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Quick Hits: A Kinder, Gentler IRS?


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

The Internal Revenue Service vows to be kinder and gentler during the economic downturn.

No kidding – or at least that's what they say.

"We need to ensure that we balance our responsibility to enforce the law with the economic realities facing many American citizens today," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said in a prepared statement. "The IRS can reduce monthly payments, suspend collections, permit a skipped payment or take other actions needed to help taxpayers avoid default. Those who can't pay the federal taxes this year can contact the IRS and make an arrangement to avoid penalties."

The flipside: The IRS seeks to put more money into the hands of taxpayers through deductions and credits.

The Recovery Rebate Credit is calculated like last year's Economic Stimulus Payment except that the credit amounts are based on tax year 2008 instead of 2007. Most taxpayers have received the full benefit in an Economic Stimulus Payment. However, taxpayers may qualify for the Recovery Rebate Credit if they didn't receive a stimulus payment, had a kid in 2008 or experienced a change in income level. If applicable, the credit will be included in the taxpayer's refund and won't be issued as a separate check.

The IRS says it may allow a skipped payment or a reduced monthly payment amount without automatically suspending the installment agreement.

Next to "It's cancer," perhaps the most chilling words anyone can hear are, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help."

But at least give the good old groovy IRS credit for trying.
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