Biz Bits: Avoid these common mistakes on your taxes

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

The bad news? With so many changes made for the 2008 tax season, some taxpayers are bound to make a mistake on returns. The good news? You can save time and money by learning from the mistakes of others who have already filed. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll highlight some common areas in which taxpayers make mistakes.

Recovery Rebate Credit

The Internal Revenue Service reported that nearly 15 percent of 2008 tax returns filed by the end of January included errors involving last year's federal stimulus payments. The recovery rebate credit is a one-time benefit for taxpayers who didn't receive the full economic stimulus payment last year and whose family circumstances may have changed (making them eligible for some or all of the rebate amount). Here's what you need to know in order to correctly report your recovery rebate credit:

- Only about 3 percent of taxpayers will receive a recovery rebate credit.

- Although your 2008 stimulus payment amount will not appear on your return, you need to know the amount in order to figure your recovery rebate credit. You can find your payment amount on Notice 1378 the IRS sent to those who received the payment, by visiting www.IRS.gov or by calling the IRS at 866-234-2942. Quality tax-preparation software will determine your eligibility by simply asking you for your payment amount.

- Any recovery rebate credit you receive will be added to your refund or subtracted from the amount you owe on your return.

-- ARA

The List

When the going gets tough at work, it might be hard to say the right thing, but Barbara Pachter, author of “The Power of Positive Confrontation,” says workers should focus on remaining positive. Here are her six ways to be verbally graceful during tough times:

1. Let it go: Understanding that people are under a lot of pressure can allow you to cut the person some slack.

2. Agree with the comment: You can agree with what the person said but add additional information that turns the comment around, such as, “You’re right. We did put a lot of people on this project because it’s important to get this information out to our customers at this time.”   

3. Ask for clarification: Probing makes you less likely to appear wounded by an attack, and it also buys you some time to calm down and collect your thoughts.

4. Acknowledge what you have heard: First acknowledge what was said: “I understand your frustration,” or “I hear what you are saying.” Then use “and,” not “but,” to provide clarifying information, because using but negates what comes before it.

5. Respectfully disagree: Be polite but firm. You can say, “I disagree, and here’s why.”

6. Postpone the discussion: Sometimes it is best to talk to the person privately. Say something like, “You obviously have strong feelings. Let’s get together after the meeting so we can discuss this issue in more depth.”

Quote of Note

"There is hardly any escape from this recession. With state unemployment rates rising so quickly, it reinforces the notion of a 10 percent national unemployment by the end of the year."

Steven Cochrane of Economy.com as quoted by The Associated Press on numbers showing unemployment is hitting double digits in states more quickly than expected.

Number to Know

$23.9 billion: Amount of money Freddie Mac lost in the fourth quarter of 2008. As a result, the mortgage company is asking the government for more bailout money.

GateHouse News Service