Tax season found simple, not a problem

Spring is officially here; it is the season for sunshine, flowers, Easter bunnies, allergies and taxes. Yes, it is tax time again. So brush off those rusty math skills and grab your favorite version of the ever popular 1040 and let’s begin.

Taxes do not have to be complicated. They are so simple now that a computer can do them. Since the good folks at the Internal Revenue Service feel sorry for those of us so poor we probably do not even own a computer, they’ve instituted the Free File program. If your adjusted gross income is less than $52,000 you can file online for free! But beware, not all the software on the website is created equal.

Some will do your state taxes for free, others charge a nominal fee. Several will only compute taxes for people over 20 or under 50 or 65. Some will compute military taxes and others will file extensions. But fear not, there is a wizard gismo available on the IRS site to guess which one is best for you.

But wait, there’s more, do your taxes now and you may get $30 or more added to your refund by filing for a federal telephone excise tax refund. That’s right, seems Uncle Sam decided telephone excise was outdated and an unfair tax, so he repealed it.

Act fast and claim your refund today from taxes paid on long-distance or cell phone bills during February 28, 2003 to August 1, 2006. Hurry this special offer is good only this year. See line 71 on the 1040 form, line 42 on the 1040A, line 9 on the 1040EZ and to itemize see the 8913 form. Also, this year forget April 15, tax returns are actually due April 17 because on Monday, April 16, Washington D.C. recognizes Emancipation Day. Next time, instead of the extra day, I would like to request an additional $30 refund, but somehow I do not think the IRS cares.

Then there are the tax season qualifying rounds, where everyone is a qualifier, some just qualify to pay fewer taxes than others. Do you have a qualifying child? Ding, ding, ding! You get a deduction.

Do you have qualifying scholarships? Congratulations, they do not count as income. But if you got more in scholarship money than you spent on tuition, the buzzer will sound and these funds have to be reported as income.

Do you have an adjusted gross income under $12,120 or $14,120 if married? You may qualify for Earned Income Credit (EIC), time to test those worksheet skills. The qualifying rounds for the IRS are like a game of chutes and ladders. Make more than $100,000 this year? Splat. You will file a 1040 or 1040A and not the 1040EZ form.

Since I do not make the $100,000 bracket I like the 1040EZ-the deduction is bigger and there are fewer blanks to mess with, all without itemizing everything. I also discovered that the 1040EZ gives $3,300 more in standard deductions than the Schedule A and for me that means a refund.

Now, after all the maddening rush of trying to get paperwork filled, filed and correct maybe, just maybe there will be enough in the refund check to cover the cost of mailing in my return, but wait, that is why they have E-file.

Don’t take my word for it… go read the instructions.

[Editors Note: This column is not meant to be financial advice. For advice on how to best prepare your taxes please consult a qualified tax official.]