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KPBS Midday Edition

Tax Filing Deadline Less Than A Month Away

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Tax Filing Deadline Less Than A Month Away
Tax Filing Deadline Less Than A Month Away
GUESTS:Raphael Tulino, Spokesman, Internal Revenue ServiceDaniel Tahara, Spokesman, California Franchise Tax Board

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Used to have weeks and weeks before you had to think about filing taxes but right now you have three weeks, the clock is ticking down to April 15 and we have invited tax experts to tell us what changes to expect in this year's taxes, and perhaps a answer some of your tax questions. I would like to look my guests Rafaela Tamino and Daniel to horror. By now have those people paid their taxes or are we a nation of progress meters? RAPHAEL TULINO: The majority of taxpayers actually get a refund for the majority of exit paid and overpaid in 2013 so when you file your taxes you will see about 85% as of last week basically halfway to the filing systems season showing that the majority of taxpayers money coming back to them the average's about $3000 of treasury going back to taxpayers in terms of refunds. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I suppose I meant filing. RAPHAEL TULINO: We get a half, about half were all we can expect about a third in April. Get a lot of folks waiting to the last minute. The question is, why? It just seems that procrastination thrives when it comes to taxes. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Rafael, from my understanding there are not many big changes in the tax code this year except if you are in the upper income earner largely because the Bush tax cuts are no more. RAPHAEL TULINO: Did several things made permanent in 2012, then brought back for twelve and thirteen deductions and credits that explains begin the last year so if you are filing returns now they're all in the books as you file your return for the 2013, by going forward and thousand four to me to get a big piece of legislation as we have had in the past the generally speaking higher income folks will see some changes permanently from tax brackets or perhaps from other things involved in the tax code made from legislation and previously years. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What about changes in taxes? DANIEL TAHARA: For state taxes this year there were not many changers and one piece of good news is because there are mental changes for anyone who is made about the same amount of money this year as they did last year, the means bill pay less in taxes used here so that is good news to report to. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We do have a caller on the line. Welcome to the program. NEW SPEAKER: Before thank you, longtime listener in a first-time caller, I had a question about Rental property. I've been a longtime TurboTax user and them not seen my deduction coming up for rental property, has there been a change in that? RAPHAEL TULINO: Deductions for rental property in terms of expenses not kind of thing as having that as a rental? NEW SPEAKER: For some reason there is a place that asked if you made over $150,000. RAPHAEL TULINO: If you make a certain amount of money, you have limited deductions based on having a residential rental property, you want to go to IRS publication 527. That is the passive activity loss limitations which I think is what you'll are referring to, that is a residential rental property hub, the research that it will have more details about the rules and such and probably will lead you to another publication if you really want to read about the activity losses. NEW SPEAKER: If we actively manage it why would be passive investment? RAPHAEL TULINO: You're getting the income from an activity such as cementing property, is considered passive income generally speaking, that's why think of it on top of the head. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Is not an insult. Thank you for your call. I wonder, he brings up a question that I would like to ask you, there's so much tax preparation software available, are more people taking advantage of that? Filing themselves rather than go to a ta preparer? RAPHAEL TULINO: As of last year e-file rating is over 90% and the biggest reason for the growth is self preparation, no question about it you're seeing folks more and more into a computer and doing it themselves, that being said the number is still steady and even though this does not quite jive three out of five of the returns are still done by tax professionals but at the same time you're seeing growth statistically self prepared returns via software on the computer. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: For those who have not started yet, what advice can you give? DANIEL TAHARA: The best advice I can give is not to panic, you still plenty of time just make sure that you get all of your documents organized and e-file the return, it's definitely most accurate way and with about 90% of those returns coming in electronically it is fast and easy and most times free as well. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We're talking about changes in the tax code and they are hitting upper income earners more than most people won't even notice any changes at all, but there also changes for same-sex couples right? RAPHAEL TULINO: If you are not married last year by the end of 2013 the state that recognizes same-sex marriage you generally have to fire filed a married return this year and you will be treated for federal tax purposes is married and that was a big change. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That is the first time? RAPHAEL TULINO: That is following the Supreme Court determination from last summer and we made a determination for taxes for same-sex couples not registered domestic partners so there's difference there, but if you are in that position filing returns, there complexities and nuances there and you might consider filing amended returns if the benefits you and based on your situation you might seek the services of qualified tax professionals. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: In other words the VA same-sex couple has been married for a few years in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, they may want to amend the federal taxes? RAPHAEL TULINO: There may benefits based on the circumstances for that couple of that might get them a refund based on how they file and income levels and sources and deductions and self employment, those kinds of things as they come into play that would benefit them by filing a tax return. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There have been some scary news reports lately of tax foam scams and people in pursuing IRS offices, would you know about that? Until we as now it's been now that is pervasive RAPHAEL TULINO: We know is pervasive and nasty, and it continues, is basically a caller alleging to be from IRS saying hey, we know we all taxes and we want them paid I prepaid debit card and you better do it quickly and they're using an IRS as the Lord and some of the characteristics of the scammer generally reaching out to recent immigrants and using the IRS to get them to send us money I prepaid debit card and under no circumstances will we call you out of the blue depending taxes paid a certain way on a wire transfer or prepaid debit card, that is nothing will ever do but I'm personally so widespread and we ascend so many reports in so many different stories and we've seen and heard some of the calls and is the bottom line is not the IRS making a phone call. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Daniel, I know that California is also tracking these calls, some of the colors apparently have part of your search looks security number and know a lot about the people that their calling. DANIEL TAHARA: Exactly and we will not call you out of the blue, if there's a problem you will receive a letter in the mail from the franchise tax Board and will try to send letters mobile times before we try to contact you on the phone, so if you're getting a phone call and you're thinking hey, I've never heard about this before hang up and don't give them any information, you can give us a call. We can have someone look up your account information let you know there are any proms at all. RAPHAEL TULINO: They can be threatening and nasty if you don't comply and if you use characteristics like that they can mimic a site situation in the background or spoof the IRS national toll-free number and make you look at the IRS is called calling end-to-end interests are threatened dictation of the business license or drivers license and call you back and say they're going to have the please come over so we've been working with and talking to Jeff and leased departments locally and around the country as I've heard and read to spread the message and it's quite pervasive, if laid and use that word before and I will use it again, just keep your antenna up there and I called to demand taxes a certain way, through the mails the first contact. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Another thing that people might be confused about if they hopefully don't get these calls, just getting back to taxes, the affordable care act I think people feel that there might be a penalty or they don't know what year that starts, does the informal care act have any impact on families and individuals this tax season? RAPHAEL TULINO: Generally know, for the concerns and therefore you get to them marketplace that you has no effect on 2013 tax returns however as we go forward when you file fourteen returns 415, depending on your situation you may see an effect but as it is now that is the general message. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: If someone waits even longer than now, if your last-minute filer can you still get a refund quickly? DANIEL TAHARA: If you e-file and selected direct deposit it's usually 7 to 10 days and there are some instances where it takes longer to get that refund if there's been an error in the bank account number you give us are some information doesn't match week take some time to verify the information to make sure giving money to the right person but generally if you use direct deposit you getting less than a week. The co- RAPHAEL TULINO: For the vast majority we allow 10 to 21 days as the balance refunds without selling refunds that are fraudulent to have those filters and place and gives 10 to 21 days on the federal side for that best majority. MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: & The information you able to get it give us, I've been speaking with Raphael Tulino and Daniel Tahara, thank you both so much.

You used to have weeks and weeks before you had to think about filing your taxes.

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But there are now only three weeks left before the deadline and while the Internal Revenue Service says it's received more than half of all tax returns it expects to get, the clock is still ticking down to April 15 for the rest of you.

We've invited two tax experts to tell us what changes to expect in this year's taxes and answer your tax questions.

Here are 5 things you need to know:

1. The largest IRS phone scam ever is underway and its targeting thousands of taxpayers. The IRS has some handy tips on how to protect yourself.

2. Tax rules change every year. One of the major changes for the 2013 tax filing period has to do with same-sex married couples. For the first time ever, they can file federal joint returns, even if they live in a state that doesn't recognize same-sex marriage.

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3.The Affordable Care Act will have no effect on the vast majority of taxpayers filing their 2013 taxes.

4. Filing on your own might be the way to go. The IRS says more than 27 million taxpayers have filed their tax returns from home computers so far this year, an increase of almost 6 percent compared to last year.

5. If you want help filing your taxes but can't afford a tax preparer, the IRS offers free assistance if you earn less than $52,000 a year.