The grand stairs at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown Hotel.
By Steve Twedt Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Sequester" means to separate, and last week many air travelers got separated from their itineraries as the federal budget sequester led to furloughs of air traffic controllers, leading to three-hour flight delays at some airports. On Wednesday alone, 863 flights were delayed. By week's end, Congress had agreed to give Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood flexibility to move money from other parts of his budget to restore the air controller ranks.
Winding down construction
It took 2,067 days from when the building permit was issued -- or nearly five times the amount of time it took to build the Empire State Building in New York City -- but the 20,000-square-foot addition to the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown Hotel now has its temporary occupancy permit. Guests at the Wyndham, one of the first buildings that visitors spot coming through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, will soon be able to use the new 27-by-14-foot swimming pool and spa.
Taxing Internet sales
The U.S. Senate is considering a bill that would allow states to collect taxes on Internet sales of products from companies that make at least $1 million in yearly sales. If passed, it could bring an estimated $389 million in tax revenue to Pennsylvania. Shop owners have complained about people coming to their stores, inspecting their goods, then making the purchase online to avoid the sales tax.
Speaking of avoiding taxes ...
The New York Times reported that a growing number of U.S. corporations, including Penn National Gaming, which has plans for a racetrack and casino in Lawrence County, are cutting or even eliminating their federal tax obligation by getting permission from the IRS to declare themselves "special trusts," a designation historically that is an investment vehicle to build a real estate portfolio.
IRS slapped for faulty refunds
On top of those other taxing issues, an inspector general's report last week found that the IRS issued more than $11 billion in faulty refunds for earned income tax credits, a 21 percent error rate -- despite a 2-year-old federal law requiring federal agencies to get their error rates under 10 percent. EIT credits provide refunds for low-income working people.