Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

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 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,

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

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."


Wish taxes were so simple you could file them on a postcard? Some say a flat tax could make that possible.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 11, 2014 2:21PM

Uncle SamBy Maryalane LaPonsie, Money Talks News

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyWith tax season upon us, you may be wondering why the government has to make things so complex.

According to the CCH Standard Federal Tax Reporter (.pdf file), the tax code clocks in at an astounding 73,954 pages as of 2013. It includes seven tax rates, four standard deductions and at least a dozen tax credits for individuals. Then there are the exemptions, the itemized deductions and the special tax rules.

And when you think you're starting to understand how the system works, the government likes to throw in a few curveballs, like the alternative minimum tax.




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