No Time to Waste on Tax Returns

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Morning Money Memo:

The clock is ticking down on the deadline to file your 2013 tax returns. You must file something by midnight or face a penalty. April 15 is when the bill is due for any taxes owed. "The late payment penalties that accrue when your file late can be substantial." Eric Smith of the IRS said. And the charge for filing late can be even worse. But you can easily get more time to fill in the forms. Using form 4868 "you can file the extension and give yourself piece of mind," tax accountant Janice Hayman says. You get an additional six months to do the paper work. "It gives people the chance to do things properly," she says.

Your chances of facing an audit are small unless you are a high income earner. The IRS audited less than 1 percent of income tax returns last year. The audit rate is 0.88 percent for incomes less than $200,000. But wealthy taxpayers are much more likely to face questions about their returns. The audit rate last year was 11 percent for people earning $1 million and above, according to the IRS.

To ease the pain of filing, April 15 is freebie day at many retailers and fast-food restaurants. Some special offers come with gimmicks. At Boston Market, two chicken meals with two sides and cornbread come for $10.40 today. And you'll be entered to win one of 1,040 free rib dinners. If you buy an adult entree at Chili's, you'll get a free appetizer or free kid's meal today. Dunkin' Donuts, Arby's, Pizza Hut and McDonald's also have tax-day freebies. At Office Depot, you can have 5 pounds of documents shredded for free between now and April 29.

After objections by some taxpayers, the Social Security Administration has decided to stop trying to collect on taxpayers' debts that are more than 10 years old. Until now, the U.S. Treasury was seizing state and federal tax refunds that were due to be sent out to hundreds of thousands of people. The Washington Post said the cases involved children of those who owed money because of over-payments of Social Security benefits. Many of these debts were decades old. Some of the taxpayers who had their refunds seized said they'd never heard of money being owed to the government.

New U.S. Energy Department numbers show average U.S. gasoline prices rose 6 cents in the past week to $3.65 per gallon for regular. Industry analysts say refinery maintenance is to blame. Most have been switching over to less-polluting summer gas blends.

Google is heading for the skies. The world's largest search firm says it's buying Titan Aerospace, a New Mexico-based start-up that makes solar-powered drones. Google rival Facebook bought another drone start-up last month.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow

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