Tax tips for the unemployed and No ‘Lost Decade’ for these techs

Even if you didn’t work last year, you probably still have to pay taxes. Unemployment benefits are taxed. Plus, if you received a W2 and made at least $9,350 (as a single person) you are required to send in a return, says tax analyst Mark Luscombe of CCH.  Let’s say you decided to freelance or start a business, you’ll have to file a tax return if you made more than $400 in profit. If you are anticipating a tax refund, you must file – even if you didn’t work at all.

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Traditionally, every penny of unemployment insurance is taxed. But with 8.4 million job losses since the start of the recession, that rule is changing this year.

If you received unemployment checks last year, you can exclude the first $2,400 when you file your return. You have to remember to do this math yourself, since the documents from your state employment agency won’t exempt it. This benefit won’t be around next year. [Read the full article]

The technology sector is arguably the healthiest in the economy right now. But here’s a sobering thought: Most major tech stocks are probably never going to get back to the levels they were at a decade ago.

Even if they do ultimately top where they were at the height of the dot-com bubble, it’s going to take years.

Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) and Oracle (ORCL, Fortune 500) are still about 30% lower than where they were trading on March 10, 2000, the day the Nasdaq hit its all-time high. They’ve held up better than many others.

Cisco Systems (CSCO, Fortune 500) and Intel (INTC, Fortune 500) each trade more than 60% below their March 2000 prices, while Texas Instruments (TXN, Fortune 500) is down about 70%.

Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) has skyrocketed more than 650% in the past 10 years for obvious reasons. Smartphone rival Research in Motion (RIMM) has gained more than 200% with the success of the BlackBerry. [Read the full article]

But the troubled insurer is still just halfway home and it’s not clear exactly how AIG will pay off the remainder.

On Monday, the insurer announced that it would sell foreign life insurance business Alico to MetLife (MET, Fortune 500) for $15.5 billion. Last week, AIG said it reached an agreement to sell Asian life insurance giant AIA for $35.5 billion.

That’s $51 billion that AIG said will eventually be used to pay down its debt to the government. The two sales mark the most significant progress that AIG has made to-date in its efforts to repay its bailout, which is worth up to $182 billion.

Taxpayers won’t get their money back overnight. The sales still need to be completed, and AIG has said that more than $19 billion will come over time from proceeds generated by sales of securities.

So far, the government has given AIG $136.5 billion, of which the insurer owes $102 billion. [Read the full article]

Mr. Rubin, as with many astute investors, overlooked the most dangerous macro issue today: the emerging sovereign debt crisis, highlighted right now by the teetering Greece economy. So how do you miss an entire country on the brink? By not employing the correct analytical tools to assess this risk.

Government debt basically comes in two forms: debt that is issued by a government and priced in its domestic currency, and debt that is issued by a government, but priced in another nation’s currency. Collectively, these debts are what analysts refer to as the total debt of a nation, or sovereign debt. In their informative book, This Time Is Different, authors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff culled centuries of historical data to show that when debt reaches 90% of a nation’s GDP, a warning signal should sound among investors, citizens and governments. [Read the full article]

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