Sunday, April 30, 2006

Titanic locket fetches $85,000
Apr. 30, 2006. 11:35 AM

LONDON (AP) — A locket that went down with the Titanic and a survivor's handwritten account of the 1912 disaster fetched tens of thousands of dollars at auction Saturday.

American passenger Helen Churchill Candee's 36-page description of the ship's sinking, which fetched $85,000 in the sale, describes how she gave her locket to Edward Kent, a friend on board the ship, for safekeeping after the Titanic hit the iceberg that destroyed it.

The locket, which sold for $100,000, was found in the drowned Kent's jacket pocket when his body was recovered.

Candee survived the disaster in a lifeboat. It is not clear when she wrote her account, the auction house said.

The items, all purchased by collectors who asked to remain anonymous, were among about 300 Titanic-related lots auctioned by Henry Aldridge and Son house in western England, said Andrew Aldridge, head of Titanic and maritime memorabilia there.

Before boarding a lifeboat, Candee handed a silver flask and the gilt locket containing a picture of her mother to Kent, saying ``Take these for me, you know we women have no pockets," she wrote in her manuscript.

"But Kent drew back his hands; angered I commanded, 'Take them,'" she wrote. "His eyes appealed to mine. I (knew then) read them (what he meant). ... But he took my treasures (though silently) against his (prophetic) soul's prophecy and slipped out of the cabin (and disappeared). We never saw him again.''

Candee, a travel correspondent heading home to America to see her injured son, also described passengers wearing life-jackets over their evening gowns and bathrobes as they climbed a staircase to the ship's deck.

"The crowd looked strangely like dancers in a (costume) ball,'' she wrote. "The Dance of Death to be the next number.''

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

IRS seeks undeclared income in PayPal accounts
Apr. 11, 2006. 04:06 PM

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service won approval from a federal court to ask PayPal to turn over information about people who might be evading taxes by hiding income in other countries, officials said Tuesday.

A federal court in San Jose, Calif., gave the IRS permission to ask PayPal — a company that enables online money transfers — for account information for American taxpayers who have bank accounts, credit cards or debit cards issued by financial institutions in more than 30 countries reputed to be tax havens.

PayPal spokeswoman Amanda Pires said the company just received the summons.

"We're still evaluating our options," she said. "The privacy of our customers' information is something we take really seriously.''

PayPal enables individuals and businesses around the globe to send and receive money online. In 2005, users moved $27.5 billion (figure U.S.) through the money transmitter. The company, owned by eBay, has 100 million account holders globally.

The request for information is an outgrowth of an IRS effort, begun several years ago, to trace money that American taxpayers hold offshore to avoid paying taxes. The IRS said many of those taxpayers access their money through credit and debit cards. The tax collectors have already obtained information from some credit card companies, merchants and payment processors.

"PayPal is another one of the mechanisms by which money stashed overseas might be spent," Eileen OConnor, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department Tax Division, told reporters.

In some cases, the IRS obtained credit card numbers but could not identify the cardholder. The IRS said PayPal might be able to lead the tax agency to those individuals.

The IRS also hopes PayPal can help them identify currently unknown taxpayers' and their payment cards , as well as offshore bank accounts, that might be evidence of tax evasion.

The request covers transactions occurring from 1999 through 2004.

An 2003 amnesty program netted $170 million in taxes and penalties from income hidden offshore. More than 1,300 taxpayers avoided criminal prosecution by coming forward and revealing the person or company that marketed the offshore arrangement.