Free Cinnabites on Tax Day!

Cinnabon is offering free bites on April 15th from 5-8 PM. Offer is for one per person, while supplies last. Only valid at participating locations. Click here to find a location near you.

Yum!

Didn’t Get Your Economic Stimulus Payment? Maybe the IRS Has the Wrong Address!

The Internal Revenue Service owes nearly $4 million to South Florida residents alone, courtesy of unclaimed tax refunds and economic stimulus checks.  I don’t know what the nationwide number is, but it’s got to be huge.

I cannot for the life of me understand why someone who hasn’t gotten their payment yet isn’t jumping up and down screaming, and trying to find the reason.    For many of those people it’s a pretty stupid reason, too.

Bad mailing addresses.

Come on, people!  We’re talking hundreds, and in some cases thousands of dollars!  If you’ve moved in the past few years MAKE SURE THE IRS KNOWS YOUR ADDRESS!

Excuse me.  Stupidity makes me insane.

And if you’re one of these people, you have Just four days remain to correct an address with the IRS so that the agency can reissue the checks.  Taxpayers expecting an economic stimulus check must have their addresses updated with the IRS by Friday so that the checks can be reissued by Dec. 31. Taxpayers expecting regular refunds have more time to claim their refund but must contact the IRS to update their addresses.

There are ways for taxpayers to update mailing information:

1. Via the IRS Web site: www.irs.gov. Taxpayers without Internet access should call 1-800-234-2942.

2.  Visit your local IRS office.

3.  Check with the United Way in your area to see if they offer taxpayer assistance.

Please, go get your money folks!

Edited to add some helful links:

My Economic Stimulus Check Didn’t Arrive When Promised!

My Economic Stimulus Check Didn’t Include Money for My Kids!

Your Economic Stimulus Check Didn’t Include Money For Your Kids? You’re Getting Another Check!

Didn’t get the amount you were supposed to get for your kids? You may be getting another check! Click here for info!

When will your economic stimulus payment arrive?

Frequently Asked Questions: Received the Stimulus Payment?

Economic Stimulus Calculator – Or How Much to Expect

Where’s my Dadgum Sales Tax Holiday?

I ran across this article listing tax holidays state by state. Our ten-day tax holiday gives us a break on clothing, school supplies, backpacks and other items, and is always in August (at least since Jeb! was in office). I wanted to confirm the dates, and I was puzzled when I didn’t see Florida’s holiday listed.
The tax holiday must be approved each year, and this year the politicians do all the usual posturing, using three million words to say nothing at all. Florida politicians were so scared about losing revenue they were reluctant to approve any loss of income, and consumers are once again paying the price.

First, there was one. Then, there wasn’t to be one. Then, maybe there would be a shortened one. Then, there was confusion. The dadgum politicians dragged their asses until it was too late.

What’s so ridiculous is how short-sighted this indecision was. This tax break is real economic stimulus. Consumers feel good getting a little break, and it gets them into the stores. Many are likely spend more than they would have otherwise. Frugal shoppers like me are in heaven when they can take advantage ofgreat deals and save another 6-8% on tax. Every year I buy school supplies to use as stocking stuffers and gift bag items at great savings.

Retailers win, consumers win, and the state wins because they will get tax money on non-exempt items. The tax holiday saved Floridians anywhere between $41 and $46 million last year. They also jettisoned a similar tax holiday on hurricane supplies. That $12 million break, in place since the devastating hurricane seasons of 2004-2005, was removed from the budget in May.

I know balancing the state budget is a very difficult process. And I really appreciate that we still have no state income tax.

But really, come on. What’s $46 million between friends?

I WANT MY SALES TAX HOLIDAY! Ahem.

Your Economic Stimulus Check Didn’t Include Money For Your Kids? You’re Getting Another Check!

The IRS has updated it’s FAQ’s to provide information for those whose Economic Stimulus Check didn’t include money for their kids, or sent the incorrect amount.  This is right from the IRS website:


Q. I received my stimulus payment and it didn’t include money for my kids. Does the IRS plan to send me an additional check?

A: Yes. The Internal Revenue Service will mail out approximately 350,000 additional economic stimulus payments starting in early July after discovering that some tax returns were improperly filed and did not capture the information needed to generate the $300 in qualifying child payments.

In some instances, taxpayers did not check the proper box to trigger the $300 child payment. In other instances, a few tax software products primarily used by tax professionals did not capture the proper information needed for issuing the child stimulus payment.

To fix the problem, the IRS is taking extra steps to identify the affected taxpayers and send them separate checks to cover their qualifying children. The IRS emphasized that the corrected checks will be mailed automatically, and taxpayers don’t need to call or take any additional steps.

The vast majority of tax returns with child payments were completed accurately by taxpayers, tax professionals and software providers. The IRS estimates that more than 99 percent of nearly 36 million returns eligible for child stimulus payments were filled out accurately by taxpayers, meaning that less than 1 percent will need the additional check mail-outs.

The additional payments involving qualifying children will be made starting in early July. These payments will be made by paper check, even if people received their regular tax refund or initial stimulus payment by direct deposit.

Taxpayers in this situation received — or will receive in the next few weeks — stimulus payments falling $300 short per eligible child.

The additional checks will be mailed as the regular weekly round of stimulus payments wrap up in early July. The regular stimulus payment timetable will not be affected by these additional checks.

The issue with the child payments involves the Child Tax Credit checkbox on line 6c, column (4) on Form 1040 and Form 1040A.

For the stimulus payments, IRS systems look for information in the checkbox area to generate the $300 qualifying child stimulus payment. In instances involving paper returns, taxpayers did not check this box when completing their return. In some instances, tax software may not have checked this box, meaning the $300 payment was not triggered.

The IRS has worked closely with the two affected software vendors on this. The IRS appreciates the willingness of these firms to help identify the problem. They have reported to the IRS that their software has been corrected.

The majority of the tax software issues involve commercial versions used by tax professionals and tax preparers. Included are Petz Enterprises’ professional and on-line software as well as ProSystems fx Tax software and on-line CompleteTax software from CCH.

Taxpayers with questions about whether they are affected can contact their tax preparer or software provider.

For taxpayers who haven’t filed a tax return yet, the IRS urges them to update their tax software before filing to ensure proper handling of their economic stimulus payment. Paper filers should make sure to review the eligibility requirements for qualifying children and check the box on line 6c, column (4) if appropriate.

I understand that kinks have to be worked out, and mistakes happen.  But mistakes cost money, both to the government (and, ultimately, you and me) as they correct them, and to the taxpayers who took the word of their government and counted on the money being there when their government said they would.

This is why I don’t count my chickens before they’re hatched.

My Economic Stimulus Check Didn’t Include Money for My Kids!

Many of you reading my article My Economic Stimulus Check Didn’t Arrive When Promised are saying that you did receive your Economic Stimulus check, but it didn’t include the $300 per child at all, or it didn’t give you $300 for every child you have.

The IRS has now acknowledged that this is in fact a “systemic” error, meaning it a problem with the way the affected returns were processed, and that it affects many taxpayers.

The IRS says the problem occurs when taxpayers complete their return incorrectly or a glitch in some tax software programs.

The IRS frequently asked questions page has been updated with this news:

Q. I received my stimulus payment and it didn’t include money for my kids. Does the IRS plan to send me an additional check?

A: Yes. The Internal Revenue Service will mail out approximately 350,000 additional economic stimulus payments starting in early July after discovering that some tax returns were improperly filed and did not capture the information needed to generate the $300 in qualifying child payments.

In some instances, taxpayers did not check the proper box to trigger the $300 child payment. In other instances, a few tax software products primarily used by tax professionals did not capture the proper information needed for issuing the child stimulus payment.

To fix the problem, the IRS is taking extra steps to identify the affected taxpayers and send them separate checks to cover their qualifying children. The IRS emphasized that the corrected checks will be mailed automatically, and taxpayers don’t need to call or take any additional steps.

The vast majority of tax returns with child payments were completed accurately by taxpayers, tax professionals and software providers. The IRS estimates that more than 99 percent of nearly 36 million returns eligible for child stimulus payments were filled out accurately by taxpayers, meaning that less than 1 percent will need the additional check mail-outs.

The additional payments involving qualifying children will be made starting in early July. These payments will be made by paper check, even if people received their regular tax refund or initial stimulus payment by direct deposit.

Taxpayers in this situation received — or will receive in the next few weeks — stimulus payments falling $300 short per eligible child.

The additional checks will be mailed as the regular weekly round of stimulus payments wrap up in early July. The regular stimulus payment timetable will not be affected by these additional checks.

The issue with the child payments involves the Child Tax Credit checkbox on line 6c, column (4) on Form 1040 and Form 1040A.

For the stimulus payments, IRS systems look for information in the checkbox area to generate the $300 qualifying child stimulus payment. In instances involving paper returns, taxpayers did not check this box when completing their return. In some instances, tax software may not have checked this box, meaning the $300 payment was not triggered.

The IRS has worked closely with the two affected software vendors on this. The IRS appreciates the willingness of these firms to help identify the problem. They have reported to the IRS that their software has been corrected.

The majority of the tax software issues involve commercial versions used by tax professionals and tax preparers. Included are Petz Enterprises’ professional and on-line software as well as ProSystems fx Tax software and on-line CompleteTax software from CCH.

Taxpayers with questions about whether they are affected can contact their tax preparer or software provider.

For taxpayers who haven’t filed a tax return yet, the IRS urges them to update their tax software before filing to ensure proper handling of their economic stimulus payment. Paper filers should make sure to review the eligibility requirements for qualifying children and check the box on line 6c, column (4) if appropriate.

So, there’s an answer for you. I hope your check arrives quickly!

And in other IRS snafu news, Apparently the IRS may have deposited your payment into someone else’s account. Sorry, but if you got someone else’s payment you do not get to keep it. You should contact the IRS immediately.

They make lots of other errors, too.

The IRS has gotten the vast, vast majority of checks to people when they’re supposed to get there. If you’re not one of that vast, vast majority, though, that’s no comfort, is it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Update 6.16.2008 – The IRS knows it messed up on the kids.  They’re sending out more checks.  Click here for more info!

My Economic Stimulus Check Didn’t Arrive When Promised!

Every morning this week I’ve turned on my computer and immediately went to my bank’s website to see if our Economic Stimulus check was deposited yet (Is that anal? My friend says it is. I don’t think so. Do you?). Every morning I’ve been disappointed. Well, except for Wednesday when our tax refund was deposited. I did a little happy dance that day.

Husband was irritated because we “should have been in the first wave,” but I reassured him that the published schedule promises our payment no later than May 2nd. There’s still time.

Yesterday morning I went through the same routine but could not connect to my bank’s website. Their server must have been temporarily down – all those people checking to see if their money arrived. I had to leave home to do the World’s Biggest De-cluttering Job to get my Dad’s house ready for it’s first official showing, so I wasn’t near a computer again until 8pm last night.

As expected, the first thing I did when I sat down at my computer was to check to see if our Economic Stimulus check was deposited yet.

It wasn’t.

Dadgummit!!! Where the heck is our money?

So I did a little research and found out:

If you file your taxes after April 15th yours will not go out until at least May 9th.

Well, I filed before the 15th.

If you had any fees taken out of your initial refund (like their processing fee like many people do), you’ll get a paper check.

Nope. No fees. It pays to be The Accountant’s Daughter.

Then I found this little tidbit on the Stimulus Payment Schedule:

“A small percentage of tax returns will require additional time to process and to compute a stimulus payment amount. For these returns, stimulus payments may not be issued in accordance with the schedule above, even if the tax return was processed by April 15.”

Aha! There’s an exception to every rule. Apparently I’m it.

(Why can’t I be the exception for something fun? For example, why can’t I be the one who can eat and eat and not gain weight? Why can’t I be the one who can wear really high heels and not have them kill my feet? Why can’t I be the one that enjoys cleaning? Noooooooooo. I get to be the one who doesn’t get my money when almost everyone else does. Lucky me.)

The delay is likely because even though I am a Stay at Home Mom I did do some work last year and earned about $2000. And I declared it as income to our freelance Sole Proprietorship, so my situation may not easily fit into one of their computation formulas.

It’s great to be special.

But wait!

I went to the IRS website again this morning because PaidTwice mentioned in a post that you can go there to find out when to expect your Economic Stimulus check.

I found on the IRS website, but in a different spot than the above info (and wouldn’t it be nice if all of the pertinent information was in the same location?):

In general, the payment schedule only applies if your return was received and the IRS finished processing your return before April 15. If you filed your return on time, but close to the April 15 deadline, the IRS may not have finished processing it before April 15.

Processing times for tax returns and stimulus payments vary. If you are getting a regular income-tax refund, the IRS will send you that refund first. Normally, your stimulus payment will follow one to two weeks later.

Ahhh. Well, I did file before April 15th. On the 13th, to be exact.

So it looks like my little morning ritual will have to last awhile longer. And I’ll lose out on a little interest income.

But I’m still special, right?

~

Edited to add some helful links:

Didn’t get the amount you were supposed to get for your kids? You may be getting another check! Click here for info!

When will your economic stimulus payment arrive?

Frequently Asked Questions: Received the Stimulus Payment?

Economic Stimulus Calculator – Or How Much to Expect

Deal of the Day April 17, 2008

Happy Birthday, David!

Here’s a great deal for people who shop these stores.  Here’s hoping other retails follow Sears‘ lead!

Sears plans to offer a 10% bonus to anyone who converts their fiscal-stimulus checks into a Sears or K-mart gift card.  Customers can present their checks at a cash register at Sears and K-mart to convert it into a gift card at the full value of the check, and to receive a bonus gift card worth 10% of the check. The cards can be redeemed at any Sears, K-mart or Lands’ End retail stores, as well as sears.com and landsend.com.

Details for shoppers who elect to receive the fiscal-stimulus check by direct deposit are still being worked out, but they will likely be able to register online to receive a coupon to bring to stores.

The promotion is scheduled to last between May 14 and July 19. The gift cards have no expiration and no fees.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Show Nana the Money!

I found something out yesterday that I didn’t know, so I thought there might be others that don’t know, either.

My mother is retired and lives on Social Security. She has no other income, so we don’t file tax returns for her.

When I heard about President Bush’s Economic Stimulus package I was thrilled that we’ll be getting some hard-earned cash back. It never occurred to me that my mother, who hasn’t earned any income in over ten years, would also be able to collect. I’d never actually read the requirements, which are:

Individuals and families must have at least $3,000 of income from any combination of earned income, Social Security retirement or disability benefits, certain Railroad retirement benefits, or disability compensation, disability pension, or survivor benefits paid by the Veterans Affairs. The minimum economic stimulus payment is $300 for individuals and $600 for married couples.

So, Wahoo! Mom can participate. The only catch for her is that she has to file a tax return. And the IRS is making it easier for her and people like her. People who have no legal requirement to file a tax return but must file a return this year in order to receive a 2008 economic stimulus payment can participate in the Free File program and file their taxes online.

There is no charge for using IRS Free File. With just a few answers, people can complete a simple form and use IRS e-file. The IRS also urges all filers to use direct deposit, if they have a checking or savings account, because it is the fastest way to receive an economic stimulus payment. Some people feel funny about that, but really they can have access to your account any time they want, so you may as well get the money sooner, n’est pas?

Once people file a tax return, they don’t need to do anything more. The IRS will do the rest. They will begin issuing payments starting in May.

For my Mom this extra money will be like winning the lottery. I hope she’ll use it to pay for an airline ticket to come visit us, which would be lovely.

So, please go ask your parents or grandparents if they qualify. You may just have found them $300…

Show Me The Money, Mr. President!

Wow!!!!!!!!!!

President Bush wants to send me $1600!!!!!!!!!!

In an effort to stave off a recession, he’s announced that he wants to give a tax rebate of up to $800 to singles or $1600 per household. He wants me to go spend it to jump-start the economy. He wants to throw it at us middle-classers, because we, as a class, are so well known for squandering any money we can get our over-manicured hands on. We’re so spendiferous!

Sorry, Mr. President.

I’d loooooooooove for you to send me $1600. Heck I might even vote for you! No, wait. Oh…….that’s right. Term limits suck, huh?

Well, if you do get around to sending me that $1600, be forewarned. I’m going to be doing the same thing with this rebate that I did with the last one. It’s going right into savings. And if I did have any debt besides mortgage, that’s where it would be going.

I’m not buying any iPods.

I’m not buying a new car.

I’m not buying a bigger house (dammit).

I’m not buying a Wii, a new nose or a pair of Manolo Blahniks.

Americans need to learn to live below their means, not just at it. That means not running out and spending all of the money we get, especially before we get it. Do you know how many people were already spending this, at least in their minds, as soon as the words left your mouth?

What? That’s what you were counting on????

Oy.

Well, I’m sure there are plenty of people who will do as you wish.

Just not me.

The Accountant’s Daughter’s 2007 Year End Tax Tips

The end of the year is one of the most important times in our financial year. Besides putting our money and time budgets to the test with all of the holiday gifts and parties and travel, tax planning should also be a money and time priority.

Being the daughter of an accountant, there’s a few things I’ve learned over the years. The first is to always hire a tax professional to get correct advice, and to minimize your tax liability. Now that my husband and I have a small business we’ve discovered the minefield that is deductible small business expenses , and we’ve gotten invaluable advice on how to use those deductions correctly (for example, we decided not to deduct our home office), minimizing the risk of an audit. Even if you do them yourself, I’d at least get the return reviewed before submitting it to the IRS. Often communities will offer free or low-cost tax preparation assistance, so check in your area.

Still, even as laymen, there are things we should know about, even if only to ask our accountant. Here are a few things I’ve been doing or considering as the calendar and tax year comes to a close. I hope they are of help to you.

The bottom line when it comes to taxes is that you want to delay paying taxes on your income as long as possible, and pay expenses as soon as possible. By deferring income you in effect get the use of that money for an additional year before having to pay income tax – a year when you could make that money work for you. And by paying expenses NOW you get to deduct that which is deductible now, reducing your tax liability.

Delaying Income

1. Defer your compensation – If possible, defer your last paycheck or any bonuses due you until after the first of the year. When it comes to income, it’s always better to put off until tomorrow what is due you today. Try to get your job-related expenses reimbursed before the end of the year instead of your regular paycheck, if possible. That way you can still get some cash, and it’s not taxed as income.

2. Make additional allocations to your 401k or IRA – Deductions to some retirement accounts are made with pre-tax dollars, reducing your taxable income. You can contribute up to $15,500 per individual to a 401k (plus an extra $5000 if you’re over 50) or up to $400o per individual to an IRA ($4500 if you’re 50 or over), so max these out of you can. Even if you can’t max it out, even an extra $100 helps you now and in the future. A nice bonus – IRA contributions for 2007 don’t need to be made until April 15, 2008. There are also ROTH IRAs to consider. Though not tax deductible they may be better for you in the long run. There are also SEPs and Keoughs which have various rules, so check with your accountant to see what would be best for you.

3. If you have a small business, wait until January to bill your clients – a few weeks delay on you having that money is the same as deferring salary for others.

Expenses to Pay Now

1. Pay your property taxes early – If you do not escrow for your taxes and are responsible for paying them yourself (along with homeowners insurance something I highly recommend – why should you pay them a year in advance through your mortgage payments?), you may get a discount by paying them early. I save about $200 by paying them in November instead of waiting until March. That’s a pretty good savings.

2. Make your January mortgage payment a few days early – This way you can take advantage of the additional mortgage interest in this tax year instead of next. Note: It must reach them by December 31st to qualify.

3. Consider selling losing stocks – You can use the loss to offset some of the capital gains from your better-performing investments. Note: There are some tax changes coming next year which may make this not the right choice for you – check with your accountant.

4. Make charitable contributions – Generosity is tax-deductible. Make your contributions now, but please keep in mind that they’ve really tightened the requirements for appraising the value of non-cash donations. Money is easy, but you’ll need an appraisal by an expert for any contribution over $5000 (so if you’d planned on donating to charity the car that died 5 years ago that’s been sitting up on blocks in your back yard, you’re probably going to be out of luck).

5. Now is a better time for pricey medical procedures – Well, really never is a good time for this, but if you have any procedures you need done in the near future try getting them done before the end of the year if the costs will exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Another tax deduction awaits. Then again, who wants to do this around the holidays?

6. If you have a small business pay any deductible subscriptions, dues, invoices now – Again, better to take the deduction this year and reduce the tax due in April.

7. Make that big purchase – in my state we get to deduct sales tax, but that deduction may end this year. So if you live in one of the states without a state income tax (Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington or Wyoming) now is a great time to buy a car, a $6000 Apple computer, or a huge screen plasma HDTV television (hello, Super Bowl!).

8. For any deductible purchases you make this month, use your credit card – this way you get the item/benefit this year, get the tax benefit this year, but don’t actually have to pay for it until next year. When you can use that income you deferred. Hey, every penny counts, people!

Which brings us to an excellent point. Every year brings changes to tax laws. This may be the last year for several deductions (like the $250 supply deduction for teachers and the college tuition deduction). Please take advantage of them now. Also, the new tax year will bring new rules, so in some cases you’re better off trying to have some things fall under the 2008 tax year. Again, your tax advisor can help you wade through the muck.

As always, please remember that I am not an expert on finance, or an accountant. This is nowhere near a complete list. I’m just an accountant’s daughter. So, please, please, please contact your accountant for expert advice.

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