Tax preparers gear up for last-minute rush

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The taxman cometh.

And as April 15 looms, area tax preparers are getting ready for the late-filer crunch in different ways and note several potential money-savers introduced this year by the Internal Revenue Service.

But waiting too late in the game could mean delays for those who want professional tax advise.

"There will be a point after April 10 we'll tell people we're going to have to file extensions," said Craig tax preparer Archie Albaugh, adding that last year's late rush led to about 80 extension filings.

At Craig's H&R Block, owner Barb Dunckley said the office plans to stop scheduling appointments three to four days leading up to the deadline in anticipation of a strong late walk-in crowd likely to swamp her three tax preparers.

"Usually they've just waited for a certain piece of tax information to arrive, or they're going to owe," Dunckley said.

Dunckley noted several new twists to the tax code that might get some people

paid instead.

Among the popular additions is the government's "educator credit" -- allowing teachers or teacher's aides who have paid out-of-pocket for materials related to the job an automatic $250 deduction off the adjusted gross-income line.

Moreover, a "savers credit" allows taxpayers at certain income levels who have contributed to retirement accounts to take a 10 to 50 percent credit on the total tax line.

"That one's made quite a big difference," Dunckley said.

Albaugh, meanwhile, cited a popular "depreciation bonus" implemented this year, which targets specific types of property that were added to a business during 2002.

Returns processed so far have mirrored last year's financial woes, he said.

"Many have lost on the market and generally they've had lower taxes," Albaugh said.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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