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In brief: Homeowners use tax break

Washington homeowners are among the largest beneficiaries of the federal income tax deduction for mortgage interest payments, according to a new study by the Tax Foundation.

The average deduction for Washington residents who claimed the deduction in 2008 was $14,262, fourth highest among the states and District of Columbia.

The average for all returns, not just those claiming the deduction, was $4,426, sixth highest nationally. Just over 31 percent of Washington tax returns included the deduction.

Idaho ranked 25th for average claimed deduction, $10,587, and 21st for average deduction on all returns, $3,081. The deduction was claimed on slightly more than 29 percent of all returns.

In a release, the foundation said the variation in rankings generally reflected higher household incomes, the rate of home ownership, and housing prices.

California ranked first for average deduction on all returns, and returns that claimed the deduction.

Bert Caldwell

Toyota death toll as high as 89

Washington – Unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles may have been involved in the deaths of 89 people over the past decade, increasing the number of deaths possibly linked to the massive recalls, the government said Tuesday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that from 2000 to mid-May, it had received more than 6,200 complaints involving sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. The reports include 89 deaths and 57 injuries over the same period. Previously, 52 deaths had been suspected of being connected to the problem.

Toyota Motor Corp. has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide since last fall because of problems with gas pedals, floor mats and brakes. The Japanese automaker paid a record $16.4 million fine for its slow response to an accelerator pedal recall and is facing hundreds of state and federal lawsuits.

Associated Press

Economy shrinks in Venezuela

Caracas – Venezuela’s economy shrank 5.8 percent in the first quarter from the same period a year earlier, the Central Bank said Tuesday in a report that revealed a deepening recession.

The economy was pulled down in the first three months by a 5 percent decline in the key oil sector, a 6 percent decrease in the private sector and a whopping 27.9 percent fall in private investment, the bank said.

The economic downturn coincides with 30 percent inflation that has become a major challenge for President Hugo Chavez’s socialist government.

Associated Press


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