by Sarah Barber
Word to the wise: unless you're confident that you'll be getting a refund from the Internal Revenue Service, avoid doing your taxes on the same day that you've just surrendered an hour of your life to Daylight Savings Time.
With April 15 looming on the horizon, I thought crunching my numbers a month early would take a weight off my shoulders. Unfortunately, the only thing getting lighter will be my wallet, since it turns out I owe the government a hearty chunk of change. Since I'm still feeling the pinch of the 23 hour day, this anticipation of monetary pinch had me on a downward spiral of grumpiness, so I turned to the Wall Street Journal seeking a dose of optimism.
The companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index are paying out dividends at an annual rate that's down 9.4 percent from last year. The dollar weakened broadly amid concerns that the United States monetary policy will remain "loose," meaning that interest rates are staying near zero. While it's not too late to get a federal tax credit for home buying, securing that loan will require more of a financial inquisition than ever, and never mind that appraisal values are distorted by falling home prices in many markets.
But on a brighter note, consumers have emerged from hibernation and retail spending is up. Could that be a result of early filers using their refunds already? (I'm not bitter. Really, I'm not.) Or are are U.S. households just adding to their collective $13.5 trillion in debt?