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What you need to know for 01/18/2018

Last-minute tax filers cross finish line

Last-minute tax filers cross finish line

Did you wait until the last minute to file your taxes yesterday? You weren’t alone.

Did you wait until the last minute to file your taxes yesterday? You weren’t alone.

About 1 million New Yorkers, or 10 percent of those obligated, filed their personal income taxes on Tuesday, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

At the same time, the number of people who set foot in a U.S. post office on Tax Day is decreasing as more people choose to file electronically.

That was the case for the post office on Nott Street in Niskayuna, where lines remained steady most of the day but still held some last-minute paper filers.

“There have been a lot of people, but it is a steady flow,” said an employee at the post office. “I think people like to wait until the last minute. More people will probably come in right before we close at 6 p.m.”

But about 20 miles north in Saratoga Springs, employees at the post office on Broadway were scrambling to help individual customers as lines pushed out the door. “I don’t have time for an interview. It’s really that busy here,” an employee said about noon.

About one in four tax returns is filed in April, and H&R Block in Schenectady has been keeping busy to meet that demand, said district manager Donna Chow.

“The April 15 deadline is not just the deadline for 2013 returns, but also to claim 2010 refunds,” Chow said. “As many as 57,000 New York taxpayers who did not file a 2010 return may be due a refund [from a pool] totaling more than $50 million.”

More than 90 percent of individual returns received in New York were filed electronically, up from about 88 percent last year, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

Peggy Riley, a spokeswoman for the IRS, said more people are filing online every year and the percentage is expected to increase.

“There is definitely a trend of more people filing electronically,” she said. “That is going to increase as more people do other things online also, such as pay their bills. So it’s a natural progression.”

Geoff Gloak, spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance, said electronic filing is definitely the best option for taxpayers. He said the department contacts New Yorkers who filed by paper, encouraging them to test the benefits of e-filing.

“Each year, more and more of the small percentage of people who aren’t comfortable online will switch over to e-filing and find out that it works well for them,” Gloak said. “Plus for the first time, 85 percent of New Yorkers can e-file for free, which is a new development this year that was very exciting for us and all New York taxpayers.”

Then there are people who couldn’t make the deadline at all, paper or no paper.

Some state residents applied for an additional six months to file their taxes and avoid penalties. The IRS projected that more than 634,000 people in New York opted for an extension this year.

New Yorkers who apply for an extension have until Oct. 15 to file. The extension doesn’t apply to payment, but people who have trouble paying what they owe could qualify for payment plans or other relief.

“In a typical year, there are about 375,000 who will file late without being on extension and an additional 75,000 taxpayers who are notified that they did not file a return,” Gloak said.

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