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taxesI am one of the world's leading procrastinators. Last night I finished and hit "transmit" on my E-filed taxes at exactly 11:59 p.m. I had planned to do my taxes in February, of course, and then... all of the sudden it was April 15th, and it was nearly midnight. What some people do for an adrenaline rush, hmmm?

But in previous years I've done far worse. Last year I managed to get my Federal taxes to the post office by 11:56 p.m. on tax day... my Federal taxes for 2005. It wasn't until a few days later that I finished my Federal and state taxes for 2006, and my state taxes for 2005. So I know exactly what happens to a person who doesn't file her (or his) taxes on time.

Did you miss the deadline? Did you forget to file an extension, or just not get around to it? Are you, too, a tax delinquent? Firstly: take a deep breath. No one is going to throw you in prison for sending in your taxes a few days late. They won't even call or write, not for several months (and, if you haven't filed in previous years, they could never call or write, depending on whether or not you have had income reported to government agencies). If you manage to get them in a reasonable time frame (less than six months), you'll just be paying a small penalty and interest (if you owe taxes), as much as 4.5% and more if your taxes are more than 60 days late (at least $100, or a penalty equal to the whole amount you owe, whichever is smaller).

What if you're owed a refund?While it will be in your best interest to get your taxes in on April 15 (especially if you're due a rebate in the Economic Stimulus Plan -- if you haven't filed by the end of the week, chances are you won't get one at all), there is no need to fret. You could go several years without penalty, in fact, and if the IRS chooses, you could be paid interest on your refund when you do file (though they're only obligated to pay interest if the refund is delayed by some fault of the agency's).

If you're paying ridiculously late (as *cough* someone I know did in 2004, self-employed and badly underestimating her tax liability), the IRS will start asking you for money a few months after you file. You'll be given a chance to set up payment plans before they go to the extreme measure of attaching assets. If you owe back taxes, for instance, they'll be taken out of your Stimulus Package check.

What if you never file, even though you owe taxes? I haven't personally been in this situation, and many states are more eager to collect their money than the IRS is (or maybe they just have more staff). If you owe back taxes, you're more likely to be flagged than if you never have filed. And you can go to jail for failing to file taxes when you owe money, though the IRS is friendly to those who file "voluntarily" even if they can't pay right away.

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Cities with the Lowest Tax Rates

The total amount of tax you pay reaches far beyond what you owe the federal government. Depending on where you live, most likely you're required to pay additional taxes, including property and sales tax. The disparity between the amount of tax you pay in a low-tax city and that in a high-tax city can be dramatic. Living in any of these 10 cities could save you a bundle, although the exact amount may fluctuate based on your income and lifestyle choices.

Cities with the Highest Tax Rates

Much ado is made in the press about federal tax brackets, but cities can carry a tax bite of their own. Even if you live in a state that has no income tax, your city may levy a variety of taxes that could eat away the entire benefit of living in an income tax-free state, including property taxes, sales taxes and auto taxes. Consider all the costs before you move to one of these cities, and understand that rates may change based on your family's income level.

Great Ways to Get Charitable Tax Deductions

Generally, when you give money to a charity, you can use the amount of that donation as a deduction on your tax return. However, not all charities qualify as tax-deductible organizations. While there are many types of charities, they must all meet certain criteria to be classified by the IRS as tax-deductible organizations. There are legitimate tax-deductible organizations in many popular categories, such as those listed below.

A Freelancer's Guide to Taxes

Freelancing certainly has its benefits, but it can result in a few complications come tax time. The Internal Revenue Service considers freelancers to be self-employed, so if you earn income as a freelancer you must file your taxes as a business owner. While you can take additional deductions if you are self-employed, you'll also face additional taxes in the form of the self-employment tax. Here are things to consider as a freelancer when filing your taxes.

Tax Deductions for Voluntary Interest Payments on Student Loans

Most taxpayers who pay interest on student loans can take a tax deduction for the expense ? and you can do this regardless of whether you itemize tax deductions on your return. The rules for claiming the deduction are the same whether the interest payments were required or voluntary.

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