3 investing moves you must make and Haven’t filed your taxes yet? No rush

Some of the best strategies for managing money are based on principles that have stood the test of time: Save consistently, diversify, keep your costs down, turn off the TV touts. But that doesn’t mean you never have to adjust your thinking in response to a single major event or a fast-growing trend.

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The investing landscape today is in the midst of dramatic shifts, whether it’s the return of stomach-churning volatility in financial markets following the credit crisis, or the increasing lengths of your and your spouse’s retirements, or the fact that the United States is no longer the only engine of growth capable of driving the world’s economy.

Says Alice Lowenstein, a research specialist for the asset manager Litman/Gregory: "The building blocks may be the same, but the past few years have brought some changes to the way we plan." To make the most of this new world, start here.

The new world: Investing mostly in the U.S. [Read the full article]

Many people fear that a tardy return will involve penalties, headaches or even jail time. But the reality is that if you are one of the majority of Americans owed a refund this year, the Internal Revenue Service can’t touch you. And in some rare cases, the IRS might even owe you more money.

But if you aren’t getting a refund and need to pony up, there could be major consequences for not getting your return in on time. The penalty for filing a late tax return is 5% interest on the amount owed for each month that you fail to file, up to a maximum of 25%.

As long as [you’re] sure that there is no tax due on the return, I would definitely advise taxpayers not to get too worked up over meeting the April 15 deadline, said Robert Willens, a professor of taxation at Columbia Business School and president of a tax consulting firm.

Almost 90% of returns processed so far have resulted in a refund averaging $3,036. [Read the full article]

In the United States, new production from once hard-to-tap shale rock is booming in places like Texas, Louisiana and the Northeast. There are also plans to construct a mammoth gas pipeline through Canada to bring Alaskan North Slope gas to market.

In Australia and Qatar, liquefied natural gas terminals have started supplying fast-growing Asian countries, and more are under construction.

In Africa, rich natural gas deposits off the coast of Angola are slated for both the domestic market and export to Europe, which still gets a big part of its supply from Russia’s huge reserves. Plans are also underway to supply both Europe and Asia with the sizable gas reserves in Iran and Iraq.

Forecasting agencies, long known to play it safe before touting new trends, are only predicting a modest increase in gas’ share of the world’s overall energy mix by 2030. [Read the full article]

When employers report wages for independent contractors on IRS form 1099, rather than a W-2, they aren’t required to pay unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation insurance or payroll taxes for them. But the rules governing which workers are genuinely "independent are strict — and often flouted.

The Internal Revenue Service launched a program last month that will randomly examine 6,000 companies over the next three years for employee misclassifications. The federal government estimates it will raise $7 billion over the next 10 through tighter enforcement.

The IRS audit program is just the beginning of what will be "a new era of compliance,says Gene Zaino, president and CEO of MBO Partners, a services firm that specializes in the independent contractor market. Most states are now sharing data with the IRS, and many have set up task forces specifically [to address] misclassification. [Read the full article]

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