A time for taxes

Published 9:42 am Monday, April 11, 2011

Tax season is almost finished for many people, and tax services in Albert Lea are seeing a rush of last-minute filers.

Bob Smith, owner of Albert Lea Tax Service, said some people even come in on the last possible filing date, and they do their best to help them file in time.

Paul Dyvig, left, talks with Bob Smith Friday at Albert Lea Tax Service. Many of their clients wait until close to the deadline to file their taxes. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

“It’s not uncommon on the final day to have people walk in at 4,” Smith said.

Email newsletter signup

Smith said some other tax service agencies aren’t able to see people last minute because they’re booked with appointments. Albert Lea Tax Service has customers leave their filing and come back when it’s done, which allows the workers to work nights and weekends to complete the filings. He said he understands why some people like to wait until the last minute to file.

“You avoid what you don’t like,” Smith said. “Some people say it’s worse than going to the dentist.”

He said a common misconception people have is that they’ll owe money to the Internal Revenue Service, which is why some people avoid filing. He said it’s best to file as soon as possible because the IRS will work out payment plans, and you’ll want to avoid penalties.

There are penalties for not paying what is due by the deadline and for not filing if you owe. There is no penalty for filing late if you’re expecting a refund, and you can file at your convenience. For others, the deadline is usually April 15, but this year it was extended to April 18 because of a holiday celebrated in the District of Columbia called Emancipation Day.

Bob Smith looks at a tax return on Friday. He said many people come in right before the tax filing deadline. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Some of Smith’s workers have had 80-hour weeks when they’re at their busiest trying to complete filings. He said work slows a bit after the deadline, but then they start working with extensions and people who’ve gotten penalties.

In the event of a government shutdown, which was averted Friday, Smith said the IRS has said it wouldn’t affect tax returns. Filing deadline would not have changed either.

Bruce Owens, technology specialist at Senior Resources in Albert Lea, said there are certain things people can do to make their tax filings go smoother. People should have proof of all income they received, identification, property tax statement or rent credit statement and any other tax papers they’ve received. It also helps tax filers to have the previous year’s filing, because they’re often similar.

“They need proof of any sort of income source,” Owens said.

Senior Resources provides tax services for free to people with moderate to low incomes, or less than $50,000. They also work with seniors with any amount of income. He said it’s a misconception that they only provide tax services to seniors.

“We ask for a donation and most give something,” Owens said.

Owens said people still have time to file, and if they need help to call Senior Resources at 377-7433. He said they’ll work around schedules to help people get an appointment if possible.