Get a Bigger Tax Refund this Year

Several changes in tax legislation took place in 2006, and consumers may not be aware of what is new for this filing season. As taxpayers receive their tax information, they should familiarize themselves with a few important provisions to make the most of their 2006 tax refund opportunities. Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) outlines some of these changes below.

Taxes Paid on Phone Service Recent court decisions have permitted a one-time refund of previously collected federal telephone excise taxes. Certain individuals who paid long- distance excise taxes after Feb. 28, 2003, and before Aug. 1, 2006, are eligible for a refund on their 2006 return. The maximum refund is $60.

Charitable Contributions All cash donation deductions made after Aug. 17, 2006 must be substantiated with a dated receipt. Donations of household items or clothing will only be deductible if they are in good condition or better.

Earned Income Tax Credits The income limit for those claiming the earned income tax credit has increased. In addition, the maximum amount of allowable investment income was increased to $2,800.

College Savings Plans Earnings on contributions made to qualified prepaid tuition plans are now permanently exempt from federal taxes. They are also exempt from state taxes in Pennsylvania.

Direct Deposit Options Taxpayers who choose to have their refunds directly deposited may now split their deposit into as many as three different accounts. Deposits can be made to accounts with valid routing and account numbers, including checking, savings, and IRA accounts.

These are only a few of the new or extended tax provisions that may affect 2006 tax returns. Qualifications for these and other tax credits and deductions can get complicated. Consumers should consult with a licensed, professional tax advisor, like a CPA, to help them navigate the requirements and determine how they can benefit from the new and existing tax provisions.

Consumers in Pennsylvania can access free online advice and search for a CPA by visiting the Pennsylvania Institute of CPA's consumer Web site, http://www.IneedaCPA.org.

Contact Communications Manager Meg Killian at (215) 496-9272, ext. 186, or Communications Coordinator Jim DeLuccia at ext. 365 to set up an interview with a CPA, or e-mail mediaresources@picpa.org. Founded in 1897, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants is a professional association of more than 19,000 CPAs who work in public accounting, industry, government, and education. PICPA is the second- oldest state CPA organization in the United States.

To find a member CPA in your area, visit our Web site at http://www.picpa.org and click on CPA Locator. Students and educators can visit PICPA's specially designed site http://www.CPAzone.org to get the latest information about careers in accounting and the CPA profession. SOURCE Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants

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