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The deadline for residents to file their taxes looms in less than a week.
Area tax officials and government organizations offer their suggestions to ensure preparing and filing taxes is as easy and stress-free as possible.
Catawba County accountant Ronald McGee said his business experienced a "title wave" of customers this tax season. He estimated his business increased from 10-15 percent since previous years.
"It's been very busy," he said. "I think it's harder economic times, but I think (customers) are willing to pay for quality."
With more people seeking professional help with their taxes, it's getting harder for people to walk in and file their tax documents at the last minute. McGee said filing procrastinators are inevitable every year, with many people waiting until the business hours of the final filing day.
McGee will be leaving his office Friday at 5:15 p.m., but he said, "several other accountants (in his firm) will be able to take care of the overflow."
This year, the tax filing deadline is Monday. If residents choose to mail their returns themselves, the documents are considered filed if postmarked on or before April 18 by the United States Postal Service.
-Know your options
The Internal Revenue Service and the North Carolina Department of Revenue offer help for residents who are unsure about tax refunds and payments.
If people can't complete or file their federal tax returns by Monday, the IRS can offer an extension until Oct. 17.
"An extension gives you an additional six months to file your tax return," said a recent press release from the IRS. "But keep in mind, an extension of time to file is not an extension of time to pay. All outstanding balances are due on April 18, 2011."
Those needing an extension must file Form 4868 with the IRS. Go to IRS.gov to access the form and file an extension electronically. It's free for anyone to file an extension. The IRS received 10 million extension requests this year, which is about the same as last year, according to the IRS website. A paper version of the form is also available to download at IRS.gov.
To request an extension, you must estimate your tax liability and pay any existing balance by Monday.
For additional questions about filing income tax forms, contact the IRS toll-free at 1-800-TAX-1040.
-Ensure your return gets there
Mailing companies offer delivery confirmation for people who want to ensure their tax filing reached its final destination. The United States Postal Service also encouraged people to weigh their packages and include ample amounts of postage.
There are several post offices in Catawba County where people can mail their returns, including locations on South Main Avenue in Newton, First Street Southeast in Conover, East Main Street in Claremont, 16th Street NE in Hickory and Island Ford Road in Maiden.
Once a return is filed, residents can check the status of their filing online at IRS.gov or through the cell phone application IRS2Go.
To date, more than 250,000 have downloaded the application.