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Published: 4/9/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

Tax-preparers brace for rush

Last-minute changes, updates to forms delayed many returns

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Tax filing day isn't until Monday, but several circumstances this year has meant the rush to get last-minute tax preparation help is in full swing.

Demand by taxpayers for tax help is much heavier than usual this year, said Donna Russell, co-owner of All Pro Tax & Accounting Services of Toledo.

“You have to take in consideration that normally you can electronically file on around Jan. 14 or 15. But this year you couldn’t file until Jan. 30,” Ms. Russell said. “This year’s unusual because we’ve got people who normally come in in January and February who are just now making their appointments. And many of these are people who knew they couldn’t file until February but waited,” she added.

Ms. Russell said she and other tax preparers have been starting their days in recent weeks at 6 a.m. "And we are planning on having some very late nights," she added.

Many forms used for filing changed this year, creating a delay when the IRS started accepting tax returns for processing.

It was not until March 4 that the Internal Revenue Service announced that it had updated its tax-processing systems to allow all remaining individuals and business taxpayers to file their returns. The IRS had been accepting 2012 returns in phases, beginning Jan. 30, while updating forms and instructions to comply with late changes made by Congress.

Also this year taxpayers must file by April 15, which is the traditional deadline. Last year, they had a two-day extension with the tax deadline falling on April 17 because April 15 fell on a Sunday and April 16 was the Emancipation Day holiday in the District of Columbia.

“This year a lot of people put off filing because of all the rumors — that there were problems with forms and forms being delayed,” said Sharon Roberts, manager of the H&R Block office in Holland. “As a result, we have seen it picking up today even though we are a week out. And I expect it to be a lot busier towards the end of the week.”

“It really seems like [the rush] is starting later this year. We called clients to move their appointments forward so we can take a lot of walk-ins later in the week,” Ms. Roberts said.

According to the IRS, returns filed electronically represent about 80 percent of the tax returns that will be filed in Ohio this year.

As of last year's April 17 deadline the federal government received 4.4 million e-filed tax returns from taxpayers with Ohio addresses. That increased to about 4.6 million e-filed returns on Nov. 24 after late returns were factored in.

This year, the government estimates it will get nearly 4.8 million e-filed returns from Ohio, but as of April 7, the IRS reported that it had accepted just over 3.6 million electronically-filed returns, meaning the government expects 1.2 million more electronic tax returns to be filed this year, with possibly 1 million or so being filed these next seven days alone.

Overall, Ohioans are expected to file 5.8 million forms, with 1 million individual taxpayers filing paper forms.

Nationally, through March 29 there had been 88.2 million tax returns filed, down nearly 4 percent from a year ago when 91.9 million had been filed.

So far, 79 million of the 88.2 million total returns filed have been electronically filed, a decrease of 2.2 percent from last year's total.

The government has issued 72.2 million refunds totaling $201.5 billion. The average refund has been $2,790, down 1.3 percent.

Contact Jon Chavez at:

jchavez@theblade.com

or 419-724-6128.



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