Last Minute Tax Tips

Here are some last minute tax tips straight from the IRS.

If you’re trying to beat the tax deadline, there are several options for last-minute help:

• Receive a six-month extension of time to file using Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
• Payment options are available to taxpayers having trouble paying their tax bill.
• Download forms and publications at IRS.gov.

Filing an extension will give you extra time to get the paperwork to the IRS and avoids the late-filing penalty, but it does not extend the time you have to pay any tax due. You must estimate your tax liability when you apply for an extension.

You will owe interest on any amounts not paid by the April deadline, and you also will be charged a penalty for late payment unless at least 90 percent of your tax liability is paid by the regular due date of your tax return.

You can also e-file an extension request using tax preparation software on your own computer or by going to a tax preparer.

If your return is completed but you are unable to pay the tax due, do not request an extension. File your return on time and pay as much as you can. The IRS will send you a bill or notice for the balance due and will charge interest and penalties only on the unpaid balance.

If you cannot pay the full amount due with your return, you can ask to make monthly installment payments for the full or a partial amount. You can apply for an IRS installment agreement using our Web-based Online Payment Agreement application on IRS.gov. The Web-based application allows eligible taxpayers or their authorized representatives to self-qualify, apply for, and receive immediate notification of approval. You can also request an installment agreement by submitting a completed Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request, either when you file the return or when you later get a bill from the IRS.

For more information regarding extensions of time to file or installment agreements, including options for requesting an installment agreement online, visit the IRS Web site at IRS.gov and click on 1040 Central.

Remember that for the genuine IRS Web site be sure to use .gov. Don’t be confused by internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. The address of the official IRS governmental Web site is www.irs.gov.
Links:

  • Form 4868, Application for Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (PDF 76K)
  • Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request (PDF 100K)

Starting a Business? Free Online Classes to Get You Started on the Right Foot

Free Business Classes

There is more to starting a business than having a great idea. Just to get started you need to learn about marketing, taxes, and accounting. Then you will find you want to know more about developing a website, writing a business plan, and how to get federal grants. Hiring employees or contractors opens another can of worms! You could go to college and get your MBA which is expensive and time consuming. You could purchase countless books, and spend hours reading about moving cheese without finding what you need, or you can take advantage of a couple of resources available to anyone with an internet connection. The IRS and the SBA! Yes! Your tax dollars actually provide some useful services. Now is a good time to take advantage of these free business classes and feel like you are getting some benefit from the taxes you are paying.

The Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration is familiar to most people because of their small business loans. But they also have an excellent online education system. The Small Business Training Center is designed to “enrich, empower, and educate small businesses”. At first I thought this would be full of dry, government issued type courses, but it is not! While many of the courses are SBA courses, several are provided by private enterprises. My favorites are the mini courses provided by Trump University. Yes, you can learn from The Donald for FREE! Topics include “How to Write a Business Plan”, “How to Find Start-Up Funding” and even “How to Start a Business on a Shoestring Budget”.

Business Tax Classes at the Internal Revenue Service

Now that The Donald has filled your head with how to make money, now you need to go over to the IRS site and learn how to hold onto it! The IRS will teach you how to pay less tax. They have a number of different classes on taxation available at all levels. I recommend most business owners start with the Online Small Business Workshop. There you will learn everything you need to know about what taxes your business needs to pay and how to pay them. Then go to the Link and Learn section. This is where the IRS trains its volunteers and you have free access to the same information. There are all levels of tax instruction, plus special sections for military and overseas taxpayers.

Business Classes on TV at Small Business TV

Once the IRS has turned your brain to mush, you can watch news and information about business on SBTV. (Please note this is online TV and the audio starts right away. Be prepared to turn down your speakers!) SBTV has hundreds of videos on business how-tos, news, and business success stories. Today, April 7, 2008 they are featuring Jack Canfield on
7 Ways to Boost Your Business Just by Asking. SBTV also has a whole section on Tech Tactics, Making Technology Work For You After spending the weekend struggling with technology that is sounding like a very interesting topic to me!

How Much Money Does it Take to Start a Business?

This is an interesting older article from CNNMoney.com.  I would say the one thing that keeps most people from starting their own business is money. How do you know how much you will need and where do you get it.  Surprisingly very few businesses are started with Venture Capital or Angel Funds.   According to this article most small businesses are started using savings and credit cards.

Another interesting statistic,  only 31% of the small business owners surveyed said they started with a business plan.

“Small-business owners spend about $10,000 to start their companies, mostly out of their own pockets, study says.”

read more | digg story

Savers Tax Credit for Retirement Savings

One of the lesser known tax credits out there is the Saver’s Credit. A credit is a dollar amount that reduces your taxes. It is better than a deduction, that reduces your taxable income. The Saver’s Credit allows lower to middle income taxpayers to take a credit based on the amount the taxpayer has contributed to a retirement plan. This is in addition to any other benefits you may get from contributing to your IRA or employer’s 401(k) plan. The credit can be as high as 50% of your retirement contribution. So say you Contribute $2,000 to your IRA account during the year. You will get to deduct $2,000 from your income, and that will save you at least $200 on your taxes. In addition, you may qualify for up to a $1,000 Saver’s credit. That is another $1,000 off your taxes. So the $2,000 IRA contribution really only cost you $800. The other $1,200 you would have paid in taxes if you hadn’t put it in your IRA. This is a really sweet deal. Anyone who’s income is under $26,000 if single, or $52,000 if married should look into this credit. And remember, you can make a 2007 IRA contribution as late as April 15, 2008.

Here is more on the Saver’s credit from the IRS.

If you make eligible contributions to an employer-sponsored retirement plan or to an individual retirement arrangement, you may be able to take a tax credit.

The Savers Credit formally known as the Retirement Savings Contributions Credit applies to individuals with a filing status and income of:

  • Single with income up to $26,000
  • Head of Household with income up to $39,000
  • Married Filing Jointly, with incomes up to $52,000

To be eligible for the credit you must be at least age 18, not a full-time student, and cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s return.

You may be able to take a credit of up to $1,000 (up to $2,000 if filing jointly) if you make eligible contributions to a qualified IRA, 401(k) and certain other retirement plans.

The credit is a percentage of the qualifying contribution amount, with the highest rate for taxpayers with the least income.

When figuring this credit, you generally must subtract the amount of distributions you have received from your retirement plans from the contributions you have made. This rule applies for distributions starting two years before the year the credit is claimed and ending with the filing deadline for that tax return.

The Retirement Savings Contributions Credit is in addition to other tax benefits which may result from the retirement contributions. For example, most workers at these income levels may deduct all or part of their contributions to a traditional IRA. Contributions to a regular 401(k) plan are not subject to income tax until withdrawn from the plan.

For more information, review IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements and Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions. The publication and form can be downloaded at IRS.gov or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

Remember that for the genuine IRS Web site be sure to use .gov. Don’t be confused by internet sites that end in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. The address of the official IRS governmental Web site is www.irs.gov.

Links:

  • Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (PDF 1401.9K)

  • Form 8880, Credit for Qualified Retirement Savings Contributions (PDF 273.8K)

Check Out The Mortgage Calculators

With all the turmoil in the mortgage markets these days I thought it would be helpful to add a page of mortgage calculators. There are 20 calculators where you can see the effects of refinancing your mortgage, or making extra payments, or even going to interest only payments.

Make Money Review- Smorty

One of the things I hope to do more of is to review various “make money” opportunities on the web. There are so many scams out there that sometimes the legitimate offers get lost in the noise.

One of the real ways to blog for money is to write sponsored posts. (Such as this one.) Advertisers will pay to have bloggers write a short review of their product or service You could do this directly, by soliciting advertisers, writing the posts, and then collecting payment. Or you can use a 3rd party service such as Smorty.

Smorty is a service that connects advertisers and bloggers. Bloggers will earn a minimum of $6, and can earn up to $100 depending on the Page Rank of their blog and their Smorty rating. One of the nice things about Smorty is they pay very quickly. While other sponsored posting services can take up to 30 days to pay, Smorty will approve your blog post within 5 days and then pay within one week of approval.

There are a few requirements to have your blog approved by Smorty.

  1. You must have an active blog (at least 2 posts per week) that is at least 3 months old.
  2. Your blog must be indexed by Google and Yahoo
  3. You cannot have any hate, violent, or adult content.

See the Smorty website for more requirments.

Like most legitimate make money opportunities Smorty is free to join. You never have to pay them for you to earn money! Blog approval is pretty quick, with most blogs being approved within 72 hours.

You won’t get rich quick writing for Smorty, but it is a valid way to get paid for blogging.

Theme Changes

Please bear with me while I work on changing my theme. I think it is time for an upgrade, and I have a few things I would like to try out. Sorry for the inconvinience, I’ll try and finish up quick. Hopefully things will look lots better when I am done!

Edit: Despite crashing the forum and having it down for a day, I am happy with the changes being made! I now have a theme that I like for the blog, and one that works well for me for the forum.  What would really be nice now is to have them customized so they match.  If anyone out there is talented enough to modify the themes I have so that they at least share the same colors, (more blue than the blog, less blue than the forum!) PM me in the forum. Maybe we could work something out.