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Law of the West

John Scorsine
Peyton, Colo.

Well, this edition of the Fence Post will hit the streets on April 16, and yet, all of us procrastinators will still have time to file our Federal Income Tax returns. Why’s that? The answer lies in the question, when is the 15th not the 15th? The answer is, when the Internal Revenue Service says so. Actually, due to a convergence of events, Federal Income Tax returns are not due until the 17th for most individuals this year.

Everyone knows that if the tax deadline falls on a weekend it moves to the next business day. So, most everyone thought that the tax filing deadline would be on Monday the 16th. In fact, the IRS thought that was the case, so you will likely find on many forms that the deadline to file is stated as the 16th. But, when the District of Columbia decided to enact Emancipation Day as a holiday to commemorate the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act by President Lincoln in 1862, an obscure federal law was kicked into operation. That law provides that holidays observed in the District of Columbia extend Federal deadlines. So, the next business day after April 15 becomes, for the purpose of filing your taxes, the 17th.

The Holiday was created in 2005 and it commemorates the freeing of 3,100 slaves in the District of Columbia by President Lincoln’s hand. Nine months later, the President would issue the Emancipation Proclamation which lead to the end of slavery throughout the United States. Thanks to the Holiday we get an extra day of freedom from our tax reporting obligation; an occurrence that won’t happen again until 2011.

Let’s say you picked up your Fence Post, and thanks to this article you realize that you have an extra day to work on your taxes and ensure you claimed every deduction and received every credit. What are some common deductions that you may have missed?

– Medical Expenses: When your medical expenses exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income, you may have a deduction. And, you will be surprised what is considered a medical deduction.

– Taxes: Most non-federal taxes are deductible.

– Interest: Interest paid on mortgages and investments, student loans and some boats may be deductible. And, don’t forget the points you may have paid.

– Losses: Losses due to theft and disasters may be deductible.

– Charity: Subject to limitations, contributions to qualified charities are deductible.

There are a slew of special provisions that may help you. Teachers can deduct up to $250 of supplemental equipment; moving expenses; job hunting expenses; some legal and accounting fees; and even gambling losses can all create additional deductions.

For the military families there are a number of special provisions. Travel costs for Reservists and Guardsmen for drill may be deductible. There are special child care deductions for military families. For deployed service members there are special extensions of time to file and income exclusion provisions as well.

A special provision for all us procrastinators concerns the funding of your IRA. You have until the 17th to fund your 2006 IRA.

The big thing with the complexity of the tax code is not to rely upon a few words in an article, but to do it right and if you need to, consult with a tax professional. Your family accountant will generally be able to save you considerably on your tax bill; just because they know where to look and how to make sure you pay only the tax you owe.

So if you need more time, even with those few extra days, don’t be afraid to request an extension. You can request a six-month extension from the IRS. But filing an extension does not mean you can delay paying Uncle Sam if you owe the IRS money. It’s simply an extension to get your paperwork in order. Any delays in paying your taxes will cost you interest and penalties. So, estimate what you may owe and pay it up front.

Now, if there was just some way the District of Columbia could pass a law giving us

The information provided in this column is based upon general principles of law and should not be relied upon in any manner. It is not the intent of this column, its author, publisher or the Fence Post to provide legal advice to any person. You should address specific legal questions to your family lawyer. In Wyoming, the State Bar can refer you to competent lawyers in your community by calling (307) 634-7823. In Colorado, call the Metropolitan Lawyer Referral Service at (303) 831-8000. Readers in Nebraska can receive referrals from the State Bar Association by calling 1-800-742-3005.


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