Time to file or get an extension

Tony Parra and Mike Linn

If you’re among the 10 million taxpayers who won’t meet the Thursday tax-filing deadline, now is the time to ask the Internal Revenue Service for an automatic four-month extension.
Portales CPA Terry Cone knows about those extensions. He is recommending people who have complicated returns to file, but haven’t met with a CPA, to go ahead and submit an extension to the Internal Revenue Service by Thursday.
Taxpayers can extend their filing deadline to Aug. 15 by submitting IRS Form 4868. The simple form can be mailed, transmitted electronically or used as a worksheet to file by telephone. The toll-free number for extensions — 1-888-796-1074 — is available 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. local time.
However, those hoping to get their returns filed before the midnight deadline on Thursday have a variety of options.
One option is filing electronically, which expedites the process of receiving return money from the IRS, Cone said.
Mailing returns can take up to six weeks to receive funds from the government, while electronic returns can be filed, processed and completed in a week.
Cone said the IRS only processes returns every Thursday at noon, so those who file on Thursday after that time will experience a delay of one week.
The IRS charges interest on taxes not paid by April 15. Additional penalties may apply if the taxpayer paid less than 90 percent of taxes owed by the deadline.
Local tax preparers said they are seeing the usual amount of procrastinators on the final days.
“It’s surprising to see how many people wait until the last minute,” Sue Gossett, Jackson Hewitt Tax Services preparer, said. “It’s a little busier than last year at this time. A lot of people are waiting longer. And the people who wait this long, usually have the most complicated issues.”
Gossett said the normal peak time for Jackson Hewitt is from Feb. 5 to March 1. She said it begins to pick up again on April 1.
Kathy Woods, a preparer for H&R Block, said there were six preparers for their peak season, which is from Jan. 15 until the end of February, and have four working at this time. She said they completed 55 returns on one day during the peak season.
“Most people don’t want to file their taxes,” Anita Carmichael, H&R Block office coordinator, said. “Most of the people who wait are the ones who owe money.”
Carmichael said Charles Smelker owns the H&R Block in Portales and Ruidoso and she said the H&R Block office in Portales has been in business for over 40 years.
Although people will still have an opportunity to file an extension to do their taxes, Marian Wilson, a preparer for Jackson Hewitt said it’s for the wrong reasons.
“There’s still the possibility of a fee for late payment,” Wilson said. “A lot of people get an extension for the wrong reasons. The extension is only to be used when they (taxpayers) can’t get their paperwork in on time. It’s when they are waiting for papers from different companies.”