A new crop of fraudsters pops up every year like weeds on your lawn. Follow these tips to keep your info and any refund you're due safe.
By Cameron Huddleston, Kiplinger
The IRS just released its annual "Dirty Dozen" list of tax scams that taxpayers should take steps to avoid this filing season. At the top of the list is identity theft. This widespread scam typically involves stealing taxpayers' personal information to fraudulently file tax returns and claim refunds.
The experience can become a nightmare, as thieves gain access to your Social Security number, credit cards and bank accounts, among other things, leaving you financially vulnerable, says Rip Mason, CEO of LegalShield, a legal services and identity theft protection provider.
If you went looking for a new job last year, take some sting off that search by saving money with these write-offs.
By Kay Bell, Bankrate
These days, a lot of Americans find themselves pounding the pavement in a quest for a new job, whether they've gotten the pink slip or expect to get one soon.
The good news: The search may help you cut your tax bill because under certain circumstances, job-hunting expenses are tax deductible.
New job, same field
First, your hunt for new work must be in the same field in which you're currently or were formerly employed. Uncle Sam won't help out if you decide to totally switch career gears.
The government is hitting the rich with more taxes, but is it fair?
This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.
It's tax time and that means the rich better get ready to open their wallets to pay even more this year. Depending on where you fall on the political spectrum, that's a bit of news that could have you cheering or grumbling.
Abba and Lady Gaga did it, so why can't you? Just be careful which articles you claim, because the IRS has heard this all before.
By Robert W. Wood, Forbes.com
Everyone needs tax deductions, and they can alter behavior.
That was true even in the feel-good 1970s, when you could hear the feel-good music of the past: ABBA. Turns out ABBA wore outrageous outfits onstage to claim tax deductions. The Swedes were famous for glittering hotpants, sequined jumpsuits and platform heels.
Björn Ulvaeus now reveals the reason for the outfits was the Swedish tax code. Newly published "Abba: The Official Photo Book," says their expensive outfits were tax-deductible only if they were so outrageous they couldn't be worn on the street. U.S. tax law is similar, and that means Lady Gaga's meat dress (pictured) qualifies, her favorite outfit ever. Of course, Gaga has many unique styles, and they're all tax-deductible.
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 Jonnelle Marte, MarketWatch
Need 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.
"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.
When 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 Kelly Phillips Erb, Forbes
Tax 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 Jean Folger, Investopedia
Tax 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.
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