health care benefits of retired service members. NASA is no longer planning a manned mission to Mars.
Much was made of last year's temporary repeal of the estate tax. Thanks to legislation passed in 2001, the tax on money left to heirs fell from a top rate of 45% in 2009 to 0% in 2010. That one-year free pass has been withdrawn: The tax was reinstated on Dec. 17 in a deal between Republicans and the White House. For the next two years the tax will return with a much higher exemption level ($5 million for individuals, $10 million for couples) than before and a lower rate (35%) than just about anyone expected.
The super-rich got an early Christmas gift in the $858 billion tax package that President Obama signed into law on Friday. On top of a two-year extension of Bush-era income tax rates, the wealthiest Americans dodged an estate tax that was set to jump up from zero to 55% for individuals worth more than $1 million. Instead, under a deal Senate Republicans negotiated with the White House, individuals can exempt estates up to $5 million and pay 35% beyond that. The exemption for couples is $10 million.
Senators made speeches into the evening Tuesday on the tax and benefits package negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican leaders, while House Democrats argued about whether they will change the measure after expected Senate approval.
The hotly contested tax deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and Republican leaders cleared a key Senate procedural hurdle Monday, with both parties strongly supporting a motion to end debate on the measure.
House Democrats will allow a vote on the tax compromise reached by President Barack Obama and Republicans but will try to change the deal, especially an estate tax provision they believe is beneficial to the wealthy, one of their leaders said Sunday.
House Democrats vented their frustrations with President Barack Obama's tax proposal at a closed-door meeting Tuesday night, with rank-and-file members slamming the White House for leaving House Democrats out of final negotiations, and agreeing too quickly to a GOP proposal on the estate tax.
President Barack Obama's top aides on Wednesday defended the tax plan hammered out with Republican leaders, saying Democrats are coming around to the reality that the agreement contains plenty of good things despite proposals they dislike.
It's official: Now that resolution on the Bush tax cuts has been postponed until after the Nov. 2 mid-term elections, lawmakers have punted nearly every major time-sensitive tax issue until the end of the year.