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Federal Reserve Board publishes report containing summary information on debit card transactions in 2013

September 19, 2014 Comments off

Federal Reserve Board publishes report containing summary information on debit card transactions in 2013
Source: Federal Reserve Board

The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday published a report containing summary information on the volume and value, interchange fee revenue, certain issuer costs, and fraud losses related to debit card transactions in 2013. The report is the third in a series to be published every two years pursuant to section 920 of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA).

The Board’s Regulation II (Debit Card Interchange Fees and Routing), which implements this provision of the EFTA, provides that a debit card issuer subject to the interchange fee standard (a covered issuer) may not receive an interchange fee that exceeds 21 cents plus 5 basis points multiplied by the value of the transaction, plus a 1-cent fraud-prevention adjustment, if eligible. The interchange fee standard does not apply to debit card issuers with consolidated assets of less than $10 billion, certain government-administered debit cards, and certain prepaid cards. The interchange fee standard became effective on October 1, 2011.

As in prior years, covered issuers’ costs of authorizing, clearing, and settling (ACS) debit card transactions, excluding issuer fraud losses, varied greatly across respondents in 2013, with the median issuer having an average ACS cost of 14.9 cents and the issuer at the 75th percentile having an average ACS cost of 42.2 cents. Issuers with the highest debit card transaction volume generally had the lowest ACS costs per transaction as reflected in an overall average of 4.4 cents per transaction, down from 5 cents per transaction in 2011. Conversely, issuers with the smallest debit card programs generally had the highest ACS costs per transaction.

The Board estimated debit-card fraud losses to all parties (merchants, cardholders, and issuers) to be $1.57 billion in 2013, with an average loss of approximately 8 basis points as a share of transaction value, up slightly from 2011. The median covered issuer’s average fraud loss as a share of transaction value was 5 basis points, up slightly from 4.7 basis points in 2011. The median covered issuer had average fraud prevention and data security costs of slightly more than 1.4 cents per transaction.

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Fiscal year 2014 statutory audit of compliance with notifying taxpayers Of their rights when requested to extend the assessment statute

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Fiscal year 2014 statutory audit of compliance with notifying taxpayers Of their rights when requested to extend the assessment statute
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS
The IRS is required by law to notify taxpayers of their rights when requesting an extension of the statute of limitations for assessing additional taxes and penalties. Taxpayers might be adversely affected if the IRS does not follow the requirements to notify both the taxpayers and their representatives of the taxpayers’ rights related to assessment statute extensions.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT
TIGTA is required by law to annually determine whether the IRS complied with Internal Revenue Code Section 6501(c)(4)(B), which requires that the IRS provide notice to taxpayers of their rights to decline to extend the assessment statute of limitations or to request that any extension be limited to a specific period of time or specific issues.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND
TIGTA’s review of a statistical sample of 59 closed taxpayer audit files with assessment statute extensions found that the IRS is generally compliant with Internal Revenue Code Section 6501(c)(4)(B). However, TIGTA identified a few instances in which the taxpayer audit files did not contain documentation to support that the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s representative were properly notified of the taxpayer’s rights.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA did not make any recommendations in this report because the number of errors was relatively small and the recommendations made in previous TIGTA audit reports are still valid for the issues reported. IRS officials were provided an opportunity to review the draft report and did not provide any comments.

Quality of Health Care After Adopting a Full-Replacement, High-Deductible Health Plan With a Health Savings Account: A Five-Year Study

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Quality of Health Care After Adopting a Full-Replacement, High-Deductible Health Plan With a Health Savings Account: A Five-Year Study
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute

Executive Summary

  • This study reports use of health care services related to health care quality over five years among over 18,000 individuals from a single large employer in the Midwestern United States that adopted an HSA-eligible health plan for all employees. It represents one of the longest observation periods reported with a full-replacement CDHP, and it is one of the few studies with a matched control group.
  • The introduction of the HSA-eligible health plan had a negative impact on office visits for annual physicals, well-child visits, and preventive visits in the year that the plan was adopted. In the second year, office visits increased for HSA-eligible health plan enrollees, but were mostly unchanged for the comparison group. By the fourth year in the HSA-eligible health plan, office visits for annual physicals, well-child visits, and preventive visits were down slightly relative to the comparison group.
  • Rates of LDL testing for adults with cardiovascular disease were reduced only in the first year of the HSA-eligible health plan. However, the introduction of the HSA-eligible health plan had a negative effect on medication monitoring for adults on select maintenance drugs not only in the first year that the new health plan was introduced, but in the following three years as well. • The HSA-eligible health plan reduced avoidance of both antibiotics for adults with acute bronchitis and imaging services for adults diagnosed with low back pain. Both services are often considered unnecessary.
  • Adoption of the HSA-eligible health plan was associated with a reduction in breast cancer, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer screening in year one, although screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer rebounded in year two. By year four, breast cancer screening was higher among enrollees in the HSA-eligible health plan than in the comparison group. In contrast, cervical cancer screening was lower among HSA-eligible health plan enrollees than the comparison group in year four. Throughout all of the study years, colorectal cancer screening was lower among HSA-eligible health plan enrollees than in the comparison group.
  • The HSA-eligible health plan was not associated with a change in the percentage of adults receiving HbA1c testing until the fourth year. LDL testing was lower as a result of the introduction of the HSA-eligible health plan in all years.

Selected Charts 2014, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Selected Charts 2014, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

This collection of nine charts and maps presents examples of key statistics on the farm sector, food spending and prices, food security, rural communities, agricultural production and trade, the interaction of agriculture and natural resources, and more found in ERS’s updated web product, Ag and Food Statistics: Charting the Essentials.

Employer-Sponsored Family Health Premiums Rise 3 Percent in 2014

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Employer-Sponsored Family Health Premiums Rise 3 Percent in 2014
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

Average annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $16,834 this year, up 3 percent from last year, continuing a recent trend of modest increases, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation/Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET) 2014 Employer Health Benefits Survey released today. Workers on average pay $4,823 annually toward the cost of family coverage this year.

This year’s increase continues a recent trend of moderate premium growth. Premiums increased more slowly over the past five years than the preceding five years (26 percent vs. 34 percent) and well below the annual double-digit increases recorded in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This year’s increase also is similar to the year-to-year rise in worker’s wages (2.3 percent) and general inflation (2 percent).

Annual premiums for worker-only coverage stand at $6,025 this year. Workers on average contribute $1,081 toward the cost of worker-only coverage this year.

Nearly Half of Family Caregivers Spend Over $5,000 Per Year on Caregiving Costs

September 17, 2014 Comments off

Nearly Half of Family Caregivers Spend Over $5,000 Per Year on Caregiving Costs
Source: Caring.com

Almost half (46%) of family caregivers spend more than $5,000 per year on caregiving expenses, according to a new Caring.com report. A family caregiver is defined as someone who takes care of a family member or friend, but is unpaid for their services. Their caregiving expenses include out-of-pocket costs for medications, medical bills, in-home care, nursing homes and more.

Of the 46% of family caregivers that spend more than $5,000 annually: * 16% spend from $5,000 to $9,999 * 11% spend from $10,000 to $19,999 * 7% spend $20,000 to $29,999 * 5% spend $30,000 to $49,999 * 7% spend $50,000 or more each year.

Thirty-two percent of family caregivers spend less than $5,000 per year, and 21% do not know how much they spend on caregiving each year.

CRS — The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): An Explanation (August 27, 2014)

September 16, 2014 Comments off

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA): An Explanation (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recognizing the special burdens that members of the military may encounter trying to meet their financial obligations while serving their country, in 1940 Congress passed the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The law was amended from time to time, ordinarily in response to military operations that required the activation of the Reserves. P.L. 108-189, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), was enacted on December 19, 2003, as a modernization and restatement of the protections contained in the SSCRA. Much like with the SSCRA, the SCRA has been amended since its initial passage and proposed changes continue to be introduced in Congress. This report summarizes the rights granted to persons serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, and in some instances, to their dependents, under the SCRA.

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