FYI from the Missouri Chamber of Commerce

Friday, March 15, 2002

New "saver's credit" makes its debut this year

This income-tax credit is aimed at low- and middle-income taxpayers to help offset the cost of the first $2,000 people contribute to an IRA, 401(k) or similar plan.

The saver's credit can be as much as 50 percent of the taxpayer's contributions, with a maximum per-person credit of $1,000 a year (or as much as $2,000 for a married couple filing jointly).

Among the restrictions: The credit is limited to a couple with adjusted gross income of $50,000 or less, and most singles with $25,000 or less.

The Department of Labor's National Call Center

By calling 1-866-4-USA-DOL, Missouri's employees and employers can find answers to questions on a range of employment issues. The Call Center can assist workers and employers with questions about job loss, business closures, pay and leave, workplace injuries, safety and health, pension and health benefits, and reemployment rights for reservists.

Additional Department of Labor toll-free numbers to call for questions regarding specific issues are listed below:

1-877-US-2JOBS, Job Loss,

Layoffs, Business Closures,

Unemployment Benefits and Job

Training

1-866-4-US-WAGE, Pay, Over-time,

Leave and Child Labor

1-800-321-OSHA, Workplace

Safety and Health

1-877-889-5627, TTY number for all

Department of Labor questions

No rest for the weary

According to USA Today, Americans rank above only Canada in getting the least number of days off in a year. The United States is one of the few nations that doesn't have a maximum working hours or a minimum annual leave law.

Below is a list of the typical number of days off annually for workers around the world:

-- 30 days: Austria, Germany, Brazil

-- 25 days: Sweden

-- 23 days: United Kingdom

-- 20 days: Belgium, Ireland

-- 16 days: Japan

-- 15 days: United States

-- 10 days: Canada

Skilled employees are less likely to be laid off

This according to a survey by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a Washington, D.C., consultant. The firm said only 16 percent of the 370 companies they surveyed have recently laid off or plan to lay off workers with skills seen as essential to competitiveness. But 38 percent made or plan cuts among employees without those skills.

House approved trade promotion authority to the president

The bill passed with a 215-214 vote on Dec. 6, 2001.

TPA will give the administration the negotiating power to forge trade deals that will knock down foreign trade barriers to American exports and open the door to improved trade relationships. TPA is an important tool for the president so countries can come to the negotiating table on trade treaties with the U.S. without fear of those deals being amended by Congress.

Exports support 12 million U.S. jobs. Over the past five years, the number of small businesses involved in exporting, has doubled to more than 200,000 and small businesses account for 30 percent of all U.S. exports by dollar value.

Unions don't have to post notices

This according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported that in January two unions won a round against the Bush administration in a Washington, D.C., federal court. The court struck down an executive order that required federal contractors to post notices telling workers they have a right not to join a union or to pay some union fees.

The unions argued the order went beyond the requirements of federal labor law. The White House had said the order would help productivity. A Labor Department spokeswoman calls the decision "disappointing," but says an appeal is planned.

Where each tax dollar goes

Here is a breakdown of how the federal government spends each tax dollar, according to the fiscal year 2002 budget:

-- 23 cents to Social Security

-- 22 cents to health and Medicare

-- 16 cents to national defense

-- 14 cents to income security

-- 10 cents to net interest (money paid on an outstanding debt)

-- 6 cents to other

-- 4 cents to education, training, etc.

-- 3 cents to transportation

-- 3 cents to veterans benefit and services

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