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Happy Tax Day! How to avoid an audit, top scams, and taxing poetic

The deadline for filing income taxes is today, and while a third of Americans like doing their taxes and some are even inspired to write poetry, many find the process more complicated than ever.

Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics tells us what one British government unit is doing to help make paying taxes a little more...fun.

Here in this country, there are few things more divisive than taxes. Many Americans feel they pay too much, and get too little in return. But is that true? Derek Thompson, senior editor at The Atlantic, helped us take a look at how U.S. taxes stack up to other countries around the world -- and the results may surprise you.

Of course, your tax dollars pay for things like pensions, police and firefighters -- services that uphold community safety and maintain the peace. But when it gets down to the day-to-day budget, where does your locality put all the money?

And before your town or city can even think about spending, the IRS has to make its collections -- which can be tough as scammers abound. This year, identity theft ranks as the worst tax scheme. Check out which scams made the top 12 on IRS's 2013  "Dirty Dozen" list.

After you steer clear of those, learn how to avoid an audit. Here's a hint: Avoid round numbers. And, while you're at it, just say no to joint tax filing. Anne Alstott, professor of tax Law at Yale, says tax laws are stuck watching reruns of "Leave it to Beaver" while the rest of us have long since moved on to "Modern Family" -- which generates arbitrary tax penalties and bonuses.

And before you say good-bye to tax season, this final piece of advice from a tax accountant in Colorado, "the easier you make your accountant's life, the cheaper your [filing] price will be." But there can be bonus points for cute pets and outlandish excuses.

 

About the author

Katie Long is a contributing digital producer for Marketplace Morning Report and Marketplace Tech.

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