April 13th, 2009
01:04 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Tax deadline looming

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/10/art.getty.money.jpg]Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The April 15 deadline to file your taxes is just days away, but today is “Tax Freedom Day.”

Americans had to work 103 days from January 1 before they earned enough to pay their taxes for 2009, according to the Tax Foundation. Everything after that is theoretically theirs to keep.

April 13 is the earliest date since 1967. That's eight days earlier than 2008’s “Tax Freedom Day” and a full two weeks earlier than 2007’s.

The Tax Foundation cited two reasons for the shift to an earlier date: The recession has reduced tax collections faster than it has reduced income; plus, the Obama administration's stimulus package includes large temporary tax cuts for 2009 and 2010.

So with millions of Americans facing job losses and the threat of foreclosure, what do you do if you can't pay your taxes? IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman will make an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington today to discuss his agency's new initiatives to help those in financial distress, including giving IRS employees the flexibility to adjust or defer tax payments for certain taxpayers in hardship situations.

Shulman is also expected to highlight the new tax credits available this year, such as those for first time home buyers and car buyers, and give offer advice on what to do if you're having trouble paying your taxes.

CNNMoney.com has launched a special section: “Get Ready for April 15

In it, you will find tax tips for the unemployed, advice for 10 million late filers and 8 tips to slash your tax bill.

Stocks on Wall Street opened lower opening as investors prepare for earnings season to begin in earnest and await new economic data that will provide more details on the struggling economy.

Earnings this week will be led by Dow components Citigroup and JPMorganChase. Stocks are riding a streak of five straight weekly gains, the best weekly run since October of 2007.

The earnings parade gets underway Tuesday morning when Goldman Sachs is due to report its financial results.

But the firm's first-quarter profits aren't the main source of suspense. Instead, investors are betting that Goldman will put itself on track to become the first big bank to repay its $10 billion government loan.

Investors are also bracing for a possible bankruptcy filing by General Motors.

The New York Times is reporting that The Treasury Department is directing GM to lay the groundwork for a so-called “surgical bankruptcy” filing by a June 1 deadline, despite GM’s contention that it could still reorganize outside court.

A “surgical bankruptcy” would be quick and precise, as opposed to a long, messy process that could damage the automaker’s image and sales.

One plan under consideration would create a new company that would buy the “good” assets of GM almost immediately after the carmaker files for bankruptcy, the New York Times said.

Less-desirable assets, including unwanted brands, factories and health care obligations, would be left in the “bad” GM, which could be liquidated over several years.

The “good” GM could enter and exit bankruptcy in as little as two weeks, using $5 billion to $7 billion in federal financing, the Times said.

The “bad” GM could require as much as $70 billion in government financing, and possibly more to resolve the health care obligations and the liquidation of the factories.

Crude oil prices fell below $50 a barrel today, after the International Energy Agency cut its forecast for oil demand.

On Friday when the market was closed, the IEA said world oil demand will fall by 2.4 million barrels a day this year. A separate inventory report last Wednesday showed U.S. oil supplies at their highest levels since 1993.

Gas prices fell by 1-tenth of a cent overnight to $2.051 a gallon.

28 states and the District of Columbia have regular unleaded gas prices of $2 and higher. The highest gas prices are in Alaska ($2.512).

22 states have regular unleaded gas prices below $2. The cheapest gas prices are in New Jersey ($1.876).

And finally, two opening-day New York Mets tickets, part of a season ticket package formerly owned by convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff's company, fetched $7,500 in an eBay auction Sunday morning.

The price of the tickets spiked dramatically in the auction's final minutes, nearly doubling from a cost of $3,800 two hours prior to the auction's close. A bidding war between two parties accounted for most of the final bidding action, according to the auction history.

The Mets' opening day is scheduled for Monday night in the new “Citi Field” in Queens, NY, which some are calling “Bailout Ballpark.” Banking giant Citigroup agreed to pay $400 million for the naming rights to the ballpark back in 2006, and later took $45 billion in taxpayer bailout money.

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • auto bailout • Economy • Gas Prices • Oil • Taxes • Wall St.
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Jim- Calif

    Yes But for Those of us Who have not worked That means NO income & NO Taxes , So The Government Cannot Blow MY Money to Bail out Millionairs While I'm $8,000.00 in the hole.

    April 13, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  2. Mike in NYC

    The weeks prior to April 15th are usually filled with tax-related news articles and advertisements. I may be wrong, but It seems unusually quiet this year.

    April 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  3. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Tax Freedom---there is no such "animal,"-–Tax Enslavement is a better term!

    April 13, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    I don't look for the IRS to be quite as cooperative as they advertise themselves to be if you are late with your payments – sounds like to me they want penalties and interest because they make so much more money that way. So try to pay up on time.

    The cost of oil going down feels me with delight – how long will it take to be reflected in lower prices at the gas pump?

    April 13, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  5. tammy

    hello i was trying and have been trying to find out if there are any thing for work that is the real thing is there anything i can find to make money at home please let me know i can't get anyone to write me back about it thanks tammy

    April 13, 2009 at 1:13 pm |