Tax odds and ends

April 03, 2014 by Carol Thompson, EA

Gift to reduce public debt.  If you are upset about how far in debt we are as a nation, you can make a deductible charitable contribution to the Bureau of the Public Debt to help out. Send a check to:

Bureau of Public Debt
ATTN: Department G
PO Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV  26106-2188

 We don’t know if you will get a thank-you card, but the rest of us will truly appreciate your effort.

How long should you keep your records?  The answer is – “as long as they may be needed for the administration of any provision of the Internal Revenue Code" (IRS 2013 Publication 17, page 16).   Tax returns are subject to a statute of limitation, generally 3 years from the date the return was originally due.  You are only required to keep receipts through the statute date, but if you own a business, or have complicated deductions, you should keep your records indefinitely.  If you buy a house, or some stocks, or a business, you need to keep the purchase and sale information for at least 3 years after you dispose of that particular asset.

Hint: Instead of the boxes stacking up in the attic, use a scanner and put all of your tax returns, receipts, bank statements, credit card statement, tax returns, books and records, on pdf files (use Adobe Acrobat).  If you are audited and the prior year returns come into play, you will have all of the records ready and available.  Be sure to back up all documents on an external hard drive or USB drive that you keep somewhere safe.  You can use a permanent marker to put “TAX” on the disk so you don’t forget which one it is.

You were due a refund:  If you do not file your tax returns, you can only get a refund for two years after the original due date of the return.  If you filed a return, you can get a refund for up to three years by amending your tax return, or two years after the tax is paid, whichever is later.  The statute on 2010 ends on April 15, 2014, so if you found an error, be sure to have the return mailed by that date.  If you don’t file, or file a fraudulent return, there is no statute of limitations.

IRS can’t find you: Didn’t get last year’s refund?  Angry at the IRS and Post Office?  Did you remember to send the IRS an address change?  Every year, the Post Office returns millions of dollars in refund checks because taxpayers moved and did not send the IRS an address change.  You can use Form 8822, Change of Address, or you can send a letter that contains your new address, old address, and your social security number.  And if you have not changed your address with the IRS, any audit or notice they send to the last address on record is considered timely filed and the clock starts running.

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