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Tax preparers: Don’t wait
Deadline for filing falls on April 18
Johanna Lenihan, left, helps Tanya Robbs and her family with their taxes on Tuesday at H&R Block. Tax preparers are reminding residents not to wait to file taxes, which are due April 18. - photo by Autumn McBride

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A variety of information on 2010 income taxes, including tips and laws, can be found at

For those who haven’t done so, tax preparers say now is the time to work on those 2010 income taxes.

The deadline for filing taxes with the Internal Revenue Service is April 18.

Typically April 15, the deadline is three days later this year due to a little-known holiday observed in Washington, D.C., called Emancipation Day.

But just because there’s three extra days, tax preparers say that’s no reason to wait around when it comes to taxes.

“We need probably at least a week from the time a return comes into this office until we can get it back into the client’s hands,” said Jim Wheeler, a certified public accountant in Cumming.

“That last week is a busy week. It’s our most stressful week of the year.”

Judy Pair, franchise owner of three H&R Block locations in Forsyth County, said the tax season begins on Jan. 2 with different weeks bringing different levels of work.

“Some self-employed people have already gotten all their stuff together and bring it in on Jan. 2 before the W-2s come out,” Pair said.

“Then from late January to early February, we’ll be busy with everyone who’s getting a refund, and then in April we’ll get all the people who have to pay,” Pair said.

Wheeler said March is also busy though, since he has many corporate clients and the corporate tax deadline is March 15.

He said he recently lost sleep over at least one client’s corporate return.

“I was laying in bed one night and didn’t remember seeing this one, so then I checked the extension list to see if it was on there and it wasn’t,” said Wheeler, who’s owned his CPA business since 1986.

“I got in touch with that client the next day and we got it taken care of.”

While she may not be losing sleep over files, Pair said she does put in a lot of time during tax season.

“As the franchise owner, I’m here from about 8:30 in the morning until around midnight usually,” she said.

Staffing at the three locations is upped as well. She said tax season calls for about 50 employees, versus about five during the rest of the year, when two of the branches aren’t open.

Both Pair and Wheeler said the greatest advice at this time of year is to not wait.

“It’s not just about actually filing, but getting all your documents together,” Wheeler said.

Pair and Wheeler also both advised keeping good records beginning on Jan. 1 and not waiting until December, January or later to start getting everything in order.

“Keeping good records is always a good idea,” Pair said.

Added Wheeler: “Even if it’s just throwing all your receipts into a manilla envelope throughout the year, it’s something that needs to be done year round and not just right before tax time.”

Pair said for those deducting mileage expenses, detailed records are especially important.

“The IRS is really picking on mileage now,” she said. “They’re auditing that with a vengeance.”

In addition to the required log, she advised keeping a description of every trip and why it was business-related, as well as supporting documentation.

“For example, if you go to a business conference, you should keep the invitation and brochures from that event,” Pair said. 

Both preparers also advised contacting a tax professional prior to any major life change such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child or any major business decisions.

“You need to know what’s going to happen before you file your taxes,” Pair said.

Said Wheeler: “You don’t want any big surprises after you file.”