Tax deadline approaches
April 15 is right around the corner. If a chill just went down your spine, chances are you haven’t yet organized your income tax paperwork, let alone filed your return.
Even if you can’t file or pay your taxes by April 15, it’s vital to at least request an extension by then; otherwise, the penalty on taxes owed increases dramatically—generally an additional five percent of taxes owed for each month you’re late, plus interest, up to a maximum penalty of twenty-five percent.
However, if you file your return or request an extension by April 15, the penalty drops to 0.5 percent per month, plus interest. Contact the IRS early if you won’t be able to pay on time; they may even waive the penalty, depending on your circumstances. Call (800) 829-1040 or visit irs.gov for more information.
Another way to avoid a penalty: The IRS does accept payment by credit or debit card, with a small convenience fee that is tax deductible. Just be sure you can pay off your credit card balance within a few months, or the interest accrued might exceed the penalty.
Here are several 2009 federal income tax changes to keep in mind as you fill out your return:
New homeowner tax credit. If you bought a home in 2009 and hadn’t owned one during the previous three years, you may be eligible for a credit of up to $8,000; in addition, existing homeowners who bought a new primary residence after November 7, 2009, may also be eligible for a credit of up to $6,500. Eligibility rules and deadlines are complicated, so read “First-Time Homebuyer Credit” at irs.gov for details.
New vehicle tax deduction. If you bought a new (not used) car, RV, or motorcycle between February 17 and December 31, 2009, you can deduct state and local sales and excise taxes, with certain limitations, even if you don’t itemize deductions. Read “Sales Tax Deduction for Vehicle Purchases” at irs.gov for details.
Expanded college tax credit. For 2009 and 2010, Hope Scholarships have been replaced by the more robust American Opportunity Tax Credit. Enhancements include:
Maximum tax credit increases to $2,500.
Credits can now be claimed for all four years of undergraduate college, instead of only the first two.
Those with modified adjusted gross income under $80,000 ($160,000 for joint filers) qualify for the full credit; it phases out between $80,000 and $90,000 ($160,000 to $180,000 for joint filers).
Lower-income families who owe no taxes may file a return anyway and receive a refund for up to forty percent of the credit amount, up to $1,000. Read “American Opportunity Credit” at irs.gov for details.
Unemployment benefits. Up to $2,400 in unemployment benefits is tax-free for 2009.
Numerous free or low-cost tax-preparation services are available to seniors, military, and low- and middle-income taxpayers, including:
IRS-sponsored programs. (Search “Free Tax Preparation” at irs.gov).
AARP volunteers provide free tax preparation to low- and middle-income taxpayers, particularly those over age sixty. For information, visit www.aarp.org/money/taxaide.
Military personnel and their families worldwide can get free assistance through a program overseen by the Armed Forces Tax Council. (Check with your base for details.)
Bond sale nets lowest interest rate in SSCAFCA history
Following voter approval in the November 2008 election, the Southern Sandoval County Arroyo Flood Control Authority (SSCAFCA) was authorized to sell $18,000,000 in bonds. The second of four planned bond issues took place January 20, 2010 for $6,860,000, with very positive results.
“Bids were received from five firms on January 20 for $4,500,000 in new general obligation bonds and $2,360,000 in refunding old bonds,” said David Stoliker, PE, the executive engineer for SSCAFCA. “The lowest bid was at 3.29% interest, the lowest rate SSCAFCA has ever received on its bonds. We also refinanced two older bonds with higher interest rates, providing debt service savings to taxpayers of $88,572.66.”
The interest rate was so low in part because SSCAFCA continues to hold Moody’s Investors Service’s Aa3 bond rating, the highest rating of any governmental entity in Sandoval County. The rating was determined by Moody’s after evaluation of four factors that impacted on SSCAFCA’s creditworthiness. These factors included: economic factors, debt structure, finances, and management strategies.
SSCAFCA chair Mark Conkling said this was a highly successful bond issue. “The Aa3 rating is a great recognition of SSCAFCA’s superior performance, which results in a cost savings for our taxpayers. In effect, this lets us put more flood protection into the area, instead of paying those dollars out in interest on the bonds.”
ACCION appoints new board member
Founded in 1994, ACCION has financed the start-up and/or growth of 2,701 businesses through 4,363 loans totaling more than $28.3 million. The organization serves entrepreneurs in 212 urban and rural New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado communities through partnerships with local banks and organizations. ACCION is one of only four percent of United States nonprofit organizations to have been awarded Charity Navigator’s top four-star rating five years in a row.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has appointed Anne Haines-Yatskowitz, president and chief executive officer of ACCION New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado, to its Denver branch board of directors for a three-year term, effective January 1, 2010. The board meets eight times a year to discuss economic and financial developments affecting its region as well as operational matters.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve on the board of directors of the Denver branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. I appreciate the Federal Reserve’s desire to have a community development financial institution’s perspective on the board and I look forward to sharing input on the needs of small businesses at a grassroots level in the communities ACCION serves,” said Haines-Yatskowitz.
“We are pleased to have Anne participate on the Denver branch’s board. She will be a strong director because of her leadership in the community and her ability to provide the Fed with valuable information on the regional economy and local business conditions,” stated Mark Snead, Assistant Vice President and Branch Executive.
ACCION is dedicated to helping small business owners create assets, build wealth, and achieve financial health. The organization offers small business loans between $200 and $150,000 along with training, networking, and other support services to those who want to start a business or business owners looking to expand.
For more information, visit accionnm.org or call (800) 508-7624.