Business news

Alan Cleaver (alancleaver_2000) /

Washington businesses with overdue taxes can now pay them off without penalties and interest. It's the state Department of Revenue's first-ever tax amnesty. Delinquent taxpayers have until April 18th to apply for the temporary program and must pay their taxes by April 30th. Full details, including the application form, are available at

WSDOT / Flickr

Tolls on the 520 bridge are set to start this spring and they could be as high as $3.50 each way. 

Frustrated?  There's an app for that. 

An Irish company called Avego created a new smart phone app for "real-time ride sharing." Company leaders say it encourages more carpooling. 

PRNewsFoto / Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft handily beat Wall Street's expectations, posting record revenue: nearly $20 billion in its second quarter.

The company says the strong financial report was fuelled by rebounding business demand, as well as swift sales of the Kinect motion controller for its Xbox 360 video games. 

Xbox sales booming

Microsoft says it sold 8 million Kinect motion controllers in just 60 days this past holiday season, far exceeding the company’s expectations, as well as Wall Street's.  

Photo by Gary Davis / KPLU

Starbucks has done it again. The coffee giant says its global revenues reached a record: $3 billion in the first quarter. Profits were up 44 percent compared to a year ago, thanks in part to the chain's growing popularity with coffee drinkers around the world.

Alaska Air Group

Seattle-based Alaska Air Group is consolidating its two airlines under the same brand. Horizon Air's Bombardier Q400 turboprop planes are being repainted with the Alaska Airlines logo. Alaska and Horizon will continue to operate as separate airlines.

A law that went into effect at the start of last year puts new limits on payday lenders.  It created a registry of borrowers and restricts them from taking out more than eight of the high-interest loans in a year. 

Photo by Bellamy Pailthorp / KPLU

US Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) says the US Air Force contract for the next generation of refueling tankers should not be awarded until questions are answered about the military's latest snafu. 

A decision on who wins the $35-billion contract is expected as early as next month. 

In November, the Air Force admitted that it had inadvertently mixed up two packages of information.  It sent details of Boeing's bid to Airbus-parent EADS and of EADS's bid to Boeing. 


Technology-savvy consumers could soon be able to leave their wallets behind when picking up a cup of Joe at Starbucks.  

The Seattle retailer is expected to announce Wednesday that customers will be able to use smartphones to pay for goodies at 6,800 stores the company operates in the United States and 1,000 that are in Target stores, according to Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times. 

debcha /

Tourists spent an estimated $15.2 billion last year in Washington. A new report by the state Commerce Department and Washington State Tourism says 2010 was the second best year on record, up 7.4% from 2009. But it's below last year's nation-wide increase of 8.5%.

Austin Jenkins / N3

Construction of Washington's new $300 million data center complex is expected to wrap-up this summer. But as state agencies prepare to move in, the rent per square foot is causing some sticker shock.

David Zalubowski / AP Photo

The merger of two of our region’s biggest telephone companies is generating relatively little static. CenturyLink appears likely to get regulatory clearance soon to take over Qwest Communications. But the merger comes with conditions.

Home sales bumped up in December, in King County.  Analysts disagree over whether it’s sign of an important trend or not.  The Seattle Times calls it the biggest month for home sales since a federal tax credit expired last summer. 

But the Seattle P-I quotes Glenn Crellin of Washington State University as saying the real estate market is likely to stay sluggish for several months or longer:

Tom Banse / N3

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is trying to clear the way for coal exports through the Pacific Northwest. He’s worried Washington state will block a proposed Columbia River shipping terminal for Montana and Wyoming coal. Schweitzer is making a hastily scheduled trip to southwest Washington Wednesday.

Shelby SuperCars

A company that designs super-fast cars is hoping to build a new factory in the state. Shelby SuperCars is eyeing a site in south-central Washington, in the city of West Richland.

Until recently, Shelby held the record for the making the fastest production car on earth: an average of about 256 miles per hour. Now the company working on their next generation speed demon. Shelby has applied for an $800,000 state loan to buy property and build a new manufacturing facility.

queen of subtle/via Flickr

As 2010 comes to an end, many people are looking at a pile of requests for year-end donations.  We know it's wise to set a budget for personal giving to worthy causes – but how much is the right amount?