Business in brief: State retail sales up, but Spokane’s rise more
Taxable retail sales in Washington increased 7.9 percent to $26.2 billion during the first quarter of 2007, the state Department of Revenue reported Wednesday.
Increased retail sales in both Spokane County and the city of Spokane outpaced the statewide rate. In Spokane County, retail sales rose 9.4 percent to $1.7 billion and, in the city of Spokane, the increase was 11 percent, to $917 million.
Statewide, among major industries, construction was up 12.5 percent to $5 billion, new and used auto dealers increased 7.4 percent to $2.4 billion and food and beverage establishments rose 7.1 percent to $2 billion. However, the building materials, garden equipment and supplies sector dropped by 0.9 percent to $1.1 billion.
Japan automakers halt production after quake
Japanese automakers, including No. 1 Toyota Motor Corp., called production halts Wednesday at factories in Japan because of quake damage at a major parts supplier.
The temporary closure of auto parts maker Riken Corp.’s plant at Kashiwazaki city, near the epicenter of Monday’s magnitude 6.8 quake, has forced Toyota, Nissan Motor Co., Mitsubishi Motors Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries and Suzuki Motor Corp. to scale back production.
Toyota will stop production lines at a dozen factories centered in central Aichi prefecture this afternoon and all day Friday, said Toyota spokesman Paul Nolasco.
Democrats target IRS debt collection contracts
House Democrats renewed their attempt Wednesday to kill a program under which private debt collectors are commissioned to go after delinquent taxpayers. Ending the program would cost the government a half-billion dollars in the next five years, according to a congressional estimate.
The House Ways and Means Committee voted to repeal the Internal Revenue Service’s authority to contract with private companies to collect federal income taxes. The legislation would make up the drop in revenue mainly by imposing a tax on people who renounce their U.S. citizenship, often to avoid paying taxes.