Tips and tricks to make next years tax filing more fun

Daily Sundial

Tomorrow is the “dreaded” tax filing deadline for both state and federal taxes. I’ve put “dreaded” in quotations because college students don’t really have that much to “dread” when filing taxes.

Most college students don’t make or spend enough to create a long, hard-to-follow set of claims or deductions, and in the event of the realistically dreaded audit, major purchases are few and far between, and receipts are easy to track down. Still, there is enough at stake for college students to be justifiably panicked over it.

So unless you’re a complete doofus who likes spending your Thursday night watching “The Apprentice 3” and sorting through mindless Internal Revenue Service forms, there are a couple of things you can do before April 15, 2006, to make the experience a little less of a drag next time around:

1) Spend this year’s refund on something ridiculous. Most students get something back, even if it’s small. If you’re 21, do your best to go on what most people define as a “bender.”

Spend three or four days before the start of the fall semester in Vegas, gambling money that Uncle Sam has owed you all along. If your state and federal refunds aren’t really enough for a night at Paris in Vegas, and they’re more in the vicinity of $14 and $19 respectively, then perhaps a trip to Casino Morongo is in order.

2) To increase your chances of getting a refund back on next year’s taxes, start making needlessly generous charitable contributions. In other words, just start donating important parts of your life without reason.

Give your car to that charity for the blind that’s always advertising on late-night TV. Donate all of your electronics, books, and clothing to a charitable organization, and save those receipts! Take the vow of poverty and give it all away.

If you have pets, children, or anybody in your personal care, you can donate them to charity, too, in addition to deducting their dependence on you from your taxes.

3) If you didn’t use a tax-filing service like H’R Block or a computer program like TurboTax, you might want to consider it. You can do your state and federal for just around $30 or $40 each, and you might get lucky with the refunds, even though the places can be a bit conservative with things. Also, a group of CSUN business and accounting majors have a little tax-help program they do called Volunteer Income Tax Assistance that helps students and low-income taxpayers with their filings.

Or, if you’re feeling lucky, let the dumbest person you know fill out your forms and see what happens. That’s bound to be entertaining. And heartbreakingly irresponsible.

4) Rat one of your friends out to the IRS. If you turn in someone who is found to be a genuine, Capone-style tax cheat to the investigative arm of the IRS, they’ll give you 15 percent of the amount they recover in missed taxes and penalties. So, do some detective work, find out who’s giving Uncle Sam the short end of the stick, and send them to federal prison. It’s honest, it’s fair, and it’ll extend your Vegas bender into a weeklong escapade.

5) Keep an eye on changing tax law, and your own changing life. Did you know that people who bought SUVs in previous years could write-off a portion of the cost if the vehicles were for “business-use?” That loophole got a little tighter this year as President Bush — yes, that President Bush — actually signed a law calling this practice into check.

You never know what else could change, including your place of residence. Finding out which state to file taxes in is complicated if your parents and your “permanent residence” are in a different state. My brother accidentally filed taxes in two separate states one year because my family still lives in Illinois and he lives in New York. So, be careful.