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Consumer Confidential: IRS plays rough, tax deadline extended, new Mattel games

January 5, 2011 | 10:09 am

Uncsampic Here's your walk-the-line Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- The Internal Revenue Service is playing too rough with taxpayers. That's the word from the IRS' own watchdog, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who says the agency is tormenting struggling taxpayers in the midst of a slumping economy by increasing the number of liens filed against people who owe back taxes. The IRS filed nearly 1.1 million liens in the budget year that ended in September, a 14% jump over the previous year. Olson says the liens punish taxpayers and often hurt their ability to pay back taxes. The IRS responds that liens are not filed until taxpayers are given numerous opportunities to pay their tax bills or sign up for payment plans.

-- Speaking of our friends at the IRS, tax officials say a holiday in Washington will give taxpayers nationwide an extra three days to file tax returns for 2010. Taxpayers will have until April 18 to file because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Friday, April 15. By law, D.C. holidays affect tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do. Taxpayers who ask for an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns. The IRS says it expects to receive more than 140 million individual tax returns this year, with most being filed by the April 18 deadline.

-- Look out, Super Mario, here comes Barbie. El Segundo-based Mattel has cut a deal with video game maker THQ of Agoura Hills to develop games based on well-known Mattel brands such as Barbie and Hot Wheels. The two companies say the multi-year agreement will also allow them to expand the video game capabilities of product lines including Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, Masters of the Universe and Polly Pocket. Terms were not disclosed. THQ will design, develop and market the video games for consoles and handheld systems, personal computers, mobile devices, social networks and online gaming portals. The first offerings are expected to hit the market in time for this year's holiday season.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: Uncle Sam wants his tax money -- or else. Credit: Paul Tong / Tribune Media Services