Are you just letting the IRS keep some of your money? Apparently that's happening quite a bit this filing season.
The IRS says of returns filed so far this tax season, more than a third of them have not claimed the refund for the incorrectly collected telephone tax. You remember this, the 108-year-old excise tax on long-distance phone calls. If you need or want a refresher on it, check out this earlier posting.
It seemed like a slam dunk tax give back. Almost everyone had a phone, with long-distance service included, during the eligible tax-back period (March 1, 2003, through July 31, 2006). And the IRS set up a standard amount that can be claimed simply by filling out one extra line on your tax return.
So why are 33.3% of us ignoring this money?
As I mentioned about a week ago, it can be a bit of a hassle if you know you paid more than the standard amount, which is at most $60 for larger families, and you want to get that precise tax cash back.
But that's no excuse for filers who can easily take the quick $30-plus by claiming the standard amount. Everyone should at least be doing that!
If you haven't filed yet, make sure you get your long-distance tax due. Just be sure you don't try to get more than you should. The IRS says it's heading out to pay personal visits to tax preparers who've shown a tendency to inflate the refund amounts for their clients.
You can be sure that they'll extend that scrutiny to individual filers, too, if they think you're trying to scam Uncle Sam. In that same announcement about tax preparer problems, the agency warned, "Taxpayers who request more of a refund than they are entitled to receive will have their refunds held and they may be subject to an audit."
So claim your phone refund, but make sure it's the correct amount.