Monday, February 19, 2018
Business

H&R Block, other firms open through Easter Sunday for last-minute tax filers

Procrastinators, grab your Cadbury Creme Eggs and rejoice. Taxpayers get three extra days to submit their taxes this year, and all H&R Block branches are open through Easter Sunday to help last-minute filers.

"We want to make sure people come in and get what's due to them," Riley Holmes III, St. Petersburg H&R Block office manager and tax advisor, said.

And they're not alone. Many Liberty Tax Service and Jackson Hewitt Tax Services branches are also staying open Sunday.

The usual April 15 filing deadline was extended this year because it falls on a weekend and also bumps up against Emancipation Day, which falls on a Sunday. Emancipation Day is observed in Washington, D.C., as a federal holiday the following Monday, which pushes the deadline back to Tuesday. That gives taxpayers until midnight April 18 to file their taxes or file for an extension. Check with your local post office for postmark cutoff times.

It's been eight years since Easter Sunday came within days of Tax Day.

Holmes' St. Petersburg branch is one of the 10,000 H&R Block locations around the country that will be open on Easter Sunday, including more than 50 in Tampa Bay. Last year, 41 million people waited until April to file their taxes, according to the IRS, and an additional four million are expected to do the same this round. H&R Block prepares one in seven tax returns nationally, a company spokesperson said.

"April is a very busy month for taxpayers," Holmes said adding that the stretched weekend hours will help them accommodate all late-comers. "If the Easter bunny is coming to file his taxes," he said, "we will file his taxes."

While spending Easter Sunday crunching tax numbers may not be as festive as an egg hunt, Holmes urges taxpayers to hop to filing as soon as they can to avoid mistakes and getting slapped with fees.

Submitting taxes late adds a 5 percent fee to the amount owed, and not paying owed taxes at all adds a half-percent fee.

Still, be sure to take your time with the paperwork. A few of the most common mistakes Holmes sees are taxpayers writing a Social Security number incorrectly and forgetting to include funds from a side job. Many people, too, overlook credits and deductions they can claim because they rushed to meet the deadline or didn't realize they were eligible.

Tuesday is also an especially important deadline for 2013 tax returns — yes, as in taxes from four years ago. For those who haven't filed their 2013 paperwork or haven't collected their 2013 tax return, April 18 is the final date to do so. According to the IRS, there is currently $1 billion in unclaimed funds from that year.

Worried about being able to pay the taxes you owe? The IRS has several options for payment plans, such as installments or a short-term extension.

If worse comes to worst, filing an extension can buy extra time, and it waives the 5 percent late filing fee. But do pay what you think you owe even when filing an extension to avoid the half-percent fee for failing to pay.

Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] Follow @malenacarollo.

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