Last-minute tax tips

April 13, 2009 2:55:02 PM PDT
Here's a reminder you might not have wanted to hear: The deadline to file your taxes is just two days away!And, there are some changes in the tax codes that could affect you.

The first thing you need to know is: You must file your taxes even if you can't afford to pay. Otherwise, you could end up owing as much as 25% more in penalties and fees.

"I know a lot more people are concerned about it because a lot of people did lose their jobs, their financial circumstances changes, some people had to take monies out of IRA accounts or 401ks, so that would impact their taxes this year," said David Stewart with the IRS.

The IRS promises to help in a number of different ways but first, you need to give the agency a call at 1-800-TAX-1040.

"There are some instances, for example, where we have liens against homes. We have a program where we can accelerate the release of the lien of the property so you can sell that property and get some equity or cash in your pocket," Stewart said.

IRS employees can also decide to suspend collection actions in some cases, or allow you to skip a payment, pay less or by installment.

"You can get the 30 day plan, 60 day, 90 day one, so it actually gives you some ample time to get it together," said Stewart.

And keep in mind, regardless of your financial situation, you need to file at least an extension by April 15th, possibly with a partial payment depending on what you worked out by phone with the IRS.

You also need to turn in a return even if you lost your job.

You're required to file if you received a W-2 and made at least $8,950 (if you're single and under 65 years old), or at least $400 if you're self-employed.

You also have to pay tax on unemployment benefits and freelance or contract work.

And make sure you don't leave cash on Uncle Sam's table: Don't forget you can deduct job search expenses.

Also, don't miss the Earned Income Tax Credit. About 25% of qualifying folks do miss it every year. This year the EITC is worth up to $4800.


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