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Income Tax Returns

February 21, 2005 | Kathy M. Kristof, Times Staff Writer
Come tax time, schoolteachers, military reservists, landlords and performing artists all have at least one thing in common -- they can claim special tax deductions without bothering to itemize. They're members of a growing club. People who buy fuel- efficient cars, employees who contribute to health savings accounts and indebted former students all warrant so-called above-the-line deductions.
February 20, 2005 | Evan Halper, Times Staff Writer
California's tax agency is moving forward with a revolutionary -- some say disturbing -- concept: having the government do your taxes for you. Instead of getting blank forms in the mail this month, a small group of taxpayers selected for a pilot program will receive a tax return that's already filled out. All they'll need to do is sign it, enclose a check if they owe anything, and send it back to the state.
February 2, 2005 | Marc Lifsher, Times Staff Writer
California officials on Tuesday launched a two-month amnesty program that they hope will coax scofflaws to cough up at least $250 million in back taxes. The general amnesty, the state's first in two decades, allows individuals and corporations owing income or sales taxes to pay up without being hit with financial penalties or criminal sanctions. "Tax amnesty is a win-win proposition," said state Controller Steve Westly. "Taxpayers get a break, and the state gets a boost."
August 26, 2004 | Kathy M. Kristof, Times Staff Writer
Paying taxes may never be fun, but it may soon get easier. Under a pilot program, the state of California will volunteer to fill out the annual income tax returns for 10,000 residents with lower incomes and uncomplicated finances. If the test works, as many as 3 million of the state's 14 million taxpayers could be eligible for the program. Taxpayers with deductions and dependents, however, will still have to file the old-fashioned way.
May 6, 2004 | From Associated Press
The Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday that taxpayers who used a tax shelter known as Son of Boss, which was marketed aggressively beginning in the late 1990s, could avoid some penalties if they came forward by June 21.
April 23, 2004 | Kathy M. Kristof
About 400 users of the TurboTax software program got an unpleasant surprise last week: Their bank accounts were debited for hundreds of dollars in estimated tax payments that they didn't intend to make. The tax-preparation program has an option allowing taxpayers to electronically debit their bank accounts to pay federal income taxes. In about 400 cases, money was debited to pay 2004 taxes in advance by filers who said they had no intention of doing so, TurboTax spokesman Scott Gulbransen said.
November 17, 2003 | Kathy M. Kristof, Times Staff Writer
A battle over who should provide electronic tax-filing services is brewing in California, where the state's fledgling Internet-based tax system is raising the hackles of companies that sell tax-preparation software. Intuit Corp., the maker of TurboTax and one of a small number of software firms now offering free e-filing of state tax returns in California, already has said that it would yank its free filing option if Sacramento continues to provide a competing product.
November 9, 2003 | Kathy M. Kristof
What should you do if you're audited? That depends on the type of audit, said Martin Laffer, certified public accountant with Beverly Hills firm Laffer & Gottlieb. There are four types of audits, with varying degrees of severity. * Correspondence audits are the simplest and least worrisome. They generally result from a mismatch between income or deductions reported on a taxpayer's 1040 tax form and what was reported by a third party, such as an employer, bank or brokerage.
June 20, 2003 | From Associated Press
Millions of people who file their taxes electronically would get an extra 15 days to do so each spring, under a bill passed Thursday by the House. Moving the deadline to April 30 for electronic filers is one of the incentives that officials want to use to encourage more taxpayers to file and pay electronically. The new deadline would not apply to taxpayers who fill out their returns by hand and mail them to the Internal Revenue Service. The House voted 252 to 170 in favor of the bill.
March 12, 2003 | Kathy M. Kristof, Times Staff Writer
The Justice Department sued an Orange County tax firm and five Southland tax preparers Tuesday, accusing them of filing bogus returns, many of them for Marines. Anaheim-based Western Tax Services Inc., a high-volume tax preparation service that employs four of the five individuals named in the suit, repeatedly fabricated and overstated deductions to net hefty refunds for clients, the suit alleges.
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