Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

The child tax credit and other tax breaks mean more middle-class earners are paying no federal tax at all. Is that right?

By Kay Bell Apr 8, 2010 10:35AM

As millions of us are staring down April 15, the big question we have is how do we pay Uncle Sam as little as possible?

 

Some folks have that answer totally figured out.

 

One-third of individuals who last filing season submitted a 2008 return paid no tax whatsoever, according to the Tax Foundation. The Tax Policy Center estimates 47% of Americans won’t pay taxes for 2009.

 

You can call, but the IRS would rather you checked online.

By Jeff Schnepper Apr 7, 2010 10:21AM

OK, where’s my refund? I filed early, as the IRS requested, but I still haven’t gotten my check.

 

If you’re in this situation, what do you do?

 

You can start by calling 1-800-829-1954. If you filed more than four weeks ago, call 1-800-829-4477.


But, the IRS really doesn't want to talk to you. They’d prefer you go to www.irs.gov and click on “Where’s My Refund.” If you e-file, you can get refund information 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your return. If you file a paper return, the IRS doesn’t post refund information until three to four weeks after the return has been mailed.

 

Taxpayers in West Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have until May 11 to file federal returns.

By Kay Bell Apr 6, 2010 9:42AM

The federal tax filing deadline is less than two weeks away, but some taxpayers who have other things on their minds, such as coping with recent storm damage, are getting a bit of a break from the IRS.

 

The tax agency has decided to give some victims of March's severe storms and flooding in West Virginia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts more time to get their taxes done.

 

IRS will accept 'pennies on the dollar' only if you meet certain criteria. But companies will take your money even when you don't.

By Jeff Schnepper Apr 5, 2010 10:17AM

We’ve all seen the ads. They promise to settle your tax debt for pennies on the dollar. They don’t tell you how many pennies (one hundred, more than likely). And, they all want their fees up front.

 

The secret word starts wit an “S” for “stupid,” followed by a “C” for “crazy,”  “A” for “are you out of your,” and ends with “M” for “mind.”

 

These companies are playing the Offer in Compromise (OIC) game. Yes, it’s true that you can settle your tax debt for less than full value. But, there are hoops that you have to jump through that keep getting smaller, and not everybody qualifies.

 

More are asking residents to 'fess up on annual tax forms.

By Teresa Mears Mar 31, 2010 10:36PM

This news article is by Laura Saunders at partner The Wall Street Journal:

 

Will you cheat on your taxes again this year?

 

Time was when it was easy for citizens to avoid paying sales taxes on some purchases made online or out of state. Ebay and Craigslist wouldn't be as fun otherwise.

 

But skirting the law is getting more difficult. Now 24 states, plus D.C., are pricking shoppers' consciences with a special line on the tax return that requests a payment for sales taxes on any goods bought out of state, including those from online retailers -- up from 20 states in 2008.

 

IRS charges 5% a month for failure to file unless you get an extension.

By Jeff Schnepper Mar 30, 2010 11:18PM

It hurts enough to pay taxes. Let’s not add to the pain with the additional agony of penalties.

 

Taxes are what you pay the IRS if you follow their rules.

 

Penalties are non-deductible fines the IRS imposes on you if you don’t follow their rules.

 

File your return!

 

More people who lost jobs applied for benefits. If you overpaid, you can get that money back.

By Kay Bell Mar 30, 2010 10:04AM

The New York Times reports that this year the Social Security system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes.

 

That wasn't supposed to happen, per government estimators, until 2016.  

 

Stephen C. Goss, chief actuary of the Social Security Administration, tells the paper that the economy is a big reason for the earlier-than-expected arrival of this crucial tipping point.

 

Using a credit card to pay for taxes may be convenient, but there are extraordinary costs.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 29, 2010 12:35PM

TheStreetBy Bill Hardekopf, TheStreet

 

The tax deadline is more than two weeks away and consumers will soon be bombarded with messages encouraging them to pay with a credit card.

 

While this may sound appealing to consumers struggling to find ways to pay taxes in this turbulent economy, it should be avoided at all costs.

 

The Internal Revenue Service and some credit card issuers promote the benefits of paying taxes with a credit card. Payment with a credit card is easy and can be made via phone or online. It delays the pain of payment for another month. Consumers can even earn reward points on some cards.

 

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