Tax deadline keeps preparers, filers hopping in Auburn

April 15 deadline signals a last-minute rush to many preparation businesses
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A late start for producing forms turned Monday’s Tax Day into an even busier one for preparers and filers alike in Auburn.

At Auburn’s H&R Block, manager Thomas Brenner said that his office is seeing more people filing for extensions on filing a return because of the later-than-normal publication of several forms due to a prolonged “fiscal cliff” debate late last year.

“What we ran into primarily was the late start,” Brenner said. “The word seemed to get out that the IRS was not accepting returns until the end of January instead of the middle of January. Now, as we’re nearing the end, we’re having a big push.”

The extension is open to everyone but requires an estimated payment. Both federal and state income-tax extensions are Oct. 15.

“People still need to file but should also include an estimate and a check that’s as close as possible to the amount owed,” Brenner said. “We’ve absolutely had an increase in extensions this year and the wave is about two weeks behind. A lot aren’t prepared to file.”

Ken Tokutomi, of Auburn accounting firm Tokutomi & Caruthers, said that his firm is also seeing the impact of drawn-out “fiscal cliff” negotiations.

“The problem for the 2012 tax year is that congressmen in their wisdom didn’t pass the Tax Act until Jan. 2, leaving the IRS behind the eight-ball for writing language into forms and the public unable to start filing on the usual date,” Tokutomi said. “I think that gave people a false impression that they didn’t have to get their stuff in earlier.”

Tokutomi, who’s been preparing taxes for more than 30 years, said his firm doesn’t have a walk-in base of clients so it expects to deal only with emergencies on tax-filing day. Tokutomi said that took place Monday but there was time built in to deal with it.

“We have a certain number of clients and we bug them and bug them to hand their information in,” Tokutomi said. “We’ve worked six days a week since January and today is a day to put out fires. We always expect them. I should have been on the golf course today and there’s still the possibility I will be.”

Tax returns and payments were to be postmarked by Monday to avoid penalties.

Iwan Djahjadi, Liberty Tax Service franchise owner for the Elm Avenue branch in Auburn, also said that Monday was turning into a busy day with last-minute filers trouping to the office.

“We are very busy,” Djahjadi said. “With all that has happened with the fiscal cliff and the IRS postponing the filing date, it has tended to push people toward the end.”

Djahjadi said Liberty Tax would be open until midnight - or until the last customer leaves.

On Tuesday, Liberty will be continuing its tax preparation work. Djahjadi said appointments have been made to finalize tax returns with some of the customers who have filed extensions.

Two employees who won’t be back at work are familiar faces to Auburn motorists — dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume as they wave a sign for the business. Their last day was Monday.

“We’re going to miss them,” Djahjadi said. “They’re a couple of good sign wavers and have told us they’re looking forward to come back again next year.”

Djahjadi said that Jan. 2 is the projected date to have the sign wavers return - signaling the start of another tax season.