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Your Taxes Are Due!

Liberty TaxBy Blake Ellis @CNNMoney

Unless you've filed for an extension, today is the last day to get your taxes turned in to the IRS.

Once the clock strikes midnight, those who owe will start accruing penalties -- which can range as high as 25% of your total tax bill.

Tuesday also happens to be Tax Freedom Day, the day when the average American has worked enough days so far this year to be freed from their tax burdens, according to the Tax Foundation's annual report. That means most Americans had to work 107 days into the year just to earn enough money to pay their tax bills, and the average taxpayer has spent an average of 29% of their income on federal, state and local taxes in 2012.

Taxpayers were given two extra days to file their taxes this year. While there will surely be a wave of last-minute procrastinators, most taxpayers have already filed. The IRS has received 99 million tax returns so far this season, according to the agency's latest filing statistics. That's a 2% increase from this time last year.

Of those taxpayers, about 86 million, or 87%, filed electronically -- a 3% jump from last year. Most electronic filers, or 62%, used tax preparers, while 38% filed their taxes on their own.

As more people file, refunds have been slipping. The average refund is $2,794 so far this season -- down about 3.5% from last year.

But depending on the credits you're able to claim, your refund may wind up being much larger than that. The adoption tax credit, for example, gives qualifying taxpayers up to more than $13,000 per adopted child. Meanwhile, the Earned Income Tax Credit gives tens of millions of taxpayers who have low-paying jobs a credit of up to nearly $6,000 based on their income and the number of children they claim as dependents.

There are also several tax perks available for job seekers. If you lost a job or were unemployed during the year, make sure you claimed all of your job search-related expenses, including travel, resume printing and the cost of hiring a headhunter.

Beyond job hunting expenses, taxpayers have been successful at deducting some very unusual items -- like carrier pigeons, fake eyelashes and a security bulldog -- as business expenses. Just be careful about how far you go when deciding what to deduct. Other attempted write-offs -- like a Playboy magazine subscription and pole dancing classes -- weren't given the green light.

Gallery: 11 tax audit red flags
audit red flags gallery

If the IRS sees something unusual on your return, you could become a prime target for an audit. Red flags include claiming suspiciously high charitable contributions, taking the home office deduction and reporting high levels of income.

While the overall chance of being audited is very low, at 1.1%, your odds of getting hit with an audit rise dramatically the more income you report. The IRS dealt audits to 21% of taxpayers with income between $5 million and $10 million, and 30% of the nation's highest earners -- reporting income of $10 million or more.

And, if you're flirting with the idea of not turning in your taxes at all, you may want to think twice before using what the IRS considers to be "frivolous" tax evasion arguments, like claiming that tax forms contain the "mark of the beast" or that your state isn't technically part of the United States. The IRS does not find these amusing, and you could end up going to court and being slapped with big penalties.

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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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Today is a tax deadline for only 53% of Americans... the other 47% couldn't care less.

April 17 2012 at 11:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

who wants to give a totally fiscally irresponsible congress money? not me!

April 17 2012 at 8:34 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Ignorance of current tax code is the same as ignorance of any other laws, yet, you'd have to go to school full time to keep up with the crap these politicans and the IRS keep churning out. "So, hire an accountant". One should not have to hire someone in order to competently pay his or her taxes. SIMPLIFY TAXES. GO TO A FLAT TAX SYSTEM!

April 17 2012 at 8:05 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Mrs Linda Krause

Ha !!! I should pay taxes so these idiots can go & party !!!!!! Not to mention supporting their mistrisses & their baby's mammas & condos in Fla. or wherever else they can escape to !!!!! Gee ! Whats wrong with this picture......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

April 17 2012 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Read Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution and then call up the IRS and ask them: what PATICULAR LAW requires you to file and pay PERSONAL income taxes. Hint: thay won't quote you one because there isn't one, otherwise it would be in conflict with article 1, section 9. Check it out!!

April 17 2012 at 7:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Patriot597a's comment

Actually they will say---look at the 16th amendment

April 17 2012 at 8:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Henry ptnm

Also read Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution: The Congress Shall have the Power to Lay and Collect Taxes. And there is Amendment 16. Learn the Constitution.

April 18 2012 at 5:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama has his hand out! Taxes are far too high!

April 17 2012 at 3:51 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Timmy Treasury Secratary...Your taxes are due

April 17 2012 at 2:52 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to greatqb44's comment

No he cheats, and the gun runner will not proscecute.

April 17 2012 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yes we know our taxes are due im sure theres a big party in las vagas planned

April 17 2012 at 1:53 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

We are retired, going thru the steps the system is requesting employee iknflo. How do we skip this caategory?

April 17 2012 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hey mitt when you gonna pay up ?????????????????????

April 17 2012 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to gbuddha2012's comment

He undoubtedly paid all the taxes he owed at the time he filed for his extension, as is required under the law. However, I get the sense that you have only a tenuous relationship with the truth, and never let it get in the way of a good narrative.

April 17 2012 at 1:44 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to indisposed99999's comment

strap the sob to a lie box and let it rip... question: mr romney have you ever in your life deliberately falsified your tax returns? --- live coast to coast on all networks --- haha ha

April 17 2012 at 2:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down

you do know 40 members of omaba's crew owe over 1 million in taxes total and his treasury sec is a tax cheat....you do know that...please say you do

April 17 2012 at 2:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to greatqb44's comment

Is this FACT..or made up by you?? Interesting indeed...

April 17 2012 at 3:46 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down