UPDATE

February 3, 2006

On finance and practice

It's clear and simple: You'll still pay through the nose

How do your tires rate?

Mileage rates back off

The IRS trimmed the deductible rate for vehicle use for business to 44.5 cents, effective Jan. 1, because of lower gasoline prices. The mileage rate rose to 48.5 cents per mile last September when gas prices shot up after Hurricane Katrina. The rate for business miles for the first eight months of 2005 was 40.5 cents.

The deductible rate for driving in service of charitable organizations-other than driving related to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts-is now 14 cents per mile. Katrina-related charitable rates will be 32 cents per mile for deduction purposes.

Living in the Big Apple will cost you

Home buyers in New York City fork over almost twice as much as those in Wyoming for origination fees, title insurance, and other closing costs, says a survey conducted by Bankrate.com. For a $180,000 mortgage with a 20 percent down payment, a buyer in Wyoming with excellent credit history would pay $2,101 in closing costs, compared to $3,907 for a similar loan in New York City. Hawaii is the second most-expensive state, at $3,628, followed by Alaska, at $3,620. The second cheapest is South Dakota, at $2,251, followed by Kansas, at $2,256.

Varying title costs explain much of the difference. New York has the highest costs for title insurance, with an average of $1,451, compared to $461 in Wyoming. The national average is $756 for title insurance, and $2,748 for closing costs, excluding taxes, other governmental fees, or escrow fees.

Fuel economy: Your best bets for 2006