Still haven't filed your tax returns? Americans have until midnight Tuesday to send them in, and even the worst of procrastinators still have time and opportunities to meet the deadline. Here are five ways to do it:
1) Did you make under $57,000? File electronically, with software assistance, free:
Electronically filing federal and state returns with tax software isn't just swift – it can be free for people whose adjusted gross income is $57,000 or less. Fifteen companies are offering their tax software for federal returns through the IRS’s website. Some other restrictions – such as age, state and military status – may apply, depending on the company. Some of these companies support free filing for state tax returns; some offer state service for a fee.
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Commenter Leecherius quoted that old saying about death and taxes. Most of us certainly tend to procrastinate about the former, and a sizeable portion prefer to put off the latter. You can always celebrate with wine at the end. So, why do we do wait?
For some, the answer lies in whether or not they owe money. Readers discussed online tax preparation and deadlines.
Sacto06917: "If your return is relatively simple and you earn under circa $65,000 per year, I'd recommend using the online tax filing services like TaxACT or TurboTax Online. That way, you just enter your entity information (name, address and Social Security number), your W-2 information, estimate payment information, and 1099-MISC, 1099-DIV and/or 1099-INT data and let the online system create the return."
jujutsuka: "I guess I don't understand why people wait until the last minute. Unless you've got all kinds of crazy investments or business dealings, it's not really a pain. For the average person who doesn't itemize, doesn't own a business, etc., there's really no excuse to wait ... you just up your stress level by putting it off. I've been using TurboTax for the last few years. I've never had trouble with it."
Pinky: "It's called "Procrastination". or laziness ;)"
ChrisInMN: "This year I owe $750. Why would I or should I pay it early?"
wfrobinette: "I had over $200,000 in income and used Turbo Tax online. Why pay someone to find deductions when they just aren't there.
Some people are feeling a little grouchy about the whole thing. FULL POST
The race to the Republican presidential nomination heads to Louisiana. Watch CNN.com Live Saturday for results and reactions from the Louisiana primary.
Today's programming highlights...
9:30 am ET - IRS tax fraud hearing - IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee on what the agency is doing to fight tax fraud.
Editor's Note: This post is a recap of the top five videos on CNN.com from the past week. So in case you didn't catch our best videos during the week, here is your chance to see what you missed.
This week's top videos ranged from bizarre, to humorous to just plain tragic. From crazy sea creatures to ogling royals to a heart-wrenching rescue, here are this week's five most popular videos.
Was the royal bosom ogled? CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on men caught up to their eyeballs in cleavage.
A woman shot with a Taser by a trooper in Florida, falls into a coma. Jane Velez-Mitchell speaks with her parents.
Check out this strange fish found in a Chinese market, which one man thought had wings and legs.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says if Warren Buffett wants to pay more taxes, he can just write a check
The stranger who rescued a malnourished teen lying on the side of the road speaks with CNN's Brooke Baldwin.
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
One story about Mitt Romney's estimation that he has an effective tax rate of about 15% drew more than 13,000 comments. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a supporter, has called for Romney to release his tax returns, and the South Carolina GOP race is heating up. Romney mentioned that he made about $375,000 in speaker fees, which he called "not very much." Commenters debated whether current tax policies are fair, and they also discussed Romney's views about perceived income disparities.
Romney's money comes from mostly investment-related sources, so his tax rates are somewhat lower than the rate on wages. Fortune's Dan Primack says such lower tax rates (like capital gains rates for profits on investments) are intended to reward taking on the risk of investment and being in business, but also suggests there are loopholes that give some people tax breaks without assuming enough risk to justify it. Readers debated the finer points of taxation policy.
black743: "This isn't a loophole. You invest, you pay 15% on the capital gains. What's so hard to understand about that? He doesn't get a paycheck anymore, he's retired. This is a 15% tax on capital gains of investments. Why can't you people get that through your heads? I would love to see one of you suddenly come into wealth. I'm sure you would just give 35% to the IRS out of the goodness of your hearts, right? I'm so sick of this wealth envy in this country. If we keep raising capital gains taxes on investments, then it's quite easy for folks to just invest in other countries and leave America high and dry."
terre08: "You are wrong. Almost all of his income from Bain was taxed at 15% due to lax regulations when it comes to equity firms. He has a 'pension' as well from Bain where he pays 15% as well for the same reason. It is obviously not called a pension."
The following reader argued capital gains taxes could be raised, since the rates have been higher in the past. (Some are proposing to raise these rates in the future, while others seek to lower them or eliminate the tax entirely.) FULL POST
Congress remains locked in a debate over spending and the proposed payroll tax cut extension. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of the Capitol Hill standoff.
Today's programming highlights...
8:00 am ET - Golden Globe nominations announced - The best in film and TV are revealed as nominations are announced for the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards.
In light of Congress' work to fix the budget and haggle over the payroll tax cut, the perennial debate over the haves and have-nots is heating up. President Obama said Tuesday that some of the wealthiest in America pay far less in federal taxes as a percentage of their income than many lower on the income scale. He said in a speech that "a quarter of all millionaires now pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1%." (These numbers are not fully verifiable.)
The CNNMoney commenter response to this statement was interesting, and both passionate and personal. We heard from several folks who read the story and talked about how they became wealthy.
clr33: "I was a single, broke female with a child. I scratched a living while I put myself through school with no child support (father dead). I am now quite wealthy. I still work over 14 hours a day. I donate 20% of what I make. I set aside 10% more for my son and his family's inheritance. I pay for my parents' mortgage as a means to pay back the help they gave me in a time when I needed someone to watch my son. Why am I condemned now for this? Why must I give over most of my money to those who do not want to work this hard?"
There was also some cynicism about earning wealth.
bobbiss: "I have associated in a partnership with so-called millionaires in my career, as a partner and both were crooks. I went on my own. So my opinion of millionaires is just that, they got their fortunes, as crooks. The system is set up for them to screw people. The system is there to help them succeed. I am retired with money I earned honestly and paid taxes for and still pay taxes. I left these partnerships when I smelled a rat. The Occupy generation needs your support to get it right."
President Obama wants to cut payroll taxes in half to put more money in the pockets of workers under the premise that fatter paychecks mean people will buy more, leading to more jobs.
The White House figures that would put about $1,500 in the pockets of the average working family. That alone would cost the government some $175 billion next year, according to Moody's Analytics.
That’s almost twice what the president wants to spend putting people to work building things like roads, bridges and schools.
But is there any evidence that payroll tax cuts help boost the economy?
Opinions vary, but one thing is certain: It’s hard to predict what families will do with the extra cash, said economist Matthew Shapiro at the University of Michigan.
“Our findings suggest what they will do depends very much on what they expect the near future to look like,” Shapiro said.
If the economy’s looking weak, then people might hang on to that cash, he said.
But, if the economy picks up, “Households might be more comfortable spending the extra cash rather than using it as a buffer against a very uncertain future,” he said.
Shapiro has studied what people said they did with money they saved from payroll tax cuts in 2011. Most of them said they didn’t spend it. They used it to pay off debt or they saved it.
If that’s the case with Obama's latest cuts, that won't add much to economic growth.
That’s why government spending programs on roads, bridges and school repairs give more bang for the buck in boosting the economy, said Lawrence Mishel with the Economic Policy Institute. The government always spends money, though not always quickly.
"The government doesn’t save any money. They don’t pay any debt with it,” Mishel said. “They’re also less likely to generate imports. People, even when they go out and spend, may buy a bunch of stuff from China, which stimulates China, not the U.S."
However, giving workers more money helps in times like these, Mishel said. The money from this year’s payroll tax cut helped families deal with higher food and gasoline prices.
That may give a clue as to why the president's package would put the most money into fattening workers' paychecks - more than he would give in tax breaks to employers and more than he would give to brick-and-mortar projects that create jobs.
Bill McInturff is a Republican pollster whose job is taking the pulse of voters, especially swing voters. He has written about how the spiral in consumer confidence is tied to the downward spiral in people’s confidence in their leaders.
McInturff said he’s hearing one thing over and over in focus groups around the country.
"They’re saying, 'Look, the big banks got a bailout, the car companies got a bailout – who’s left to bail ME out?'"
Click the audio player to hear this story from CNN Radio's Libby Lewis:
In a speech to a joint session of Congress, President Obama told lawmakers to "stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy" by quickly approving a $447 billion package of measures so he can sign it into law.
"The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities. The question tonight is whether we'll meet ours," Obama said to applause. "The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy. The question is whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning."
In detailing the plan, he noted that there was nothing controversial in the bill and that everything was paid for. He spoke specifically to the need to get the economy up and running, help those who are unemployed, and give incentives to businesses that hire the unemployed and groups that are chronically underemployed.
How did you feel about Obama's job plan? We took a look at widespread reader comments, iReport reactions and Twitter reactions to the speech to see whether Obama presented a plan you liked, that you felt would work, or if he disappointed you. More than 16,000 reader comments (as of this post) came flying in, along with numerous iReports and tweets.
Robert Hallman told iReport that as a teacher a substitute teacher in Fort Worth, Texas, he's going to be looking for jobs once he starts an alternative teaching program.
When the president spoke about his job plans, he specifically referenced jobs for military members and teachers, something Hallman was happy to hear.
"If there will be more teaching jobs, that would be good for me," he said. "I have friends in the military as well as some college friends who might benefit by increased job opportunities."
Hallman praised Obama's speech, especially in comparison to how he felt Obama handled the debt ceiling issue, and was hopeful that this speech and bill would change things around.
"During the Deficit Ceiling negotiations the President was a no show, a non participant. He just let the two parties bicker, fight, and whine just like a room full of Kindergartners. Tonight the President had a strong showing. He told the members of Congress that they NEED to work together because WE the the People demand nothing less," Hallman wrote. "Overall the President showed us something that we haven't seen in a long time. A politician with belief and conviction."
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are expected to vote Monday on a deal to raise the debt ceiling and cut the deficit, a compromise that President Barack Obama and leaders in Congress reached on Sunday night.
The votes come one day before the United States faced the prospect of an unprecedented default on the nation's debt. It follows several weeks of stop-and-start, high-stakes negotiations, nail-biting votes in Congress and stern warnings from all sides about the calamitous effect of inaction.
Obama announced the deal in an unscheduled appearance in the White House briefing room at 8:40 p.m. Sunday. News that political leaders appeared to have broken an impasse soothed frayed nerves and almost immediately buoyed global markets.
"There are still some very important votes to be taken by members of Congress, but I want to announce that the leaders of both parties in both chambers have reached an agreement that will reduce the deficit and avoid default," the president said.
The Senate plans a first vote on the deal on Monday afternoon, a Senate Democratic leadership aide told CNN. If the measure passes an expected Republican filibuster attempt, the House could vote on it Monday night, the aide said.
White House officials told CNN that congressional leaders worked hard to reach a deal, but declined to say whether they had been given assurances that the leaders had the votes to deliver its passage.
The proposed deal includes $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years while authorizing an increase in the federal debt ceiling by a slightly smaller amount to allow the government to pay its debts through 2012, according to information from the White House and a presentation for his Republican colleagues by House Speaker John Boehner.FULL STORY
The "debt ceiling" battle is being fought not just in Washington, but all around the United States as people debate on how best to resolve the issue and who is to blame for the crisis.
Many of these people have submitted their thoughts about the topic to CNN in recent days through iReport. Some - be they military personnel, small business owners fearful of tax increases, or people receiving entitlement benefits - called for action as they spoke of the personal impact of failing to reach a resolution.
Others echoed Democratic and Republican leaders' talking points. In the former case, that includes possible revenue hikes and insisting that the debate shouldn't be renewed next year, and in the latter by insisting on no tax increase and movement on a balanced budget amendment that would mandate the nation balance its books.
Below is a sampling of recent iReporters' comments, as the U.S. government creeps closer to an August 2 deadline to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling or default on its debt.
House Speaker John Boehner's debt plan was put on hold Thursday night after lacking the needed votes to pass, but he may try again Friday. The frustration about the inability of Congress and President Barack Obama to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling and prevent a possible government default has sparked a firestorm of anger directed toward Washington.
But there's no shortage of people who believe they have the answer to solving the crisis or who is to blame for it.
As Washington struggles to reach a deal, CNN is listening to what you have to say about the debt fiasco as well thoughts from influential voices, politicians and analysts.
With the both chambers of Congress seemingly unable to come up with a debt-ceiling solution, constitutional law professor Jack Balkin wrote about three ways Obama could bypass Congress and try to solve the crisis on his own.
"We are having a debt-ceiling crisis because Congress has given the president contradictory commands," Balkin said in a CNN.com opinion piece. "Congress has ordered the president to spend money, and it has forbidden him to borrow enough money to obey its orders." But Obama may be able to save the United States from defaulting, he suggests, perhaps by issuing two $1 trillion coins or selling the Federal Reserve an option on $2 trillion in property.
CNN.com readers jumped right into the conversation, discussing whether it would be the right move for Obama to sidestep Congress. One commenter named svscnn said: "I don't know if I'm relieved or concerned about some of the revelations in this article. While they all seem a bit shady, I suppose it's good to know that there are still some executive options on the table to keep us from going over the brink that Congress has brought us to."
Marc J. Yacht said he thinks that Obama is being “held hostage” and that he should stand his ground in the debt-ceiling debate.
“Use your power of the executive order to break the impasse, if you can,” Yacht told CNN's iReport. “Not raisng the debt ceiling undermines this country's stability. Equity and balance has to be the driving force in this debate.”
Skip Wininge, another iReporter, got so fed up with Congress’ inability to reform the tax structure that he has devised a plan of his own. He uploaded his thoughts to iReport, explaining, “Don’t pay for wars and tax cuts on the backs of senior citizens who barely get by on Social Security and Medicare. They have already paid their dues."
Another solution? "If far-right conservatives can't listen to reason, maybe they will listen to Ronald Reagan," CNN contributor John Avlon argues.
Still haven't filed your tax returns? Americans have until midnight Monday to send them in, and even the worst of procrastinators still have time and opportunities to meet the deadline. Here are five ways to do it:
1) Did you make under $58,000? File electronically, with software assistance, free:
Electronically filing federal and state returns with tax software isn't just swift - it can be free for people whose adjusted gross income is $58,000 or less. Twenty companies are offering their tax software for federal returns through the IRS' website. Some other restrictions - such as age, state and military status - may apply, depending on the company. Some of these companies support free filing for state tax returns; some offer state service for a fee.
Tax Day: Today is the deadline to file your federal income taxes for 2010.
The Internal Revenue Service has a free electronic filing service available for those who make less than $58,000 a year. Get details on that service here. Other electronic filing options are also available from the IRS as well as information on how to file extensions.
For those filing on paper, the U.S. Postal Service is extending hours at locations around the country so taxpayers can meet the midnight deadline.
Taxes can wait: It is April 15, the usual deadline to file federal tax returns. But if you haven't filed your return for 2010 yet, don't stress it today.
You have until Monday to get your return in.
CNNMoney reports that the later deadline comes because tomorrow is Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. But as the holiday falls on a Saturday, it is being celebrated today. And because tax filing deadlines can't be on holidays or weekends, taxpayers get the extra filing time.
The holiday celebrates the freeing of the slaves in the nation's capital.
More tornadoes possible: Severe weather, including tornadoes, will be a possibility across northern Mississippi and Alabama and into central Tennessee on Friday afternoon.
The storm system will then press forward into Georgia and the Carolinas overnight Friday and into Saturday morning. The forecast from the National Weather Service says the primary threat in those states will be damaging thunderstorm winds, but there also will be the possibility of isolated tornadoes.
Two deaths were reported overnight in the southeast Oklahoma town of Tushka, where the state Department of Emergency Management said a "relatively large" tornado sliced through the area. Two other fatalities were reported in western Garland County in Arkansas early Friday after a tree fell on a house, the sheriff's office said.
Budget deal: President Barack Obama on Friday is expected to sign the budget deal reached last week to avert a government shutdown.
The measure cuts $38.5 billion in spending while funding the government for the rest of the current fiscal year, which ends September 30.
The House and Senate passed the deal on Thursday.
A roundup of today's CNNMoney news:
$4/gallon for gas? Depends where you live: Gas prices vary a lot depending on the state, city and even the block where you buy your gas. The biggest reason is taxes.
Americans still hungry for SUVs: High gas prices aren't affecting car sales. General Motors said it saw strong demand for the Silverado pickup, which posted a 60% gain in sales, and an 84% increase in retail sales to consumers.
Hot cars from the Geneva Auto Show: From Lamborghinis to Ferraris, take a sneak peek at the hottest new cars.
20 years old, $30k in debt, no degree: Stephanie Peter dropped out of school because of financial stress. Now she's stuck with loads of debt and no degree.
$1.1 billion in unclaimed 2007 tax refunds: Half of those who failed to file are owed a refund of $640 or more. And it could be even more: The median potential 2007 refund for people living in Wyoming was $788, while New Hampshire residents are owed a median refund of $741.
A roundup of today’s CNNMoney news:
Verizon iPhone will go on sale Feb. 10: If you’re a Verizon lover who has been craving an iPhone, the wait is over. Starting February 3, Verizon customers will be able to pre-order their phones. For everyone else, the Verizon iPhone will launch Feb. 10. The cost: $199 for a 16 GB device and $299 for the 32 GB version, the same prices AT&T offers. One cool feature: A built-in ability to use it as a wireless hotspot and connect up to five additional devices. The downside: No 4G…yet.
Your smartphone could be your most valuable possession: A few years ago, if your phone was stolen, the worst that would happen was the thief could make prank calls or read your text messages. Today, that same person can destroy your social life and steal your bank account.
Maserati SUV with Ferrari engine: Built on the platform of Jeep Grand Cherokee at the Chrysler Group plant in Detroit, the new SUV is expected to make its debut in 2012. As the Detroit Auto Show comes to a close, check out the 15 hottest cars of the future.
Attack of the inflation hawks: The Fed started a $600 billion bond-buying program in November and not everyone is on board with it. Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher wasn’t a voting member at the time, but he and two other outspoken critics have rotated into voting position.
Do or die for Illinois tax hike: The state is facing a $13 billion shortfall that must be resolved by June 30. Plus, Illinois has $6 billion in unpaid bills to social service agencies, health care providers, contractors and others. State lawmakers are scrambling to pass massive personal and corporate income tax hikes before the Democratic majority lose some seats to Republicans on Wednesday.
A group of academics has created a website where users can calculate how much the recently renewed federal tax cuts are worth to them and donate that amount to charity.
GiveItBackForJobs.org "is intended both to make it easy for those with extra moolah to donate and to send a political message that they are doing so," according to the ABA Journal.
Three Ivy League professors, a law student and a designer created the site out of opposition to the extension of tax benefits for the wealthy, the founders write on the site.
"GiveItBackforJobs enables joint action, by all visitors to this site, to redirect our Bush tax cuts to the wise and just programs that our government would promote if it had not been hijacked," they write.
So about that lame-duck Congress.
After midterm elections, predictions abounded that the next few months were going to be brutal in the halls of Congress – with fighting between the GOP and Democrats, fillibusters aplenty and all around disagreement, meaning nothing was going to get done – despite a massive agenda for the Obama administration.
But now, shortly before the holidays, in what many might have said in November would only happen if there were a Christmas miracle, key pieces of legislation have been signed into law, practically back-to-back. Some, such as the DREAM Act, failed a procedural vote in the Senate. The bill would have offered a path to citizenship to some illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children. President Barack Obama called the defeat his "biggest disappointment."
Still, with everything happening so fast, it was blink, and you missed if legislation passed or failed.
So, we figured we'd help you catch up, take a look at where things stand and perhaps re-dub the group of lawmakers many thought couldn't even sit in the same room together as the not so lame-duck Congress after all.
President Barack Obama signing the $858 billion tax bill into law Friday, calling it a "substantial victory for middle class families across the country."
Vice President Joe Biden said the tax bill is a result of politicians on both sides of the aisle coming together to act on behalf of Americans.
"I stand here today to say our fight has paid off," he told reporters at the bill signing.Read more about the tax deal