Shutdown Ripples Put Tax Season on Tilt, & 5 More Things To Know Today
• The start of tax filing season will be delayed by a week or two, the Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday, a move that will likely delay some tax refunds and create a backlog for early filers. To blame: Lingering aftereffects from the federal government shutdown. "Readying our systems to handle the tax season is an intricate, detailed process, and we must take the time to get it right," said acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel in a statement. The IRS now plans to start accepting returns between Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, rather than on Jan. 21.
• Climate change has killed the McDonald's dollar menu. Thanks to rising commodity prices (beef in particular), McDonald's (MCD) has been forced to transform it into the "Dollar Menu & More," with items ranging in price up to $2. And the reason for those increased costs? Rising temperatures and more droughts caused by global warming.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%• Poor JPMorgan (JPM). First, the government came after it over its misrepresentation of shaky mortgage-backed securities in the years before the financial crisis. Now, a group of big investors is reportedly seeking $5.75 billion from the banking house in compensation for loses on those MBSs. Any settlement they make would be separate from the $13 billion settlement that JPMorgan heading toward with regulators.
• China's top banks have tripled their writeoffs of bad debt -- and that's actually a good thing. Yes, the $3.65 billion that China's five largest banks wrote off in the first half of 2013 indicates that more borrowers are defaulting -- but it also shows that the financial institutions and their regulators are moving toward a more honest system of reporting bank assets, rather than one that keeps their values artificially inflated with loans they are never going to collect. That could ease the Chinese banking system's troubles later, should a widely feared slowdown hit that nation's economy.
• About a year ago, activist investor Carl Icahn bought or took out options on 5.5 million Netflix (NFLX) shares, representing a 10 percent stake in the company. Tuesday, he revealed in an SEC filing that he's sold more than half his stake, and pocketed a serious profit on it. Netflix shares have risen 460 percent since Icahn bought in.
• And finally, Warren Buffett wants us all to remember: As much as hard work and the choices we make are important, a big part of his success (or anyone else's) has to be attributed to luck.