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Overlooked tax benefits can become advantage

  Tax  -   POSTED: 2007/04/06 10:56

With a little over a week left before the federal income tax-filing deadline, local tax preparers and the Internal Revenue Service are urging taxpayers to take a moment before they file their returns to be sure they do not overlook several important benefits.

"Time is running out for tax filers to take advantage of the special telephone excise tax refund and other benefits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit," IRS spokesman Dan Boone said in prepared comments.

"If you don't claim it, you don't get it. That's money down the drain for thousands of Tennesseans."

In addition, many taxpayers also overlook free services available to them, such as free tax help and the Free File program.

Still others lose out by not filing a return at all. Even if a taxpayer does not owe tax and is not required by law to file a return, he may miss out on a refund or tax credit.

Here are some refunds, credits or services Boone says are frequently overlooked:

Telephone Excise Tax Refund - This is a one-time refund of long-distance excise taxes available on 2006 income tax returns. The refund applies to charges billed from March 2003 through July 2006.

The IRS offers a standard refund amount of $30 to $60, or taxpayers can calculate the actual tax paid. Even if the taxpayer does not normally have to file a return, Form 1040EZ-T can be used to request this refund.

Businesses and exempt organizations can also request it. Taxpayers can visit IRS.gov for more information on this special payment.

"Tennesseans have already left more than $12 million on the table by failing to request this special refund," Boone said.

IRS Free File - Nearly 20 companies are offering free electronic filing to taxpayers whose 2006 adjusted gross income was $52,000 or less. That means 1.9 million Tennesseans can take advantage of the IRS-sponsored Free File program.

"Free File users get all the benefits of IRS E-file: a faster refund, a virtually error-free return, and confirmation that the IRS received your tax return," Boone said. A link to Free File offerings is located on the IRS.gov homepage.

Earned Income Tax Credit - Earned income of less than $39,000 in 2006 may qualify a taxpayer to claim the earned income tax credit.

This credit could be worth up to $4,536.

When the EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit.

To qualify, taxpayers must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if they did not earn enough money to be obligated to file a return. An electronic special "EITC Assistant" is available on IRS.gov to help taxpayers determine whether they are eligible.

Taxpayers can access more information on this credit by visiting IRS.gov and clicking on "1040 Central."

"More than half-a-million Tennesseans claimed EITC last year, but the IRS estimates that another 20 to 25 percent could be claiming it," Boone said.

Unclaimed Refunds - Refunds totaling approximately $30.8 million are waiting for about 27,600 Tennesseans who failed to file a federal income tax return for 2003.

In order to collect the money, a return for 2003 must be filed no later than April 17.

The IRS estimates that half of those who could claim refunds would receive more than $600. In some cases, individuals had taxes withheld from their wages, or made payments against their taxes out of self-employed earnings, but had too little income to require filing a tax return.


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