Business Briefs – April 12, 2018

IRS Head Sees Huge Task Ahead To Administer New Tax Law

WASHINGTON (AP) – The acting head of the IRS says the current tax-filing season has gone well, while acknowledging the tough challenge the cash-strapped agency faces of administering the new tax law that will affect 2019 returns. Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter tells Congress that some 79 million refunds totaling about $226 billion have been issued so far, averaging $2,900 — up $13 from last year.

China Denies Xi Comments Aimed At Settling U.S. Dispute

BEIJING (AP) – China says President Xi Jinping’s pledges to cut import tariffs on cars and open China’s markets wider were not meant as an overture for settling a tariff dispute with Washington. State media on Thursday cited a commerce ministry spokesman as saying negotiations were impossible under ‘unilateral coercion’ by President Donald Trump’s government.

Volkswagen Replaces CEO Mueller, Announces New Structure

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) – Volkswagen replaced CEO Matthias Mueller with core brand head Herbert Diess on Thursday and said it is creating a new management structure to enable faster decision-making as autonomous and electric cars transform the industry. The German automaker said in a statement that it would reorganize its management into six broad business areas plus China. It said the new structure would streamline decision-making in the individual operating units.

U.S. Publishers Worry About Pricier Newsprint With New Tariffs

MILWAUKEE (AP) – Recently imposed tariffs on Canadian newsprint are causing anxiety among U.S. publishers who say they’ll be forced to shut down or make further cuts in an industry already depleted by years of declining revenue. The tariffs are a response to complaint to the U.S. Department of Commerce from a hedge-fund owned paper producer in Washington state. That company is arguing its Canadian competitors have an unfair advantage with government subsidies. The tariffs could be finalized by September.

Former Coal Lobbyist Confirmed As No. 2 Official at EPA

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate on Thursday confirmed a former coal industry lobbyist as the second-highest official at the Environmental Protection Agency, putting him next in line to run the agency if embattled administrator Scott Pruitt is forced out or resigns. Senators approved Andrew Wheeler as the agency’s deputy administrator despite complaints from Democrats that Wheeler helped lead a fight by the coal industry to block regulations that protect Americans’ health and begin to address climate change.

Facebook to Stop Spending Against California Privacy Effort

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Facebook says it will stop spending money to fight a proposed California ballot initiative aimed at increasing data privacy. The company has contributed $200,000 in February to a committee opposing the “California Consumer Privacy Act.” It made the announcement Wednesday as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg underwent questioning from Congress about the handling of user data.