Some tax return filers hold on till bitter end

Tax deadline is today

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For at least 10 years, Katie Gunby has waited until the last week to file her taxes -- on purpose.

Casey Fish, of Martinez, works with tax specialist Caroll Brown at H&R Block in Augusta. Fish said he filed even closer to the deadline this year because he has been so busy with his work.   JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
JACKIE RICCIARDI/STAFF
Casey Fish, of Martinez, works with tax specialist Caroll Brown at H&R Block in Augusta. Fish said he filed even closer to the deadline this year because he has been so busy with his work.

"It's just the joy and thrill of waiting until the last minute. If I have to pay, that means I've kept my money a little longer. I don't want to give it up freely or quickly," the Lincolnton resident said.

On Tuesday, the funeral home director was filing her taxes at H&R Block on Wrightsboro Road.

Even when she got her taxes done earlier, she always waited until the last week to mail in her check if she owed the Internal Revenue Service.

One year, she waited until the very last day to get her taxes done.

"It was like a madhouse. I promised not to wait until the last day anymore, but I still get it done the last week," she said.

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

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

Other people such as Fish and Gunby are keeping tax offices busy this week.

"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 taxpayers 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.

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

Taxpayers need to mail their returns during normal business hours, he said. Three branches are allowing taxpayers to place their returns in lobby drop boxes until midnight: downtown Augusta, Martinez and Evans.

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, said IRS spokesman Mark Green.

The method of filing -- by mail or electronically -- doesn't alter the deadline.

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

Today -- also by midnight -- is the last day to file for an extension, Green said. The IRS estimates more than 300,000 Georgians will request one this year.

After today, taxpayers will have to pay penalty fees, including those for failure to file and failure to pay.

Need to mail a return?

Post offices will not have extended business hours today, but you can place your tax return in a lobby drop box at many sites to get your return postmarked by April 15, said Tim Goodwin, the acting postmaster at the Augusta Main Post Office.

IF YOU already have postage, you may use outside boxes or lobby drop boxes until midnight at the Augusta Main Post Office, 525 8th St.

IF YOU DON'T HAVE POSTAGE, you can weigh your envelope and print postage at automated centers at these locations:

- Martinez Post Office, 125 Commercial Blvd.

- Evans Post Office, 607 Ronald Reagan Drive

Filing for an extension

- Taxpayers who need extra time to file federal returns can file the Form 4868 request for an automatic extension through IRS Free File. The extension gives you an additional six months, until Oct. 15, to file the return.

- An extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. You need to estimate your tax liability and pay any balance due when you request the extension. Several payment options are available, including electronic funds withdrawal, credit card and check.

- If you are unable to pay the total balance due, you should pay as much as possible and then contact the IRS about an installment plan. Even if you can't pay the balance due, it is important to either file a return or request an extension to avoid the failure-to-file penalty. The late-filing penalty is 10 times greater than the late-payment penalty. The late-filing penalty is 5 percent per month (up to 25 percent) of the tax due. Paying as much as you can when you file your return will help reduce interest and penalty charges. The current interest rate is 4 percent.

- Make checks payable to "United States Treasury" and include your Social Security number, the tax year the payment is for (2009), and the type of tax (1040) in the memo section of the check. Also, complete and include Form 1040-V, Payment Voucher to ensure your payment is credited accurately. You can also charge federal income taxes to a credit card by contacting one of the two companies authorized by the IRS to process credit card payments.

Source: IRS


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