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Most taxpayers can begin filing their federal income tax returns, and many can file for free through the agency’s Free File program.

Have you filed your 2012 tax return yet? Millions already have filed today.

 

Like racers in the starting blocks, these taxpayers have been poised to send their returns to the Internal Revenue Service for weeks, but had to wait.

 

Because Congress waited until Jan. 1 to approve the American Tax Relief Act, which includes many provisions affecting 2012 tax returns, the IRS needed time to get forms and instructions updated and its computers reprogrammed.

 

The IRS is ready to take returns from most (but not all) taxpayers today. It’s now accepting returns that are filed the old-fashioned way, filled out paper and snail-mailed in, as well as electronic filings.

 

And the tax agency’s Free File option also is open for business.

 

Free File 2013

 

Free File first appeared on the tax-filing scene 10 years ago. Now it is old hat.

 

Sure, there are some tweaks each year. But basically, the filing routine is the same. A group of commercial tax preparation software companies, known as the Free File Alliance, agrees to make a version of their software available to eligible taxpayers via the IRS Free File site.

You can use the IRS Free File program to prepare and file your taxes this year at no cost (just in case you thought the name Free File was just a catchy alliterative title) if your adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less. This income threshold applies to all filing statuses.

 

And you have 15 tax software companies from which to choose. Or you can use the Help Me Find a Free File Company IRS search tool to determine which one best fits your filing needs.

 

Fillable forms for free

 

If you make too much money to qualify for Free File this year, the IRS is once again offering Free Fillable Forms.

 

These are online versions of the most commonly used IRS tax forms. Instead of buying and loading tax software onto your personal computer, you simply open up the forms you need, enter your tax information and e-file the documents at no charge.

 

But since it’s just forms, not software, you get only basic calculations of the data you enter on the forms. You must know what goes where. And you must transfer any amounts to other forms as needed.

 

Still, it is free.

 

So if your return isn’t too complicated, and you’re comfortable filling out the forms, they may be just the ticket this tax season.

 

Happy filing!

 

Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: MSN Money partner

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Toys R Us says it’s starting its sale at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Meanwhile, other major chains’ BF ads hit deal sites.

 

Shoppers might have had a hard time keeping up with the flurry of Black Friday ads landing on deal sites over the weekend.

It seemed a new ad was leaked every couple of hours, including the popular parent destination, Toys R Us.

TRU’s 32-page ad boasted a whopping 200 doorbusters — most about half price. Many consumers who commented on deal sites such as BlackFriday.Gottadea​l.com thought it filled a toy gap this year as Wal-Mart and Target focused more heavily on video games and electronics.

Like several of its discount rivals, Toys R Us is starting its sale at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, with doorbuster sale prices on Thursday night and a separate sale on Saturday.

While not every hot toy was deeply discounted, there are many good bargains to be found, including:

  • Fisher-Price Rock Star Mickey — $19.98 (now selling for $40).
  • GeoTrax on the Go Zoo — $14.99 (regularly $30).
  • $15 bonus iTunes gift card with $50 iTunes gift card purchase.
  • 40% off all Lego sets.
  • Video games, buy one, get one for $1.
  • Skylanders Giants Starter Pack for $49.99 (regularly $75).
  • Garmin nuvi 50 5-inch portable GPS for 79.99 (regularly $120).
  • $5 board games, including Monopoly and Scrabble.

Some deals are to be found only in stores. And a footnote at the bottom of the ad said that online prices “may vary.” Online shoppers, however, can snag free shipping at Toysrus.com and Babiesrus.com this season.

Be warned: While Toys R Us is offering a price-match guarantee through Dec. 24, last month it said it would not match competitors’ Black Friday prices.

Other Black Friday sale ads leaked this weekend, include those of home-improvement giants Lowe’s and Home Depot, and department stores Kohl’s and J.C. Penney. For once, troubled Penney’s did not even try to keep up with rivals’ Thursday openings, instead, pushing back its sale to 6 a.m. Friday, and eliminating last year’s free snow globes for shoppers.

Bah, humbug!
Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

Original Article by: MSN Money partner

Click here to view the original article

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