Money-saving tips on taxes

More than 31 percent of Colorado taxpayers who have filed their federal tax returns did not request the telephone excise tax refund, according to an Internal Revenue Service press release.

As of March 8, out of 647,305 returns filed, 203,815 failed to take advantage of this one-time refund.

The IRS estimates a $6.1 million loss to those Colorado taxpayers. Taxpayers with home telephones or cell phones with long-distance service qualify for the refund.

Approximately 2.1 million returns are expected to be filed by Colorado taxpayers this year.

The IRS wants to remind taxpayers not to forget about this refund. The standard refund amounts range from $30 to $60. If you have telephone records to prove the amount of excise taxes you paid on long-distance service, you can request the actual amount. Most taxpayers are requesting the standard amounts.

There are two ways low-income taxpayers can get help preparing their tax returns and making sure they request the telephone excise tax refund -- Free File and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program.

Taxpayers who made $52,000 or less in 2006 can use Free File, which allows most taxpayers to electronically prepare and file their tax returns at no cost through IRS.gov. More than 2 million taxpayers have used this program so far this year.

How to access Free File: Go to IRS.gov, click "2007 Free File" on the home page and click "Start Now" on the Free File landing page. Taxpayers will see the "Guide Me to a Company" button. When they click it, the wizard will ask a few questions to determine which of the 20 participating tax software companies best fulfill the taxpayer's needs.

Taxpayers who made less than $39,000 in 2006 can use the VITA program. VITA is made up of IRS employees and volunteers trained by the IRS who will help you prepare and file your return face to face at no charge. There are thousands of locations around the country. Colorado taxpayers can find a VITA location near them and the days and hours they are open by calling toll-free 1-800-906-9887.

The IRS strongly recommends e-filing to help prevent common mistakes and insure you don't miss any refunds, deductions or credits for which you may be eligible. Questions can be answered by calling 1-800-829-1040. Those telephone lines are open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in all time zones.

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