Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tax round-ups and refunds

We're still waiting on W2s from my new company and David's company, so no tax filing yet for me. Still, since I imagine other people might be doing theirs already, I'll start dusting off the tax posts ...

I haven't figured out whether I'm sticking with TaxACT this year or switching to something that will annoy me less, but Consumer Search has a "review of reviews" with guides to the various programs. One thing that piques me: Reviewers continue to focus on the sold-in-stores CD versions of the various programs. I always use the Web versions. Do they offer the same features? The same pricing? Reviews don't say. GRR. Anyone know of a rundown that evaluates the online versions?

This year most people will be getting an extra $30 or more back on their taxes, thanks to the telephone tax refund. The government apparently got smacked down in some court rulings over long-distance taxes and told to pay them back, to the tune of $10 billion in refunds. (I was going to look up the rulings and give more details, but a quick troll of Google News turned up nothing -- and if the beat reporters are going to be lazy about this, I am too, unless anyone is really interested.) If you had long-distance services on a cell, VoIP or land line between Feb. 28, 2003, and Aug 1., 2006, you're eligible to collect. The IRS page has the formula; I imagine all the tax-prep programs are worded up about the rebate.

You can opt for either the IRS standard rebate or you can calculate what you actually paid for the tax, and take the higher amount. I took a brief stab at calculating and gave up after finding that a) my phone bill doesn't really break out this charge; it just lists "federal taxes" on the long-distance, and b) the entire monthly "federal taxes" bill on my long distance looks to be about 65 cents -- so I'm probably better off taking the flat refund.

Be warned, if you try to claim thousands of dollars on this refund, the IRS is probably going to get cranky. They've apparently already fielded a few cases where people have claimed they paid phone taxes that would correspond to phone bills larger than their actual income.