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Tue, May 21

Like it or not, April 15 is just around the corner

PRESCOTT - With just about a month to go until the April 15 deadline to file federal income tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service said it has received about 40 percent of the returns it expects to get this year, and has issued more than 48 million refunds.

IRS agent Bill Brunson said about 80 percent of taxpayers, both in Arizona and nationally, file electronically, which can be from a home computer, a library, or a tax preparation service that uses a computer to file after the client presents them with paper documents.

The move to electronic filing means the IRS stopped mailing paper tax packages in 2011, and they have become hard to find at post offices and libraries as well. They're available directly from the IRS at 1-800-TAX FORM, or the Taxpayer Assistance Center office at Prescott Catholic Charities at 434 W. Gurley Street, phone 445-5922.

The use of computer software to file helps alleviate one of the most common mistakes made on forms: math errors, Brunson said. Other errors include forgetting to sign the form - if the filing status is "married filing jointly," both spouses must sign; forgetting to include dependants' social security numbers; forgetting to claim all income; and filing status mistakes, such as using "head of household" when the filer is actually single.

Taxpayers who can't get their returns ready on time can always request a six-month extension, which means the return is due Oct. 15. But that is extra time to file, not an extension of time to pay, and interest will accrue.

On the other hand, Brunson noted, taxpayers who can't pay their bill should still file on time, and simply pay as much as possible. The IRS will work out a payment plan, which will include penalties and interest. There's also an online payment agreement at IRS.gov and the IRS will work with anyone who has trouble making payments because of a financial hardship. Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @ AZNewsguy

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