Procrastinators file into tax offices

Casey Fish of Martinez usually procrastinates when it comes to filing his taxes, but Tuesday is the latest he's ever waited to file, he said at H&R Block.

Usually, he files his taxes six or seven days before the deadline. He's been busy with work and hasn't had time to file this tax season, he said.

His return is simple and he expects to get a refund of about $800.

"April 15 will be an extremely busy day for us, there's no doubt about that," said Steve Harvey, the district manager for H&R Block. "There are people who do wait intentionally. We've got people who have called us and made an appointment for April 15."

For the most part, Harvey attributes this last-minute rush to procrastination. However, many people still working on their taxes include business owners who are gathering information in order to file their return. Other tax payers haven't filed because they have a balance due and aren't in a hurry to pay the IRS.

"We're trying to encourage them to get out of that habit because we can do the return and file it and set it up so they don't have to pay until April 15. It's still a hard lesson that people aren't picking up on too quickly yet," Harvey said.

Many people who come in at the last minute won't be getting large refunds - they're simply breaking even. This is another reason they're not in a rush to finish their taxes, said Ramesh Khosla, a franchise owner for Jackson Hewitt.

Local post offices expect the volume of mail to be postmarked on tax day to be heavier than a normal business day, but they won't be extending their business hours, said Tim Goodwin, the acting post master at the Augusta Main Post Office.

Tax payers need to mail their returns at their nearest post office during normal working business hours, he said. Three post offices are allowing tax payers to place their returns in lobby drop boxes until midnight: the downtown Augusta Main Post Office and post offices in Martinez and Evans.

Still, there is a decline in the number of paper returns submitted to the IRS in Georgia, said IRS spokesman Mark Green.

"More people in Georgia are using e-file, and the numbers speak for themselves," Green said.

In Georgia, the IRS has received 2.6 million electronic returns and expects to receive 3 million by the end of tax season. In South Carolina, 1.2 million returns have been filed electronically this year, he said.

Even when filing electronically, tax payers must submit their returns by midnight, Green said.

"You need to have your return in by midnight to be safe," he said.

Thursday is the last day to file for an extension, Green said. All extensions must be filed by midnight. The IRS estimates that over 300,000 Georgians will request an extension this year.

Last year, a total of 252,000 Georgians filed for an extension. The tax season was extended until December for flood and storm victims, he said.

After the deadline, tax payers will have to pay penalty fees, including those for failure to file and failure to pay.

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