Professionals offer tips for last-minute taxes

Published 10:22 am Sunday, April 12, 2015

Local tax preparers say they are working overtime to help customers file before the April 15 tax deadline.

Tax preparers at both H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt Tax Services in Bogalusa say business has been more than brisk as people try and beat the tax deadline. Both H&R Block’s Deidre Singleton and Jackson Hewitt’s Tashona Jefferson offered some tips for people before they file their taxes.

“If you can’t make the April 15 deadline, it’s very important to file for an extension if you owe taxes.” Singleton said. “You are assessed a penalty if you don’t file.”

Singleton said while an extension buys an individual more time to file and avoid a late-filing penalty, if taxes are owed, interest will be assessed on the amount.

Individuals who do not have to pay in can rest a little easier, according to Singleton.

“If you don’t have a tax due, you are not penalized if you don’t file on time,” Singleton said.

Singleton also suggested citizens request a payment plan from the Internal Revenue Service.

“This is always a good thing so the IRS knows you are trying to honor your balance,” Singleton said. “The more money you pay, it’s less interest. You do need to contact the IRS for to get on the installment plan.

The installment plan service from the IRS comes with a price. There is a setup fee of $52, or $105 for plans without direct debit withdrawals.

“It’s also a good idea to do estimate payments because it minimizes your balance if you are someone who is owing taxes.” Singleton said.

According to Singleton, one of the keys in filing tax returns is remaining calm and taking your time.

“You want to gather up all your documents because you might overlook critical deductions that can lower your taxes,” Singleton. “You do not want to have any unrecorded documentation.”

Singleton also suggested E-filing taxes to the IRS.

“E-filing is the best way to make sure the IRS gets your tax return,” Singleton said. “It’s the quickest and most efficient way.”

Jefferson works out of the Jackson Hewitt office at Walmart.

“We’ve been pretty busy because the tax season is about to end,” Jefferson said. “We do quite a lot of taxes for people who wait until the last minute. The first week of April is crunch time.”

Jefferson said first-time filers should not be afraid of filing their own taxes.

“We have a lot of people who are scared because they just don’t know what to do or come in to ask questions,” Jefferson said. “They want to know if they should purchase a home or vehicle and should they itemize everything. They want to know if they itemize things like having a child in college.”

Jefferson said she thought people are more at ease if they use professionals to do their taxes.

“A professional can reassure them if there is something to be paid,” Jefferson said. “Some want to know how far back should they go if they haven’t filed taxes in a long time. You’ve got some of the younger ones with first-time jobs who are scared to file on their own. We let them know what to do and help them get their money’s worth.”