Debt Feed

Remember that recent economic analysis that said Americans were more in debt than they've been in almost a decade? The bulk of that debt is housing related, but student debt also is a big contributor to the growing owing. Households today are borrowing differently than they did nine years ago, note New York Times reporters Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley. The latest data show that student loan debt, driven by soaring tuition costs, makes up 11 percent of total household debt, up from 5 percent in the third quarter of 2008. Nice days mean students can turn their college campus... Read more →


Americans have again dived into the deep end of the personal debt pool "Americans have now borrowed more money than they had at the height of the credit bubble in 2008, just as the global financial system began to collapse," write Michael Corkery and Stacy Cowley in today's New York Times' DealB%k column. The $12.73 trillion in debt reported in the first quarter of 2017 is comprised mainly of housing-related borrowing. But there is a bit of good news here. Here's hoping that the new residents find being homeowners as sweet as these house warming cupcakes. (Photo by Danl Lurle... Read more →


This post updated 10 p.m. CT, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017. Donald Trump has promised to deliver in a few weeks a tax plan that would "lower the overall tax burden on American businesses big league." The effusive description notwithstanding, some corporate tax reform would be welcome. It's long been accepted that the U.S. tax code needs work when it comes to business. The new Republican president and GOP-controlled House and Senate are promising business and individual tax reform. Analyses of the proposals so far, however, show that rich folks, personified in the character Jay Gatsby portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in... Read more →


If you have an old federal tax debt, you might be getting a call from a private debt collection agency next year. Under provisions of the transportation bill enacted last year, the Internal Revenue Service is once again to turn over some delinquent tax accounts to private debt collectors. That process will begin in 2017. And today, the IRS announced the a private collection agencies, or PCAs, that it has selected to do the job. They are: CBE Group 1309 Technology Parkway Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613 Conserve 200 CrossKeys Office Park Fairport, New York 14450 Performant 333 North Canyons Parkway... Read more →


Donald J. Trump wants the United States to renegotiate its federal debt. Erasing debt can help with individuals' cash flow, but it brings new tax considerations. I'll leave that economic debate to the experts in the dismal science. They already are all over Trump's CNBC interview, where the self-proclaimed "king of debt" addressed the issue of whether the United States should pay its debts in full. "I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee told the cable financial news network. "And if the economy was good, it was good.... Read more →


This is truly an October surprise. The persistent partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill has been broken, at least when it comes to the country's key financial needs. The House and President Obama announced yesterday, Oct. 27, that they had agreed on the country's overall budgets for the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years and extend the debt ceiling deadline to March 15, 2017. Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, joined by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), announced the two-year budget deal he and the Obama Administration hammered out. Click image to view the video. "This is a good deal. It's a solid... Read more →


I was feeling a bit overwhelmed recently, looking at what was on my to-do list and the time left to do it. Then I saw Congress' schedule and thought, I'm in good shape. The House and Senate are facing a series of deadlines that have much more serious consequences than me getting a story or blog post in at the last minute (please don't tell my editors I said that!). There are four major dates on the remaining 2015 Congressional calendar: October 1 -- The end of 2015 appropriations and the return of sequestration. October 29 -- Expiration of the... Read more →


It's almost time for school to start. For college students, or their parents, that means it's also almost time to start emptying out bank accounts. OK, maybe you don't have to liquidate all your assets to go to college nowadays, but it is expensive. Tuition is, of course, a major outlay. And most folks now pay for their continuing education by taking out loans. A lot of loans. New York Federal Reserve figures show that student debt hit $1.2 trillion in the first quarter of 2015. School-related money is owed by about 43 million Americans. That's why the ever-escalating cost... Read more →


Look out. Some hitchhiking private tax debt collectors could stall the Highway Trust Fund, which already is running on fumes. Claudette Colbert shows Clark Gable how to catch a ride in the classic film It Happened One Night. Their characters were much more welcome hitchhikers than are private collectors of tax debt who are hitching a ride on the Senate bill to pay for the Highway Trust Fund by July 31. Photo/movie trailer screenshot courtesy Wikipedia. The Senate late Wednesday, July 22, finally restarted its transportation funding effort thanks to a 62-36 vote that will let debate on the actual... Read more →


Greece's future, both financially and as part of the Eurozone, remains unclear as the Mediterranean country and its creditors struggle to come to an agreement on what should be done about its persistent inability to pay its bills. UPDATE Monday, July 13, 2015: European leaders agree to tough Greek rescue plan. In simplest terms, the Greeks borrowed more money than they can pay back. The New York Times offers a more detailed look at how Greece got to this financial crisis point. At issue now is a three-year bailout of 53.5 billion euros, or $59 billion. It's not a new... Read more →


Next week should be fun. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says that unless Congress increases the federal debt ceiling, the country will hit its borrowing limit on Monday, March 16. That deadline day is this week's By the Numbers figure. Lew, in a letter to Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle, points out, just in case any lawmakers are unclear, that increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. "It simply allows the government to pay for expenditures Congress has already approved, thereby protecting the full faith and credit of the United States," writes Lew. Time... Read more →


Congressional gridlock generally is a problem, not just for folks on Capitol Hill, but also for all of us who are impacted by legislative inaction. Take the tax extenders. By delaying action on this collection of 50-plus tax breaks, all of us who depend on any of these expired provisions are in limbo as to what tax-planning moves to make. But there is a very thin silver lining in the delay. It means there's more time to fight a bad provision in the bill, the requirement that the Internal Revenue Service once again use private debt collectors, or PDCs, to... Read more →


Have you ever owed the Internal Revenue Service money that you just couldn't pay? What about other overdue bills? If you're behind on private sector payments, chances are you'll eventually hear from a debt collector. Now the Senate Finance Committee, via a provision in its tax extenders bill approved on April 3, wants to once again sic private bill collectors on delinquent taxpayers. Near the end of S. 2260, the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act -- that's the catchy, acronym-friendly name Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) gave his extenders bill -- is Sec. 304.... Read more →


And here we are again, if not on a fiscal cliff, at least standing on a debt ceiling ledge. When Congress agreed to reopen the federal government after October 2013's 16-day shut-down, it also suspended the debt ceiling until today, Feb. 7. Click image for the full interactive national debt clock. As we've all come to learn in the last few years, the debt ceiling is the limit on Uncle Sam's ability to borrow money to pay for bills he -- and by he, I mean Congress -- has already incurred, including, but not limited to Social Security and Medicare... Read more →


It's a done financial deal. This evening (Jan. 16), the Senate approved the $1.1 trillion spending bill that was OK'ed the day before by the House. Obama should sign the measure soon has signed the measure into law. Everyone in federal offices now knows just how big -- or small in the Internal Revenue Service's case -- a budget they'll have to work with for fiscal year 2014. Now for the next fiscal battle, increasing the debt ceiling. Debt And that deadline will be a bit closer than we previously thought. February, not March: Treasury Secretary Jacob (Jack) Lew says... Read more →


Did you pay your real estate taxes this month so you can deduct the payment on your 2013 taxes? How close to your residence's value was the assessment on which your tax bill was based? Ours was pretty close. But then the housing market in Texas, and the part of the state where we live in particular, hasn't been hit as hard as other parts of the country. There's a tiny bit of improvement in national numbers. Online real estate database Zillow says that in the third of 2013, negative equity for homeowners with mortgages has fallen to 28.2 percent... Read more →


Grave government shutdown leaving us all adrift a la Gravity

Will Capitol Hill and the White House come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling and reopening all federal offices? A meeting had been scheduled for this afternoon -- actually as I type -- between the White House and Senate Democratic and Republican leaders who are working on a deal. The word now, however, is that the confab has been pushed back, possibly into tomorrow. If Congress, including Speaker John Boehner and the House Republican Party's recalcitrant Tea Party wing, can't be coaxed into a deal, we all will be left flying blind. That feeling of fear and hopelessness... Read more →


Tell Congress what you think as brazenly as you wish

There's a lot of talk about the Beltway Bubble, the phenomenon where the nation's capital exists in an atmosphere insulated from the real lives the rest of us lead. One Representative, however, recently tried to burst it. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) saw the latest surveys revealing that public approval of Congress has plummeted to its lowest level ever and he wanted to make sure his House colleagues knew about the lack of esteem in which they are held. Grayson attempted to use a special House rule that allows members to address harms to the "dignity" of the House. Yes, I... Read more →


What do we like more than Congress. Apparently, just about everything. But there is a silver lining to our disgust with Representatives and Senators. It might finally force federal lawmakers to rethink their so-called governing strategies. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other Republican leaders have put together a proposal to extend for six weeks the debt ceiling, which is the maximum amount the United States can borrow to pay already incurred bills. They've met with President Obama, who reportedly said he would make a deal, but only if it also went beyond the debt ceiling and cleared the way... Read more →


A lot of attention has been paid, rightfully, to the federal workers who are on furlough or working for free until Capitol Hill agrees on a fiscal 2014 budget. Among those sitting out the political stalemate are around 86,000 Internal Revenue Service rank and file workers. But as the shutdown approached, there also were some changes -- or not -- at the IRS' executive level. Werfel remains, for a while: First, the top guy's status. Daniel Werfel stepped in as Acting IRS Commissioner (his title was tweaked for administrative reasons in June) after word broke, and Congressional hearings began, on... Read more →