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Oct 26 2011

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Fall tax tips from the IRS

Fall is the time of year that brings cooler weather and the chance to get outside, clean up the lawn or organize the garage or attic-and maybe even clean out the filing cabinet.
With the start of income tax filing season only a few months away, the Internal Revenue Service reminded taxpayers that fall is also good time to conduct a review of their tax situation. Take into account the latest tax changes, check your withholding status and start organizing your records.  Remember to avoid any unsolicited e-mails claiming to come from the IRS-don’t become a victim of internet “phishing” scams.
“Cash” Charitable Contributions:
If you plan to donate and deduct your charitable contribution for 2011 as an itemized deduction, you should be aware of a few necessary procedures.  Charitable contributions can be tax deductible, but you must have the proper records to support your deduction. Rules on recordkeeping for charitable contributions were revised due to the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
Check Your Withholding Status at IRS.gov:
Taxpayers should take a few minutes to check their withholding to make sure what is being taken out of their paychecks matches their projected taxes.  If not enough is withheld, individuals will owe tax at the end of the year and may, in some cases, have to pay a penalty.  If too much tax is withheld, they will lose the use of this money until they get their refund.
Recordkeeping:
The IRS encouraged taxpayers to take the time now to gather and organize their tax records to reduce stress at tax time.
In most cases the IRS does not require you to keep records in any special manner. Generally, you should keep any and all documents that may have an impact on your federal tax return. Such items would include bills, receipts, invoices, mileage logs, canceled checks, or any other proof of payment, and any other records to support deductions or credits you claim on your tax return.
Normally, tax records should be kept for three years, but some documents–like records relating to a home purchase or sale, stock transactions, IRAs and business or rental property, should be kept longer.  For more information on what types of records to keep, see IRS Publication 552, Recordkeeping for Individuals.
Avoid Phishing Scams:
The IRS reminded taxpayers not to become a victim of e-mail scams, referred to as phishing scams. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers through e-mail.  Recipients of questionable e-mails claiming to come from the IRS should not open any attachments or click on any links contained in the e-mails because the emails may contain a computer virus. Instead, they should forward the e-mails to phishing@irs.gov.
For more information about federal income tax matters or to access IRS forms and publications, visit the IRS Web site at www.IRS.gov.  Forms and publications can also be ordered by calling toll-free 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). Telephone assistance is available at 1-800-TAX-1040 (1-800-829-1040).

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