Weatherford Democrat

April 12, 2013

A taxing time of the year

Local tax preparers swamped as April 15 filing date nears


Mineral Wells Index

— By BRIAN SMITH



Millions of people wait until the last minute before doing their taxes every year.

Tax offices around the area are preparing for the annual onslaught of people trying to make their April 15 deadline, which is Monday. Many offices are now booked solid through the weekend with just a few spots open Monday.

There are many reasons for people procrastinating, according to H&R Block tax preparer Sandra Smith. Many people think they are going to owe money and want to hold off paying as long as possible. Other reasons aren’t as cut and dry, she says.

“Sometimes you have companies that are delayed in getting their investment forms to their clients,” Smith said. “While employers have to have earnings forms to their employees by January 31, the same can’t be said for investment firms.”

People who are late and need to file an extension should file a form 4868 with the government for a three-month extension in filing the forms, Smith said. Tax professionals can help file those extension forms for free.

Tax forms still need to be filed, however, by the midnight April 15 deadline. Go to IRS.gov and visit “1040 Central,” to learn about  your options for paying taxes when you don’t have the money.

“For those who cannot resolve their tax debt immediately, an installment agreement can be a reasonable payment option,” Clay Sanford, an IRS spokesman in Dallas, said.

You will owe interest on any amount not paid by the April deadline, plus a late payment penalty if you have not paid at least 90 percent of your total tax by that date. Even those who file last minute need to make sure their forms are filled out accurately. While filing electronically will ensure your return is received in time, there are other tips last-minute filers can use.

Choosing to efile instead of preparing a paper tax form is the best step you can take to ensure that your return is accurate and complete.  “The efile program’s question and answer format combined with the accuracy of its math calculations help to reduce common mistakes,” Sanford said.

If you file a paper return, the numbers to check most carefully on the tax return are the identification numbers — usually Social Security numbers — for each person listed. This includes the taxpayer, spouse, dependents and persons listed in relation to claims for the Child and Dependent Care Credit or Earned Income Tax Credit. Missing, incorrect or illegible Social Security numbers can delay or reduce a tax refund.

Taxpayers filing paper returns should also double-check that they have correctly figured the refund or balance due and have used the right figure from the tax table. It’s important to sign and date a tax return, too. Both spouses must sign a joint return, even if only one had income. Anyone paid to prepare a return must also sign it.