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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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Starting in 2014, the Individual Shared Responsibility provision of the Affordable Care Act made you responsible for having minimum essential coverage, or MEC, in health insurance. Otherwise, you need to be eligible for a health care exemption, or you could pay a penalty when filing your income tax return. This requirement for minimum essential coverage applies to smokers and nonsmokers alike. If you're not covered by an employer's health plan and are a smoker, you can go to the health care marketplace to find MEC. If you're still unable to comply, you may have a penalty applied.

5 Steps to Navigate the Healthcare Marketplaces

To navigate the Health Insurance Marketplace, you have to know what you want from a health plan. Have your previous plan handy to make comparisons, as well as household and income information. If this is your first health plan, be aware of your needs and know your tax situation. Eligibility depends on the size of your family and combined income from all sources.

What Is Form 8941: Credit for Small Employer Health Insurance Premiums

Small business owners who subsidize the cost of employee health insurance premiums may be able to get some of that money back by claiming the credit for small employer health insurance premiums on their taxes. Some of the eligibility requirements, however, limit the number of people a business can employ and the average annual wages they earn. Qualifying as a small employer can reduce your tax bill by the amount of the credit you report on Form 8941.

What Is Form 8911: Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit

In light of rising gasoline prices and environmental concerns, consumers have become more receptive to buying cars and trucks that run on types of fuel other than gasoline. The U.S. government introduced a tax incentive to encourage the installation of facilities to store or dispense alternative fuels in 1992. That incentive has evolved into a tax credit that also applies to equipment that recharges electric cars. If you equipped your home or business to accommodate alternative fuel vehicles, you may be able to use Form 8911: Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit to reduce your federal tax obligation.

What Is Form 8885: Health Coverage Tax Credit

The health coverage tax credit is a program in place for tax years from 2002 to 2013 to help eligible individuals and families by paying a portion of premiums for qualified health insurance programs. Since the legislation authorizing the credit expired in January 2014, tax returns filed in 2014 for the 2013 tax year represent the last time eligible taxpayers can claim the credit.

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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