In its 35th annual edition of The State of Black America, the Urban League addresses a number of topics related to economic recovery. You can buy the book or view it online.
Tax Tips for the 2011 Filing Season
As of March 25, the IRS has received more than 82 million individual income tax returns, which is 58 percent of the 141 million returns expected this year. The IRS says typically 20 percent to 25 percent of taxpayers file in the final two weeks of the tax season. And, usually, about 7 percent of taxpayers seek a six-month extension to file. The deadline for 2011 is Monday April 18, instead of April 15.
With the tax deadline approaching, the IRS provided some last-minute tips to avoid common errors. And here are three very important things to keep in mind:
-- Use IRS Free File. This is a program available exclusively at IRS.gov in English and Spanish that offers brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. Taxpayers who earned $58,000 or less qualify for free software through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. Taxpayers who earned more or who are comfortable preparing their returns can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms.
-- File electronically to get a faster refund. If you file a paper tax return, your refund will usually be issued within six to eight weeks from the date it is received. If you filed electronically, your refund will normally be issued within three weeks.
- If you cannot meet the April 18 deadline, file an extension using IRS Form 4868 “Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.” But remember an extension to file your return is not an extension to pay your taxes. You still have to pay your tax bill on April 18. If you are unable to pay your taxes, file a tax return anyway to lessen the penalties and pay all that you can. Then work with the IRS to set up a payment plan or you can go to IRS.gov and use the Online Payment Agreement Application.
Responses to Color of Money Question
Zac Bissonnette, author of “Debt Free U,” advises parents on how a little bribery can help your child avoid years of college debt.
“Offer your child a $1,000 (or whatever) gift card to Neiman Marcus (or Bath & Body Works — which would be easily the most awesome place to spend $1,000) in exchange for avoiding student loan debt and going to a college that’s affordable. Twenty years from now, you will both look back on it as the best $1,000 you ever spent,” says Bissonnette.