Tax deadline approaches; preparers get busy



The deadline to submit income tax returns is two days later this year, but that won’t keep tax preparers’ offices from filling up right before the final day.

Kay Mortimer, the owner of Aiken Business Services, sees people rush every year to file returns the week before the deadline.

“If I could sum it up in one word, I’d say ‘procrastination,’” Mortimer said. “They forget, they get busy, they don’t see it as important.”

Last-minute filers often are the ones that owe the Internal Revenue Service money, she said, so they’re in no hurry to write that check. Regardless of the reason, Mortimer said tax preparation offices like hers are busy this time of year, so filers should get in line as soon as possible if they need help.

Emily Robinson, who completed her income tax return Tuesday afternoon at the H&R Block office on Wrightsboro Road, said she was cutting it close to the deadline this year for the first time.

“It just kind of happened,” she said. “I’ve never been this close to the deadline before.”

Her financial situation was a little more complex this year, she said, and it took her longer than she expected to collect all of the necessary documents to file.

Steve Harvey, H&R Block’s Augusta district manager, said he and his staff know to brace themselves for the last-minute rush and have seen even larger numbers of people wait this year than they were expecting.

“It has come to a crescendo more than ever before,” he said. “The clock is ticking.”

Because April 15 is a Sunday and Washington, D.C., will observe Emancipation Day on Monday, the deadline to file federal tax returns is next Tuesday. The deadline to file Georgia and South Carolina state income taxes is also Tuesday.

Mark Green, a spokesman for the IRS, said he estimates millions of Georgians waited until the last week before the deadline to file their taxes. Green suggested that these last-minute filers file electronically to speed up the submission process.

“Free file goes directly from your home computer to the IRS and cuts out the middle man,” Green said. “Especially since we’re down to the last minute here, taxpayers will want to have that confirmation.”

Filing extensions, but that does not change the deadline to pay any income tax owed. Taxpayers should estimate how much they owe and submit the payment by Tuesday, Green said, and then file their complete tax return as soon as possible. If taxpayers cannot pay all of their income taxes, Green said they should pay as much as they can and contact the IRS to set up a payment plan.

“Even if you cannot pay the balance due, it is important to either file a return or request an extension to avoid the failure-to-file penalty,” Green said.