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Extensions available for those who need more time on their taxes

By ALLISON MILES
April 14, 2010 at 8:01 p.m.
Updated April 13, 2010 at 11:14 p.m.


MAILING OFF YOUR TAXES ON THURSDAY?

Victoria's Main Street post office, 312 S. Main St., will accept mail drop-offs at its outside collection boxes through midnight, said Ken Epley, Victoria's postmaster.

Mail dropped off before the midnight deadline will receive an April 15 postmark.

The post office offers the service each year because people can use that extra time on tax day, he explained.

"We're all creatures of habit," Epley said, adding he expects a couple thousand people to take advantage of the hours. "We put things off until the last minute.

The post office lobby will close at its regular time, 5 p.m.

Epley advised people to pay close attention to their returns before dropping them into the box. Make sure all forms are enclosed, he said, and that they have the proper postage.

"The IRS won't pay for postage," he said.

Free time? With Thursday's looming income tax deadline, it's something Kenneth Butschek hasn't had lately.

Butschek, who owns Liberty Tax Services offices in Victoria, DeWitt and Lavaca counties, hasn't even gotten around to his own taxes.

"I won't get mine or my children's done before Thursday because I'm doing everyone else's," he said, explaining things have been busy and his children didn't get their information to him. "But I can Saturday. For me, it's simply a matter of convenience."

Luckily for Butschek, as well as many people nationwide, tax extensions are readily available.

An estimated 10 million people nationwide will request extensions this year, according to information on the IRS Web site.

Extensions are automatic and anyone can apply for one, said Collins Henry, an enrolled agent who has prepared taxes since 1974.

All it takes is a Form 4868, which the filer can either submit by mail or online.

The extension applies only to filing, he warned, and any taxes owed are due on April 15.

"That's why a lot of people get them," Henry said. "They think they're getting extra time to pay, but it's not true."

He advised people to make a good faith estimate as to how much they'll owe and pay that amount if possible. Otherwise, they incur penalties for late payment.

When it comes to determining how much is owed, Butschek advised business owners to pay about what they owed last year. It's likely to be similar and, although they will still see some penalties and interest, they won't be exorbitant.

"That's exactly what I'm going to do," he said. "And it's only for a very short period of time. In my case, three days."

Local tax preparers see about 15 percent of their business come in during the 10 days leading up to April 15, Butschek said, and about 30 percent of those people file for extensions.

Liberty Tax Services will file 45 to 70 extensions, he said.

Once a person receives the extension, they have until Oct. 15 to file, Butschek said, but it's important not to procrastinate.

The penalty for not filing taxes is much heavier than filing for an extension.

"Just go in there, take your medicine and get it over with," he said, explaining it lightens a person's mental frame of mind for the rest of the year. "The worst thing a person can do is to do nothing."

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