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Publishers seek state tax break

Thu., Feb. 19, 2009

Newspaper publishers implored lawmakers on Wednesday to give them a temporary break on the state’s main business tax, saying that some of the state’s papers are “holding on by our fingertips.”

Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen and Scott Campbell, publisher of the Columbian in Vancouver, told the Senate Ways and Means Committee they need help during tumultuous times in the industry.

Under the proposed measure, the business and occupation tax on newspapers would be cut by 40 percent through 2015.

Blethen said a state tax break wouldn’t fix all that ails newspapers, but it would help them preserve jobs.


Boeing discounts layoff alternatives

Freezing wages and eliminating bonuses to avoid layoffs would be counterproductive for the Boeing Co. and other big employers, the aerospace company’s chief executive said.

In an e-mail Tuesday to Boeing employees, printed in full on the Web site of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper Wednesday, CEO Jim McNerney wrote that such moves would hurt the company’s ability to attract and retain high-performing employees.

Since Jan. 1 Boeing has announced plans to lay off about 10,000 employees, mostly in overhead and military-related positions but few in the commercial airplane production and engineering jobs.


GE boss declines bonus, awards

General Electric Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt declined a 2008 bonus and millions of dollars in performance awards, saying Wednesday that the company’s falling profits and plummeting share price prompted him to forgo the payments.

The Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate, which makes everything from locomotives to household appliances, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Immelt will not receive his $11.7 million long-term performance award. Immelt received no bonus and his base salary of $3.3 million was flat with his 2007 paycheck. In 2007, GE paid Immelt a $5.8 million bonus.


UBS to pay fine, open books

Banking giant UBS has agreed to pay $780 million and turn over once-secret Swiss banking records to settle allegations it conspired to defraud the U.S. government of taxes owed by thousands of American clients.

As part of the deal struck in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., UBS has made the unprecedented step of agreeing to immediately turn over to the U.S. government account information for U.S. customers of the bank’s cross-border business.

In doing so, federal authorities have struck a big crack in Switzerland’s vaunted bank secrecy laws.

UBS will pay $780 million in fines, penalties, interest and restitution for conspiring to create sham accounts to hide the assets of U.S. clients from the U.S. government.

“We accept full responsibility for these improper activities,” Peter Kurer, chairman of Swiss-based UBS AG, said in a statement. He added that the bank was determined to abide by the terms of the deal with U.S. criminal and securities officials.

About 17,000 American clients concealed their UBS accounts from the IRS, hiding total assets of roughly $20 billion, U.S. officials said.

From wire reports

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