Three Year-End Tax Tips to Help You Save
 
Although the year is almost over, you still have time to take steps that can lower your 2013 taxes. Now is a good time to prepare for the upcoming tax filing season. Taking these steps can help you save time and tax dollars. They can also help you save for retirement. Here are three year-end tips from the IRS for you to consider:
 
1. Start a filing system.  If you don’t have a filing system for your tax records, you should start one. It can be as simple as saving receipts in a shoebox, or more complex like creating folders or spreadsheets. It’s always a good idea to save tax-related receipts and records. Keeping good records now will save time and help you file a complete and accurate tax return next year.
 
2. Make Charitable Contributions.  If you plan to give to charity, consider donating before the year ends. That way you can claim your contribution as an itemized deduction for 2013. This includes donations you charge to a credit card by Dec. 31, even if you don’t pay the bill until 2014. A gift by check also counts for 2013 as long as you mail it in December. Remember that you must give to a qualified charity to claim a tax deduction. Use the IRS Select Check tool at IRS.gov to see if an organization is qualified.
Make sure to save your receipts. You must have a written record for all donations of money in order to claim a deduction. Special rules apply to several types of property, including clothing or household items, cars and boats. For more about these rules see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.
If you are age 70½ or over, the qualified charitable distribution allows you to make tax-free transfers from your IRAs to charity. You can give up to $100,000 per year from your IRA to an eligible charity, and exclude the amount from gross income. You can use the excluded amount to satisfy any required minimum distributions that you must otherwise receive from your IRAs in 2013. This benefit is available even if you do not itemize deductions. This special provision is set to expire at the end of 2013. See Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), for more information.
 
3. Contribute to Retirement Accounts.  You need to contribute to your 401(k) or similar retirement plan by Dec. 31 to count for 2013. On the other hand, you have until April 15, 2014, to set up a new IRA or add money to an existing IRA and still have it count for 2013.
The Saver’s Credit, also known as the Retirement Savings Contribution Credit, helps low- and moderate-income workers in two ways. It helps people save for retirement and earn a special tax credit. Eligible workers who contribute to IRAs, 401(k)s or similar workplace retirement plans can get a tax credit on their federal tax return. The maximum credit is up to $1,000, $2,000 for married couples. Other deductions and credits may reduce or eliminate the amount you can claim.
 

 

 

TAX SCAMMING ON THE RISE

 

The IRS does not initiate contact by email, but generally by a mailed notice or occasionally by a direct telephone call to the taxpayer.  The IRS advice is if you receive a telephone call and are concerned about the legitimacy of the call, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040 to verify the authenticity of the contact.  The purported telephone contacts seem to have several traits in common:  they come from the 530 area code but sound like they are coming in over a VOIP system, and may sound like a call center in the background.  Many of the callers have a thick accent and they are using the name "Kevin Peterson," "John Miller," or "Chris Brown."  The standard process is to request the taxpayer to confirm personal information, in some cases they are requesting copies of the Form W-2 and 1099s to verify income sources.  If they are working with a cooperating taxpayer they may then ask for bank information and credit card information.  When the taxpayer refuses to release the information, the callers are threatening the taxpayer with visits from law enforcement, bank levies, and even jail time.  The states of New Jersey, California, and Missouri seem to be the hardest hit with this scam and taxpayers have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

If you feel you have been the victim of this type of scam, or any of the current scams against the public, contact TIGTA at 800-366-4484 to report the contact.

 

Reminder: Oct. 15 Tax Deadline Remains During Appropriations Lapse 

 

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today reminded taxpayers that the Oct. 15 deadline remains in effect for people who requested a six-month extension to file their tax return.

The current lapse in federal appropriations does not affect the federal tax law, and all taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations as normal. Individuals and businesses should keep filing their tax returns and making deposits with the IRS, as required by law.

Many of the more than 12 million individuals who requested an automatic six-month extension earlier this year have yet to file their Form 1040 for 2012.

Though Oct. 15 is the last day for most people to file, some groups still have more time, including members of the military and others serving in Afghanistan or other combat zone localities who typically have until at least 180 days after they leave the combat zone to both file returns and pay any taxes due. People with extensions in parts of Colorado affected by severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides also have more time, until Dec. 2, 2013, to file and pay.

The IRS offered several reminders for taxpayers during the current appropriations lapse:

 

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