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Business as usual on tax deadline

 

Allen Baswell

 

With the deadline to file your income taxes hours away -- before closing time at local post offices, to be precise -- some area tax filing services say they''re getting a little more business, while other accountants say it''s business as usual. 

 

For those filing paper returns, the downtown Columbus Post Office will close at its regular time today at 5 p.m., while the main office on Bluecutt Road is scheduled to close at 6 p.m. Postal officials said mail in outside boxes will be collected at the regular times listed. 

 

Henry Mixon, a window clerk at the downtown post office in Columbus, said he has seen a few people come in this morning to mail their tax returns. 

 

"It''ll get busier as the day goes on, especially later in the afternoon I''m sure," he said. 

 

Mixon said he has already filed his taxes, and like many others, he decided to file them online. 

 

"The state and federal government encourages you to file online, but there are some who still wish to mail them," he said. 

 

Mixon said he has had a lot of requests from people wanting forms to fill out their taxes, but he said the post office does not have them. 

 

"There have been a few to come in the past few days wanting a tax form, but I have to send them to someone who prepares taxes or to the library," he said. 

 

Wanda Holley, a representative with Watkins, Ward and Stafford, a certified public accounting firm in Columbus, said her office was "seeing about the same number of people we normally see by this time." 

 

"We are seeing more people wait until the last minute to file. There is a combination of things that make them wait until the last minute," said Linda Sexton, a representative with Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, which has an office at the Towne Square Shopping Center in Columbus on 18th Avenue North. 

 

Some late filers do not get all of their information that allows them the chance to file earlier than now, Sexton noted. 

 

"Sometimes they do not get their W-2 forms on time, or other important information, such as if they have a mortgage or something," she said. "There are some who know they owe something, and they wait. Those are the biggest challenges for those who file late." 

 

There are those who can file for an extension if circumstances warrant, she said. 

 

"You will have until Oct. 15 to file, if you get the extension," she said. 

 

According to information from the Internal Revenue Service Web site, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. Individuals need to estimate their tax liability and pay any balance due when the extension is requested. Several payment options are available, including electronic funds withdrawal, credit card and check. 

 

Some taxpayers automatically receive extensions to file. For example, military personnel serving in a combat zone have 180 days after leaving the combat zone to file their returns. 

 

Sexton said it is best to file returns early, even if there is the chance you owe. 

 

"It is best to file early in order to have a more accurate return. And if you need to owe, someone can work with you to find out what you owe, and why," she said. 

 

Many who file their taxes have them filed electronically instead of mailing paper returns. 

 

"It is easier for them, and it is free," Sexton said. 

 

Scott Perkins, who has a certified public accounting firm on Bluecutt Road, said work has been normal for him and his staff as the tax filing deadline approaches. 

 

"We haven''t had anything out of the ordinary," he said. "We work with individuals as well as corporations helping them file their income taxes. Everything has been calm." 

 

Still, the tax deadline won''t go completely quietly. Local Tea Party chapters are holding rallies today, to voice their displeasure with the federal government. The Starkville Tea Party was rallying at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse at noon, while the Columbus chapter planned to gather on the Lowndes County Courthouse steps at 5:15 p.m.

 

Allen Baswell is a former staff reporter for The Dispatch

 

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