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Tax Talk with George Saenz

Ask the tax adviser

To all my readers this week:
I appreciate all the questions you send each week. Now the deadline to file your 2000 tax return is less than a week away, and you may not have the answer you need. If you haven't heard back from me and you really need to know, check out the full Bankrate Taxes site, especially the Tax Tool Box. What you need may be there. If not, consider filing for an extension to file your federal and state returns, so you'll have time to get the tax answer you need. But remember, if you do get an extension, be sure to pay what you might owe to avoid interest and penalties.

Filing without a W-2

Dear Tax Talk:
I did not receive a pay stub from my employer, but I have records on what my income for the year was. How should I file my taxes?

Dear Josh:
You and a lot of other people are probably in the same position this week in trying to get their tax returns done without a Form W-2 from an employer that perhaps ceased operations or for some other reason failed to provide the required statement. If you do not receive a Form W-2, you should call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 and let them know. When you call, you should have the employer's name, address, phone number and, if possible, their employer identification number. The EIN may be found on a prior year Form W-2, if available. You should also have an estimate of your wages and taxes. You can estimate this information if you know your gross salary and the number of weeks you worked there, or possibly from check stubs.

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Of course since it's the week before taxes are due, you may never get through to the IRS. You can consider filing for an extension by completing and mailing Form 4868 to the IRS by April 16th. If you can't get through to the IRS and you think you have good records for estimating your Form W-2, you can try to complete Form 4852. If you choose to do this, then I recommend that you attach as much supporting documentation as you have such as check stubs. Most likely, your refund will be delayed because of the missing Form W-2.

Amending a tax return

Dear Tax Talk:
My question concerns my 1999 taxes. I bought a house in October of 1999. My mortgage company sent me my statement stating the amount of interest I paid on my house. I filed my taxes on my computer with TurboTax. I had help, but it was all so new to me, buying a house and doing my taxes by a computer. Anyway, I filed my taxes.

There was no dollar amount for the points paid on my mortgage statement from my company. Several months later I received a new statement from my mortgage company apologizing for any inconvenience that they may have caused but during a recent audit they discovered they gave me the wrong information. In the points paid area was a large dollar amount that I had paid towards points.

Am I now able to file an amended form for the points I paid? If so, is the form a 1040X? I was told by a friend that since the single deduction was around $7,050 or something to that amount and that my interest paid as well as points do not total above that amount that I cannot claim this. Is this true? Please help. I'm looking forward to your response.
Thank you,

Dear Teresa:
As everyone wraps up his or her 2000 individual income tax return for filing this week, it's a good time to look back at 1999's tax return to see if you've overlooked a tax deduction. For honest filers, it's also good to see if you missed an item of income. If you think you may have overlooked a tax deduction, you can go back and amend your 1999 tax return to include it. You can also amend 1997 and 1998, since the statute of limitations for these years is still open, at least until the April 2001 deadline. The best part is that if you made a mistake and are due a refund, the IRS will pay you interest on the refund since the due date of the return.

In your case, you need to look at your 1999 tax return and determine if you itemized your deductions on Schedule A or if you claimed the standard deduction. The standard deduction (not the "single deduction") in 1999 for a single taxpayer was $4,300 and $7,200 for married taxpayers. The standard deduction is reported on line 36 of your Form 1040. If your itemized deductions in 1999, including the points on the revised statement, exceed the standard deduction, you can amend your 1999 tax return to itemize your deductions on Schedule A even if you previously claimed the standard deduction. You can download Form 1040X from the IRS's site.


-- Posted: April 13, 2001

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