April 15: Tax Day looms
Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2005
With the federal income tax filing deadline of April 15 right around the corner, area tax preparation services are keeping very busy.
Donna Kimbro, owner of K&M Tax Service at 201 S. College St., said this is the first year she has worked a full tax season in Greenville and the number has grown steadily. She said she was especially busy from the middle of February up to the present time and the workload doesn’t seem to be dropping.
&uot;It is amazing to me at how many tax returns I’ve done in March and April,&uot; she said.
&uot;I’m expecting us to be quite busy next week right up until 5 p.m. Friday.
We plan to basically be open from noon on Monday to 5 p.m. on Friday.&uot;
She did say she had some who rushed to get the annual headache over with before April.
&uot;They were several early filers, but we still get those who put it off tat the end,&uot; she said. &uot;And the people who are expecting refunds absolutely come in fast.&uot;
She said it is important to note that walk-in clients are welcome at K&M, but be prepared when you arrive. Kimbro said if another person or agency completed your taxes last year, you must bring a copy of the return and two pieces of identification, preferably a driver’s license and Social Security card.
And if you should not be able to complete the return by April 15, don’t lose hope.
&uot;We can file extensions here in the office,&uot; she said.
&uot;We can do them electronically.&uot;
Kimbro said for those who believe they will owe the IRS; they’ll have an estimate on the taxes owed so they can go ahead and pay.
&uot;Sometimes you have to make an educated guess on what you owe,&uot; she said.
If you can’t make it to Kimbro’s to file the extension on the filing deadline, you can get an automatic four-month extension by phone or by computer.
Dan Boone, spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service, said it is important to remember that an extension of time to file does not give more time to pay any taxes owed. A person may choose to pay any projected balance due when requesting an extension, and the payment may be made electronically. Even without a payment, one can still get the extension.
Whether requesting an extension electronically or on paper, the taxpayer must estimate the total tax liability based on the information available. If the IRS later finds this estimate to be unreasonable, the extension will be null and void. The taxpayer will still get credit for any payments made with the extension request.
The IRS has a special toll-free phone line for extensions – 1-888-796-1074 – for those who filed a tax return for 2003.
Boone offered the following ideas regarding the filing deadline.
N Don’t panic if immediate payment is not an option, but file on time.
For those who can’t immediately pay the taxes due, consider some stress-reducing alternatives. A taxpayer can apply for an IRS installment agreement, suggesting their own monthly payment amount and due dates, and getting a reduced late payment penalty rate.
N Double-check your math and data entries. Taxpayers should check for possible math errors and make sure the names and Social Security or other identification numbers for themselves, their spouse and dependents are correct and legible.
Also, watch out when calculating the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Many people make errors in that process.
N File electronically. About 1 million Alabama taxpayers filed their returns electronically in 2004. Aside from ease of filing, IRS e-file is the fastest, safest and most accurate way to file a tax return. For those due a refund, the wait time for e-filers is half that of paper filers. And e-filing allows simultaneous filing of state and federal returns.
N Use electronic refund options. One way to speed up an expected refund and reduce the chance of theft is to have the refund amount deposited directly to the taxpayer’s bank account by the IRS. The tax instruction booklet and the IRS Web site both give details on entering the financial institution’s routing numbers and the taxpayer’s account numbers on the tax return. Make sure the numbers entered on the form are correct.
N Take advantage of free tax assistance.
The IRS offers recorded messages on about 150 tax topics through its TeleTax service at 1-800-829-4477.
Many post offices and libraries carry the most widely requested forms and instructions. Libraries may also have reference sets of IRS publications. Or dial 703-368-9694 (not-toll-free) from a fax machine to have forms faxed directly to you.
The IRS also staffs a Tax Help Line for Individuals at 1-800-829-1040, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays through April 15.
N Visit the IRS online. Anyone with Internet access can download tax forms, instructions and publications as well as tax law information and answers to frequently asked tax questions at IRS.gov.
Visit the 1040 Central page for information about doing your own taxes.
Or, if you’ve already filed, check on the status of your refund using the &uot;Where’s My Refund?&uot; option.
Organize tax records. Tax preparation time can be significantly reduced for taxpayers who develop a system for organizing their records and receipts. Start with the income, deduction or tax credit items that were on last year’s return.
N Don’t procrastinate. Resist the temptation to put off doing taxes until the last minute. Hurrying to meet the filing deadline may cause a taxpayer to overlook potential sources of tax savings and increases the risk of making an error.
Whatever you do, file either a tax return OR and extension request no later than midnight, April 15th!