Financial news and advice – October 2016

An Australian accountant paid $129 for an island paradise, while a new study shows that higher education has benefitted members of the mafia.


No magic return tax refund for Harry Potter star

Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films, won’t be getting the £1-million ($1.7-million) tax refund he was seeking from the UK tax authority. He challenged Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs for the refund, claiming that a portion of the £24 million he earned from his role in the wizarding franchise should be taxed at a lower rate. The UK’s top income tax rate increased to 50% from 40% in the 2010-2011 tax year, but was lowered again two years later. Grint’s tax advisers tried to change the 27-year-old actor’s accounting date so that 20 months of income would be taxed in the tax year 2009-2010, before the higher rate came into effect. While the judge agreed Grint could have changed the dates, the fact that he didn’t officially change them meant he did not qualify for the refund.


Tax accountant wins island paradise

A tropical paradise

It was the best $129 he ever spent. That’s how much Josh Ptasznyk, a 26-year-old Australian accountant, paid for three tickets in a raffle for a 16-room resort and scuba business on the Micronesian island of Kosrae. The previous owners decided to raffle off the resort, netting about $4 million by selling 75,000 tickets in 150 countries. Ptasznyk bought the tickets after reading an article about the contest and assessing the 1-in-75,000 odds as “not some ridiculous amount.”


Fundraising fatigue

Canadian families want to give back but find it overwhelming, according to a survey by Ronald McDonald House Charities of Canada. Nearly 70% of Canadian parents polled feel they don’t have enough money to donate, 46% say there isn’t enough time for their family to give back and 22% feel there are too many charitable causes to support.


Educated mobsters earned more

An academic paper published in the Economics of Education Review suggests that even criminals benefit from post-secondary education. The study — called “Returns to education in criminal organizations: Did going to college help Michael Corleone?” — used US census data to examine the education levels of the Italian-American mafia between the 1930s and the 1960s. It found that for each year that a mafia member went to college, his income level rose as much as 8.5%


Money stress ages us

Nevermind expensive cosmetic treatments. If you don’t want to look older than your years, keep your finances in order. A study published in Research on Aging shows that people who say they are under a high level of financial stress appear to have aged more over a 10-year period than those with low levels of financial stress. The findings were less pronounced with other forms of stress, and only applied to how subjects looked to others — not how they felt about or appeared to themselves.