The Week Ahead: Passengers, politics and profitability
Americans are flying again. There are fewer seats in the sky compared to before COVID-19, but as more people are vaccinated and succumb to pandemic fatigue, more people are heading to airports and taking off. More than 1 million people have passed through TSA checkpoints each day over the past month. While that’s about 50 percent of the pre-pandemic traffic, it represents a fast recovery from what airlines were experiencing just two months ago. And it will continue climbing. In early April, the Centers for Disease Control revised its domestic travel recommendations to say, “people who are full...
Uber launching rider verification program to curb ride-share carjacking surge in Chicago and nationwide
CHICAGO – With carjacking incidents involving ride-share drivers on the rise in Chicago and other markets, Uber is rolling out a nationwide verification program for riders using payment methods such as prepaid debit cards, gift cards or Venmo. Beginning Friday, riders who set up an account with an anonymous form of payment will need to upload a drivers license, state ID, or passport before booking a ride. Uber is the first ride-sharing company to require such passenger verification. The process also applies to the Uber Eats food delivery service. “We think this adds an additional layer of iden...
Suburban Chicago businessman suspected of using COVID-19 relief money to buy fleet of luxury cars
A suburban Chicago businessman is under federal investigation for allegedly fraudulently obtaining more than $1 million from COVID-19 relief loans and using a large portion of the money to buy a fleet of luxury vehicles, newly unsealed court documents show. In all, Francesco DiStefano, of Addison, Illinois, purchased four high-end vehicles over a monthlong period in 2020 using about $385,000 in ill-gotten funds, according to an FBI search warrant affidavit filed last month. The vehicles included a 2016 Lamborghini Huracan, a 2020 Range Rover Evoque, a 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera, and a 2017 Maser...
Linemo, Ahamo, Povo or Rakuten Un-Limit: Which New Phone Plan is Right for You?
Mobile phone contract prices have been a bone of contention in Japan for a number of years now. When he entered office last autumn, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged to lower mobile contract fees as one of his flagship policies. Revisions to the Telecommunications Business Act were made that would, among other things, ban carriers from locking in customers with archaic contracts. Lawmakers also hoped the move would encourage price competition amongst passive phone carriers. Since the big three phone carriers were forced to offer these prices, they don’t make it easy for you. Earlier this y...
Jeff Bezos retains status as world’s richest man, Elon Musk rockets into second spot
With his wealth further fueled by massive gains made amid the global coronavirus pandemic, Jeff Bezos retained the top spot on Forbes annual billionaire’s list. In 2020, a year riddled with challenges brought on by a worldwide health crisis, the Amazon CEO saw his net worth increase by $64 billion, from $113 billion to $177 billion. Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk claimed the second spot, a dramatic climb from his 31st ranking last year, with $151 billion. His worth increased from from $24.6 billion in 2020 to $151 billion in 2021, according to the Forbes magazine’s 2021 list of the globe’s...
New York Daily News
Susan Tompor: You might get a letter from IRS about a mistake on your tax return
A lot of confusion relating to stimulus checks — and how to claim a tax credit for any money still owed — is triggering trouble, extra letters and delays as people file their 2020 tax returns. The Internal Revenue Service is correcting plenty of mistakes that are being made after people plug in the wrong number for the Recovery Rebate Credit on their federal income tax returns. "Anytime there is something new on the tax return it usually has an elevated error rate," said Mark Luscombe, principal analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting. "So," Luscombe said, "the IRS may have a greater volum...
Detroit Free Press
Report: Bulk of February power plant outages 'weather related' amid historic Texas freeze
AUSTIN, Texas — If you're wondering what caused the power outages that contributed to dozens of deaths across Texas and billions of dollars in property damage during February's historic winter freeze, a preliminary report Tuesday sheds a bit of light on it — provided you weren't already aware it was really, really cold outside. The top reason cited by operators of power plants that were knocked offline or forced to curtail output during the Feb. 14-19 emergency was "weather related," according to the report released by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which oversees the state's power...
PG&E faces another criminal case as Sonoma County DA files charges in 2019 Kincade fire
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Pacific Gas & Electric is facing criminal charges again following a massive California wildfire — in this case, the worst incident of the 2019 fire season. The Sonoma County district attorney indicted the state’s largest utility Tuesday in connection with the Kincade fire, the October 2019 wildfire that didn’t kill anyone but forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents. The Sonoma case shows that PG&E, nearly a year removed from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy driven by wildfire liabilities, continues to struggle with fire risk and its legal consequences. Last month the Cali...
The Sacramento Bee
Illinois is paying off $25 million in student loans to encourage homeownership, and that’s drawing buyers to the state
Peter Maloney wanted to move back to the Chicago area from Florida, but with $44,000 in student loans to repay he figured it would be several years before he could buy a home. Maloney, 26, considered moving to Indiana, where he would be close to family and homes are less expensive. But he and his fiancee were sold on Illinois after learning about a state program that helps homebuyers pay off student loans and provides down payment assistance. In June, Maloney will close on the purchase of a two-bedroom, two-bath condominium in Plainfield, Ill. “It definitely made the decision (to move) easier,...
Susan Tompor: Big money awaits many who forgot to file 2017 tax returns
About 1.3 million taxpayers across the country might want to think about filing their 2017 federal income tax returns by May 17. The Internal Revenue Service said tax refunds that total $1.3 billion are owed to people who have not filed a 2017 federal income tax return. Yes, we're talking about unfiled tax returns from a few years ago that could trigger a decent tax refund. Yes, unfortunately you might not get to spend all that money since it might go directly to cover past due taxes, too. The IRS estimates the midpoint for the potential refunds for 2017 to be $865 — that is, half of the refun...
Detroit Free Press