holiday-retail

This week's buzz: Taxes and holiday shopping

Dec. 23, 2011 at 7:38 AM ET

Here at Life Inc. headquarters, we are always amazed at our reader's endless fascination with anything related to taxes.

But why should we be amazed? A quick glance at the headlines shows taxes are almost always at or near the center of the political debate. Just look at the latest legislative disaster on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers made a mess of what should have been an easy, year-end gift for middle-income workers by failing to pass an extension of the current payroll tax holiday.

So it should be no surprise that the buzziest story in Today Money this week was our look at an eye-opening Pew Research Center survey on federal taxes.

Turns out that most people -- Republicans and Democrats -- believe they pay "about the right amount" in taxes. What bothers us is the complexity of the system and the nagging feeling that wealthy people are not paying their fair share.

More than 200,000 people read the story and more than 40,000 took our informal survey on "What bothers you most about federal taxes?" The most popular answer by far, with 51 percent of the votes: "The wealthy don't pay their fair share."

Our readers also buzzed about the holiday shopping season this week, and especially about the hottest gifts on Amazon.com, where even from the grave, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs seems to be outflanking all rivals. His authorized biography "Steve Jobs" ($17.49 on Amazon) was ranked the No. 1 gift item of the season, just beating out Amazon's own Kindle Fire, a bit pricier present at $199. For the rest of the top 10 click here.

And before you open those Christmas presents, you might check out the new, harsher return policies at many retailers explained by Herb Weisbaum, our ConsumerMan.

As Bob G-731334 commented: "I just wonder if we, as a nation of conspicuous consumers, buy way too much stuff that is unwanted and unneeded by anyone simply because we get too caught up in the consumerism/commercialism of Christmas."

Hmm, he may be onto something there.

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