CPA FINANCIAL EXECS UPBEAT

Durham, N.C. - CPA financial executives are optimistic for the first time in two years about the economy, according to a quarterly survey by the American Institute of CPAs and the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, which found that measures of optimism versus pessimism among CPA financial executives registered a combined 28 percentage-point swing toward a more positive outlook, the largest shift in sentiment since the fourth quarter of 2007.

Fifty-one percent of the survey respondents expressed more confidence about the prospects for their own organizations, an increase from 41 percent in February. The proportion of CPAs who are pessimistic about their own organizations dropped to 20 percent, down from 24 percent in the prior quarter.

Forty percent expressed optimism about the broader U.S. economy in the latest survey, a sharp increase from the 25 percent who were optimistic in February. Twenty-five percent were pessimistic, down from 38 percent earlier this year.

Forty percent expressed optimism about the broader U.S. economy in the latest survey, a sharp increase from the 25 percent who were optimistic in February. Twenty-five percent were pessimistic, down from 38 percent earlier this year.

VOTES TEST TAX-HIKE ATTITUDES

Washington, D.C. - Those looking for clues to how the anti-tax Tea Party movement will affect this fall's national elections received mixed signals from voters in a number of recent ballot initiatives.

Opponents of government spending made their presence felt in Toledo, Ohio, shooting down by nearly a two-to-one margin a 33 percent hike in the city's income tax to expand the school budget.

Tea Partiers have had less success elsewhere, however. Voters in Oregon narrowly approved a measure earlier this year to address the state's $727 million budget shortfall by raising the state income tax rates on corporations and on households with taxable family income above $250,000, while a plan to boost the Grand Rapids, Mich., city income tax by 12.4 percent squeaked through by a razor-thin 204-vote margin.

Lawmakers in Washington State, Pennsylvania and Illinois are pursuing higher taxes on tobacco, following South Carolina's recent 50-cent boost to its cigarette tax, the nation's lowest.

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