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April 2010

I just did a double take when I realized that there's no state to blog about today. I wrapped up the Don't forget your state taxes! (yes, the headline had the exclamation point; I was, and still am, really excited by it!) project yesterday with Wyoming. But having written a blurb about a state for 51 straight days -- the series began Feb. 23 with Alabama! -- and this being Tax Day and all, it didn't seem right to not to mention state taxes in some way. So here it is. You can find the link to your state's official... Read more →

Final filing tips for snail-mail taxpayers

Fellow Austinite @philwest has an April 15 Twitter admission: Every year, I roll my eyes at the taxpayers outside the post office coverage. This year, I very likely will be one of those people in line. Hey, Phil, no worries. It happens to the most plugged-in of us now and then. If you, too, are relying today on the Postal Service to get your tax return to the IRS, check out Last minute tips for snail-mail filers. Related posts: 15 filing tips for April 15 Time to get more tax time? Final tax weekend tips Tax help for the final... Read more →

The American marketing machine is something to behold. With a gazillion special days, there are greeting cards and store sales and gimmicks galore that can be put to retail use for almost every day of the year. And Tax Day has quickly become a major opportunity for product tie-ins. As in past years, Tax Day 2010 features lots of food freebies. But as I note in Take advantage of Tax Day freebies in my Taxes Blog for Bankrate, there are even some useful, actual tax-related giveaways today. Update/Correction: There is no TGIFriday tax day special this year. My bad and... Read more →

Tax payment by credit card points

With Tax Day and, for some, tax payment time upon us, there's added coverage of ways to pay your tax bill (including today's Daily Tax Tip). One method, which really is more a marketing gimmick than realistic option for most taxpayers, is using your American Express account reward points to pay the IRS. Bob Moon of Marketplace talked with me as part of his Morning Report spot on this topic. You can listen to Pay tax with reward points? Bad idea and/or read the story transcript.Related posts: Paying taxes with reward points Some credit card fees are now deductible Bunch... Read more →

Tax Day rap video

We always can make room o the ol' blog for some April 15 fun, especially when it incorporates solid tax advice. I'm talking about the I Pay My Taxes rap video from the Financial Freedom Boyz. Before you crank it up, note that there are some adult lyrics. And thanks to J. Money at Budgets Are Sexy for being our Tax Day DJ. Read more →

15 filing tips for April 15

Welcome to this wonderful April 15th! Too much? Sorry. How about I make up for the tax enthusiasm with links to 15 posts that could help you finish up today's federal and, in most places, state filing tasks.1. Final tax weekend tips (they still apply on April 15) 2. Time to get more tax time? 3. Daily Tax Tips 4. Are you ready to file your taxes? 5. 7 new tax laws that could save you money 6. Don't overlook these tax breaks 7. New forms this filing season8. Schedule L, a new form for nonitemizers 9. Tax breaks without... Read more →

Wyoming is a very taxpayer friendly state. It doesn't levy a personal or corporate income tax. Neither does it impose a tax on intangible assets such as bank accounts, stocks or bonds. So where does Wyoming get its operating revenue? In part from sales taxes. Like in many other jurisdictions, however, most food items are exempt from the state's sale tax. And also like in many other jurisdictions, just what is considered food, and therefore nontaxable, is often interesting. Take, for example, wedding cakes. If you pick up your big day's cake from a Wyoming grocery store or bakery, the... Read more →

Ellen, the accountant, taxes and surprises

Ellen Degeneres surprised an H&R Block accountant on today's show, asking him questions from her audience members about the gift tax, tip income, tax brackets and claiming dependents. You can tell from his tone that he's not star-struck and that he's obviously very busy. And if you watch the video clip all the way to the end, you'll find that the tax pro turned the surprise table on Ellen and not in connection with taxes. Read more →

After a tax year ends, there's only one tax break available to most taxpayers for that prior year: a contribution to an IRA. While Roth IRAs have now surpassed the original traditional retirement accounts, regular old IRAs still appeal to many filers. The reasons are twofold. First, as already noted, the contributions can be made to the accounts between Jan. 1 and April 15 and count toward the previous tax year. That's also the rule for Roth IRAs, too. And as for traditional IRA money put into the plan, for some taxpayers the contribution amount is tax deductible for that... Read more →

Fans of the television show Grey's Anatomy know that the medical staff of that fictional Seattle hospital often encounter dramatic workplace threats. But a tax credit enacted in 2006 was designed to help reduce one at least one very real peril that Washington state medical staff face. Health care workers suffer more musculoskeletal disorders that any other employment sector in the state and have higher injury rates than other dangerous occupations, according to the Washington State Nurse Association. The traumas typically come from the manual moving, transferring and re-positioning of patients. To reduce such injuries, part of the Hospital Safe... Read more →

I totally understand where you're coming from. You don't want to surrender. You can do it! You will do it! Or maybe not. I'm talking, of course, about finishing up your tax return. The IRS is expecting around 60 million tax returns to come in this week. But it's also expecting another 10 million filing extension requests. If you're in a panic right now, with just 2½ days until the filing deadline, it might be better to not file. One form instead of the other: Now don't go getting excited or appalled depending on your point of view. I'm talking... Read more →

As a kid in West Texas, when the Fourth of July rolled around my friends and I would head out to the countryside to set off fireworks. When the weather was dry, which it usually was, the threat of a scrub fire ignited by a wayward bottle rocket was very real. Since the time my friends and I were firebugs, the fire departments that must deal with such blazes have gotten some help from the Texas tax collector. On Oct. 1, 2001, the Lone Star State enacted a 2 percent tax on the purchase of small fireworks sold to the... Read more →

Here's a tax season newsflash that's no longer news to anyone: Many Filers Confused by Stimulus Tax Credit. I've heard this complaint all filing season from readers and tax professionals (and my own family!). Sadly, the cliche that no good deed goes unpunished is never more evident than when Congress creates a new tax law and the IRS implements it. The Making Work Pay credit was designed to give single workers a credit of up to $400 ($800 for married couples filing jointly). So that people could get use of the money sooner, payroll withholding tables were adjusted to reduce... Read more →

Several states publicize the names of taxpayers who are accused of not paying their bills. South Dakota tax officials don't mess with that intermediate stage. They cut right to the chase and post an online list of tax convictions. Maybe South Dakotans are inspired by the likes of Honest Abe and the president who couldn't tell a lie looking down from that famous Black Hills cliff. Whatever the reason, business owners who violate the state's tax laws get the added ignominy of seeing their crimes and punishment available to anyone with an Internet connection. Updated monthly, the March list of... Read more →

I'm still slogging through my own taxes -- April Resolution: Put all my 2010 info on a spreadsheet that keeps a running total of income, expenses, mileage, etc.! -- but I wanted to take a break and remind y'all of some other looming tax deadlines. As a self-employed person, I pay estimated taxes. If you make these four extra tax payments a year, don't forget that the first 1040-ES of 2010 is also due April 15. If you didn't file a return in 2006 and think you might be due a refund from that tax year, this Thursday also is... Read more →

I'm not a big Steve Carell fan, probably because I really enjoyed the British version of The Office much more than the U.S. remake. And Tina Fey's last big-screen outing didn't appeal to me at all. So I was skeptical of "Date Night." Lately though, the flick is starting to look a bit more appealing. At the Movies this week gave it a conditional OK (Michael Phillips says see it, while A.O. Scott suggests waiting for the DVD). Then today, I learned a tidbit that makes it a must see: Carell's character is a tax lawyer. Now I have no... Read more →

In addition to being a prime vacation destination, Las Vegas hosts hundreds of conventions, conferences and trade shows each year. The influx of visitors definitely helps out the Silver State's treasury, and officials are determined to get every possible cent from the visitors. If you're a vendor attending an event, tradeshow or convention in Sin City or elsewhere in Nevada, state tax collectors want you to know that you need to contact the event promoter to get your "one-time permit" to sell in the state. And that selling means collecting state sales tax. These temporary sellers must turn over whatever... Read more →

Letterman's Top 10 tax list

It's almost tax time, and that means it's also time for David Letterman's annual tax-related Top Ten list. Each year, Dave has real accountants deliver the quips. My favorite from this year's Top Ten Thoughts That Go Through Every Accountant's Mind On April 15th is number 5: "Get through today and then a 364-day weekend." Related posts: Letterman's Top Ten Budget Surprises Halloween candy's tax lessons Stick it to the tax man A new form for the tax undead Want to tell your friends about this blog post? Click the Tweet This or Digg This buttons below or use the... Read more →

Florida residents escape personal income, inheritance, gift or intangible personal property taxes. But the Sunshine State has to get operating funds from somewhere, so it collects a variety of other taxes and fees. One of the state's major revenue raisers is sales tax. Now, however, it looks like that levy on some high-dollar purchases may be reduced. As part of a nearly $90 million package of tax breaks approved last week by the Florida House, buyers of mega yachts would see their sales taxes capped at $18,000. Supporters of the yacht sales tax break argue that it would help Florida... Read more →

How's the party going? Wait, aren't you celebrating? You should be. Today is Tax Freedom Day. OK, so it's not an official U.S. holiday. And it's slightly less festive than last year. As a nation, we had to work a day longer in 2010 than we did in 2009 to reach the point that the Tax Foundation calculates as the day we've earned enough money to pay this year's tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. Basically, Tax Freedom Day answers the question, "What price is the nation paying for government?" Using the latest government data on income... Read more →