Last year, we showed you how Wolfram|Alpha could help you explore some interesting historical statistics about federal income taxes in the United States. We’ve picked up the latest available figures from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) through the 2008 tax year, so you can revisit that data and see if previous years’ trends have held up.
Wolfram|Alpha still can’t do your taxes (and if you haven’t finished them yet, don’t forget you’ve got until Monday to file)… but it can compute some very interesting new facts about income taxes in the US. There’s been a lot of discussion and debate this year about state-level corporate and individual taxes and their impact on budgets and the overall business climate in any given state. So we’ve added data on the maximum and minimum individual and corporate tax rates in each US state, which means Wolfram|Alpha can now compute rankings and summary statistics about “income tax rates in US states” or perform a comparison of the “highest corporate income tax rates in Illinois, Iowa, and Indiana”.
If you’re concerned about the US economy, you probably caught last week’s news that Standard & Poor’s Case–Shiller home price index for 20 large cities continued to decline in January. If you’re curious to know more about recent housing trends in the US, you can not only ask Wolfram|Alpha about the 20-city index, but also for details on any of the major metropolitan areas included in that composite. For example, query “Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Miami Case–Shiller index”, and you can see just how big the housing “bubble” was in each of these four cities.
If you’re keeping a close eye on the U.S. economy—and who isn’t, these days?—you probably noticed yesterday’s news that retail sales increased in August for the second month in a row. But you may not have noticed that Wolfram|Alpha is now picking up these Department of Commerce reports as soon as they are released, and allows you to explore and compute U.S. retail sales data so you can better understand these trends.
Try simply asking Wolfram|Alpha about “U.S. retail sales” and you’ll see the latest monthly figure, along with automatic computations of that number as a per capita value and as a fraction of total U.S. GDP, as well as the annual growth rate for overall retail sales. To filter out the seasonal variation in many sales categories, you can also ask for “seasonally adjusted retail sales“—which more clearly shows the retail sector’s dramatic plunge in late 2008.
You can also explore trends in individual retail categories (click “More” in the “Retail sales categories” pod for a detailed list), such as clothing stores or electronic shopping and mail order houses.
Or you can mash up this retail sales data with other economic data in Wolfram|Alpha. Try comparing retail sales at building-supply dealers with housing starts, for example, or retail sales at jewelry stores compared with civilian unemployment. (Note that advance figures for August aren’t available for all individual retail categories, so Wolfram|Alpha will default to the latest available values.) More »