Some important facts about filing your 2006 income-tax return: DEADLINE April 17, 2007. The usual deadline, April 15, is on a Sunday, and...
Some important facts about filing your 2006 income-tax return:
April 17, 2007. The usual deadline, April 15, is on a Sunday, and the next day, April 16, is Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia, a legal holiday that has a nationwide impact. This change came too late to be reflected in IRS forms and publications for the 2006 tax year, which had already been printed.
Automatic six-month extension to Oct. 15, as long as Form 4868 is filed by the April deadline.
The IRS' Free File Alliance with tax-software companies allows taxpayers with incomes of $52,000 or less to prepare and file returns online for free if they access the program through the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.
E-filing taxpayers can create a personal identification number, which serves as their electronic signature and requires knowing their 2005 adjusted gross income. Taxpayers who don't create a PIN can still file electronically but will also have to mail Form 8453-OL to the appropriate IRS service center after they have received IRS confirmation that the e-filed return was accepted.
During transmission, the tax return is sent from a modem or other Internet connection to an electronic return transmitter, which converts the file to a format that meets IRS specifications and forwards it to the IRS for processing. Within 48 hours, the IRS confirms whether the return has been accepted or rejected.
For direct deposit, taxpayers due a refund must provide bank-account and routing numbers. For the first time, the IRS will split a taxpayer's refund into three different financial accounts, such as checking, savings and retirement accounts; file Form 8888.
It should take no more than two weeks to receive a refund from a tax return filed electronically, no more than eight weeks for a paper-filed return for which the filer is receiving a paper check from the government.
To check refund status, go to the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov and click on the "Where's My Refund?" link on the left. When prompted, enter your Social Security number, filing status and exact amount of the refund shown on your 2006 tax return. Or, call the refund hotline at 800-829-1954.
Those owing tax can pay electronically by charging it to a credit card, having the IRS withdraw the money directly from a bank account, or through the U.S. Treasury's Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) by phone or over the Internet. See http://eftps.gov for more information. (But don't respond to e-mails purporting to be from EFTPS and asking for personal information; that's a known scam.)
Download these at www.irs.gov by navigating to "Forms and Publications," or to order by mail, call 800-829-3676.
www.irs.gov. This is a robust Web site with links to every tax topic. There are interactive tools for calculating withholding and earned-income credit, along with interactive history lessons, games and "Tax Trivia."
800-829-1040 for individuals, 800-829-4059 (TDD) for those with hearing impairment, 800-829-4933 for businesses.
It can take time to get through. To reduce the time taxpayers wait to speak to IRS representatives, the agency blocked more calls in 2006 than it did in 2005. The result was that more callers waited less time to speak with a representative, but more taxpayers were disconnected, according to a report to Congress last year by the Treasury Department inspector general for tax administration.
OTHER FREE HELP
Many taxpayers can get free help from IRS-sponsored programs at community centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls and other sites during the filing season. The IRS provides technical assistance for training and certification of the volunteer tax counselors.
Here's a rundown:
• VITA: The IRS' Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program offers help to taxpayers with incomes of $39,000 or less. Most sites also offer electronic filing. To find a VITA site near you, call 800-829-1040.
• TCE: Tax Counseling for the Elderly helps people age 60 and older; many of the volunteer counselors come from AARP's Tax-Aide program, which provides tax help for the elderly at 9,000 sites across the country. To find one near you, call AARP at 888-227-7669, or visit AARP's Web site at www.aarp.org/money/taxaide.
• Military personnel: Military service members and spouses can get tax help here and abroad through a program overseen by the Armed Forces Tax Council. The IRS provides tax software and tax-prep training. For more information, see IRS Publication 3, "Armed Forces' Tax Guide," available on the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, or order a free copy by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
• IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers provide help in person at walk-in sites. Go to www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html">www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html and click on your state to view the centers there. To find the site nearest you, you also can enter your five-digit ZIP code in the "Walk-in Site" search box.
• Taxpayer Advocate: This independent office within the IRS doesn't help you file your tax return, but it does help with unresolved tax issues or problems.
The IRS can find an e-filing tax pro for you if you enter your ZIP code in the e-file locator box on www.irs.gov.
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