CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 5, 2013 |
In 2006, billionaire computer magnate Michael Dell, one of the world's richest men, agreed to pay $200 million for the Fairmont Miramar Hotel, a beachfront landmark in Santa Monica that long has been a retreat for Hollywood starlets and U.S. presidents. A few months later, Dell tore up the contract. He still wanted the hotel. But his attorneys had found a simple way to reshuffle the deal to avoid a legal change in ownership. The maneuver saved about $1 million a year in property taxes -- an option available only to businesses, not homeowners, under the arcane rules governing Proposition 13. The Miramar deal illustrates how businesses can easily -- and legally -- avoid property tax hikes under the California ballot initiative passed in 1978.
April 23, 2013 |
With rare bipartisan support, the Senate is poised to pass a bill this week that could lead largely to the end of the nation's long online sales tax holiday. The measure would allow states to require that large online retailers collect sales taxes on goods sold over the Internet, closing a loophole that has benefited the likes of EBay Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The White House gave the legislation its approval Monday, and it passed a key procedural hurdle. The Senate voted 74 to 20 to begin consideration of the so-called Marketplace Fairness Act, with a final vote expected in a few days.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 10, 2013 |
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge is expected Wednesday morning to decide whether an 86-year-old murder defendant should be released from custody and into the care of his son. Nattie Kennebrew, who is legally blind, in a wheelchair and suffers from severe dementia, is charged with killing an apartment handyman in 2009. After a preliminary hearing, Kennebrew was ordered to stand trial. But before the case went to a jury, his lawyer successfully argued that Kennebrew was not competent to stand trial and he was later transferred to Patton State Hospital, where a defendant can be held no more than three years under state law. Prosecutors have tried to keep Kennebrew from being released by asking Los Angeles County to become Kennebrew's public guardian, a move that would allow him to be held in a state mental facility.
April 2, 2013 |
A new fight is brewing over health insurance companies letting millions of Americans renew their current coverage for another year - and thereby avoid changes under the federal healthcare law. That may offer a short-term benefit for certain consumers and shield some of those individual policyholders from potentially steep rate increases. But critics say this maneuver could undermine government efforts to remake the insurance market next year and keep premiums affordable overall. At issue is a little-known loophole in President Obama's landmark legislation that enables health insurers to extend existing policies for nearly all of 2014.
March 12, 2013 |
It was the sort of letter designed to get attention. "Final attempt to notify," it said on the outside. Within, an official-looking "product warranty expiration notice" said that my Toyota's service contract "is expiring or has expired. " It provided a number to call "to extend coverage. " This was troubling because when I purchased my "certified pre-owned" car from a dealer in 2011, I paid $1,700 for a seven-year, 100,000-mile extended warranty. Now it was expiring? The answer, of course, was no. And the racket I'm about to run down is yet another reminder that you need to examine closely anything that even remotely looks like a financial warning.
February 26, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - In May 1999, one month after the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, Senate Democrats triumphantly declared that the politics of gun control had changed. An amendment to require background checks on all buyers at gun shows had just cleared the Senate in dramatic fashion: Vice President Al Gore cast the tie-breaking vote. "It will never be the same again," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York. "The vise lock that the NRA has had on the Senate and the House is broken.