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Tax deadline looming
Preparers, post office ready for busy week
Lady Liberty Taxes 1 es
Jouquin Cain waves to drivers Tuesday outside Liberty Tax Service. Tax preparers are getting ready for a busy week. - photo by Emily Saunders
For those still flipping through 2009 receipts and W-2 forms, there’s just one week left to file their taxes.

“It’s worse to not file than it is to file and wait to pay later. It just kills people,” said Kenneth Kurtz, a certified public accountant.

For people who can’t make the April 15 deadline, Kurtz said filing for an extension is “not a bad thing.”

“They can make sure their records are more accurate, so a return is filed properly,” he said.

Judy Pair, owner of the Cumming H&R Block, said March was slow for returns, but April has already been busy.

“We get very, very busy at the end of January when W-2s first come out. Everyone thinks they have a refund and they want it right now,” she said.
“People in April come in thinking they have a balance due and they don’t want to know. In between, it gets pretty slow.

“It will continue to build from here until the 15th.”

Pair said there’s no such thing as too much information. If “there’s any possibility of a deduction, they can bring it with them and we’ll sort through it.”

“People shortchange themselves,” Pair said, noting that even foreclosures have the possibility of taxable income.

There are lots of tax credits this year, Pair said. Among the most common, she said, is the Making Work Pay credit, which can be up to $400 for individuals and $800 for working married couples.

Liberty Tax Service Office Manager Kristy Freitas said there is also the $8,000 federal homebuyers credit, a credit for purchasing a vehicle during certain months in 2009 and non-taxable unemployment compensation for federal returns.

This year there has been nearly a 10 percent increase in customers, largely from the “big influx this year of people trying to get money back early, instead of the steady flow.”

One of the biggest surprises to tax payers, Freitas said, is not having enough money withheld from paychecks.

“They get upset because they think they should be getting more money back,” she said.

When the time comes to mail tax returns, Anne Berger will be ready.

The Cumming branch postmaster of the U.S. Postal Service said supervisors will be on hand to help people fill out forms and make sure envelopes are date stamped.

“Our hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. We’ll take everybody who’s in line at 6 p.m.,” she said. “We’ll have our full staff ready and waiting. We’re not going to close the door on anybody.”

Even though time is limited, Kurtz said it’s important to look through returns for accuracy.

“It’s good to prepare it one day, but don’t actually send it in and then take a look at it the following day, once they’ve given their mind a rest,” he said.

Kurtz said his friends and neighbors will often ask questions about tax break loopholes. But his answer is usually “no.”

“A lot of people think taxes are gray, but it’s clearly written in black and white and the IRS will clarify that,” he said. “The IRS needs money right now just like everybody else, so if there’s any thought that a deduction is overstated they’re going to get audited.

“I recommend not pushing the limit.”