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April 2007

Houston, we have a holiday!

Hello from the city that's home to NASA's Johnson Space Center, the Astros, mind-numbing traffic and, for a couple of days, is host to the hubby and me as we -- well, more me -- celebrate the end of tax-filing season 2007. A perfect storm of events coincided to get us to Houston, which, according to the guest book here in the hotel, is the fourth largest U.S. city. That certainly explains the traffic. There are, of course, the aforementioned Astros (National League 2005 Champs; that's the pennant there to the left), as well as a great exhibit making its... Read more →

Back in the tax day

If you don't already know what your 2006 tax liability is, you will by the end of the day. You'll either precisely figure it so you can file your 1040 by midnight. Or you'll have a close approximation of your tax bill to send in with your Form 4868 extension request. Wouldn't it be cool to know what you would have owed back in 1913 when the first income tax form was created? Now you can. The folks at Political Calculations have created a calculator you can use to see what kind of tax bill your current income would produce... Read more →

Beware Free File fakers

If you're planning to e-file for free today, make sure you go to the Free File Alliance page on That's the only legitimate access point to the no-cost electronic service. The IRS says some sites are posing as members of the public-private tax filing consortium to illegally make off with individuals' tax refunds. The con artists take the filing data from individuals, then go one of the 19 legitimate Free File Alliance partners and use the taxpayers' information to claim the refunds, which then are deposited into the scammers' bank accounts rather than the taxpayers' accounts. The IRS did... Read more →

Freak storm gives some taxpayers more time to file

From time to time, taxpayers in the Northeast get an extra day to file because of Patriots Day. When the Massachusetts state holiday coincides with the IRS due date, the federal tax agency grants residents of the states who send their returns to the Andover, Mass., processing center an extra day. It's sort of the federal government's tip of the hat to the state that was home to the first tea dunking tax protest. This year, the patriotic calendar extension was to occur. In January, however, the IRS gave everyone an additional 24 hours to file because of the Washington,... Read more →

Using the USPS to meet IRS deadlines

Two government agencies that regularly catch a lot of flack find that they are good partners each April. I'm talking, of course, about the Services of Internal Revenue and U.S. Postal. True, electronic filing has been gaining in popularity over the years. In fact, the most recent filing season stats from the IRS (numbers there in the upper right hand corner of the page) show that more taxpayers are using e-file as the deadline approaches than in past years. But millions still file the old-fashioned way and many of them will opt on April 17 for a trip to the... Read more →

Refund money going, going, gone next week

A quick reminder for all you folks who are three years late with your 2003 returns. If you didn't file back in April 2004 and you were due a refund, the U.S. Treasury will get to keep your tax cash if you don't get that old 1040 in by April 17. Click here for a 2003 Form 1040. You can download other 2003 forms and instructions you might need to complete that old filing here. This story has details on the unclaimed money; this one shows the amounts left in Uncle Sam's account by residents of each state. And if... Read more →

April 15: Today in history

Today is, of course, the traditional Tax Day for U.S. earners. The deadline moves to the next business day when it falls, like today, on a Sunday. When that next business day is an official federal holiday, as happened this year, the date gets pushed ahead yet again. But April 15 throughout the ages also has had its share of other momentous events. Jackie Robinson's MLB debut On April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson donned #42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers and when he took the field, he broke Major League Baseball's color line. Revolutionary War, beginning of the end The Continental... Read more →

2007 estimated taxes due, too

Just a quick reminder: If you pay quarterly estimated taxes, your first 2007 payment also is due April 17. (Ignore the date on the voucher insert below; it was printed before the IRS discovered that this year we all get an extra day to get our taxes done, both the annual filings and estimated payments.) The IRS would prefer you figure the total amount of estimated taxes you'll need to pay to ensure you don't face any underpayment issues and then divide it by four and send in four equal payments. You can find the instruction booklet, worksheet and payment... Read more →

'Girls Gone Wild' founder facing tax fraud charges

I hate to give this creep any attention, but at least this time it's to report that he's now facing federal tax evasion charges. Joe Francis, who reportedly makes an estimated $29 million a year from the exploitative videos, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Reno, Nev., on charges of deducting more than $20 million in false business expenses on his California and Nevada companies' 2002 and 2003 tax returns. The improper business deductions, according to the indictment, include $3.78 million used to build a residence in Punta Mita, Mexico, $10.4 million in "false consulting services"... Read more →

W's and Dick's tax totals

Like the majority of taxpayers, the Prez and Veep were late-season return filers this year. The return for W and Laura was signed on April 5 (not by them, but a representative of the trust company that manges their money). Dick and Lynne autographed their 1040 on April 12. On Friday the 13th, some of the filing details of D.C.'s most powerful couples were made public. The Bushes reported gross income of $765,801. Exemptions and deductions whittled that down to taxable income of $642,905. The damage: a tax bill of $186,378. But thanks to withholding, estimated tax payments and the... Read more →

Friday the 13th tax fun

Taxes are all about numbers. There's the 1040 and all those other numerical forms. Then you have all the figures that must be calculated to arrive at adjusted gross and taxable incomes. And, of course, there's the ultimate tax number: How much you owe. Combine all those numbers with the actual filing process, and complying with our tax laws can definitely be scary. So on Friday the 13th, the traditional day that acknowledges the powerful combination of figures and fears, we offer 13 numerically themed tax items to help you tackle your filing phobias. 6 mistakes that slow down your... Read more →

Uh oh, Mr. J Lo

Marc Anthony, singer, actor and husband of Jennifer Lopez, has agreed to pay $2.5 million in back taxes and fines owed by himself and three of his companies. The Manhattan District Attorney's office said that between 2001 and 2004, Anthony failed to file New York state and city corporate tax returns on $15.5 million in income. According to New York Department of Taxation officials, the deaprtment's computer kicked out Anthony's return because of discrepancies. Anthony was not charged with any criminal tax acts, according to prosecutors, because the salsa singer's taxes for the years in queston were prepared by a... Read more →

Felon's tax fraud testimony fires up Senators

At a Senate hearing this morning (previewed here), a convicted felon said that using stolen identities to apply for tax refunds was "an easy way to make money quickly." With a sport coat partially hiding his orange prison jumpsuit and flanked by federal marshals, Evangelos Soukas told the Senate Finance Committee that he was a "criminal already on the run from the FBI" in 2000 when he came across an Internet ad for quick tax refunds. He used his mother's W-2 form to fashion a legitimate-looking tax return, applied for a refund anticipation loan through a tax preparer and got... Read more →

An ounce of prevention

Just in case you're in D.C. this morning and have nothing else to do, you can drop by the Dirksen Senate Office Building to catch some tax-filing testimony. The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing on "Filing Your Taxes: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure." Among the scheduled witnesses are IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson and officials from the Government Accountability Office, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and the Department of Justice. The hearing announcement also notes that the Senators will receive statements from folks convicted of crimes including identity fraud and filing... Read more →

Deduction floors and ceilings

I regularly hear three words from the hubby during tax season. No, not those three, although I know he's crazy about me beyond words. He continually tells me as I sort through our tax filing material to deduct, deduct, deduct. Message received, honey. I'm working on it. We're in the filing minority. We itemize. IRS statistics show, year after year, that most taxpayers claim the standard deduction. Part of the reason is that it's easy. Just look on your tax form and it'll tell you the amount to enter. No receipts to save, no addition or subtraction or percentage multiplication... Read more →

Tax filing wars go down to the wire

If you ever had any doubt about what a revenue generator tax filing is, the ever increasing competition between the major tax preparation chains will remove it. As we head into the final week of tax season 2007, we have H&R Block's pizza play vs. Jackson Hewitt's lunch box brigade. The Kansas City, Mo.-based Block has teamed up with Papa John's to reward tax "pro-crust-inators." So sorry … and, even sorrier, more is on the way. Taxpayers who file using H&R Block's TaxCut Online software program will get a $10.40 (warned you!) gift card redeemable for online pizza orders. The... Read more →

A look inside the IRS

The Carnival of Taxes is on its way, but I'm a little backlogged right now, primarily because I spent most of yesterday working on hubby's and my tax return. Yes, I will describe the horrors in a coming blog. Now, though, I have "real" stuff (i.e., paying jobs) that I have to get done, meaning the Carnival will be a little late today. In fact, it might even be after this program on the National Geographic Channel: "Inside the IRS." So if you find yourself jonesing for tax talk before the Carnival's tents are in place, tune in to the... Read more →

A dozen tax mistakes not to make

There's nothing like taxes to showcase our fallibility. Sometimes we make big mistakes, like miscalculating how much tax we owe. On rare occasions, the IRS sends us money we didn't properly claim. I've been on both sides of this tax equation, and while getting is definitely better than giving, the best move is to get it right the first time. Other times the mistakes seem small, like forgetting to come back and plug in your kids' Social Security numbers. But without those, the IRS won't give you any child-related tax breaks you might be trying to claim. This year, trying... Read more →

Trickle down tax collection trouble

As the bursting bubble or leaking balloon or whatever colorful characterization you want to use to describe the slowing housing market cycles through the economy, the effect is being more fully realized. For many state treasuries, it's not good news. A front-page story in today's New York Times announces, Housing Slump Pinches States in Pocketbook. States, especially those where housing prices soared in recent years, are seeing their collections slow, especially in the sales and real estate transfer tax categories, according to the article. Florida has been the hardest hit. Since the Sunshine State has no income tax, it depends... Read more →

Aiding and abetting identity theft

Is the IRS contributing to identity theft? Possibly. Over the last few years, the tax agency has lost or had stolen nearly 500 laptop computers that contained taxpayer data. To be fair, the IRS isn't alone when it comes to lax laptop security, as noted in this previous post. But when it's the IRS you're talking about, some seriously personal financial data is floating around. That's exactly what a recent investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) discovered. In a report issued March 23, TIGTA says at least 490 IRS laptop computers and other computer devices were... Read more →