The new year may be greener than expected for many taxpayers

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Thousands of Americans are owed money, which could make for an unexpected New Year’s Bonus! Information released by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) confirms that the agency is currently holding $123.5 million in unclaimed refund checks. The money is from 107,831 income tax refund checks that were returned to the IRS in 2009 due to incorrect mailing addresses.

If you are one of the taxpayers who did not receive your expected refund, contact the IRS immediately with proof of current address. Call the IRS Refund Hotline at 1-800-829-1954 or access the “Where’s My Refund?” page on the IRS website (www.irs.gov) to check on your refund status. Using your 2008 tax return, provide your Social Security number, filing status and the amount of the refund shown on the return.

If the refund was returned to the IRS, you can still receive it by updating your address. To prevent the possibility of this happening to you again, considering choosing to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, rather than mailed to you as a check. Not only does this remove the risk of a lost check, it also gives the taxpayer a more secure, convenient way to access the funds.

Remember, a missing refund check can be a significant amount of money. Make sure you got the refund you were entitled to last year.

Items you may need to get your taxes prepared and filed

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If you're wondering what you should bring with you when you meet with your tax preparer, refer to this list.

• Wage statements/W-2s

• Self-employed business income and expenses/1099-MISC

• Commissions received/paid

• Pension, retirement income/1099-R

• Unemployment income/1099-G

• Canceled Debt Amount/1099-C

• Social Security income/SSA-1099

• IRA contributions

• Statements on the sales of stocks or bonds/1099-B

• Interest and dividend income/1099-INT/1099-DIV

• Lottery or gambling winnings/losses W-2G

• State refund amount/1099-G

• Income and expenses from rentals

• Alimony paid or received

• Medical and dental expenses

• Real estate and personal property taxes

• State or local taxes paid

• Estimated taxes or foreign taxes paid

• Cash and non-cash charitable donations

• Mortgage or home equity loan interest paid/1098

• Unreimbursed employment-related expenses

• Job-related educational expenses

• Educator expenses

• Tuition and Education Fees/1098-T

• Student loan interest/1098-E

• Casualty or theft losses

• Child care expenses and provider information

• Social Security card(s)

• Driver’s license(s)

• Dependents’ Social Security numbers and dates of birth

• Information concerning Stimulus payment check

• Last year’s Federal and State tax return

• HUD-1 statement or substitute, if new home purchased

IRS warns of email scam that could put your identity at risk

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According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) website, large numbers of phony emails have been circulating in recent weeks. Although the subject line of the emails often includes something about “notice of underreported income,” the IRS recommends that you delete the email without opening it or your computer information could be compromised, putting you at risk for identity theft.

 

The IRS never sends unsolicited emails to taxpayers about their tax accounts. You should report suspicious emails, claiming to come from the IRS, at: www.phishing@irs.gov.

 

If you believe that you may have already been a victim of these fraudulent emails, you can get help at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s website: www.OnGuardOnLine.gov.

The 2009 tax law changes could mean more money in your pocket

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Some of the key tax incentives of The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 will directly impact your 2009 tax return. Here are just a few: 

 

Child Tax Credits -- For 2009 and 2010, taxpayers with a qualifying child(ren) and income between $3,000 and $8,500 will also be eligible to receive the Child Tax Credit, which will allow more taxpayers than ever to receive the additional Child Tax Credit. 

 

New Car Purchases -- Taxpayers may deduct the sales or excise tax paid on up to the first $49,500 of the purchase price of a new vehicle, as an itemized deduction or as an addition to their standard deduction. In addition, “plug-in” vehicles are eligible for a credit of up to $7,500 for the first 200,000 “plug-in” vehicles sold per manufacturer. 

 

Making Work Pay Credit -- For 2009 and 2010, qualifying taxpayers with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of less than $95,000 ($190,000 if MFJ) will be eligible for a credit of 6.2% of earned income up to $400 ($800 if MFJ). 

 

First-Time Homebuyer Credit -- Taxpayers who purchase a qualifying new home after December 31, 2008 and before May 1, 2010, may claim a refundable credit of 10% of the purchase price up to $8,000 ($4,000 if married filing separately). In addition, if the home is purchased during this time the credit does not have to be repaid unless the taxpayer sells the home within 36 months. Beginning November 7, 2009, taxpayers who lived in their current home for five consecutive years out of the eight years preceding the purchase of a new home may qualify for a reduced credit of $6,500 ($3,250 if married filing separately. Note: Taxpayers who enter into a binding contract to close on a home before May 1, 2010 may still qualify for the credit if they close before July 1, 2010. 

 

Education Credit -- For tax years 2009 and 2010, the New American Opportunity credit will replace the Hope Credit. The credit allows for up to $2,500 for eligible expenses for the first four years of post-secondary education and allows 40% up to $1,000, of the credit to be refundable. 

 

Questions? Contact your local Jackson Hewitt office. 

Ready or not ... it's tax time! This year let Jackson Hewitt® help!

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At Jackson Hewitt®, our tax preparers work hard to provide you with the attention and service you deserve. We’ll ask you all the right questions, so you’ll get every deduction and credit youdeserve. And, that could mean more money in your pocket. 

 

There are a number of reasons to choose Jackson Hewitt Tax Service: 

FREE Electronic Filing—Electronic filing (IRS e-file) is free with every paid tax preparation. 

When you e-file, many additional products and services are available. Ask your tax preparer for more information. 

 

FREE Accuracy Guarantee—All paid tax returns come with our FREE Accuracy Guarantee. It’s our Basic Guarantee. This entitles you to reimbursement of penalties and interest charged by a taxing authority if a Jackson Hewitt tax preparer makes a mistake completing your return. Terms and conditions apply. Ask your tax preparer for details. 

 

FREE Audit Assistance—If you receive an audit notice from the IRS, contact us and we will appear with you at the audit to explain how your tax return was prepared. Please note that Jackson Hewitt cannot act as your legal counsel, financial advisor or otherwise represent you in connection with an audit. 

 

FREE Fee Estimate—Bring us your paperwork and we’ll estimate your tax preparation fee before we begin working on your tax return. 

 

FREE Review of a Prior Year Return—If you find documentation that you think may result in your ability to claim a larger refund or lower your liability after your return was filed this year, last year or the year before, bring it in. We’ll review a prior-year return prepared by you or another tax preparation company and then notify you of any missed deductions or credits. For a fee, we’ll then file an amended return for you. 

 

FREE Copies of Your Tax Returns—Once you choose Jackson Hewitt for tax preparation, your tax data will be safely stored from year to year and we can provide you with free copies of your prior-year returns. 

 

ProFiler® Software—We conduct each tax interview on ProFiler, our proprietary tax preparation system with built-in error detection to double-check calculations every step of the way. 

 

Deductions@Work®—Only Jackson Hewitt has Deductions@Work, an occupation-focused system, which enables our tax preparers to tailor your tax interview to more accurately address your needs based on your profession. With Deductions@Work, we’ll make sure you get every deduction and credit you deserve and the maximum refund you’re entitled to.