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Deadline looms for April 15 tax day

By ALLISON MILES
April 6, 2013 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated April 6, 2013 at 11:07 p.m.

David Lang, left, and his wife, Kimberly, right, have their taxes done by Lona Nesloney with Liberty Tax Service on Sam Houston Drive in Victoria. This is the Victoria couple's first time using the company.

Still need to file those taxes?

The Internal Revenue Service has a few tips to help ease the experience:

Don't delay.

• Avoid waiting until the very end. You may miss savings and are more likely to make errors.

Visit IRS.gov.

• The website offers a variety of tips and tools to help along the way.

Use Free File.

• Free, brand-name tax software is available for those who earn $57,000 or less. Those who make more than that and are comfortable doing their own taxes can use Free File Fillable Forms. Access these programs and forms at IRS.gov/freefile.

Try IRS e-file.

• Those who owe taxes can file now and delay payment until the April 15 deadline.

File on time.

• If you owe taxes when you file but can't pay it all by April 15, still file on time and pay what you can. This minimizes penalties and interest payments. You can also request an installment agreement. Apply using the Online Payment Agreement tool at IRS.gov, or Form 9465, available at IRS.gov, or by calling 800-TAX-FORM.

File an extension.

• If your return isn't ready by April 15, you can get a six-month extension. E-file the extension using the Free File program or Form 4868. Download the free form at IRS.gov or call 800-TAX-FORM to receive a form by mail.

Source: Internal Revenue Service news release

With one son already ruling the roost and a second born six weeks back, Johnny Varela's to-do list is filled with family time, trips to the store, diaper changes and more. Factor in a day job, and there isn't much wiggle room.

Still, the Victoria resident has one other task to work into the mix: his taxes.

"I've been busy working," the maintenance technician said, strapping 13-month-old son Zachary John Varela into his stroller. "I get out late, and by then, everything's closed. But I need to do it."

But Varela isn't alone.

As that looming April 15 deadline approaches, tax professionals say they prepare for an upswing in business.

The first six weeks of the season tend to be the busiest, said Lona Nesloney, manager of Liberty Tax Service on Sam Houston Drive. Still, she said, the final days bring an onslaught all their own.

"Then it's the people who don't have all their receipts together or have to file an extension," she said, noting her office remains open until nearly midnight toward the end. "The last two weeks are kind of crazy."

Late nights or not, Nesloney said the staff typically weathers the storm pretty easily.

"We're used to it," she said.

Belinda Santos owns Belinda Santos Tax Service and has been in the business nearly 13 years. Like Nesloney, she said she has adjusted to the season's highs and lows.

Although she doesn't have set hours - Santos works from home and adjusts to her clients' schedules - she even works Sundays as April 15 nears.

"I've gotten calls all morning from people wanting to set something up," she said Tuesday, noting she does about 500 returns a year. "I've even been calling some clients, reminding them the deadline's coming."

Not all tax businesses experience the same rush, however.

The season's final days bring in some - but not too much - extra business at El Campo's New Quest Tax Service, said Susana Cruz, a tax preparer with the company. Saturdays tend to be their busiest day.

Really, she said, the company's extra work comes from the employees' end.

"We focus on bookkeeping, so that's what we're crunching down on," Cruz said. "We're finishing up work for clients."

Cruz encouraged Crossroads residents who think they will owe money to file as soon as possible to avoid penalties and paying interest.

"The deadline is for those who owe," she said, noting people who will receive a refund can hold off. "Get in before the deadline."

As for Varela, he said he hopes to get the task out of the way soon but dreads the visit. A student loan, he said, will likely eat up any refund.

Still, he encouraged others to avoid waiting until the very end.

That's advice Amanda Vasquez, Varela's wife, took to heart. Although her husband has not yet filed, she did so early on.

With a new baby, that refund helped, she said.

"It's good to know it's done and out of the way," she said, rocking tiny Bradley Jax Varela in her arms. "But I think people should do whatever is best for them and their families."

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