Financial news and advice — November 2014

Robert Redford is suing New York State over a US$1.6-million tax bill. Plus, new studies show that China is home to the world’s most money-savvy teens.


Redford vs. New York State

Hollywood icon Robert Redford is suing New York State over a US$1.6-million tax bill. The Oscar-winning actor, producer and director says he’s being double taxed on earnings from the 2005 sale of a stake in the Sundance Channel, a cable television offshoot of his annual Sundance independent film festival. Redford already paid tax to the State of Utah, where he lives, and wants the New York tax bill — nearly half of which is interest — thrown out. The 77-year-old star says he didn’t even know about the bill until a few months ago, when the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance sent him a bill for US$845,066 in taxes plus US$723,404 in interest.


China’s high-schoolers get top marks


Shanghai is home to the world’s most money-savvy teens, according to a study of 18 countries and economies. About 29,000 15-year-olds took a two-hour test administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to determine their financial literacy. The Flemish community of Belgium ranked second, followed by Estonia and Australia; the US placed ninth and Colombia was last. Canada did not participate in the study. Only 10% of all students could solve the toughest questions, such as choosing the better of two loan proposals.


Ladies lag in fiscal know-how

Women still fall behind men in nearly every key area of financial planning, finds a study by US education and counselling firm Financial Finesse. For example, 85% of men have a general knowledge of investing and 78% have a handle on cash flow, compared with just 66% and 63% of women. While the gender gap in financial wellness narrowed overall from last year, it widened for the highest earners (over US$150,000).


Putting a number on success

More than half of workers in the US would feel “successful” earning less than US$70,000, according to a survey by HR firm CareerBuilder. Less than one-quarter say they’d need an annual income of $100,000 or more to feel like they’ve made it, although men (29%) are nearly twice as likely as women (15%) to peg success at six figures. The survey also found that it pays to ask for a raise: while 51% of men and 62% of women have never asked for an increase in salary, two-thirds of those who did ask for a raise got it.


Student debt affects well-being for decades

As if loan payments weren’t bad enough, a Gallup poll shows that university grads who borrowed money to pay for school have a poorer quality of life than their debt-free counterparts. The survey of 30,000 US grads found those with more than $50,000 in debt felt less financially and physically fit and were more likely to say their lives lacked purpose, even years later.

About the Author

Tamar Satov

Tamar Satov is managing editor of CPA Magazine.

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