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April 2011

With the tax filing (and paying) deadline just hours away, the IRS seems to be channeling, at least via its announcements, the annual Jerry Lewis fundraising telethon. Case in point, word from the Washington tax headquarters that taxpayers set a record this weekend for e-filed tax returns, topping 100 million for the first time. The record electronic filing was helped by a surge of e-filings over the weekend. By early this April 18 filing deadline morning, the IRS said it had received nearly 101 million electronically submitted returns this filing season. That's an 8.8 percent increase from last year. Even... Read more →

Some of us have a double date with Uncle Sam today. We pay estimated taxes and the due day for the tax year's first of four extra filings is the same day as the regular tax filing, tax payment deadline. For 2011, that means estimated tax payment for the first quarter of the year is due today, April 18. This 1040-ES voucher (and the other three) can be opened as a PDF, allowing you to fill them out and then save and print as needed to file. I usually use EFTPS to electronically make these payments each April, June, September... Read more →

If you're working on your tax return today, the eve of this year's April 18 filing deadline, you are not alone. The IRS says between 20 percent and 25 percent of taxpayers put off their tax tasks until the last two weeks of the filing season. But these folks are mere amateurs. The hardcore tax filing procrastinators don't mess with their tax returns until after the annual April due date. And those folks are this week's By the Numbers figure: 7 percent. The IRS says that's the usual percentage of taxpayers who each year seek a six-month extension to file.... Read more →

Owe the IRS? You might be able to get 120 extra days to pay your tax bill

Most of America's 141 million tax return filers have submitted their 1040s to the IRS. The late filers, including yours truly, tend to be people who owe Uncle Sam. Many of us on April 18 will be sending the IRS an extension to file Form 4868. Remember, though, that an extension to file is just that; it only gives you more time to send in your tax forms. If you have a tax bill due, the IRS expects you to pay it or as much of it as you can by tomorrow. The Daily Tax Tip for Friday (#15 in... Read more →

Top 10 tax tips from CPAs, also known as Letterman's annual spoofing of taxes

As the annual tax-filing deadline nears, David Letterman recruits New York area accountants to deliver a list of Top 10 Tax Tips. I recommend watching the tax pros present the tips. The delivery of a couple of the numbers crunchers isn't too bad. But if you don't have time -- maybe you're busy finishing your or a client's return -- here's the list: 10. Deadlines are just suggestions. File your taxes whenever you want. 9. Warlocks cannot claim trolls as dependents. 8. Make filing more personable by naming your calculator. Mine is named "Owen." 7. Make make sure your accountant... Read more →

Only a relatively few taxpayers don't thave to worry about state tax filings this time of year. There is no income tax collected on wages here in Texas, as well as in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. In the other 43 states and Washington, D.C., that collect taxes on income, either earned or unearned, from their residents, most follow the IRS filing schedule. Texans' map of the USA via Marfa Book Company calendar. Click image for larger view. As we all well know, the IRS deadline typically is April 15, which is why the tax due dates... Read more →

Thanks to Emancipation Day falling on April 15 this year, the filing deadline for 2010 returns is bumped to Monday, April 18. And thanks to Congress agreeing to another continuing resolution to keep federal offices open through Sept. 30, all procrastinating taxpayers, whether they e-file or send in paper returns, don't have to worry about any interruption of IRS processing of tax returns. All we, and yes, I'm one of those who still hasn't finished filling in my forms, have to worry about is getting the job done correctly. And filing our first estimated tax payment of the 2011 tax... Read more →

It's finally official. Enhanced 1099 reporting is dead. On April 14 President Obama signed into law H.R. 4, the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011. This erases from the tax code the enhanced 1099 reporting rule. This provision, created as a way to pay for health care, that in 2012 would have required submit to the IRS a Form 1099 for payments made to any single vendor for goods and services totaling more than $600 a year. Also gone thanks to the president's signature is a similar reporting requirement, as part of the... Read more →

Ozzy Osbourne won't lose home to IRS

All is right in the musical Prince of Darkness' world. The $1.7 million federal tax bill owed by heavy metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his daytime TV talk show host wife Sharon has been paid. The lien that was was placed in connection with the overdue IRS bill should soon be released. Despite Sharon's initial willingness to take responsibility for staying on top of her family's finances, she now says it was their accountants' fault. "At 4:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon I received a phone call from my publicist who had a reporter on the other line informing her that... Read more →

Have you ever cheated on your taxes? If you're an unmarried man younger than 45, chances are you have at one time stiffed Uncle Sam. The latest DDB Life Style Study found that while only 15 percent of Americans admit that they are likely to cheat on their taxes, there are some traits specific to tax cheats. The biggest difference between tax cheats and those who meticulously fill out their 1040s is gender. Sorry, guys, more of you are guilty. DDB pollsters found that 64 percent of tax cheats are men. They also are likely to be single and younger... Read more →

Free tax filing of federal and state returns

Around 70 percent of us e-file our federal tax returns. And since most states expect tax returns this time of year, too, most folks also e-file their state taxes. The IRS' Free File program makes it possible for taxpayers whose 2010 adjusted gross income was $58,000 or less (regardless of filing status) to file federal tax returns at no cost, but what about your state return? Some of the Free File providers do offer free state tax preparation and e-filing in conjunction with federal returns at the filing portal. But you probably should check directly with your state tax... Read more →

Did you hear about General Electric deciding to pay back the $3.2 billion tax refund it got in 2010? It was a hoax. But the fake news release was good enough to fool the Associated Press, which received the email announcement of GE's supposed change of heart following public outrage at the corporate giant's ability last year to avoid U.S. taxes and in fact receive a substantial tax refund. The faux press release reportedly included a GE logo and a link to a website designed to look like GE's real online home. Members of the Yes Men, a prankster group... Read more →

Ways and Means tackles tax reform

Tired of working on your 2010 taxes? Take a break and check out the testimony being presented today at the House Ways and Means hearing on How the Tax Code’s Burdens on Individuals and Families Demonstrate the Need for Comprehensive Tax Reform. Congressional pontificating examination of the tax code is a standard mid-April exercise, regardless of which political party is in control. This tax filing season, the Republicans have the gavel in the House. And since its constitutionally mandated that all tax legislation originate in that legislative chamber, Ways and Means attention bears watching. Today's hearing, according to the announcement... Read more →

I know I blogged about tax scams a couple of weeks ago, but since criminals work 24/7 trying to get your money, another scam warning bears repeating for a couple of reasons. First, tax season offers new ways for scam artists to get creative. Second, the IRS has released its 2011 Dirty Dozen tax scam list. A lot of the schemes on the IRS' annual list are repeats. That's because the typical con artist appeals at tax time to two basic human emotions, fear and greed. We're scared of how we did or might screw up our taxes unless we... Read more →

TurboTax giveaway for procrastinators

If you still haven't filed your taxes, I've got a deal for you. The folks at Intuit have given me four access codes for TurboTax Online tax preparation and e-filing, two for its Online Premier package and two for its Online Deluxe services. You can read about the differences in the software at the company's website. Since the tax clock is ticking, I'm going to give all four of them away this evening. Here's how to get one of the access codes: Leave a comment here on this post telling me why you haven't yet filed your taxes. It doesn't... Read more →

You might still be working on your 2010 tax return, but your earnings so far this year have been going to pay your 2011 tax bill. So put down your Form 1040 instruction book and take a minute to celebrate. Today is America's Tax Freedom Day. That means, according to the Tax Foundation, that U.S. taxpayers on average will have earned enough by today to pay off their 2011 federal, state and local taxes. The Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research and policy group has been tracking Tax Freedom Day for 40 years. This year's Tax Freedom Day is three days later... Read more →

Tax Day is a week away. That's right, we procrastinators have just seven days to fill out our forms and get them, and any tax we owe, on the way to the IRS. As we head down the tax filing stretch, Tax Carnival #85: Countdown to Tax Day offers some last-minute tax considerations, some planning tips for 2011 and even a way to put off your annual tax task a bit longer. With time running short (and shorter still since I was late posting this!) let's get started. Much tax time focus is on retirement plans since contributing to an... Read more →

Tax trouble for rock's 'Prince of Darkness' Ozzy Osbourne and his daughter Kelly

Kelly Osbourne, daughter of one-time outrageous rock and roller Ozzy, apparently is a bad girl herself, at least when it comes to taxes. She allegedly owes more than $30,000 in unpaid California taxes. Singer and actress Kelly Osbourne arrives at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 13, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT) (GRAMMYS-ARRIVALS) Singer and actress Kelly Osbourne arrives at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2011. Los Angeles County court documents obtained by the gossip website/syndicated television show TMZ allege that the 26-year-old singer failed in... Read more →

7-day tax filing plan

Still haven't filed your 2010 taxes? Welcome to the club. The IRS says it expects almost 10 million taxpayers to request an extension to file their returns. But you don't have to be one of them. Check out my 7-day tax filing plan. It breaks down the whole process into easy steps you can take for the next week to get your return filed on time. Of course, if you prefer to procrastinate, that's OK with the IRS, too, as long as you file a Form 4868 and pay any tax you might owe by April 18. The choice is... Read more →

For the last decade, the Internal Revenue Service has offered most taxpayers access to Free File, a way to prepare tax returns online and e-file them without charge. The services is a public-private partnership with around 20 software companies participating each year. For the 2011 filing season, taxpayers who in 2010 had adjusted gross income of $58,000 or less, regardless of filing status, can use Free File. It will be available not just through the upcoming April 18 filing deadline, but also through the Oct. 17 extended filing due date. The IRS says that the current income threshold (it's adjusted... Read more →