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5 Simple Rules for Keeping Your Tax Bill in Check

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Governments on the federal, state, and local levels are all scrambling to collect cash ... from you, dear taxpayer.

It's getting a lot harder to stay current with all the tax-law changes and to keep your tax bill under control. It's all about identifying favorable provisions and steering clear of traps for the unwary. Follow these five rules and you can minimize the pain.


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What if you've sent in your income tax return for a previous year and then discover you made a mistake? You can make things right by filing an amended tax return. And, don't think an amended return will automatically cost you money; it's perfectly okay to change a return to capture a tax break you missed the first time around.

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If you receive tax form 1099-MISC for services you provide to a client as an independent contractor and the annual payments you receive total $400 or more, you'll need to file your taxes a little differently than a taxpayer who only receives regular employment income reported on a W-2.

What If I Did Not File My State Taxes?

At the time of this writing, the only states that do not charge a state income tax are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. If you live or earn money in one of the other 41 states or the District of Columbia, you may need to file a state income tax return by April 15. It is a separate and independent requirement from filing your federal tax return and failure to file it on time may result in interest and penalty charges.

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