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'60 Minute Tax Planner' Gives Last-Minute Advice for FilingAired April 8, 2000 - 9:04 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, speaking of tax and spending, it's that time of year again. If you haven't filed your income tax return, time is running out.
But with us this morning to talk about all of this, overlooked deductions and mistakes to avoid, is Ed Lyon, author of "The 60 Minute Tax Planner."
Now, I'm told you are the funniest tax man alive.
ED LYON, "THE 60 MINUTE TAX PLANNER": Well, I look for deductions like animal sacrifice and Bob Dole's Viagra. We need all the help we can get at tax time, and a little humor goes a long way.
PHILLIPS: Oh, my. And where do you find your humor?
LYON: Where do I find my humor? Some deep recess inside myself.
PHILLIPS: Now, how did you get dubbed the funniest tax guy?
LYON: Just looking for a collection of more interesting tax deductions. Business expenses of running an illegal business, for example. The IRS just wants their money. They're not interested in passing moral judgments. If you're a bookie, you can write off your phone lines.
PHILLIPS: Amazing. That is humorous.
All right, on a serious note, though, let's talk about new tax deductions. You did mention a number of those. Let's go over some of those.
LYON: Well, this year we haven't had a lot of major change in the tax code. The Congress and the president don't like each other very much, so they...
PHILLIPS: Really? That's new news.
LYON: They couldn't agree on a big tax bill. But we do have a couple of nice bonuses. The child tax credit has gone up this year from $400 to $500 per child. That doesn't sound like much, but a credit is an actual dollar-for-dollar cut in your tax, not just your taxable income, so it's the equivalent of a $500 deduction for most of us. Also, people who have home offices can take a more liberal deduction this year. If you use your home office to manage a business that you actually conduct outside the home, now you can deduct those expenses as well.
PHILLIPS: Now, you say there's a lot of overlooked deductions. How do we know who to go to, that will be up on those overlooked deductions?
LYON: If you aren't comfortable filing your own taxes, you should have a regular relationship with your tax preparer. It's not -- they're not somebody you should just see on April 15. Your tax form is really your financial report card for the year. And if you have changes in your life like a baby or a marriage or buying a house, that's going to affect your taxes.
You can go to your employer, you can file a new W-4, you can start putting money in your paycheck now, or you can start withholding extra. But a good tax preparer is the person who will keep you up on those changes.
PHILLIPS: Now, you find a lot of humor in a very stressful situation. Give us a little advice, OK?
LYON: Lighten up, it's only money.
PHILLIPS: Oh, yeah, easy for you to say!
OK, well, I know you have a Web site. We're going to take that, and let's talk a little bit about that. Tell us what your Web site offers and what we can find here.
LYON: It offers a dictionary of over 400 deductions, credits, loopholes, and strategies. When I say that it's important to know what's available out there, that's a real good list of the deductions, things that you can do.
PHILLIPS: Now, do you add a little humor on your Web site also, and talk about some of the funniest deductions?
LYON: There's a Web page for the 10 funniest tax deductions, and including some that I'm not going to mention on a family program.
PHILLIPS: Can you give us a few more? You mentioned Bob Dole's Viagra.
LYON: Bob Dole's Viagra. If you're in a car crash when you're driving for business, you can deduct the expenses of settling the car crash. I think I mentioned earlier illegal business expenses. Boob jobs for strippers.
PHILLIPS: Oh, my goodness. Can we say that on CNN? Help!
All right, we also have a hotline, an IRS hotline for those who can't plug into your Web site or can't get online. Here it is right here. Do you think this is helpful, their hotline? I mean, are there issues that they can address that maybe you can't find on the Web?
LYON: Absolutely. And if you don't have Web access, the IRS has done a really good job of making information available. You can get tax forms by calling 1-800-TAXFORM, very clever of them. Like I mentioned at the top of the segment, they're just interested in getting their money.
PHILLIPS: And we're interested in getting money back, that's the key.
LYON: Absolutely, absolutely.
PHILLIPS: Ed Lyon, the book is "60 Minute Tax Planner." Thanks so much for being with us.
LYON: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: You lightened it up a little bit.
PHILLIPS: All right.
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