Smart TaxesSmart Taxes

The IRS is beefing up its criminal-investigation unit -- a gentle reminder as the tax deadline approaches.

By TheStreet Staff Mar 23, 2010 2:12PM

By Joe Mont, TheStreetTheStreet

 

Lest you think you might be able to get away with it, the Internal Revenue Service's criminal-investigation unit has more than 4,100 employees worldwide who might suggest otherwise.

 

More than 1.4 million Americans were audited last year, the most in more than a decade. And with an additional $8.2 billion budgeted for tax-enforcement efforts, a 10% increase, the odds of getting away with something sneaky are going to get even slimmer.

 

There were 2,229 prison sentences handed down for tax-related offenses last year. The following are some of the scams, and how delinquents were caught.

 

California car wash owner negotiating over debt that grow to $202.31 with penalties. He thought he had paid on time.

By Kay Bell Mar 23, 2010 10:11AM

Aaron Zeff had no idea he was a tax delinquent until two IRS agents showed up this month at his Sacramento car wash.

 

The amount the IRS says Zeff didn't pay back in 2006: 4 cents.

 

So the IRS sent two people to collect four pennies?

 

Business write-offs were extended through 2010, and foreign accounts will face more scrutiny.

By Kay Bell Mar 23, 2010 9:58AM

The $18 billion job creation package, the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act, officially known as H.R. 2847, was signed into law March 18. The measure was approved by the Senate, 68-29, and by the House, 217-201.

 

The bill's primary provisions encourage businesses to hire and keep workers. But there are a couple tax provisions of note.

 

Federal woes are just the beginning. States and cities also will have to raise taxes to stay afloat.

By Jeff Schnepper Mar 22, 2010 10:07AM

There are animals that can sense an oncoming earthquake. They instinctively run for safety.

 

I’m beginning to relate.

 

The vibrations keep getting stronger. No matter where I look, every map identifies my location as “see epicenter.”

 

This isn’t going to be a natural disaster. It’s an economic breakdown that was birthed by buffoons playing politics. But I’m more interested in the repercussions than blame.

 

And the number one repercussion is going to be a tsunami of new taxes.

 

Programs let you deduct medical expenses even if you don't itemize.

By Jeff Schnepper Mar 19, 2010 10:55AM

How’d you like to make the 7.5% medical expense slicer go away?

 

There’s a way to do that. Do it right and you can deduct the first dollar of your medical expenses even if you don’t itemize.

 

Seven states and D.C. raised rates in 2009, with national average now 8.629%.

By Teresa Mears Mar 18, 2010 11:13AM

This news article is by William P. Barrett at partner site Forbes.

 

While President Obama's push to raise federal income taxes for the wealthy gets lots of attention, the continuing upward creep in the sales tax rates imposed by state and local governments has gotten less notice.

 

But Vertex Inc., which calculates sales tax for Internet sellers, reports that the average general sales tax rate nationwide reached 8.629% at the end of 2009, the highest since the Berwyn, Pa., company started tracking data in 1982. That was up a nickel on a taxable $100 purchase from a year earlier and up nearly 40 cents for the decade. The highest sales tax rate in the country now stands at 12%.

 

The younger you are, the better a deal it may be to convert in 2010.

By Jeff Schnepper Mar 17, 2010 12:05PM

To Roth or not to Roth – that is the question.

 

This year (2010), the income limitations to convert retirement plan balances to a Roth IRA have been eliminated.  Anybody, regardless of income, can now convert from a tax-deferred retirement option to a tax-free plan.

 

Trying to collect from online retailers' affiliates may backfire. Amazon has halted affiliate programs in several states.

By Kay Bell Mar 16, 2010 11:52AM

Are Amazon taxes backfiring on states

 

Named after the online retailer who's the main target of a growing number of state tax departments, these taxes require sales tax collection by retailers who have affiliate contracts within a state. These are deals with independent in-state residents who post Web site links to the out-of-state seller and then get a share of money based on referred sales. 

 

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