The Internal Revenue Service, citing the drain that high gas prices are having on people's finances, said Monday it is raising the automobile mileage rate that businesses and others can claim.

The tax agency said the optional standard rate to calculate deductible operating costs for business vehicles will rise from 50.5 cents a mile to 58.5 cents for the final six months of 2008. That rate also applies to businesses and others entitled to depreciation allowances that operate automobiles for charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Bloomberg News

Oracle Corp., the biggest maker of database software, has created a new business unit focused on applications for the health-sciences industry.

The unit will work with drug, biotechnology, medical-device and health-care companies, Oracle said in a statement Monday. Separately, Oracle said it would buy the application business of Skywire Software, whose products help insurers create and manage policies. Terms weren't disclosed.

After buying more than 40 companies since 2005 to expand into telecommunications, retail and financial-services, Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison has now turned to health care to help him reach his goal of doubling Oracle's sales to $50 billion by 2012.

Skywire's 1,450 insurance customers will add to Oracle's existing base of more than 1,000 insurers. The acquisition should close by the end of 2008. Last month, Oracle announced an agreement to buy AdminServer Inc., whose software helps insurers draft policies and manage payouts.

Oracle, based in Redwood City, Calif., said last month that it plans to build a $285 million facility in West Jordan for global information technology that will employ 100 workers. The company already has operations in Utah, including at Jordan Commons in Sandy.