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Elon Musk’s SpaceX reportedly valued at $175 billion or more in tender offer

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX reportedly valued at $175 billion or more in tender offer

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has initiated discussions about selling insider shares at a price that values the closely held company at $175 billion or more, according to people familiar with the matter.

The most valuable U.S. startup is discussing a tender offer that could range from $500 million to $750 million, said some of the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is confidential. SpaceX is weighing offering shares at about $95 apiece, the people said.

Terms and the size of the tender offer could change depending on interest from both insider sellers and buyers.

A $175-billion valuation is a premium to the $150-billion valuation the company obtained through a tender offer this summer. The increase would make SpaceX one of the world’s 75 biggest companies by market capitalization, on par with T-Mobile USA ($179 billion), Nike ($177 billion) and China Mobile ($176 billion), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Representatives for SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Hawthorne-based company dominates the market for commercial space launch services with its Falcon rockets. SpaceX also sends payloads to orbit for private-sector customers, as well as for NASA and other government agencies.

SpaceX also operates its internet-from-space Starlink service, anchored by a growing constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit.

SpaceX is on track to book revenues of about $9 billion this year across its rocket launch and Starlink businesses, Bloomberg News reported last month, with sales projected to rise to around $15 billion in 2024. The company is also discussing an initial public offering for Starlink as soon as late 2024 — a bid to capitalize on robust demand for communications via space.

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New IRS Direct File program now available in California

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New IRS Direct File program now available in California

If you’re a California resident and haven’t done your federal tax return for 2023, you now have another, more user-friendly option online: the free Direct File service from the IRS.

It’s not for everyone, however. Instead, it’s aimed mainly at people with very simple annual tax returns, which the Treasury Department said amounts to about 1 of every 3 taxpayers.

The tax agency launched the Direct File service in January on an extremely limited basis to make sure its online systems were up to the task. That changed Monday, when the IRS announced that Direct File was available to all taxpayers in California, Arizona, Nevada and nine other states.

Think of Direct File as the IRS’ alternative to the free online tax-filing programs from TurboTax and H&R Block. It provides step-by-step guidance for filling out your tax forms, filing them and either paying any amount you might owe or collecting your refund.

The program’s question-and-answer approach means you won’t have to know which forms to fill out or where on the forms to enter your information. Instead, the program will handle those details for you.

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The IRS already works with several tax-prep companies to offer lower-income taxpayers a free online tax return service called Free File. What makes Direct File different is that there’s no middleman and no income limit for participants — anyone can use it, provided that their tax returns use only the most basic forms.

Specifically, the program will work only for taxpayers whose income is limited to wages reported on a W-2, retirement benefits from Social Security or the Railroad Retirement Board, unemployment benefits or interest income of $1,500 or less. That means if you’re a self-employed person, a business owner, a contractor or a gig worker, or if you have income from a partnership or trust, Direct File isn’t for you.

The Treasury Department estimates that 19 million people in the 12 participating states are eligible to use Direct File this year and that several hundred thousand people will do so.

Direct File also allows you to claim only a truncated list of credits and deductions: the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers, the credits for children and other dependents, the standard deduction and deductions for student loan interest payments and educators’ classroom and professional development expenses. If you’re able to claim other credits and deductions, such as those for foreign taxes paid, child care or retirement savings, or if you cut your tax bill by itemizing deductions (for example, if you have sizable medical expenses), Direct File would not be a good choice for you.

One other caution: The IRS says Direct File will be available only until April 15, when most Californians’ 2023 returns are due. The agency pushed the deadline for taxpayers in San Diego County back to June 17 in response to the federal disaster declaration in that county.

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Direct File runs online only; you’ll need a smartphone, tablet or computer to access it. And to get started, you’ll need to prove to the IRS that you are who you say you are.

The only way to do that this year will be to use the identity verification service ID.me, which takes a scan of your government-issued picture ID, such as your driver’s license or passport, then uses facial-recognition software to match your image from a live chat session or a new selfie against the stored photo. ID.me has raised concerns among some critics, who say it poses too great a threat to privacy and security.

Once you’ve established your identity, the program will check your eligibility, then guide you as you enter information about your income, credits and deductions. You don’t need to download any software, the IRS said; instead, your entries will be saved online, and you’ll be able to pause and resume later without having to start over.

Direct File has a live chat feature to help taxpayers with questions, but it’s not a source of free tax advice.

“IRS customer service representatives can provide technical support and provide basic clarification of tax law related to the tax scope of Direct File,” the agency said in a release. “Questions related to issues other than Direct File will be routed to other IRS customer support, as appropriate.”

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The Direct File service hasn’t been integrated into California’s tax filing system yet, so you won’t be able to transfer your federal information seamlessly to your state return. The state Franchise Tax Board offers a free online return filing system called CalFile whose restrictions are similar to those in Direct File, so if you’re eligible for the latter, you’re probably able to use the former.

If you’re entitled to a refund, tax experts say, you should file your return as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’re just making an interest-free loan to the federal government.

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JetBlue and Spirit end their $3.8-billion merger plan after a federal judge blocked the deal

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JetBlue and Spirit end their $3.8-billion merger plan after a federal judge blocked the deal

JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines are ending their proposed $3.8-billion merger weeks after a federal judge blocked the the deal, saying it would hurt consumers who depend on Spirit’s lower fares.

JetBlue said Monday that even though both companies still believe in the deal, they were unlikely to meet the closing conditions required in the agreement before a July 24 deadline.

JetBlue’s new chief executive, Joanna Geraghty, called the merger “a bold and courageous plan intended to shake up the industry status quo” and speed JetBlue’s growth.

“However, with the ruling from the federal court and the Department of Justice’s continued opposition, the probability of getting the green light to move forward with the merger anytime soon is extremely low,” Geraghty said in a memo to employees of New York airline. She said uncertainty over the merger’s fate was distracting the airline from its effort to return to profitability.

Spirit Chief Executive Ted Christie said he was disappointed that the airlines could not combine and create a new challenger to the nation’s four biggest airlines but said he was confident that Spirit — which has been losing money since the pandemic started — can succeed on its own.

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JetBlue will pay Spirit a $69-million termination fee.

The Justice Department sued to block the merger last year, saying it would reduce competition and drive up fares, especially for travelers who depend on low-fare Spirit.

In January, a federal district judge in Boston sided with the government and blocked the deal, saying it violated antitrust law.

The airlines appealed the ruling, and a hearing had been set for June.

Spirit and Frontier Airlines announced a $2.2-billion merger in early 2022 — a deal that would have combined two similar carriers that charge lower fares than the big airlines but add on fees that generate a large chunk of their revenue.

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JetBlue jumped into the fray against the wishes of Spirit’s management, which warned that it would be difficult to win regulatory approval for a Spirit-JetBlue combination. JetBlue went over the heads of Spirit’s board, directly to Spirit’s shareholders, and won a bidding war against rival Frontier a few month later.

While the deal was taking shape and wound up in court, there were continuing losses and other problems at Spirit, which is based in Miramar, Fla. In late January, JetBlue warned that it might terminate the agreement.

JetBlue has also been losing money and faces its own uncertain future. Activist investor Carl Icahn bought nearly 10% of JetBlue stock last month and won two seats on JetBlue’s board.

The end of the JetBlue-Spirit deal raises questions about whether Alaska Airlines can pull off its proposed purchase of Hawaiian Airlines for $1 billion plus the assumption of about $900 million in debt. The Justice Department has not indicated whether it will sue to block that agreement.

Shares of JetBlue Airways Corp. rose 2% in morning trading, while Spirit sank 12%.

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Koenig and Chapman write for the Associated Press.

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Two men charged in dozens of massage parlor robberies in Southern California

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Two men charged in dozens of massage parlor robberies in Southern California

Two men who are believed to have targeted employees and customers in dozens of massage parlor robberies have been charged in federal court.

One of the men admitted to carrying out 50 to 60 robberies of massage parlors in Southern California, according to federal prosecutors.

The suspects, 28-year-old Andy Cuellar of Hawthorne and 27-year-old Arturo Morales of Downey, were arrested Friday after they held up several employees at a Torrance massage parlor, according to a 15-page indictment filed Tuesday in the Central District of California.

Cuellar and Morales were unaware at the time that a law enforcement task force was tailing them as they drove from Compton and then got off the 110 Freeway in Torrance. Cuellar was driving a black 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee allegedly linked to at least 12 other massage parlor robberies committed over the last month, prosecutors said. The Jeep was registered in Cuellar’s mother’s name.

On Friday, Cuellar and Morales stopped in front of various massage parlors, but Cuellar spent only a few seconds inside the businesses before he walked back out to the Jeep, according to the indictment. Around 8:30 p.m., Cuellar walked into Lucky Health Therapy in Torrance and acted like a customer, according to surveillance footage reviewed by investigators. He was led to a back room by an employee, and Morales soon followed through the door that Cuellar held open in the back of the business.

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Cuellar was armed with a knife and Morales was armed with a .38-caliber pistol, according to investigators.

An employee tried to run out of the business, but Cuellar caught her in the parking lot and pulled her by the hair back into the business, the indictment said.

A few minutes later, both suspects allegedly left the business carrying multiple bags. Employees told investigators who approached the business that they were robbed but couldn’t call 911 because two men stole their belongings, including their phones.

Police found Cuellar and Morales at a nearby gas station, where they were allegedly sorting through the items stolen from the employees, according to prosecutors. The suspects ran when police approached the Jeep with their lights and sirens on. Morales was caught in a nearby intersection with roughly $4,000 in cash in his possession, and Cuellar had about $400.

Cuellar was wearing a Dodgers baseball hat, eyeglasses and distinct white boots, according to investigators. A suspect in two separate massage parlor robberies was wearing the same outfit, court records show.

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Investigators found the handgun that they believe was used during the robbery; it was loaded with a chambered round and was reported stolen in 2018.

One of the employees at Lucky Health Therapy identified Morales as the person who used a gun during the robbery. Another victim said Morales waved the gun around to get more from the employees and Cuellar told him that they had enough, according to investigators.

Later that night, only one victim was able to identify Cuellar as one of the alleged robbers, while another victim couldn’t identify either of them.

Cuellar told investigators he borrowed his gun from a friend, because “when you have a gun nobody fights with you,” according to court records. He also admitted that he and Morales robbed several massage parlors in November and December with another accomplice whom he did not identify, but he said he has personally been involved in 50 to 60 massage parlor robberies. He was out on federal probation for a narcotics conviction when he robbed the Torrance massage parlor, investigators said.

Prosecutors charged the two men with interference with commerce and use of a firearm during a crime of violence. The men were arrested as part of a sting operation that involved the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Orange County Violent Crime Task Force.

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It’s unclear whether the men have any legal representation. They are expected to be arraigned in the coming weeks.

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