Clock ticking for local tax preparers

Published 11:10 am Saturday, April 10, 2010

FRANKLIN—Jennifer Wood is preparing for a long weekend of work.

An administrative assistant for Burgess & Co., Wood will be assisting the Franklin accounting firm’s six tax preparers with clients’ tax returns, which must be filed by April 15.

“We will work throughout the weekend, 12 to 24 hours (a day) until April 15,” she said. “And then we breathe.”

The Internal Revenue Service expects to receive approximately 10 million extension requests in 2010, which is about the same as last year, according to the federal agency’s Web site. Those requests will come from people who do not meet the April 15 deadline.

“We’ve been super busy, so much that I can’t really give you anyone to talk to,” Wood said when The Tidewater News called to talk to a tax preparer on Friday.

Changes in tax laws and additional tax credits means fewer people are doing taxes on their own, she said.

“Our tax preparers have been putting in extremely long hours, late nights and into the early-morning hours,” Wood said

The office has been receiving multiple calls and walk-ins, yet Wood says they have “controlled chaos.”

“There is a measure of control. We have a very efficient system on how things are handled,” she said. “But the volume is so much it turns into ‘controlled chaos.’”

Things are also busy for this year’s tax season at Liberty Tax Service in Franklin.

“It’s been pretty good,” said office manager Sandra Story. “The first few weeks were great, then it evened off and now we’re expecting the last roll.”

“The people who want their money right now came in first,” Story continued. “The people who owe wait until the last minute. They come in from the 12th to the 14th (of April).”

Liberty Tax Service will extend its hours until 3:30 p.m. Saturday and until 7 p.m. next week. Tax preparers will remain at the office until about 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Story encourages folks to file extensions to avoid penalties if they cannot meet the April 15 deadline.

“The IRS will contact them and set up a payment arrangement,” she said.

Story’s office also recommends that folks filing simple tax returns file online.

“If they’re going to get back $150 and they pay us $100, we tell them to go online,” she said.