Experts Urge Preparing Taxes Early - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/12/06

Experts Urge Preparing Taxes Early

Bernard Steplight meets with an H&R Block tax preparer. Bernard Steplight meets with an H&R Block tax preparer.

The dreaded tax day is right around the corner. Have you done your taxes yet? This year, since April 15 falls on a Saturday, the IRS has moved the tax deadline to Monday, April 17. But you still may not want to wait until the last minute.

"This is a little late for me this year," said Bernard Steplight of Whitemarsh Island, who usually has his taxes done by March. "I've just been busy. The deadline's approaching so I've got to get it done today."

This year, he's one of the many who waited until the last week. "I'm usually more timely in my returns, but this year it snuck up on me," Steplight said.

According to the IRS, one in five taxpayers waits until the final week to file, and more than 20 percent--about 27 million taxpayers--wait until the last minute.

"I'm expecting to be very busy," said LaShanda Reid, an officer manager at a Savannah H&R Block. Reid says H&R Block's business will go from 25 customers day to a hundred or more on deadline day. "The latest I've been here is midnight and that was last year, because we still have a lot of people who wait until the last minute."

Even though we have an extra two days until the tax deadline this year, tax experts say there are plenty of reasons why you'll want to file now. For one, it could save you a lot of money.

"If they have the time, they can actually get together everything we need for itemizing and compare it with the standard deduction and that makes a big difference on the tax return," said Reid.

Reid says charitable contributions, medical expenses and job expenses can all add up. "It can make a difference between paying $500 and having a refund of $500."

Meaning time really is money.

Remember, if you owe, you can file for an automatic six-month extension. But you'll have to pay what you owe by the 17 to avoid penalties. If you're getting a refund, you don't need to file an extension. You'll have up to three years to file for your refund.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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