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Booming Stock Market Helps California Bounce Back from Pandemic

In the early days of the pandemic, no one would have looked to the stock market for salvation. From February to late March last year, the S&P 500 suffered one of its sharpest crashes ever, falling nearly 34 percent. But once the federal government began pumping money into the markets and the economy through bond-buying programs and stimulus, the market began rebounding.And professional money managers kept buying stocks. Amateur investors, stuck at home, piled into the market and drove up stock prices further. After hitting a bottom in March 2020, the S&P 500 is up nearly 90 percent, creating close to $17 trillion …

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With a Big Tax Break, Hong Kong Tries to Soothe the Rich

HONG KONG — Political opposition has been quashed. Free speech has been stifled. The independent court system may be next.But while Hong Kong’s top leaders take a tougher line on the city of more than seven million people, they are courting a crucial constituency: the rich. Top officials are preparing a new tax break and other sweeteners to portray Hong Kong as the premier place in Asia to make money, despite the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly autocratic rule.So far, the pitch is working. Cambridge Associates, a $30 billion investment fund, said in March it planned to open an …

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Big Companies Like FedEx and Nike Paid No Federal Taxes

Just as the Biden administration is pushing to raise taxes on corporations, a new study finds that at least 55 of America’s largest paid no taxes last year on billions of dollars in profits.The sweeping tax bill passed in 2017 by a Republican Congress and signed into law by President Donald J. Trump reduced the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. But dozens of Fortune 500 companies were able to further shrink their tax bill — sometimes to zero — thanks to a range of legal deductions and exemptions that have become staples of the tax code, according to the analysis.Salesforce, …

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Empty Office Buildings Squeeze City Budgets as Property Values Fall

WASHINGTON — At a meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen last month, Jeff Williams, the mayor of Arlington, Texas, laid out his grim economic predicament: Heavy spending on coronavirus testing and vaccine distribution had dwarfed dwindling tax revenue, forcing the city to consider painful cuts to services and jobs. While sluggish sales and tourism were partly to blame, the big worry, Mr. Williams said, is the empty buildings.Those dormant offices, malls and restaurants that have turned cities around the country into ghost towns foreshadow a fiscal time bomb for municipal budgets, which are heavily reliant on property taxes and …

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Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout That Many States Feared

Windfalls for Some StatesIn his survey, Peter DeGroot, head of municipal research and strategy at J.P. Morgan, found a handful of states, including Idaho, South Dakota and New Mexico, that managed to take in even more money last year than in 2019. The survey also identified several states where tax revenues have not yet bounced back because they depend heavily on tourism, oil and gas, or coal extraction — among them Hawaii, Nevada, Florida, Texas and West Virginia.Ms. Sheiner’s analysis showed that Idaho had the biggest revenue recovery of any state. She conducted her research with Byron Lutz, an …

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Maryland Nears Country’s First Tax on Big Tech’s Ad Revenue

State politicians, struggling with yawning budget gaps from the pandemic, have made no secret about their interest in getting a bigger piece of the tech industry’s riches.Now, Maryland’s lawmakers are on the verge of taking a new slice, with the nation’s first tax on the revenue from digital advertisements sold by companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon.The state’s House of Delegates voted on Thursday to override the governor’s veto of the proposed law, and the State Senate is expected to follow suit. The tax would generate as much as an estimated $250 million in …

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Biden Wants to Raise Taxes, Yet Many Trump Tax Cuts Are Here to Stay

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Biden proposed trillions of dollars in tax increases on corporations and the rich, but his plans stopped short of a full repeal of Mr. Trump’s tax law. He said he would raise income taxes to pre-Trump levels only at the top bracket, an increase to 39.6 percent from 37 percent. He called for raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent, where Mr. Trump set it — still short of the top rate of 35 percent that preceded the law.Even Mr. Biden’s international tax plan, which is meant to encourage domestic investment and job creation …

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‘Stay Alive and Survive’: Ski Resorts Brace for a Pandemic Season

OLYMPIC VALLEY, Calif. — A trickle of skiers recently zigzagged down the slopes at the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Couples and families wandered through the resort’s village, which was decorated with golden Christmas lights and frosted with snow.It looked like the beginning of a merry season. But a closer inspection revealed it was anything but.Restaurant patios were nearly empty as masked workers swept through with lime green disinfectant sprayers strapped to their backs, part of the $1 million that Squaw Valley has spent on sanitizing equipment and other safety measures. At ski lifts, sparse groups waited in socially distant …

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Coronavirus Pandemic Upends Public Services and Jobs

The coronavirus pandemic has inflicted an economic battering on state and local governments, shrinking tax receipts by hundreds of billions of dollars. Now devastating budget cuts loom, threatening to cripple public services and pare work forces far beyond the 1.3 million jobs lost in eight months.Governors, mayors and county executives have pleaded for federal aid before the end of the year. Congressional Republicans have scorned such assistance, with the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, calling it a “blue-state bailout.”But it turns out this budget crisis is colorblind. Six of the seven states that are expected to suffer …

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Biden’s Economic Team Suggests Focus on Workers and Income Equality

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. formally announced his top economic advisers on Monday, choosing a team that is stocked with champions of organized labor and marginalized workers, signaling an early focus on efforts to speed and spread the gains of the recovery from the pandemic recession.The selections build on a pledge Mr. Biden made to business groups two weeks ago, when he said labor unions would have “increased power” in his administration. They suggest that Mr. Biden’s team will be focused initially on increased federal spending to reduce unemployment and an expanded safety net to cushion households …

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