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Archive for Saturday, April 13, 2002

s tax deadline looms for thousands

April 13, 2002

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It's going to be a taxing weekend for thousands of Kansans.

According to state and federal tax officials, about 30 percent of expected tax returns are yet to be filed in Kansas.

That means as many as 360,000 Kansans this weekend will be sharpening their pencils, or, more likely, warming up their computers to run tax preparation software and file electronically to meet Monday's deadline.

"Kansas has always had a fairly high rate of taxpayers who e-file," said Janice Lawrence, an Internal Revenue Service spokeswoman. E-filing includes returns filed by phone or computer, either at home or from a tax preparer's office.

The number of "paperless" returns filed in Kansas was up more than 20 percent over the same time last year, according to IRS figures. Nationally, the increase in e-filing was about 14 percent.

A big reason for the increases: Taxpayers who file electronic returns and use direct deposit can receive refunds in a matter of days, while paper returns might take weeks to process.

The number of taxpayers using tax preparation software has soared even more, increasing nearly 39 percent from last year.

"More and more people are getting comfortable with computers," Lawrence said. "And they're finding out about it, that it's a very fast way to get your refund back, it's a very accurate return, and the computer can catch mistakes before you file."

The fact more Kansans are receiving refunds this year, and the average refund is up slightly, also may be prompting taxpayers to file earlier and take advantage of electronic filing options.

Nationally, the average refund is $1,954, up more than 12 percent from a year ago. The IRS couldn't say what the average federal tax refund was for Kansans.

The Kansas Department of Revenue said the average state tax refund this year was about $291, up about 11 percent from last year.

There has been one major snag this year.

More than 4 million taxpayers nationally have made errors on the tax forms' only new line this year. The line is for the Rate Reduction Credit, a tax cut for people who did not receive a tax rebate check last year.

Taxpayers who received the maximum amount  $300 for a single person, $500 for a head of household or $600 for a married couple  should leave the credit line blank. Lawrence said millions of taxpayers were inserting the amount of their rebate check on the line, which is line 47 on Form 1040, line 30 on Form 1040A and line 7 on Form 1040EZ.

Almost 60 percent of the Rate Reduction Credit errors have been failures to claim the credit by taxpayers who were entitled to it. Another 25 percent were taxpayers claiming the credit when they had already received the maximum payment.

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