04/15/04 — More file taxes electronically, fewer in Post Office lines

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More file taxes electronically, fewer in Post Office lines

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on April 15, 2004 2:00 PM

Goldsboro tax offices are still having last-minute filers, and many are choosing to send their forms electronically to the IRS.

Unlike past years, post offices in the county aren't planning to stay open late on this tax deadline day.

Sharon Ruffin, office manager of Express Tax Returns at 2607 Royall Ave., said around 20 people have come in over the last couple of days with complicated tax returns. Many are people who own their own businesses and have to itemize everything or those who still need to file their taxes dating back to 2001.

Gene Palmer

News-Argus/Kaye Nesbit

Gene Palmer at the Post Office on Cashwell Drive weighs an IRS return for postage.

She has noticed more people filing on line this year. She estimated that two out of every 100 customers still feel more comfortable mailing their returns.

Her office is usually busy up until the second or third week in March and then there is a lull where there may be no customers all day. It picks up again in April, and it is now open from 9 a.m. until the last person receives assistance. It also had to open last weekend to accommodate last-minute filers, and she has been there as late as 10:30 p.m.

She said the only real problem this year is that people received money from the government last year, as an advanced child tax credit, and some forgot they received it. They are supposed to deduct that amount from their forms.

The filers send their tax forms in and have a conflict with the IRS, which says it does not owe the people that money, she said. She has asked all who come in if they received a check last fall to make sure they indicate it on their forms. She said people are getting their refunds in around three weeks.

Other tax business employees are also noticing more people filing on line.

Julie Suggs, operations manager with H&R Block at 1723 E. Ash St., said her office has been assisting over 100 clients a day over the last couple of days. She estimates that 90 percent of her clients file on line.

They will stay open until midnight tonight and have been working as late as 3 a.m. to finish their client's taxes, some of which take several hours each to do. Her advice is for people to keep their receipts, ask for tax advice early on and be prepared before coming in. She has also noticed a problem with people forgetting they already received their advanced child tax credit.

Donna Uzzell, an accountant with Pinewood Tax and Accounting Service at 1401-C N. Berkeley Blvd., said her office mostly does extensions the last few days before tax day. About 100 people have asked for an extension, which is fewer than last year.

The office prepares around 1,200 returns per year and 90 percent of those are filed in February, March and April. The office sends 99 percent of them electronically, and that number is growing each year.

She said it has been busier throughout the year instead of people coming in at the last minute. This is a good sign and probably indicates that they are getting money back and are more anxious to file early, she said. The office has extended its hours to 6 p.m. during the week.

Post offices in Wayne County reported that they were fairly busy this morning trying to accommodate the final rush of people.

Ruby Davis, supervisor of customer service at the post office at 200 N. William St., said it always seems to be busy on tax day because some people just like to wait until the last minute. She said she has not noticed more people opting to do their taxes on line instead of through mail.

The office opened at 8 a.m. and she said they had served about 100 customers by 10 a.m. She said the William Street location and the post office at 3100 Cashwell Drive will close at 5 p.m.

Yancy Musgrave, assistant postmaster at the Dudley post office at 4219 U.S. 117 S. Alternate, estimated that it served between 400 and 500 people Wednesday who came inside to send their tax returns. She said they had received only tax returns this morning, and she expects it to be busy all day.

She said she can tell a tremendous difference in the number of people opting to file their returns electronically instead of through mail. They are usually busy the whole week taxes are due, but that has not been the case this year, she added. The office will close at 4:30 p.m. today.