As Tax Day nears, Valley preparers offer some advice

Residents now have to enter health care coverage on taxes as more people choose to file online

By Robert Connelly


Two area tax preparers agree the busiest part of tax season is the beginning, but they still are seeing procrastinating filers as the April 15 deadline approaches.

Phillip Roudebush, a tax associate with H&R Block, 3551 Belmont Ave., said there are more filing statuses and credits that people might not be aware of, such as earned income credit, when they walk into his office.

“The opportunity to do them on their own exists ... [but] they’re leaving a lot of money on the table” because they don’t know about tax credits, said Roudebush. He also said people who file online might miss out on getting more money back with different filing options.

Roudebush said although people feel confident about filling out the front and back tax forms, “they might not know what other forms have to be attached to the tax return when they file. That’s what ends up complicating the problem.”

Roudebush and Damian Echols, office manager at Jackson Hewitt, 1520 Market St., said their peak season is toward the beginning of the year. “They want to get in quick [and] get their refund,” Roudebush said. “Some of the procrastinators might start walking in this time of year ... those especially that might have to pay the IRS.”

Echols said a new thing for filers to keep an eye on is a box to fill in for health care coverage, new this year because of the Affordable Care Act.

“A lot of people that do it online don’t realize that it’s written into the tax code now as far as having health coverage. ... You’ve got to pay attention because it’s actually not labeled.”

Echols also is certified through Jackson Hewitt to sign up residents for health coverage through the ACA if they haven’t already enrolled. He added that next year, if a resident doesn’t have health coverage, he or she will be fined $95 per month or 1 percent of their income, whichever is higher.

Jackson Hewitt’s tax filing starts at $88 for a basic return and can go up to $300 to $400 depending on other factors. H&R Block starts at between $75 and $80, and the price goes up if the return is more complex and other fees are involved.

Liberty Tax Service is having extended hours at its three Boardman locations as the tax deadline approaches. Those locations — 2622 Mahoning Ave., 2633 Market St., and 90 Boardman-Poland Road — are offering times between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday for walk-ins and appointments. The weekend hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Though people have until April 15 to file their taxes, taxpayers can file for an extension to avoid penalties if needed.

Mary Williams, an H&R Block marketing coordinator, said about residents filing for extensions: “That last week of April before the 15th — holy cow, are we busy.”

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