Tax preparers share tips for last-minute filing - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Tax preparers share tips for last-minute filing

By Sylvia Hall – bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – The last-minute scramble to pay income tax has begun.  Tax returns are due to the IRS this Thursday, April 15. 

Tax preparer Dick Knickerbocker is bracing for a busy week ahead.

"This week is going to be chaos," he said.

Knickerbocker works at an H&R Block tax preparation site in Pascagoula.  He said the business will stay open from 8am until 9pm until Thursday, when tax returns are due.

He said the recession has left people with some complex tax issues this year, adding to tax-time anxiety.

"A lot of people are coming in with unemployment," he said.  "A lot of people are struggling to make ends meet. They're going to be upset, they're going to be tense.  People get nervous when it comes to tax time."

Theresa Ryan understands why.  She said for most people, tax laws can be pretty hard to understand.

"I used to do my own myself all the time, and I just thought, too many headaches," said Ryan, who said she finds the laws that govern taxes complicated.

But Knickerbocker said talking with a professional or doing a little research can make the tax process a lot easier and in some cases, cheaper.  Amid the laws are certain deductions, some of them new.  Knowledge of those laws could help keep tax payments lower, according to Knickerbocker.

"They did have a making work pay credit to help them out," he said.  "Now some other things that have helped people out are the first time home buyers credit, where the first time home buyer can get up to $8,000.  Second time home buyer, person who has had a house can get up to $6,500, the other thing was a credit for people who bought a new vehicle in 2009.  Because the sales tax they paid on that was taken out as a deduction."

He said his job, and the job of other tax preparers, is to ensure that nobody misses out on tax breaks available to them.  Many of them, he said, are often overlooked by individuals.

"You better ask questions because you want to make sure you're getting the most you can get out of your taxes," he said.  "People who have children that are in school, people that are self-employed; they have what's called a ‘Schedule C.' They [self-employed people] don't stop to think about all their expenses.  Like if they have to get a license, that's deductible, certain types of work clothes are deductible.  If you have to go to school for special training, that becomes a deductible.  There are just a lot of different things."

IRS.gov has answers to common tax questions, including some tough ones like "What do I do if I lost my job?" or "what if I've lost my house through foreclosure?"  Knickerbocker said it's important to go ahead and get those questions answered now, and not wait until April 15.

"They need to come in and get their taxes done and get it over with," he said.

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