Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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April 11, 2014

Deadline to file taxes nears

CHEROKEE COUNTY — As an April 15 deadline for individuals to file their 2013 federal tax return approaches, pressure is mounting for tax preparers.

“We're swamped right now,” said Linda Callahan of Verhelle's Tax/Bookkeeping Service, a two-person office located in Rusk. “It seems like this year they've been waiting to file their taxes, and to me, it's been overwhelming.”

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that up to 25 percent of all Americans wait until April to start preparing their returns, according to www.turbotax.com.

The Rusk business is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, “but he'll stay until 8 or 9 o'clock because it's just been very, very busy,” Callahan said of owner Blaine Verhelle. “We might be open this Saturday since Tuesday is the deadline.”

Filers have several options: Mail in a completed form to the IRS, file electronically or hire a preparer to handle the paperwork.

In fact, the IRS website states that this past year, nearly 120 million taxpayers submitted returns via its e-file system; more than 1 billion Form 1040 series tax returns have been filed since 1990, it added.

“Online filing is becoming more popular with people, although some who have prepared their taxes online tell us it's been a nightmare, so they chose to come to us,” Callahan said. “We saw that happening more last year, although we've heard a few comments like that this year.

The Rusk office recommends that individuals file their taxes early to avoid the last-minute crush, because, “if they try to do it at the last minute, they are going to have to expect to file an extension,” she added.

Under this extension, the last day to file an income tax return is Oct. 15.

Meanwhile, the Turbo Tax website offers the following suggestions for last-minute filers:

• Organize your information – “having everything in one place will make preparation of your income tax return easier,” the site says.

This information includes W-2 earnings and wages forms, 1099 forms reflecting interest earned on back accounts, 1098 Mortgate Interest Statements, and receipts for purchases and payments, including those for business, healthcare and education.

Also be sure to have on hand the Social Security numbers for the individuals listed as filing the tax form, the site advises.

• Consider filing taxes electronically. “Doing so can mean a more accurate tax return, a faster refund, and – if every minute counts – the luxury of last-minute filing,” according to the site.

• Avoid last-minute mistakes; the three most common are math errors, incorrectly listed Social Security numbers and failure to sign or date the return.

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