Tax Day: The final rush in Nebraska

Accountant Barbara Burr works on tax forms. The deadline to file taxes is April 15.

Accountant Barbara Burr works on tax forms. The deadline to file taxes is April 15.

Story and photos by Jordan Kranse, NewsNetNebraska

At noon on April 15, better known as Tax Day, accountant Barbara Burr’s office is quiet for the first time all day.

“It’s kind of nice to have a little peace and quiet around the lunch hour,” Barbara Burr, the executive accountant of Burr Business Service, said. “It won’t last.”

Like many other services, Burr’s company Burr Business Service is filing taxes on Tax Day for their hundreds of clients. Not all services want to have the short down time that Burr’s office had. Tom Eklund, one of the owners of  the 48th Street Liberty Tax Service location, is hoping to help file 25 to 40 returns on Tax Day.

“These last two days are high volume days,” Eklund said.

As of April 10, about 698,000 individual income returns had been filed with the Nebraska Department of Revenue. Last year, about 811,000 were filed overall, according to the state revenue department.

“We’re looking at probably over 100,000 returns today,” Kim Conroy, Tax Commissioner for Nebraska, said. “We have a strong IT staff monitoring returns coming in to make sure everything runs smoothly.”

Filing at the last minute

People all have different reasons for filing last minute. Burr, Eklund and Conroy said that they thought one of the biggest reasons is just procrastination.

“They don’t have all their information or they come in thinking ‘I’ll just file,’ and then they don’t like the result,” Eklund said.

“I think people just jam their schedule too full of stuff, and who likes filing taxes?” Burr said.

Tax TriviaKerra Witherspoon, a graduate student at UNL, is filing at the last minute mostly because she hasn’t had time.

“I’m just busy with school and work,” the UNL graduate student said.

Kerra is one of over 20 people that Liberty Tax Services co-owner Tim Eklund estimated they helped on Tax Day, and one of thousands of others filing on Tax Day in Nebraska.

Electronic filing

Though it’s not advised to wait until the last second, electronic filing has made it a lot easier for people who do, both for individuals filing their own taxes and companies filing taxes for clients. In Nebraska, 92.2 percent of returns that have already been turned in have been filed electronically and only about 7 percent turned in will be on paper, according to Conroy.

“What’s good about electronic filing is you could have filled out your file back in February,” Conroy said. “But with electronic filing you can schedule your payment for today.”

Burr says that they handle all of their services electronically.

“I don’t think I’ve had anyone in the last 10 years that has come in and requested a paper file to mail in,” she said.

Lisa Wilcox of Burr Business Services prepares customer forms to file for income taxes.

Lisa Wilcox of Burr Business Services prepares customer forms to file for income taxes.

If you file late

Burr Business Service cuts off their appointments for tax preparation and filing on April 9 and requires clients to turn in materials for their tax filing by a certain date. This way, the business can focus the weeks leading up to Tax Day on helping clients with problems in their returns and with filing for extensions.

“These last two weeks of taxes are where we have found mistakes,” she said. “I’d much rather say to you ‘I’m going to put you on extension so I can do it properly for you.'”

If a client doesn’t have their paperwork ready on time, she helps them file for an extension so she and her staff have some additional time to work on the it. However, she does warn clients that filing for an extension doesn’t mean getting a free ride for a couple of months.

“Anyone can ask for an extension for the information, not the money. So if they think they’re going to have money due, they have to estimate, or I do, how much and pay on the 15th,” she said.

Conroy said if you aren’t expecting to pay, but are expecting a refund, there is no rush to get your taxes in.

“If you know you are getting a refund and don’t have the paperwork, don’t panic,” she said. “You can turn it in later this week, but you really have three years to turn it in.”

The tax season is over

Though they are glad for the work, employees at Liberty Tax Service and Burr Business Service are ready for the tax season to end.

“It’s done, it’s time,” Eklund’s co-owner Rich Morris said.

Their work isn’t completely done after Tax Day. They’ll still have extensions and other special cases to file, but the brunt of their work is finished until next season.

“There’s still tons of work to do,” Lisa Wilcox, a first year employee at Burr, said. “But at least the fast and furious deadline is done today.”

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