Tax preparers deluged as deadline draws near

Apr. 12, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Lee County residents have a few days left to meet the looming tax-filing deadline, and tax return agencies are working hard to help them meet the April 15 cutoff.

Brenda Burgess, co-owner of Computerized Tax Service, said her two offices have been packed to the brim with customers for several weeks. 

“It’s been rushed,” Burgess said. “For the first time in history the [Internal Revenue Service] delayed their opening, and there were some delays in getting certain forms out.”

Concerns from the impending Fiscal Cliff and its potential stipulations forced the IRS to postpone opening the tax season, and people have been concerned about filing on time, she said.

“They have felt the pressure,” Burgess said. “So they can file an extension so they have time to get the information together.”

Other last-minute filers have waited because of perceived confusion concerning new tax laws and wanted to see how they would be impacted, she said.

“The biggest surprise is there were basically no changes,” she said, adding that despite the controversies surrounding the Fiscal Cliff, the tax laws remained unchanged for 2012.

On Wednesday, more than 45 people were in one of her offices trying to file their tax returns, Burgess said.

“Paying taxes is not a bad thing,” she said. “It can have a positive effect on your school loans, bank loans, equity and life. So it’s not a bad thing, and it’s a good thing in a lot of ways.”

Mary Ann Murray, owner of three local H&R Block offices, said they’ll be staying open Saturday and Sunday to accommodate the anticipated rush.

“If they can’t meet the deadline, they need to bring some information to us and we’ll file an extension,” Murray said. “They can bring in their W-2s so we have an idea of their income and deductions to see if they will pay any money. The extension is for filing and not for paying their tax bill.”

If individuals are worried about not being able to pay their tax bills, they need to go ahead and file, Murray said. This will prevent a person from paying an additional penalty and give them time to create a payment plan with the IRS.

Nolan Williams, a partner at TRP CPAs, said there appears to be more late filers this year than in years past.

“The last couple of days, there have been many last-minute filers coming in to get their taxes done,” Williams said. “But there seems to be more folks than usual who come in last minute.”

The increase, he said, may be caused by the season opening late.

If people want to file an extension, they must do it by Monday, he said, and that will give them until Oct. 15.

According to a release from the United States Postal Service, hours will not be extended, and there will not be a special or late collection on April 15. People should be mindful of the last pickup time posted to have an April 15 date postmark for mailed tax returns, the USPS advises.