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The phones are already ringing off the hook, as the agency usually faces its largest call volume right after President's Day. But it's likely to get worse.

By MSN Money staff Feb 19, 2014 1:52PM

By Jonnelle Marte, MarketWatch


MarketWatch on MSN MoneyNeed tax help? Don't bother calling the IRS.


Late February is typically the worst time to call the tax man, since the number of calls being made to the IRS normally peak right after the Presidents Day holiday. But the IRS is already dropping hints that calling the agency any time this tax season is likely to be a painful experience.


Man on phone at desk © Thomas Barwick/Getty Images"I want to be up front with you and call it like it is," IRS commissioner John Koskinen told taxpayers in a video posted earlier this month on the agency's YouTube channel. "Given our very limited resources, our phone lines are going to be extremely busy this year and there will frequently be extensive wait times."


Indeed, 39 percent of the 109 million phone calls made to the IRS in 2013 went unanswered, up from roughly 30 percent in 2012, according to a report from the Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent office of the IRS charged with systemic oversight.


And of those callers who were able to get a human on the phone, the average wait time was nearly 18 minutes, up from 12 minutes in 2011 and much higher than the average 3 minute wait time callers experienced in 2004.

 

Some tax preparation services want to separate you from part of your refund with refund anticipation loans and checks. Just say no.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 19, 2014 12:54PM
This post comes from Stacy Johnson at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWhen you hit the grocery store for milk and eggs, you know you'll run a gauntlet of impulse buys in the checkout line, from chewing gum to tabloid papers. That's just one of the tricks of the supermarket trade.

Should you expect to encounter the same type of marketing when you have your taxes prepared?

Increasingly, the answer is yes.  

If you can't solve your issue through normal IRS channels, try their Taxpayer Advocate Service. Tough problems are their specialty.

By MSN Money staff Feb 18, 2014 4:41PM

Cara Williams, Low Income Tax Clinic Director meets with client Della Verbal, a taxpayer dealing with fraud from a local tax preparation agency, on March 29, 2012, at the CRA-NC office in Durham, N.C. The Community Reinvestment Association also runs a Volunteer Income Tax Assistant site in Durham, N.C. The agency is designated by the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Office as a low-income tax clinic. © Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty ImagesBy Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes

 

Forbes.com on MSN MoneyTax season is off to a strong start, according to the Internal Revenue Service, with tax filings for 2014 already ahead of those for the same time period in 2013. Only one week into the official tax season, the IRS has received 27.3 million returns -- about 20 percent of the returns they expect to process for the entire tax season.

 

Some of that volume is attributable to a more compressed tax season. The opening season of tax season was delayed to January 31, while the deadline for filing, Tax Day, remains April 15. That's just 75 days for the season -- on par with last year's tax season, but a far cry from the whopping 102 days we saw in 2012 (the season for e-filing was open for 91 days).

 

The IRS has made asking for an extension easy, and it grants most requests it receives. If you're already sweating over tax day, here's how to ask for extra time.

By MSN Money staff Feb 17, 2014 5:38PM

Image: Tax form © Brian Hagiwara/Brand X/CorbisBy Jean Folger, Investopedia

 

Investopedia on MSN MoneyTax day -- April 15th -- is just around the corner.


If you need more time to prepare your return – whether you are busy with school, travel, a family emergency, or you are simply disorganized -- you can request a six-month filing extension by submitting the proper form to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Of course, there's a deadline for that too, but the good news is that getting an extension is easier than you might think.


Here's what you need to know -- from dates and forms, to special rules.

 

Have you ever been tempted to cheat on your taxes, even if by just a small amount? Here's why that's not such a good idea.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 14, 2014 12:34PM

By Allison Martin, Money Talks News


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyImagine living in a nation with no taxes. That sounds like a utopia or a dream. But what we do know is that the Internal Revenue Service, or what I like to call Uncle Sam's headquarters, does not always collect what it's owed for a number of reasons.


Somewhere in the mix are those who cheat the system. Who are those people?

 

The IRS can file a tax lien if you miss a due date, which can severely damage scores.

By MSN Money producer Feb 13, 2014 3:53PM

Couple with paperwork © Christina Kennedy, Brand X, CorbisBy Christine DiGangi, Credit.com Credit.com


It's a good thing to be punctual, especially when it comes to financial matters. Credit scores rely heavily on your payment history, so developing a habit of making on-time payments will help you improve and maintain high credit scores.


While tax information isn't generally reported to credit bureaus, missing the deadline for paying the IRS could result in a tax lien, which could seriously damage your credit. But in general, that's the only way tax-related information goes on your credit report.



What's a tax lien?

It's pretty simple: If you don't pay your taxes, the IRS can file a notice of federal tax lien with the credit bureaus, and that's a huge negative on your credit reports.

 

Increase isn't necessarily driven by wealthy citizens trying to escape taxes, experts say.

By MSN Money producer Feb 12, 2014 2:37PM

Paper airplane made of money © Tetra Images/CorbisBy Robert Frank, CNBC  CNBC.com


While Washington is focused on immigration, tax experts are focused on the opposite issue: a surge in Americans moving out.  


Last year, a record 2,999 Americans gave up their citizenship or terminated their long-term U.S. residency, according to new data from the U.S. Treasury Department. That was more than three times the number in 2012, and greater than the combined totals for 2011 and 2012.  


Many will look at these numbers and say they are proof that America's high taxes are chasing Americans overseas. After all, many of the expatriates who have been named are wealthy or high earners -- like Facebook billionaire Eduardo Saverin or pop star Tina Turner. 

 

If you're eligible, a home office deduction can save you big bucks at tax time. If you're not, claiming it can get you in big trouble.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 12, 2014 12:53PM

By Stacy Johnson, Money Talks News Money Talks News


It's mid-February. By now you should have received paperwork documenting your 2013 income, as well as paperwork from those who paid you interest and from those you paid. You've also hopefully corralled your receipts to document your deductions.


But before you sit down to take care of business, there's a potential deduction that can slash your tax bill: the home office deduction. According to the IRS, "In tax year 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available, nearly 3.4 million taxpayers claimed deductions for business use of a home."

 

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