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Saturday, April 07, 2012

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Weekly Tax Tip

  • Tuning up your tax records -- Your taxes are done. Now you've got to deal with all the filing and background material you used to file your return. Fear of the Internal Revenue Service turns many folks into tax hoarders. Stop. You do need tax records, but probably not as many as you thing. A good rule of thumb is to hold onto tax papers until the chance of audit passes, generally three years from when you filed. Hang onto tax records related to assets, such as stocks or real property, until you sell them. Keep records of your retirement contributions at least until you start taking distributions. And if you own your own company, make sure you keep separate personal and business records. Finally, the key with any record keeping system is to pick one and stick with it. (April 16, 2014)

  • Tax Tip; click pencil for all tax tip links


  • Check out all the latest post-April 15 advice at Weekly Tax Tips 2014.

    You also can get a refresher of the Daily Tax Tips posted earlier this year on their respective monthly collection pages: January, February, March and April.

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Counting Down to Tax Day

Time for Tax Tasks


  • monthly tax moves

  • April 1: Today is April Fool's Day, but don't you be a tax fool.

    April Fools Day jack in the box drawing; click image for more on this holiday

    If you got or expecting a big refund, or ended up owing a lot, then now's the time to adjust your payroll withholding.

    April 4: It's a bit late in the filing season to hire a tax professional, but you still might be able to get some free tax help through such programs as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE).

    April 10: Yes, Tax Day is just around the corner, but you still have to take care of other tax tasks. If your job includes tips and you received $20 in tips in March, use Form 4070 to report them today to your employer.

    April 12-13: This last weekend before your 1040 is due doesn't have to be a lost weekend.

    Don't get in such a rush that you make common mistakes on your tax return.

    April 15: This is it! Tax Day 2014.

    April 15 calendar page; click image to go to IRS website

    There are lots of tax tasks to take care of today, so let's get to them.

    Your 2013 personal income tax return is due today, either by sending it electronically or getting it to the post office so it can be postmarked by midnight, local time. And don't forget about Free File.

    IRS Free File; click image for details

    The IRS partnership with more than a dozen tax software manufacturers is open for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less not only through today's deadline, but also through the Oct. 15 filing extension.

    If you just can't complete your forms, file Form 4868 to get an automatic six-month extension. But be sure to pay any tax you owe. It's an extension to file, not an extension to pay.

    If you didn't file a return in 2010, you could be missing out on your part of almost $760 million in tax refunds that were never claimed. Today also is the last day you can file that old return and get your refund from that tax year. Miss filing and Uncle Sam gets to keep your money.

    Today is the last chance to make a 2013 contribution to your IRA, either Roth or traditional accounts.

    If you have a health savings account (HSA), today's the final day to contribute and maximize your 2013 deductions to this medical insurance plan.

    If you make estimated tax payments then your 2014 first-quarter 1040-ES voucher for is due today.

    To ensure that you don't miss any tax saving possibilities, check out the 2014 Daily Tax Tips. Links for each month are under the tax tip pencil icon near the top of this column.

    And don't forget your state taxes. Most states with income taxes follow the federal filing deadline.

    April 21: Now that filing is done (except for us procrastinating filing extenders), take some time to store your tax records. You need to hang onto some filing paperwork just in case the IRS has follow-up questions.

    April 28: Were you one of those organized folks who filed earlier but are still waiting for your refund? Track it down with the IRS' online refund locator.

    Small Business Tax Calendar: Important filing, deposit and record keeping dates throughout the year that your company needs to know. You also can view the full year's important business tax dates in IRS Pub. 509.

State Tax Help

  • Don't forget your state taxes!
    Forty-three states and D.C. collect personal income taxes. But even if you live in of the seven states without an income levy, you still face other state (and local) taxes.

    State Tax Departments provides links to your state's Web page. The companion page, Tax Tidbits, is the compilation of blurbs about each state's tax laws. And for more state tax news, check out all our state tax bloggings.

What are you looking for?

  • Looking for something in particular? Start with the Table of Contents.
    Or check out the Archives, where you can review posts by month and category. Or enter specific keywords in the box below to search Don't Mess With Taxes.

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The Truth About
Paying Fewer Taxes

  • Are you a tax geek? Got tax geek friends? Do you or they just want to make sure you don't overpay the IRS? Then my book, "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes," is for all y'all.

    Look for it on bookstore shelves or order from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


  • TruthAboutTaxes

  • Find out more about my book, read excerpts, even listen to a podcast at the FT Press Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes Web page.

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    Best Tax Blog, 2013

  • Association for Women 2012 Clarion Award Winner
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    Best Personal Blog, 2012

  • Plutus Award Winner
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    Best Tax Blog, 2011


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Keep Uncle Sam cranky!

  • It's no wonder Uncle Sam is not very happy here. His vault is empty. Don't Mess With Taxes aims to keep him cranky by providing tax and personal finance tips and advice that will put more money in your bank account, not the government treasury.

I gotta tell ya ...

  • AKA Disclaimer:
    I am a professional journalist who has been covering tax issues since 1999.
    I am not a professional tax preparer.
    The content on Don't Mess With Taxes is my personal opinion based on my study and understanding of tax laws, policies and regulations. It’s provided
    for your private, noncommercial, educational and informational purposes only. It’s not a recommendation or endorsement of any company or product. In other words, specifically the words in Treasury Circular 230 Notice, any U.S. tax advice on this blog is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (2) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed on this blog. That's why when it comes to filing your taxes,
    I urge you to get additional, professional, paid-for guidance from an accountant, Enrolled Agent or other qualified tax professional who is familiar with your individual tax circumstances.

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