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April 2013

April 15 was the tax filing deadline for most federal and state taxpayers. Note the word "most." On the federal level, U.S. citizens living abroad or who are in the military and stationed outside the country get an automatic two-month extension to file their federal returns and pay any amount due without requesting an extension. The Internal Revenue Service considers these folks' 1040s as timely filed if they are sent by June 15. And while most of the states and Washington, D.C., that collect income tax returns from their residents do follow the federal April 15 due date, five set... Read more →


How are you feeling today? Relieved? Tired? Freaked that you owed Uncle Sam so much money? Thrilled that your final tax computations showed you're getting a refund? Those are all emotions that folks who finished their returns yesterday, April 15, are feeling. But the millions of us who got an extension are still in a state of tax limbo. We at least got Form 4868 to the Internal Revenue Service electronically, or at least on its way in paper form via the U.S. Postal Service. Now we get to start counting down to our new Oct. 15 tax filing deadline.... Read more →


The Pulitzer Prize winners for 2013 were announced today and I must mention Steve Sack, who took this year's top honors for editorial cartooning. No, it's not because I regularly read the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where Sack has been using his art to put a spin on events since 1981. And it's not because Sack also was a Pulitzer finalist for cartooning in 2004. It's not even because, as the Pulitizer jury put in selecting Sack, he produces a "diverse collection of cartoons, using an original style and clever ideas to drive home his unmistakable point of view." It's because... Read more →


Time is up. April 15, despite all your wishing and hoping, has arrived. You've put off filing for 3½ months, but any more procrastination could cost you. So don't just sit there. File something today. And that, my friends, is today's Daily Tax Tip. It's the final one for the high 2013 tax-filing season. But don't despair. On Wednesday, the Weekly Tax Tip series begins. Now back to the here and how. Form choices, 1040 or 4868: Ideally, the material you file today will be your Form 1040. But the reality is that millions of us procrastinators end up procrastinating... Read more →


Fellow tax-filing procrastinators, take a look at the photo below for proof that I'm sharing your tax pain today as we stare down the April 15 filing deadline together. Strewn (OK, sort of neatly stacked) across the floor there is all my 2012 tax background material, receipts and other documentation so I can plug my numbers into my tax preparation software. I like to pencil the tax data in on paper forms first, just to make sure I have everything I need. I also find it easier to compare the return I'm working on with last year's printed copy when... Read more →


Do you file state taxes in addition to your federal tax return? Then today's Daily Tax Tip is for you. Your state provides a way for you to file your taxes for free. Clip on map to go to Federation of Tax Administrators' interactive version. Seven states -- Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming -- don't tax wage income. Two states, New Hampshire and Tennessee, tax only dividend and interest income. In the states that do collect taxes each year on their residents' earnings, all offer either return filing directly with the state, similar to the free... Read more →


When the final week before Tax Day rolled around, so did concerns about taxpayer privacy. First came worries that the Internal Revenue Service might be spying on tax audit targets via social media. Infographic courtesy "Why Privacy is Overrated" It's unclear as to whether the tax agency has formalized such a strategy (more on this in a few paragraphs). But, as I noted last week at my other tax blog, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise for tax investigators to take advantage of all public resources. That means if you do insist on bragging about a high-dollar lifestyle... Read more →


Local television news programs used to rely on a particular video for their 11 p.m. (10 p.m. Central time) Tax Day broadcasts. You know the one, cars lining up so that the drivers can drop off their annual tax filings with a curbside U.S. Postal Service employee. The special service ensures that the envelopes addressed to the Internal Revenue Service get an April 15 postmark. That official cancellation is recognized by the IRS as proof that a tax return has been mailed by the annual filing deadline. But thanks to the growing popularity of e-filing, fewer folks are heading to... Read more →


A passel of procrastinating taxpayers in 2013

The Internal Revenue Service says that roughly one in five Americans file their federal and state income returns in the final week before the April 15 deadline. That statistic is likely to be larger this filing season because so many 2012 federal tax law changes weren't enacted until Jan. 2 of this year. That pushed back the filing season for the IRS, which had to update forms and its computer systems, and taxpayers alike. The hubby and I are yet again among those getting six more months to work on our 1040 and associated forms. If you're part of our... Read more →


I know it's late on Friday. But it's also the Friday before April 15. Not to ruin your weekend, but you might need to do some extra tax work this Saturday and Sunday. The reason? April 15 isn't just for filing your annual federal tax return or, if you're a bit jammed up, sending the Internal Revenue Service File Form 4868 to get an automatic six-month extension to file. April 15, or the next business day when it falls on a weekend or federal holiday, also is the deadline for five other tax tasks. I know I mentioned them in... Read more →


Are we having fun yet as the April 15 tax-filing deadline looms? According to a recent survey, some of us are. Sure, a national poll conducted in early April by the Pew Research Center found that most Americans (56 percent to be exact) have a negative reaction to doing their income taxes. In fact, 26 percent use the "H" word: They hate filling out their 1040s. But about a third of us, 34 percent for those of you still in the tax-filing precise figure mode, say we either like (29 percent) or love (five percent) doing our federal taxes. No,... Read more →


Cafe Malta in here in Austin is offering a tax season happy hour special of $3 glasses of Tempranillo, Pinot Grigio and Rioja Rose through Monday, April 15. If you're not in the Austin area, don't despair. Chances are that some business in your area also is using April 15 as a way to get people to pay attention to its product or service by offering freebies or discounts. Tax Day deals across the country: Last-minute Las Vegas taxpayers can enjoy free coffee, pastries and, if they're heading to the post office to snail mail their returns, stamps. The freebies... Read more →


If you're still working on your tax return, chances are you owe Uncle Sam. Your payment deadline is Monday, April 15. That's also the day you must send in either your completed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. Failure to do either (or both) will cost you more in penalties (although the IRS says it will cut some folks some penalty slack this screwy filing season) and interest. In general, though, the penalty for not filing or sending in a Form 4868 to get a six-month extension is larger than for not paying. But you'll still be slapped with some extra... Read more →


Tax season isn't official until David Letterman welcomes New York City area accountants to his late-night show to read a tax-related Top 10 list. This year's topic, presented Tuesday, April 9, was the Top 10 things you don't want to hear from your accountant. Click image to view the Late Night Top 10 presentation on YouTube. The clip is only 3½ minutes, but if you're a swamped tax preparer and just don't have even that much time to spare right now, here's the list: 10. Take off your clothes and sit on the examining table. (Harvey Tanton) 9. Good news... Read more →


If you've been glancing at the countdown clock there in the ol' blogs right column, you are well aware that you've only got just more than five days to get your 2012 taxes done. Since, as the old saying goes, haste makes waste, I thought you might want to take a breath and then take a look at Filing mistakes to avoid, Tax breaks you shouldn't overlook, and How to get more time to take proper care of your taxes. Don't make these tax filing mistakes Every year the Internal Revenue Service sees the same old tax errors on thousands... Read more →


Since the 2013 filing season started eight days later than planned, it's no surprise that fewer tax returns have been submitted and processed than last year. The delay also is affecting refunds. The Internal Revenue Service reports that as of the week ending March 29, it had received 88 million returns, almost 4 percent less than at the end of March 2012. In connection with the filings through March, 72.2 million refunds totalling $201.5 billion were issued. Those figures are down 4.1 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively. As for the refund amount, that's also less this year than in 2012.... Read more →


We're less than a week away from April 15, Tax Day. You know what that means. Families of tax accountants will not see their loved ones for the next six days. Funny Pictures If you do see your tax accountant, or other tax professional, during this filing season home stretch, be nice. Yes, you and your taxes are important, but you probably aren't your tax pro's only client. If you run across someone who seems to be a little flustered, consider that he or she might be a tax accountant and give those folks a break. Just in case you're... Read more →


Are you freaking out because you have one week -- seven days -- to do your federal (and, for many, state) taxes and you haven't even started the process? Don't. You can get a lot done in one week. And to help you get a handle on your impending tax task, check out my slide show on Bankrate breaking down a seven-day tax filing plan. Here's a preview: Gather data. Examine exemptions, adjustments to income. Decide on your deductions, deduction method. Find your forms. Count your credits. Fill out your forms. Sign, seal and deliver. Actually, I have a personal... Read more →


Donating money to help reduce the federal debt is one of the more unusual charitable tax deductions. It's also today's Daily Tax Tip. Long-time readers know I have blogged about this before, but the federal deficit is getting more attention nowadays, thanks in large part to a group of Senators and Representatives for whom stanching the flow of the country's red ink is paramount. These members of Congress don't want the federal government to raise taxes to help reduce the ever-growing national debt, which as I type is $16,784,854,240,304. Check out USDebtClock.org to see how much it has already increased.... Read more →


I've been a big fan of Mario Batali for ages. His cooking advice regarding classic Italian eats is magnifico. And today I learned that Molto Mario also offers tax advice. OK, he actually provides a tip on what to drink at tax time. Batali told the New York Times Sunday Magazine: "I never feel that good about paying the triple hit of New York City, state and federal taxes. My accountant says these are great problems to have, but that is probably because he is going on vacation next week. My answer is tequila. Put a bottle of your favorite... Read more →