Fixing a mistake on tax forms already filed

QI very cleverly mailed my federal taxes off to beat the rush and get a refund. Now I find that I forgot to include interest payments from an out-of-state bank. It isn't that much, but is more than $100. I don't know if I should file another return.

- Name withheld, N.Y.

AAccording to tax-information firm Ernst & Young, errors in your return may delay your refund, or result in notices being sent to you. The IRS is now able to electronically match up all your dividends and other tax documents. Filing an amended return, Form 1040X, takes just a few minutes. Mail it to the IRS service center in your area.

Q I have been wondering why Habitat for Humanity, the charity I have been supporting, has been downgraded to the American Institute For Philanthropy grade of C-plus. What were the conditions that caused such a poor grade? - D.K., via e-mail A Actually, Habitat for Humanity won a B rating in the latest report of the AIP, says Daniel Borochoff, AIP president, in Bethesda, Md. That was for 1999, the most recent year for which full dollar figures are available. Habitat had garnered B-minus and C-plus ratings in earlier AIP reports.

The B rating - even a C-plus rating - would be considered good, says Mr. Borochoff. Habitat spends roughly 71 percent to 75 percent of its contributions on program services, "well above our minimum standards," he says. The rating is based on cash holdings. "If Habitat added in donated goods and services, the percentage of contributions going to programs and services would be even higher," Borochoff says. Also, the rating is for Habitat's headquarters offices in Americus, Ga., not local branches. If you want to see how any one of Habitat's 1,819 local affiliates is doing, you need to call that office directly, Borochoff says.

Q One of the pharmacies in our area now has a sign on the door saying that they honor "third-party insurance." What does this mean? - M.S., Rahway, N.J. A According to a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, New York, "in health-insurance parlance, the 'third party' is simply your insurance company. The first and second parties would be you, and your physician." The "third party" reference is seldom used anymore, in terms of health insurance, the spokesperson says.

By Guy Halverson Questions about finances? Write:

Guy Halverson

The Christian Science Monitor

500 Fifth Ave., Suite 1845

New York, NY 10110

E-mail: halversong@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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