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Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016

Tax prep service now busy with filers

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

April Marks-Copeland, an employee at a local tax preparation firm, helps a customer.
SIKESTON -- Most people have received their W2 forms needed to file taxes and the result was a very busy Monday for tax preparation services.

Although there were lines at tax preparation services, Karen Martin, office manager for H&R Block in Sikeston, assured the waits weren't long.

"We have a lot of people working, and it may look like a long wait, but in reality it may only be a few minutes," Martin noted.

In addition to the end of January and first couple weeks of February, around April 1 until the April 15 deadline is also the busiest time during tax season -- although it's constantly steady, Martin said.

"There's plenty to do and we're trying to get everything in order," said Jeff Miles, a certified public accountant with Bucher, Essner and Miles LLC in Sikeston.

Richard Rush sole proprietor and owner of Rush Returns in Sikeston admitted business is a little slow for him this year since it's his first year in the area.

Rush advised if a person is dealing with a company for the first time, it's best to have last year's tax return on-hand.

"It saves a whole lot of time. If you have dependents and haven't dealt with that company before then bring Social Security cards for children or whatever dependents you have," Rush recommended, adding it also helps to have a picture identification available, Martin noted one of most common things customers wonder if they can claim someone as a dependent.

For those who get impatient, a function on IRS.gov called "Where's My Refund?" allows taxpayers to answer the most frequent question they pose during the tax year. All taxpayers need is their Social Security number, filing status and exact amount of their anticipated refund. Last year it was accessed over 20 million times.

In addition, be aware of tax credits available and keep really good records, experts say. For example, a person who is working a job and has to drive and use their car, if they keep track of mileage then it's possible to take it as a deduction, Martin said.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, more taxpayers are swapping their pencils for their mouse.

The IRS projects the number of individual taxpayers filing their taxes electronically will surpass 50 percent for the first time. More than half of the expected 133 million individual tax returns will be filed through IRS e-file in 2005. Last year, almost 62 million Americans used e-file.

"E-filing is getting more and more prevalent," Miles said. "The IRS is making it easier and software vendors gave upgraded their software."

This year the IRS has made e-filing simpler because now it doesn't cost to e-file over the Internet, Rush said. Before the only way to do that was go to companies, he added.

"Now you can go down to Office Max or wherever and purchase a tax-cut software program and get on the Internet and e-file for free," Rush explained.

The IRS encourages e-filing because there are less errors and it requires less manpower to calculate returns, Martin pointed out.

Also taxpayers who e-file will get their refunds in 14-21 days, and if they direct deposit for federal and state, it's a few days sooner, Martin noted.

Taxpayers should also expect a few new tax changes effective this year. One of the biggest involves the new sales tax deduction, where people will now be allowed a sales tax deduction if they itemize, Miles pointed out.

"If they itemize taxes, they will either deduct it from state and local income taxes or local general sales tax, whichever is greater," Miles explained.

Another change is now the IRS has limited the depreciation to write off for the first year of service to sport utility vehicles. However, this only applies only to vehicles placed in service after Oct. 22 and through the end of the year.

Miles suggested not waiting until the last minute to file taxes.

He said: "What I always tell people is to not procrastinate and get everything in as soon as possible because if you did have a balance due, the sooner you know, the better off you are."

For more information about tax filing, visit www.irs.gov.