Taxpayers face crunch time

By Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The deadline for filing your taxes is one week away.
Nationally, more taxpayers are expected to scramble to their computers to electronically file their returns and save a few bucks by skipping an accountant or tax preparer. And if they do use someone else, the trend is for the tax professional to speed up the process by electronically filing the return.
The Internal Revenue Service estimates it will receive 95 million returns via e-file, up from last year’s record amount. Overall, the IRS forecasts it will get about 140 million individual tax returns, both electronic and paper.
As of March 12, 88 percent of the tax returns filed in Mississippi were done electronically.
Of the e-file returns in the state, the IRS said 72 percent were done by tax professionals, down 4.2 percent from last year.
Self-prepared e-file returns made up 28 percent of the total, up 11.1 percent from last year.
In Northeast Mississippi, an unscientific survey done by the Daily Journal found many taxpayers who prefer to hire an accountant to do their taxes.
“I’ve been using the same person for several, several years and I’m confident in him,” said Shana Holmes of Saltillo, who filed her taxes a month ago.
Leanne Earls of Tupelo also used an accountant to file her taxes this year, something she’s done in the past and plans to do in the future.
“It’s easier to hire someone else to do it than go through the hassle,” Earls said. “And I’m not a big computer guru.”
But William Lacey of Blue Springs is firmly on the other side of the discussion. He’s been doing his own taxes with the help of tax preparation software and is quick to recommend self-prepared returns.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” Lacey said. “I don’t see the point in paying somebody $250 to do something I could do myself.”
The trick, he said, is forcing himself to file his tax return.
“That’s the hardest part,” he said. “I’m a putter-offer. It’ll be midnight on the 14th before I do it because I’ve got to write a check.”
Jay Rider of Guntown also has to file his taxes in the next week. He’s self-employed, so he uses an accountant to help him sort out his personal and business information for tax purposes.
He likes putting the responsibility in someone else’s hands.
But if his taxes weren’t complicated with his business, he said he would use tax preparation software and do his taxes himself.
“If I was doing a 1040EZ, I probably would,” he said. “But because there’s a lot more paperwork, it’s easier to get somebody else to do it. That way, if the IRS calls me, I can just point at them.”

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Tips for last-minute filers
• If you file on paper, avoid delays in processing by:
– Double-checking all figures.
– Ensuring Social Security numbers are correct.
– Signing forms where required.
– Attaching required schedules and forms.
– Mailing returns or request extensions by the April 15 filing deadline.
• If you have a balance due and don’t file a tax return by April 15, you face interest on the unpaid taxes as well as a failure-to-file penalty. If you can’t file by the deadline, request an extension.
• Even if you get an extension, pay all or some of the balance due by April 15 or you will incur interest and a penalty.
• If you can’t pay the full amount, pay as much as possible to minimize interest and penalties.
• Free electronic filing is available to everyone via the IRS Web site, IRS.gov.
• Your refund can be automatically deposited into a bank or financial account. Direct deposit is faster than a paper check and is more secure.
• For more information, go to IRS.gov.
SOURCE: IRS.GOV