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Archive for Friday, January 9, 2009

With the turn of the calendar, it’s suddenly tax time

2009 could be different for tax payers. Jesse Fray has the story.

January 9, 2009, 10:30 p.m. Updated January 12, 2009, 12:00 a.m.

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April 15. The dreaded tax day will be here before you know it.

But Lawrence tax preparers expect taxpayers to be more prompt about going through the nightmares of filing their returns this year.

“With the economy like it is, everybody needs all the dollars that they can get in their pockets,” said accountant Brenda McFadden. “If people usually get a refund, they’re going to be racing to the door.”

McFadden and other area accountants are preparing for the four months they refer to as their “busy season” to get busier sooner than usual. With the average federal tax refund coming in at $2,345 last year, it’s easy to understand why those expecting to get money back from Uncle Sam would be eager to get ’er done.

While the Internal Revenue Service officially kicked off tax season Jan. 6, tax accountants said it’s important for the money-hungry not to get in too big of a hurry.

“The best advice is to work with a tax preparer and not jump the gun and get on the Internet and try to file your taxes tomorrow,” said Terry Garrett, Lawrence accountant.

Garrett and McFadden said filers should wait several weeks to file their tax return, to make sure they have all the necessary financial forms from employers and banks, such as W-2s and 1099s.

People expecting that they’ll contribute more money to the federal coffers this tax season may be trying to erase any thought of having only three months left to file their returns.

“It’s normally about the same percentage of people, the usual suspects, that bring their things in late or put things off,” McFadden said.

Taxpayers can request an extension from the government to file their return later in the year, but Garrett said there’s a common misconception about doing so.

“An extension is just an extension to file and not an extension to pay,” he said. “Taxes are still due April 15.”

There is one bit of relief for those who aren’t looking forward to forking over an extra wad of cash. The IRS last week said it’s offering to waive penalties and work with taxpayers who are strapped for money to pay their taxes this year.

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