Friday, February 23, 2007

Telephone Tax Refunds

by Morgan Shepard
10 Million Taxpayers Miss Out on Telephone Tax Refunds; IRS Urges People to Check before Filing

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today urged taxpayers to check to see if they qualify for the telephone excise tax refund after more than 10 million early filers did not request the one-time refund.
In the first release of this year’s weekly filing season statistics, about 30 percent of all taxpayers did not request the telephone tax refund.
“Many taxpayers are overlooking this special refund and the chance to get a bigger refund,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “We encourage taxpayers to spend a few extra minutes reviewing their tax return to make sure they are making an accurate request. A little extra time can mean a bigger refund check.”
The government stopped collecting the long-distance excise tax last August after several federal court decisions held that the tax does not apply to long-distance service as it is billed today. Federal officials also authorized a one-time refund of the federal excise tax collected on service billed during the previous 41 months, stretching from the beginning of March 2003 to the end of July 2006. The tax continues to apply to local-only phone service.
To make the refund easier to figure, the government established a standard refund amount, based on personal exemptions, ranging from $30 to $60. If taxpayers have phone bills and other records, they can request the actual amount of excise tax paid. Though using the standard amount is optional, it is easy to figure and approximates the eligible amount for most individual taxpayers. Taxpayers only have to fill out one line on their return, and they don’t need to present proof to the IRS.
Out of the tax returns filed through Feb. 16, more than 10 million taxpayers did not request the telephone tax refund. And nearly half of those returns — more than 4.8 million — were completed by a tax preparer.
“We are surprised how many tax preparers are overlooking the telephone tax refund,” Everson said. “We want all taxpayers entitled to this refund to get it, whether they are using a tax preparer or doing the return themselves.”
In other statistics released today, early filings show e-file returns are up nearly 3 percent and e-filed returns prepared on home computers up 7 percent compared to last year. Through Feb. 16, the average refund is $2,733, nearly $100 above last year.
For people requesting the telephone tax refund, it adds $30 to $60 — or even more — onto a refund. The IRS wants to make it as easy as possible for anyone who paid the tax to get this special refund. If you paid the tax and haven’t filed yet, here are some tips to help you figure the refund correctly and get it quickly:
File electronically. Electronic-filing software flags often overlooked tax breaks and helps you figure them accurately and report them properly. If you use a professional tax preparer, ask that person to e-file your return.
E-file for free. If your income is $52,000 or less, use the Free File link on to connect to a private-sector company offering free e-file services.
Choose direct deposit. Whether you file electronically or on paper, you can get your refund at least a week sooner by having it deposited directly into your checking or savings account.
Consider using the standard-refund amount for the telephone-tax refund. Though using the standard amount is optional, it is easy to figure and approximates the eligible amount for most individual taxpayers. You only have to fill out one line on your return, and you don’t need to present proof to the IRS. The standard amount, ranging from $30 to $60, is based on the number of exemptions you can claim on your return.
If you paid more than the standard amount, you may figure your refund using the actual amount of tax shown on your phone bills and other records. Base your refund request on the three-percent federal tax paid, not the total phone bill. Do not count tax paid on local-only service. You must have the phone bills or other records adequate to support the amount you are requesting. These documents should not be sent along with the refund request but should be retained in case the IRS questions the amount requested.
Do not file duplicate requests. If you file a regular income-tax return, do not file Form 1040EZ-T. Designed exclusively for requesting the telephone-tax refund, this simple form is for people who don’t need to file a regular income-tax return. If you want to take advantage of the earned income tax credit for low and moderate income workers, the child tax credit or other tax breaks, file a regular return and include your telephone-tax refund request on that return.
Stay away from tax preparers who falsely claim that many, if not most, phone customers can get hundreds of dollars or more back under this program.
Use the Telephone Excise Tax Refund section on the front page of Here, you can download forms, find answers to frequently-asked questions and link to participating Free File partners.

Related Items:
Free File
Telephone Excise Tax Refund

Source: Feb 23, 2007 IRS Newswire - Issue Number: IR-2007-040

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

2007 SDB Memorial Fund Distributions

by Morgan Shepard
I have recently finalized the calculations for the 2007 quarterly distributions from the Memorial Fund. Distributions are based on the average market value of the fund the previous 3 years (2004-2006). The market value of the fund went up in 2006 which will result in $923,609 to be distributed in 2007 (before expenses). The Fund continues to perform better after the change in Financial Advisors and investment strategy.

What does all this mean? It means if you get income from the Memorial Fund from endowments or custodial accounts your distributions in 2007 will essentially be the same as 2006. Future distributions will be made in April '07, July '07, November '07 and January '08.

Also in 2007 there will be a Capital Gains distibution for the first time since 2000. Capital gains distribution will be based on the account balances as of January 1, 2006. Accounts opened in 2007 will not receive capital gains distributions. Expect to see this distirbution sometime in March '07

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me at . . .
(608) 752-5055

Take care and God Bless,

Monday, February 19, 2007

A New Baptist Covenant - Update

by Rob Appel
On January 12th, I posted an article from the Baptist Press about the meeting that many Baptist leaders had with each other and with former Presidents Carter and Clinton. Many have read this and my article in the February Sabbath Recorder and decided that I am in favor of all that is written and pressing forward on the issues. Nothing could be further from reality.

I was simply forwarding information to all SDB's as to some issues that were going on that might affect you at some point. To not report this and keep you in the dark would be a disservice to you all and it is better to know what is going on.

If you want to know my feelings on these matters they are as follows.

In an email sent to me...Dear Friends, I want to again thank all of you for participating in last Tuesday’s historic meeting at The Carter Center. I hope you feel as good as I do about the progress we have made the last few months. The press coverage has been generally good, with the exception of a seriously flawed story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. At the end of this message I have included links to some selected stories from around the country in case you have not seen these.
I have already heard from several of you, but please remember to send me information about how you can best participate in our preparations for the celebration. Also send me the names of other people who you believe need to be involved.
Jimmy Allen and I will be meeting next week in Atlanta. We will be working on committee appointments over the next couple of weeks. I will share more developments with you as they unfold.
Bill Underwood

My Response...

Dear Bill,

I would like to personally thank you and your staff at Mercer University for the great job of hosting the NABF. Your colleagues are wonderful to work with.

I am waiting to see who else lends their name and efforts to our cause before I volunteer for any duties connected with the celebration. I do this not because of the Presidents' involvement but because the lack of involvement from others that would show that our efforts are not drawn along party lines. The show of unity between the various Baptist groups is unprecedented. However, we show that same sense of unity among all Baptists no matter the political boundaries. I think we are close, and you would know better than me, so I will wait to hear of these other prominent names.

Again, thank you for all your efforts.

Dear North American Baptist Leader, Bill Underwood and David Goatley have asked me to contact you about Nominations for those who would be willing to work on the five committees that are preparing for the 2008 New Baptist Covenant Celebration. Your input is needed immediately. With the event less than a year away there is a lot to do and very little time. Please offer your own name or the name of others on your staff or in your group to serve on the committees listed below. To save time, you should ask those you nominate if they would be willing to serve before you submit their names and contact information.

I will still wait! It is not because of critics that I do this but rather from being prudent in my decision. I cannot and will not recommend to the SDB's that we go forward until we have all the facts around this possible celebration in a more concrete structure and design. I agree that this is a unique opportunity and would feel better about make a decision now about going forward if President Carter and Clinton were not affiliated with the cause at this time. Their connection simply conveys the wrong message to those looking at this for the first time. It is not a political event, so why have the political ties?

No SDB's, I am not going soft on you, rest assured I am representing you the best way I know how!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Jamaica, Mon!

by Gordon P. Lawton

Hi All,
Linda and I were able to escape to Jamaica for a time at the beginning of February. It was a wonderful time of rest, relaxation and, for me, visiting the island of my childhood home. When I told people that I had grown up in Jamaica they informed me that I was a Jamerican. Ya mon.
Pastor Andrew Samuels, from the Miami SDB Church, was on the island for a Circuit Meeting (like our Association) and a visit. He honored us by officiating at a renewal of marriage vows at the Mountain View SDB Church in Kingston.
The ocean was warm, the people were friendly and the drivers were crazy.
The day before we returned was Sabbath, and we went to church at the Barrett Town SDB Church. It is on the North Coast and was less than 2 miles from our hotel. Pastor John Blissett, (in the picture) who is pastor to multiple SDB churches, was present. (We were told he came to Barrett Town twice a month). He lead out in Sabbath School as the adult teacher and brought a good sermon from Ephesians 6:10-18, focusing on Prayer in verse 18. Sabbath School started on time at 9:30 am. Worship was scheduled for 11 but did not begin until 12:15 and was over by 2:15. And it was a joyous mix of music, prayer and the Word.
The day we left, one of the workers at our hotel, who had spoken to us at church the day before, apologized for the small number present at church. We had not noticed. It was alive, active and vibrant.
The sunburn is mostly gone, but great memories have not. PTL.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Historical Society Webpage

by Nick Kersten
Good afternoon! This is a quick announcement to point your attention to a very basic website now available for the Historical Society at For now, the site will simply provide basic information about SDBs and the Historical Society. We will not be doing substantive additions to the content or functionality of the site in the near future, because of time constraints; we just wanted to let you know that the site, such as it is, is up. Feedback is always welcome (please report any dead or null links!), but please remember it is not a primary focus of the Society at this time. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Historical Society's 2007 Annual Meeting

by Nick Kersten
The Historical Society will be holding its annual meeting at the Seventh Day Baptist Center, 3120 Kennedy Road, Janesville, WI, at 2:00pm, on Sunday, May 13th. All Society members and curious Seventh Day Baptists are welcomed to attend. For those Society members who will be unable to attend, proxy forms will be sent out prior to the meeting.