Business Briefs – February 19, 2019

I Owe How Much? Americans Shocked by Impact of New Tax Law

NEW YORK (AP) — The first tax filing season under the new federal tax law is proving to be surprising and confusing — and occasionally frightening — for some Americans, especially those accustomed to getting money back from the government. The law is delivering the promised tax cut to most Americans, but is also making changes that many find unpleasant.

Some people already saw the benefit in the form of bigger paychecks. That’s because the law forced employers to change what they withheld. But the system is far from perfect, and many workers didn’t have enough in taxes set aside. Now, the IRS wants that money.

In addition, the law also eliminated personal exemptions, increased child credits, limited popular deductions and generally upended many familiar practices that determine what happens at tax time. That has taxpayers feeling a bit unmoored.

U.S. Automakers to Trump: Don’t Slap Tariffs on Imported Cars

DETROIT (AP) — America’s auto industry is bracing for a potential escalation in President Donald Trump’s tariff war with the world, one that could weaken the global auto industry and economy, inflate car prices and trigger a backlash in Congress. The Commerce Department has sent the White House a report on whether imported vehicles and parts pose a threat to U.S. national security. Commerce hasn’t made its recommendations public.

Walmart Flexes in the Fourth Quarter, Beats All Expectations

NEW YORK (AP) — Walmart defied a gloomy government December retail sales report, delivering fiscal fourth-quarter profits and sales that beat Wall Street expectations. The world’s largest retail also enjoyed another quarter of surging e-commerce sales during the critical holiday period as it expands its online assortment and services. Shares moved sharply higher in early morning trading Tuesday.

Honda to Shut Plant in Brexit-Shaken Britain

LONDON (AP) — Japanese carmaker Honda says it plans to close its car factory in western England in 2021. While the company says it’s not related to Brexit, the move is a fresh blow to the British economy as it struggles with the uncertainty associated with leaving the European Union. Honda’s decision was announced Friday and will imperil at least 3,500 jobs.

Jailed Citgo Executives in Limbo Amid Venezuela Turmoil

HOUSTON (AP) — Six executives from the Houston-based Citgo oil company, five of them Americans, have spent 15 months jailed in Venezuela on what their families say are trumped-up corruption charges. As the Trump administration plunges headlong into an effort to unseat Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, the fate of the six lies in the balance. As does that of the U.S. company they worked for — a major prize in the power struggle between Maduro and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.