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What Triggers An Audit; Sky-High College Costs Slam Middle Class; After Layoff, Severence?

Aired April 15, 2007 - 15:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks. Coming up on IN THE MONEY, find out what triggers an IRS audit, and how you can stay in the clear.
Plus, know what can you can ask for and what you can't when they lay you off.

And how sky-high college costs are slamming the middle class.

All that and more after a quick check of the headlines.

WHITFIELD: Hello again, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The associated press is reporting that police out of new jersey have found the driver of a vehicle that may have been involved in the accident of New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, he continues to improve slowly at a Camden Hospital where he is in intensive care after suffering from injuries from that accident. Police say while they think they have found the driver of the other vehicle, it is not believed that they will be pressing charges.

Meantime a powerful storm system, including a possible tornado, pounded the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. At least two people were killed. That storm system could bring tornadoes to the southeast today.

In Iraq, a car bomb ripped through a crowded shopping area in Karbala killing at least 43 people and wounding dozens. In Baghdad, at least ten people were killed in a car bomb attack. The target was a major bridge spanning the Tigris River.

We'll keep an eye on the top stories including severe weather in the southeast. But now time for IN THE MONEY.

VELSHI: Welcome to IN THE MONEY. I'm Ali Velshi.

Coming up on today's program, America's top tax filing mistakes. Learn when and how to negotiate your severance if laid off, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to tell you whether your vitamin supplements are a waste of money.

Joining me today a couple of IN THE MONEY veterans Jennifer Westhoven and Polly LaBarre.

Tax day is almost here and we are going to bring information that will help you get through it. Like the top mistakes American taxpayers make and the things that get you audited. For that we are going to turn to the Jack Otter the deputy editor of "Best Life" Magazine, where he doubles as the lead financial expert. Welcome to you.

JACK OTTER, DEPUTY EDITOR, "BEST LIFE:" Thank you very much.

VELSHI: Good to see you again. Are you done with your taxes?


VELSHI: You are?

POLLY LABARRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have to confess. I pulled one of those sorts of bleary-eyed mountains of receipts, I let my system go this year, and I was on it until 9:00 p.m. last night and sent off all my stuff to my accountant. So I have one more phone call, luckily I have an accountant. If I didn't I would be toast.

VELSHI: There is nothing wrong with getting; I mean I mean to file for an extension. The problem of course is when you leave it to the last minute, some errors occur sometimes.

OTTER: They do. At the very least, you should leave a 24-hour window between the last numbers you put in there and going to the post office. Because we all know, you send off an e-mail and you look at it later, oh my gosh all those typos. You could do the same thing on your tax form. The difference, you get audited when you do that on your tax form.

VELSHI: Putting the wrong numbers in, that's apparently one of the bigger mistakes? Right numbers in the wrong place?

OTTERS: Right numbers in the wrong place, or you just transpose a digit in your Social Security number. This is crucial because these things are reviewed by a computer. And the last thing you want to do is have that computer spit it out and have to get a person involved. Maybe something else is interesting and then you get a knock on your door.

WESTHOVEN: When I'm in that minute, and I'm surrounded by receipts all over the floor and categories, I'm trying to get them all ready, I do have that fear of audit. I make things smaller than they are, because I'm nervous. How do you know if you are being audited?

OTTER: Well, you'll get a letter in the mail at some point in the next few months?

WESTHOVEN: Is it like college? You get the thick one if you're in, the thin one if you're in trouble.

OTTER: Any letter that has IRS as the return address, it is something you probably don't want to find in your mailbox.

VELSHI: That would be the first problem.

OTTER: Yeah.

LABARRE: The red flag for the audits, they are all the good things in life, like making more money, taking off the deduction, taking credits. It's a little less than avoiding an audit, because you don't want to stop making more money, you don't want to stop taking deductions. It's more about being prepared in the case that you do get audited?

OTTER: Well you are absolutely right. You just want to make sure you've dotted your I's and crossed all your Ts. People say it's unfair that is you make more money you get audited, but it makes sense it is like the Lillie Sutton thing why do you rob banks? Because that's where the money is. We don't really want our taxpayer dollars going to the IRS to chase people who owed $6 more dollars. Obviously they are going to look when the higher income, even one small mistake could lead to a lot money coming in.

WESTHOVEN: I always hear that if you take too many deductions that raises a red flag at the IRS.

OTTER: Absolutely.

WESTHOVEN: What's too many?

OTTER: They don't tell you that. Say you're a cheater, take too many, subtract $12 and that's what you claim. What they do is they have a table, the more your income is the more deductions you can be expect to have the more you might give to charity. If you're way out of line with the averages, that's when they might start taking a closer look.

WESTHOVEN: What are the averages?

OTTER: Nobody can tell you that. Exactly. But we should say, if you have all your ducks in a row, if you got all those receipts you really gave that money, of course, that's fine. You shouldn't downplay it.

VELSHI: Be able to back it up is the point. Even if you make a mistake, if you can show them that you thought it was an honest mistake. They've gotten better at this. They're not the evil umpire they used to be.

OTTER: And the good news is that more audits are simply by letter. They ask you some questions, you or your accountant respond and you are done.

LABARRE: I like this, if you have to deal with a person at the IRS that is something to avoid. What about an accountant? Does it help you to have an accountant? Is that one way to avoid getting and audit or helps you out when you get an audit?

OTTER: Of course it is no guarantee you won't get an audit. I will say this and all accountants will love me. It helps. They're professionals, this is all they do. You know how confusing it is. That's all accountants think of. I think it is great to have one and again it's a case of the more you make the more complicated your situation is, the more children you have the more money you might have made or lost in the stock market, the more important it is to have an accountant. VELSHI: I am a big do it yourselfer but when it comes to filing your taxes, the experience you gain and lessons you learn will serve you nowhere else in life. There's absolutely nothing to be gained from learning and understanding. People tell me all the time with pride; I do my own taxes, like, great.

LABARRE: It is a certain achievement, though, can you get through it, that you did it. It is like putting --

VELSHI: I do a lot of things that I can brag to people about.

WESTHOVEN: My dad did that and now he works at H&R Block.

VELSHI: I stand corrected!

OTTER: He makes really painful experiences seem better, after you've done your taxes, Chinese water torture isn't that bad.

VELSHI: You can do root canal right after you do your taxes. Jack always a pleasure to see you thank you so much.

OTTER: Great to be back here.

VELSHI: I guess you can make a career out of doing your taxes.

When we come back, smart tactics to use if your company hands you a pink slip. Stay with us.


VELSHI: One of the biggest names on Wall Street is a little smaller this week after some hefty layoffs. Susan Lisovicz joins us now from the New York Stock Exchange with the details.


SUSAN LISCOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Ali you know that big umbrella that is the corporate logo for Citigroup? It is not going to protect, oh, 17,000 of its employees. This is the biggest layoff, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, outside of the auto sector, since 2005. It's only 5 percent of its work force, but these kinds of restructurings are something that is atypical for Citigroup. We haven't seen something like this in ten years. So it's big news.

VELSHI: Susan, what was the reaction to this? Was it good for Citibank? Is it going to mean in the end? Is this something they needed to do?

LISCOVICZ: Well you know it is interesting. I mean there is a lot of pressure coming from shareholders including one very well known Saudi Prince; Bin Tula (ph) who last summer was calling for draconian (ph) cuts. The stock has lagged, it has lagged, it's big rivals J.P Morgan, Bank of America, a lot of pressure on Chuck Prince, the chairman and CEO to improve the efficiency of its stock performance, and interestingly enough, on the day that Citi announced it, we all knew it was coming, Citi shares actually dropped 1 percent, they were up the day before, but we didn't have the specifics. On the day we had specifics, there clearly was some disappointment that in some analysts expressing skepticism, this is everything that Citigroup needs to do to improve its performance.

VELSHI: All right. Susan, thanks very much. A tough time for those Citigroup employees getting laid off and it's never a good time to get laid off.

Our next guest is going to tell us how you ensure a soft landing if you're part of a mass layoff or even one of a smaller layoff. Nancy Collamer is the author of the "Layoff Survival Guide" she is also a career counselor. Nancy thank you for joining us. The sense you get is if you get laid off they tell them you what your package is and you have to take that.

NANCY COLLAMER, LAYOFFSURVIVALGUIDE.COM: That is the sense. In fact, with large layoffs such as what will be happening at Citigroup, that's the case. The company has taken great pains to construct a layoff plan that is equitable across the board. However, if you work for a smaller employer, there might be some room for negotiation.

LABARRE: So we live in a world where layoffs just happen. Help us figure out how you cope with it? The first few days, first few hours, how do you create a panic-free zone? What are the first three things you can do right off the bat to really make things better for yourself going forward?

COLLAMER: Well in the "Layoff Survival Guide" I actually outlined five steps that I recommend you address during the first 72 hours. When you get the news, even when you're expecting it, it's still; it still is very difficult to accept. And as much as you may be tempted to just crawl under the covers and hide, there are certain things you need to do in the first 72 hours.

First, file for unemployment. We actually learned this the hard way when my husband was laid off. We waited. We had gotten a severance package; we assumed we weren't going to be eligible for unemployment. That was a big mistake. So regardless of whether or not you think you're eligible, go ahead and file. Let the state tell you whether or not you're eligible. So that's the first thing.

Second, if you've been given a package and typically when you meet with your employer when you are laid off, they are going to hand you an envelope or a folder that's going to have a lot of information in that. During those first 72 hour, review that information. It's going to have important details about things like Cobra, about bonus payouts. Payouts that commission, your company car, all of that information is very important for to you review. You don't necessarily have to act on it in the first 72 hour, but if there are going to be deadlines you need to be aware of.

WESTHOVEN: Nancy, one of the things you say that we should avoid doing is don't get on the phone and start calling up your friends when you're right in the middle of all this emotional upheaval and bad- mouthing your company? COLLAMER: Yeah. You know I think there's a tendency, when this happens, understandably, many people are quite angry, and they want to call up their friends and vent. And what I suggest to people is, take a couple of days to just decompress. Think about the situation. Allow your emotions to settle down a bit before you start speaking with people, because you may say some things that you'll later regret.

LABARRE: You said something I think is important. You talked about a lot of the tactical things you can do. But getting laid off is an emotional experience. I don't want to diminish how tough it is, but can we do a little mind flip here? Is it possible that getting laid off can be the best thing that ever happened to you in the sense, some people hang on to their jobs by bloody fingernails, it's a mind- numbing, soul crushing experience and there is no security anymore. So what can you do to actually think about your layoff as a way to invent the next chapter in your life?

COLLAMER: You know you raise such a great point because, in fact, this can really be an opportunity for you to assess your situation and pursue other directions or other jobs that are going to be a hole lot more fulfilling for you. So there are just a slew of wonderful books out there about establishing new career directions that I strongly suggest people -- just go to the library. Take a couple of those out. Spend some time thinking about this, because if you're ever going to make a change, now is the time to do that.

And, also, just think about what you enjoyed about your last job. Things, perhaps, you would have liked to change. Use this as an opportunity to move in to new directions, and as you said, it might be the best thing that ever happened to you.

VELSHI: All right. We thought we were sort of done with these days of layoffs, but even with the low unemployment rate, as we see they're still coming. So good advice, Nancy, thank you for joining us.

COLLAMER: Your welcome.

VELSHI: Nancy Collamer is a career counselor; you can find her information at LAYOFFSURVIVALGUIDE.COM.

Well coming up after the break, how the rising cost of college is putting the squeeze on the middle class. Stay with us.


VELSHI: Students entering four-year universities are coming from wealthier families today than at any other time over the past 35 years. Christine Romans joins us now with more on that story. What is this about? I would never have guessed this to be true.

SUSAN ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is so interesting. There is new evidence that affordable higher education might be eluding literally millions of American students. UCLA examined 40 years of data and found that increasing fees and tuition at America's universities are pushing middle class and lower income American students right out of some schools. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS (voice over): Incoming college freshman today come from families earning 60 percent more than the national average. UCLA researchers find "Not only do college students come from more economically advantaged homes than their predecessors but the gap is widening." Evidence that tuition increases make college unattainable for millions. Tuition has soared 35 percent over five years. Two- thirds of students are now saddled with student debt. Almost 135 billion dollars in student aid granted last year.

ROBERT SHIREMAN, PROJECT ON STUDENT DEBT: Whenever you have that much money sloshing around in the system, there are going to be industries and individuals who are looking to see if they can get a piece of it.

ROMANS: Getting a piece of it, perhaps, at students' expense. The New York Attorney General says he's investigating hundreds of schools for possible kickbacks to financial aid advisers for pushing students to use "preferred lenders."

ANDREW CUOMO, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: There should be no financial incentives to a financial aid officer, no gifts, no perks. Make the decisions based on what's in the best interests of the student.

ROMANS: Some of our nations most well known universities are under investigation for the ties to the financial aid office and the for-profit companies selling student loans.


ROMANS: Now, these private loan arrangements that Cuomo is investigating are more important than ever. Government financial aid has not kept up with tuition increases and, in fact, the average size of a Pell Grant is down $120. So the grants that students who deserve it and need it are getting, are going the wrong way, even as tuition is going higher, and then you hear of scandals between the financial aid office and the public companies that are providing that financial aid. It's almost insulting.

WESTHOVEN: This kind of scandal is the kind of thing you think about when you think about Enron and Wall Street firms and chop shops. You don't think about this happening at the upper echelon at college tuition offices.

ROMANS: This is higher education. You look at the business plan, you look at what some of the allegations are in this industry, scandal, and you see that these sound like drug companies. Let's get our representatives in to the financial aid office. Let's give gifts, lets get people owning stock. Get them on the boards so that our student loan can be right up there, preferred student loan for students. Whether or not it may be the best fit for students.

WESTHOVEN: Right. It just has so little to do with, right, getting the best kids? ROMANS: The Democrats are really trying to clear this up; there are a few Republicans who are starting to get angry about it. And you are going to see hearings on the hill, George Miller of California, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, they are asking for a lot of tough questions from a lot of universities and the companies that are providing these student loans.

But as we've established from the UCLA survey and from an awful lot of other data, there is a need for more money for kids to go to school. I mean, there's no question about that. On this program we've highlighted universities who raise their tuition simply because they can, and they are.

VELSHI: Unbelievable, those dollar amounts you're talking about with or without a scandal are unbelievable. Chris good to see you.

ROMANS: Nice to see you guys.

VELSHI: Christine Romans.

Well no matter how you slice it, it is going to be expensive to go to college and a lot of families at this time of year are struggling with those questions. What college is best for my son and daughter? Our next guest has answers to, what is likely going to be the biggest financial decision in many parents' lives. Luke Skurman is the CEO of College Prowler. Luke, welcome to the show. College Prowler, it is an unusual name, but it actually has a good association as far as you're concerned.

LUKE SKURMAN, CEO, COLLEGE PROWLER: Definitely. Our goal is to find the most insider information on every college across the United States and tell students and parents what life is really like on each campus across the United States and just tell it like it is from the students' perspective.

LABARRE: So people care about the academic rankings of course, we care about partying; I know is a big question that people have on your Website. But you mentioned something that I think is important. What's the tone of the place? What does it feel like? Is it urban, is it rural, is it small, and is it big? What kind of teaching is it? What's really important for people to figure out if they fit away at college?

SKURMA: I definitely agree with that. The first thing that we really recommend is making sure you find the right environment. There are really three different types of environment. There is an urban environment, being in the city environment, there is a suburban environment and there is a rural environment and you need to find the environment that is right for you. You can't go to a college town in a rural environment and expect to be going to museums and nightlife and sports and all different types things and be unprepared. You need to really make sure that you're in an environment that's comfortable and that's you.

The second thing we really stress is the size of the student body. There are all different types of student bodies. There's schools over 20,000 students and there are schools that under 1,500 students. You need to make sure you're at a school that is right for you. The larger schools are going to provide you with more independence, more resources, but there's going to be more hands-off. The smaller schools are nurturing and smaller with more resources and more structure. Again, it's what the student really is going to feel most comfortable with. Those are the first two things that we really recommend. Finding the environment that is right for you and finding the right side of the school.

VELSHI: All right. Luke none of this is new, though. I've missed this opportunity, so I don't understand. I walk in bookstore, there's got to be a bazillion books on everything to do with college, a to z. What do you bring to the table that's different? What do people use College Prowler that is going to help them make that decision other than college tours and reading every book that's out there?

SKURMAN: Sure. We cover everything that the students and parents really want to go know. We cover the academic, nightlife, campus atmosphere, the drug scene, the guys and the girls, and it is totally written from the students' perspective. We hire a student author at every school, they survey about 100 random students at every school and we tell both the positive and negative of what's really going on at every campus.

Right now it's a different approach because we go in to such an in-depth response and it is completely candid. It's not a cheerleader, it is not a cynic, it is just totally objective and totally representative and it is a fresh approach that students and parents are really coming to us and are very happy that we're going after it.

WESTOVER: It is definitely a fresh approach, to start talking about things like girls and I think you just said the drug scene. Can you give us a little bit of flavor of what do you mean when you say that you're you know, writing about Harvard's drug scene? Give me some kind of an example. That is pretty controversial.

SCHULMAN: We don't condone the use of drugs at all. A high grade for us in drugs means that drugs are not prevalent and drugs are not available on campus. So we don't want drugs to be on campus in any capacity. What we are trying to do is educate the students and make sure they're going to schools that are right for them. There's school that have more drug use and there are schools that have less drug use. And we're simply trying to equip them with the most knowledge that they can have so that they can really fit in and have the best experience possible.

LABARRE: I think you make a virtue out of this, by students for student strategy and I do get the approach. Do you have any advice or tools on your site for parents to help parents help the kids make this decision? Because they're really a part of the conversation too, they're paying for it.

SKURMAN: Sure. We have two great features that I'm really proud about. One is called a compare feature where you can compare up to five different schools and see a side-by-side comparison of 20 different categories, all the different categories that we talk about, parking, diversity, academics and you can see a side-by-side comparison. The other thing that we're really excited about is the college finder, where you can start your process; you can look at things from region what part of the country, north, south, west, east, public or private. Cost of the school and really provide a great list of schools to start your search process. Those are two great things.

The other thing that's really cool is, we have a really in-depth list of majors that are available at every school across the country. But yeah, those are three good resources that we have, and all the different rankings and different ways that you can sort your process for sure.

VELSHI: Luke good to talk to you. Thanks for joining us.


VELSHI: Luke Skurman is the CEO of College Prowler. You had to see the look on Polly's face when Luke was talking about the drug ratings. I'm not going there, I don't even know what you were laughing about. Do we have a camera? Look at that face?

LABARRE: The number two, he is talking about schools and environment and academics.

VELSHI: Drugs.

LABARRE: The number two in traffic on their Website is, the girls. I think number three is drugs. I think when parents are using this as tool what college do I not want my kids to go to?

VELSHI: If only such tools were available when I was making the decision.

Coming up on IN THE MONEY, Hyundai's journey from the bargain basement to the penthouse.

And see what's at stake if you do file a tax extension with the IRS. We will be back with lots more.


VELSHI: All right. Those of you who watch IN THE MONEY and those of you who click on to are clearly, we have been saying the smartest audience in the world. So we decided to ourselves, why should we struggle to find out what it is that you want to know about? We can just measure that; because that's the way it is now. So we're going to talk to you about the most popular stories on, because that's what you decided was important. managing editor Allen Wastler has these amazing tools where he can determine what people are turning to.

ALLEN WASTLER, CNNMONEY.COM, MANAGING EDITOR: You've seen my gizmo of toys. I can tell what people are clicking on.

VELSHI: I tell you how fascinated I am, except that it will be lying to the fact that we're in 2007. I shouldn't be that amazed that we can actually tell what are they clicking on?

WASTLER: Well one that they really piled in this week was the savings rate story. Where they had a report on the new survey saying that 48 percent of working Americans, working Americans have less than $25,000 in retirement savings. That's a pretty scary set of numbers right there.

LABARRE: It doesn't mean than if you have $25,500 that you're OK. Right?

WASTLER: No, no. It was just a marker.

LABARRE: This is frightening. We're all trying to figure out, what's the number? There was a very popular book out a couple of years ago, "The Number" how do you figure it out, what do you need have socked away. Then you get these really crazy formulas that you can never figure out. How much should you have?

WASTLER: The old rule of thumb use to be five times your income. But now the experts are saying now bag that because with the transition out of different entitlement programs and away from pensions and stuff, 12 times your income. Oh, baby. That is hard.

WESTHOVEN: It sounds so dry, but it's this way that you get to instantly measure how are you doing? Do you need to save more? What's the plan? We're living so much longer.

VELSHI: And here's the other thing. The wealth that we've all had in many cases has been in our homes. Here's an interesting thing. This surprised me because I was reading it. With all the housing you know, collapse housing slow-down talk we've had, until now, a house, the median price of a house in America, median, has end ended a year higher than it started a year.

WASTLER: That's right.

VELSHI: You still make money on your house and the trend is that --

WASTLER: That's in the trend, but another story that people piled in to this week, another big one the National Association of Realtors came out with their index, median houses and for the first time in 40 years, now that's only how long they've been measuring it, OK? So it could have been longer. First time that index is actually, it's gone down. 0.7 percent, a lot of people, oh that is a very mild decrease. But still, 40 years folks. First time that went down. So the little ripple affect of maybe your house might not go up, go up, go up.

WESTHOVEN: Economist said it is probably the first time it's happened since the depression, and we never like to hear "since the depression."

WASTLER: Now part of it is you know we have had such a run-up in such markets. You play the math game. When you out an outline that goes high, high, high, it pulls up the index and then if it goes down - so some areas should be OK but still something worth noting.

Do you want to know the other story this week that was a big pile on, Conoco Phillips, you know big gas out fit and everything it out came out and became the empty Exxon. We're in favor of greenhouse. Greenhouse gas regulation by the government.

WESTHOVEN: An oil company.

VELSHI: An oil company saying this.


VELSHI: That is incredible.

WASTLER: And you have Exxon and Chevron and both said we're not so much for that. BP, which isn't a U.S. based oil company, they sort of are for it too. But it is interesting to see the split going on in the oil industry. Some people say, it's heart warming, they are doing this and everything, those who tend to be a little more cynical, maybe they're trying to get out in front of the regulation debate so that they can set the terms.

VELSHI: Right.

WESTHOVEN: Even by doing that, though, that sets the leadership in this area.

WASTLER: That's right. So I think it's a masterstroke.

Anyway, those are the ones that people are really interested in this week.

LABARRE: I think the world is tumbling, too. You know environmentism now isn't about compliance and environmentalists, and activist and industry fighting, it's about people working together, it is about innovation, and I think this is what it's about. It is cynical but it is goodness all around.

VELSHI: Allen, thank you for that.

WASTLER: Sure thing, sir.

VELSHI: Stories that clicked. I like it.

Coming up next on IN THE MONEY, how Hyundai went from trying to woo you with economy to wow you with luxury.

And with America counting down to tax day, we've got more tips for you coming up. Stay with us. You're watching IN THE MONEY.


VELSHI: Remember when Hyundai was a punch line to cheap car jokes? Those days are gone. One of the reasons, Hyundai offers one of the best warranties in the automobile industry. Now despite a corruption scandal involving two chief executives of Hyundai's parent company, the company is holding strong as the sixth largest automaker in the world, bigger than Honda and Nissan. Now Hyundai is raising the stakes with an upcoming entry in to the luxury car market. The Hyundai Genesis, that is what you are looking at was introduced last week at the New York Auto Show. I caught up with COO Steve Wilhite and I asked him what the company is trying to do with the Hyundai brand.


STEVE WILHITE, COO, HYUNDAI MOTOR AMERICA: Really, in the United States we're trying to bring the brand to life in a very credible, compelling way. We've got wonderful stories to tell about technology, we are a leader in safety technology both active and passive, we are a leader in innovation and we just need to tell that story more compellingly.

VELSHI: How do you do that? Because the buyer you focused on for all these years has been, sort of buying your argument about value, as the most compelling thing. Now you're trying to shift to something else. You're introducing a luxury vehicle, possibly a luxury line of vehicles. What's going on there? How are you trying to achieve that?

WILHITE: Well actually, value is a key component and key characteristic of our brand across all of our products. Today we sell nine products in the United States market in segments that represent about 60 percent of the market and what we're trying to do is take our technology, our innovation, our values and translate that in to new segments. The vehicle that we introduced at the New York Auto Show the concept Genesis, really embodies all of those things but in a brand new platform, brand new body for a new segment of the market that we think is going to expand our customer base and also give our existing customers a chance to move up in our product line.

VELSHI: What's the consumer supposed to think when they hear the name Hyundai? What would you like them to think? What is the value proposition now and what's it supposed to be?

WILHITE: The leader in safety technology, excellent in fuel economy, terrific value and perhaps most importantly, the security of being backed by America's best warranty. You know, it's a wonderful promise of financial security for the customer, but the thing that makes it really extraordinary is the fact that we can do that, because our car, just so reliable.

VELSHI: Because a long warranty is a problem, if the cars break down. That's a risk to take when you are offering that type of warrant. How much has that done for your business?

WILHITE: Tremendous. It just gives people the security to make a decision that isn't necessarily the safest decision. We're a young brand still in the United States. People are still forming opinions about it. If they have the security of knowing that the product is backed by America's best warranty that's a terrific advantage for us.

VELSHI: Now, we're looking at auto sales in the United States, and the message is consistent every month. The American badged automakers continue to bleed sales, and the non-America badged automakers tend to gain those sales. Your company's one of them. What's the problem here? Are Americans buying fewer cars? Why are they not buying American badged cars?

WILHITE: Well, the industry has just gotten more and more competitive with each passing year. I mean if you go back a few years, there were much fewer brands, fewer models in the industry. If you think about it, today is an extraordinary time for Americans to be shopping for cars. They have more choice, more products, more variety than they've ever had before, and even the worst cars in the industry today are better than the best cars in the industry just a few short years ago.

So it's an extraordinary time. The American companies are certainly having a little bit of a difficult time now, but they've got talented management, talented people, and very capable competitors. I'm sure you'll see the return to prominence.


VELSHI: All right. We're going to take a break. When we come back we'll find out if your vitamin supplements are worth what you way for them. Stay with us on IN THE MONEY.


VELSHI: All right. In this week's "What Works" vitamin supplements, it is a booming business. Americans spend, including me, $6 billion a year almost on vitamin supplements, yet study after study has shown that most of them do little or nothing to improve your health and well being. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta looks at the recent craze in vitamins in his new book called "Chasing Life." I caught up with him earlier this week and asked him how thee products became so popular with consumers.


SANJAY GUPTA, CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What is interesting is from a purely medical standpoint; there was sort of this backlash against conventional medicine. Probably because waiting times in hospitals and not being able to talk to your doctor as much. So there was this real embracing of alternative medicine. The idea I think was, you know it's not going to hurt me; it might help me, why not? Too the tune of several billion dollars. Now there is evidence, I mean you know people want to hang their hat on something, there is real science behind what works and what doesn't. We now know that several things, like vitamin A and E for your cardiovascular health in mega doses, no help, potential harm. When you talk about Ginkgo, no help, Echinacea, no help. You pick the couple of good ones here, Ali. These are ones that I actually take as well. Fish oil.

VELSHI: What does that do for you?

GUPTA: This one probably lowers bad cholesterol. I have a family history of heart disease. South Asians, by the way are more likely to develop this. I take fish oil, two caplets a day, I also take just a multivitamin now just something that is sort of a generic multivitamin.

VELSHI: Did you have to do a lot of research into these or they tend to be pretty good no matter where you get them?

GUPTA: Pretty much, I wouldn't waste your money on anything fancy. One a day type thing is fine. I do this mainly for gaps in my diet. I'm not perfect every day but I try and eat seven different colored foods, which is pretty good sort of moniker for me. That's all I take.

VELSHI: One of the things this is in your book, is that eating properly or eating healthy, fresh vegetables and things like that are not always accessible to people, in some cases because of the areas that they live in, or their socioeconomic status or because you live a busy life. Is it fair to say, a guy like me I take multivitamins because I'm quite sure I'm not eating a balanced meal.

GUPTA: Well here is the thing, is that you'd like to think that was true. You would like to think that I can't get access to the healthy foods and that's too bad. The problem is that taking the good stuff from foods, all the good vitamins, the good supplements and the good antioxidants and transferring them to pill form it is not that easy, Ali.

Something gets lost in translation, if you will, in terms of actually getting that good stuff in the pills. Multivitamins are OK, but a lot the other supplements; it has one concentration, one pill. A different concentration in a different pill, in the same bottle so you don't really know what you're getting. There is not a lot of regulation of this. My best advice is don't waste your money on all the additional supplements. A good multivitamin, fish oil if you have a family history of heart disease. But really nothing else is that important.

VELSHI: We talked in the past about diets, whether it was a low calorie diet or a low protein diet, whatever the case is. And it does seem to me after the all the research I've done, clearly not all that successful.

GUPTA: You look fine.

VELSHI: The idea of being conscience of what you're eating, whichever one you choose. The idea that you're conscience of your intake is something helpful. Is that not part of the case with vitamins and supplements that, is it -- could you be doing harm to yourself just by being conscience, saying, that must be a good thing for my body. I've read an article about it.

GUPTA: Right, you make an outstanding point. That's one of the difficulties with all these studies. Is people who are going to go out and buy these things are probably more health conscience anyway. They are probably doing other things that are good for their bodies. No one's going to indict you for doing that, certainly. I'm saying, there was not a lot of evidence on either direction with a lot of these things. Now there is. This is sort of east meets west in terms of medicine the real innovative approach. We have science on both sides to really tell an individual what works. All I say, and I think a lot of doctors, is find that. Find that evidence. Find the evidence. It's your body, it is your temple. Make sure you find the evidence before putting stuff in your body.

VELSHI: All right I'm not just saying this because I know him, but you should read the book. Dr. Sanjay Gupta's new book called "Chasing Life" that has got stuff on supplements and lots more. Check out Sanjay's hour-long special as well with the same name airing Saturday and Sunday 8:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

Nearly 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year according to the American Cancer Society. In this week's "Life after Work" Mary Snow has the story of one cancer survivor who's helping the newly diagnosed take control of their treatment.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): You have cancer. Three words that changed Monica Knoll's life.

MONICA KNOLL, FOUNDER, CANCER 101: I think everybody will attest that when you hear those words, you have cancer you really feel like you've been kicked in the stomach.

SNOW: It was October 2000, and Knoll was only 36 years old, working as a marketing executive for a health club chain. As she began treatment, Monica realized how difficult it was keeping up with the details of her care.

KNOLL: It was so overwhelming to manage the multitude of doctors' appointments with my business responsibilities.

SNOW: So after finishing her treatments, Knoll launched Cancer 101to help new cancer patients deal with the disease. There's a Website with a mountain of information on the Web to key resources and support groups. Pod casts outlining what to do in the first 24 hours of your diagnosis, and the central part of the program, a custom planner.

KNOLL: This is a cancer planner. It really allows the caregiver and the patient to get organized. A place to keep their notes, a place to keep business cards, addresses, telephone numbers. Billing information as the invoices start to come in.

SNOW: But in the midst of launching Canner 101, Knoll faced another challenge.

KNOLL: Just as I was about to launch the program, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and had the opportunity to actually test pilot Breast Cancer 101 this past fall and I know now more than ever that Cancer 101 really does help others, and does need to grow to provide the tools for other cancers.

SNOW: Knoll recently finished her chemotherapy and is focusing on the future.

KNOLL: I have to say in light of Elizabeth Edwards and Tony Snow, both recently being diagnosed again with their second cancers, you know, I related with their experiences 110 percent.

Cancer doesn't stop you until you let it stop you.

SNOW: Mary Snow, CNN, New York.


VELSHI: And we will be right back with more IN THE MONEY.


VELSHI: All right. The tension headache that some of you are dealing with as we get closer to the tax deadline is so strong I can feel it through the TV screen. But we are here to help you with some last-minute tax tips that could get you through anything you might find without going to the medicine cabinet. senior writer Jeanne Sahadi is a here with more and she is the one that keeps it all honest for us.


VELSHI: OK. You got to get -- by April 17th.

SAHADI: Right.

VELSHI: You got to do something. You got to file your taxes or you cannot file your taxes but if you're not going to file them what do you do?

SAHADI: If you're not going to file them, you are going to file for an extension. Which is a really simple form; Jennifer and I were talking about this before. Not a big deal, you will get an automatic six-month extension. No problem. The problem is you have to put an amount on that form that says, this is how much I owe for 2006. If it is more, then what was withheld from your paycheck, you have to pay it. An extension to file is not an extension to pay. That's the problem.

VELSHI: So are you guessing?

SAHADI: Some of us who are so late probably won't be, really you shouldn't. Here's the deal. It your financial situation is very similar to last year's, same type of w-2, same amount of exemptions, same investment income, you can use 2005 return as your base to gauge what you'll owe for '06 but if you had a really different situation. Lets say you got married, you had a kid, you took lots of different exemptions, you got a huge raise and you started investing and now have investment income, you are going to have to do a little more work before you file for your extension. It's not quite the free --

VELSHI: Because Jennifer has been carrying on about how easy this is. WESTHOVEN: Relatively simple in a way.

VELSHI: It is easy to file the actual --

WESTHOVEN: Even if you ballpark it and you're off, at least you ball parked right as opposed to avoiding it, because a lot of people just avoid it.

SAHADI: Right, in fact I talked to one of the IRS spokesmen yesterday and he said the biggest mistake you can is finishing your return, realizing you can't afford to pay all that you owe, so just file for the extension. What you are doing is setting yourself up to pay even more. Because you're going to be charged interest and payment penalties for being late. If you don't file for the extension, it you just pretend you don't owe anything and your don't need to file until you're ready, you will also get a late filing penalty.

LABARRE: Never a good strategy just to pretend.

VELSHI: Right.

LABARRE: What happens when you file an extension, what happens to your IRA contribution? How does this figure in to this?

SAHADI: Well you do, you know here it's on the weekend. You have until Tuesday at midnight basically to get all your deductions and everything in order. If you qualify for a deductible IRA you can make your contribution up to $4,000 for 2006 up to midnight on April 17th and it doesn't take lots, if you have the account set up, you send in the check in, you make sure its postmarked April 17th or you do it by phone. You can also set the account up pretty much with in a day either online or if you can do it at a bank.

VELSHI: The bank brokers know this is coming at this time of year. They're typically better staffed for it. If you're watching this and you are not done, you've got some hope. Not a lot but --

SAHADI: You can call me Sunday and commiserate, because I'm not at all ready to file. So --

VELSHI: Well, I feel in better company. I always feel I'm the only guy who was late. I'm done, by the way. I filed my taxes.

WESTHOVEN: Don't lord it over us, please.

VELSHI: No. Never been able to utter that before in my life. I'm happy just to be able to say it.

All right Jeanne Sahadi senior writer at, thank you for joining us. Make sure to get on the Website and check out Jeanne's writing. It will make you smarter.

Thank you, also to Jennifer Westhoven and Polly Labarre. We're going to see you back here next week Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00. Have yourselves a great day.



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