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Expert Advice for Tax Time

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If you've put off your 2006 tax return, you have another 27 days to file.  April 17th is the deadline this year, since the 15th is a Sunday and the 16th is Emancipation Day. In case you didn't know, that's a legal holiday in the District of Columbia. Whatever the date, its still a dreaded day for many Americans.  But not if Uncle Sam has his way. That's right, the IRS is trying to be friendlier with the American people. We'll talk about that and some refunds, credits and taxes you should know about.

 

Guests:

  • Fred Grant, CPA with H&R Block Tax Cut Software; fred.grant@hrblock.com 760-518-3366  
  • Gary Lundberg , -Taxpayer Advocacy Panel Member, the nationwide Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), a Federal Advisory Committee charged with providing direct taxpayer input to the Internal Revenue Service

Public Info: Lundberg and other TAP members can be contacted at (888) 912-1227 or www.improveirs.org. Taxpayers who want another contact for specific tax problems, other than filling out forms, should call (213) 576-3140.

Telephone Tax Refund or the "Excise Tax Refund"
You probably don't know it, but you might have between $30 and $60 of tax refund coming your way. All you have to do is ask for it on your income tax return. By some estimates, 30 percent of those who could claim the refund have not done so. The telephone tax refund is a one-time payment available on your 2006 federal income tax return, designed to refund previously collected federal excise taxes on landline, wireless, or Voice over Internet Protocol service. 

 

Earned Income Tax Credit
Millions of American families who are eligible for the EITC do not receive it, leaving additional tax credit dollars unclaimed. Research by the Government Accountability Office and Internal Revenue Service indicates that between 15% and 25% of households who are entitled to the EITC do not claim their credit, or between 3.5 million and 7 million households. 

 

Alternative Minimum Tax
In simple terms, the AMT is sort of a flat tax with two brackets, 26 and 28 percent, and fewer deductions. Credits for dependents, medical expenses, and state and local taxes are disallowed. Instead, taxpayers get a single big deduction, called the AMT exemption, which is set this year at $62,550 for married couples and $42,500 for singles. Taxpayers must compute their taxes both ways and pay whichever is higher.

 

The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) was established in October 2002 under the Federal Advisory Committee Act as a way of improving IRS responsiveness to taxpayers needs. The panel offers a unique opportunity for citizens to participate in the improvement of both the American tax administration system and the organization of the IRS. Panel members from every state provide input on IRS's strategic initiatives as well as provide a venue for raising issues identified by citizens.

TAP members serve a two-year term and generally spend between 300 and 500 hours a year on member activities. They meet in Washington, DC during the fall of the year for an annual meeting, have at least one face-to-face meeting in their geographic area (sub-committee), and hold monthly conference calls. Each committee is empowered to work directly with the IRS to provide observations or recommendations on the issue before them, monitor the status and progress on the issue, and identify concerns in design and implementation of the issue.

The Department of the Treasury recognized that the panels are valuable partners for providing an effective forum for direct citizen input into Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decision making. The Department of the Treasury, in response to a review of Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) Boards completed by the Administration, recommended nation-wide expansion of the TAP.

The TAP continues to act as a two-way conduit: serve as focus groups for the IRS providing input on strategic initiatives and providing a venue for raising issues identified by citizens. Panel members identify work service-wide issues and are closely linked to the IRS program owners. There are seven geographically based sub-committees and the Panels are demographically diverse with representation from each state.

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