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IRS gives tips for larger tax refunds

IRS gives tips for larger tax refundsPrintE-mail
Janice Peterson – Daily herald   

As the end of the year quickly approaches, the Internal Revenue Service is offering some tax tips that may help residents get a better refund next year.

Although taxes for 2008 are not due until April 15, officials say there are several items that should be looked at before the end of the year. One important item that can make a big difference is charitable contributions. According to a news release, taxpayers should make sure to give all charitable contributions before Dec. 31. IRS spokesman Clay Sanford said it is important to keep a record of any contributions, which may be something taxpayers overlook.”There’s a first time for everyone when it comes to charitable donations in their life,” he said.

Sanford said record-keeping is very important when it comes to charity. A record of the contributions should be kept for three years, and a written communication from the charity about the contribution must be kept as well.

Marty Evans, a local spokesman for H&R Block, said tips about charitable contributions are especially relevant in Utah, where a large portion of the population gives money to their church or a local charity. Evans said residents can use “tax planning” to pay extra money to a charity before Dec. 31 and maximize their deduction.

Evans said tax planning works for taxpayers who plan to itemize their deductions. If the deductions for the year aren’t quite high enough to reach a certain point for itemization, charitable contributions for the next year can be made early to make up the difference. For someone who knows how much they plan to give in the next year, that amount can be contributed early to maximize the deduction and reduce the contribution necessary next year. Tax planning does not work for everyone, but it can be a valuable way to maximize deductions.

“That’s just part of tax planning and knowing what their situation is,” he said.

Evans said tax planning can also be used for qualifying health, retirement and other savings plans. A person can contribute the maximum amount to these plans before the end of the year and save on taxes on the money. That way, Evans said, the government is helping contribute to the plans through the savings in taxes.

“The government is paying for up to 50 percent of your savings plan,” he said.

Evan said it is also important to look through paperwork before the end of the year to make sure everything needed is available. Work expenses like travel cannot be deducted without receipts, and waiting until April may be too late to obtain the necessary paperwork.

“If you can’t substantiate it, you can’t deduct it,” he said.

According to the release, stock owners should also evaluate their portfolios and get rid of bad stock before the year is up. Capital losses from stocks can be netted against capital gains and may be used to reduce ordinary income by up to $3,000.

Sanford said it is a good idea to start working on taxes early to ensure they are done right. Even with a tax preparer, the actual taxpayer is responsible for the tax return, so residents should take the time to research tax preparers and get references. He said some people wait too long to file their taxes and find themselves in trouble, whether it be with missing paperwork or just long lines at the post office.

“People who owe money may put it off to the last minute,” he said. “I wouldn’t encourage them to do that.”

A link to this article :   http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/293981/

Kick a car charity’s tires

Donate your car after a charity check

‘Tis the season to be charitable. For some people, that means donating a vehicle. You can donate your car through a local chapter of the National Kidney Foundation and others, or a charity that specializes in car donations and will pick up cars, sell them at auction, and give a charity some of the proceeds.

We’ve heard such groups touted in radio ads, and search engines yield plenty of names, but our research indicates donors should be careful. None of three car-donation Web sites we looked into had a privacy policy, and two lacked complete contact information. Often the charity gets 5 percent or less of the car’s claimed value, according to a 2003 survey by the Government Accountability Office. Before you donate your car, ask :

Is the charity IRS-approved?

Ask the charity whether it’s qualified to receive tax-deductible contributions. Most approved charities are listed online in IRS Publication 78 (www.irs.gov/app/pub-78).

How will the car be used?

The IRS says a donated car worth more than $500 that’s kept in use by the charity—bringing meals to seniors, for instance—can be deducted at its current fair market value. But if it’s sold at auction by the charity, you can deduct only the auction price. If the charity takes cars that can’t be driven, the donation might be worth no more than a lug nut.

How much money will the charity get from a third-party arrangement?

Ask the charity’s development office. Look for a share of at least 15 percent.

How much will the charity use for good deeds?

The Better Business Bureau recommends giving to charities that devote at least 65 percent of donations to good works. The BBB’s National Charity Reports Index (www.bbb.org/charity) rates charities on 20 standards. Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org) has information, too. Both services are free.

After you donate your car, record the name and address of the charity and the date of your donation. Get a receipt. Keep a copy of the title transfer. Report the transfer to your state motor-vehicle department and cancel your car insurance.

Remove the vehicle’s license plates—unless state law says otherwise—and the registration and inspection stickers. That way, you won’t be sideswiped by a later owner’s violations.

Kidney Foundation Experts in Car Donation

Here are links to ExpertVillage.com that instruct donors how to doante their car to the Kidney Foundation:

 hhttp://www.expertvillage.com/video/164941_donate-car-utah.htmttp://www.expertvillage.com/video/164945_donate-car-kidney-foundation.htm

Why your Kidney Car Donation Means So Much

 (In letter to all Kidney Foundation of Utah employees sent Friday, November 21, 2008):

I would like to remind you why we all work here.  We just received a call from the mother of a kidney patient who was evicted from her home a few months ago. She has a 2 yr. old son on a ventilator and on dialysis. She is now homeless and has been living in her car. Pam Grant, the pediatric social worker at the U, called and asked if we could make an emergency financial grant to get her in an apartment NOW. Thanks to the many donations we receive thorugh Kidney Kars and generous cash contributions, we were easily able to grant that request.  I just received a thank you call from that child’s mother.  Overwhelmed, she spoke in words broken up by tears of gratitude. Thank you all for making this kind of wonderful thing happen.  Sincereley, Deen Vetterli, CEO, National Kidney Foundation of Utah & Idaho

Make your Charity Car Donation a Kidney Car!

Car Donation Logo

Man you guys are fast!

I just wanted to thank you for your quick processing of our car donation!  I am so happy to know the donation is going to a legitimate charity, right here in Utah.  Thanks for making the process so easy.   Have a wonderful holiday. Regards, Natalie S. 

Utah Kidney Kars Donation is Number 1

I donated my first car to the Kidney Foundation for a tax deduction back in 1991.  I just donated another car, and the process is faster and easier than ever!  Thank you Kidney Foundation for taking my car!  Say hi to Bronco– Go Cougars!