Deficit up 6.2 percent from same period a year ago

The federal government ran a bigger deficit in January, pushing the imbalance so far this budget year up 6.2 percent from the same period a year ago.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday the deficit for January stood at $17.5 billion compared with $10.3 billion a year ago.

AstraZeneca will pay $7.9 million in kickback case

Pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca LP will pay $7.9 million to settle allegations that it engaged in a kickback scheme involving the heartburn medicine Nexium, U.S. Justice Department officials said Wednesday.

The settlement stems from a whistleblower lawsuit filed in 2010 by two former AstraZeneca executives.

IRS changes policies on seizing bank accounts

Pressured by Congress, the IRS said Wednesday it is changing its policies and apologizing for seizing bank accounts from otherwise law-abiding business owners simply because they structured bank transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.

Their alleged crime: routinely making bank deposits of less than $10,000. That allowed the business owners to avoid reporting requirements designed to catch drug dealers and money launderers.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress that the IRS is changing policies to prevent the seizures, as long as the money came from legal means.

Best Buy starts wedding registry for gadgets

Move over, china and pretty linens. Best Buy Co., the nation’s largest consumer electronics chain, has launched its first wedding registry, catering to couples interested in the latest gadgets, from flat-panel TVs to Apple iPads.

The Minneapolis-based chain quietly launched the wedding registry www.BestBuy.com/WeddingRegistry late last month and will be updating its mobile app to include the registry next week. The retailer will also have kiosks in its 1,000-plus large-format U.S. stores by early April.

– From news service reports