Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 16, 2013

Last-minute tax rush tradition continues in force

BY MATT TROUTMAN mtroutman@record-eagle.com
Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Filing his taxes with days, sometimes hours, has become an annual tradition for John Lininger.

The Traverse City resident said he can do his own taxes, but he takes them to H&R Block instead.

“I do this every year,” Lininger said. “I waited till the 14th last year.”

Lininger was not alone in making a last-minute rush to local post offices and tax preparers on Monday.

Ryan Parker, owner of Professional Tax Service on Eighth Street, blamed an Internal Revenue Service delay in releasing tax forms this year for a seemingly busier than normal tax day.

“It’s pretty crazy even for a typical April 15th,” he said. His office stopped taking appointments by 1 p.m., and other tax preparers stayed open to midnight.

Even some post office branch managers filed their taxes late in tax season.

June Brakel sent in her taxes last week and supervises the U.S. Postal Service branch at Barlow Street. She said long lines formed at the office by Monday morning and workers there received hundreds of calls about its hours of operation.

“So many people wait (until) the last minute,” she said.

Some took advantage of the lines to quiz people on how government uses tax money. Joe Connolly, a former Green Party candidate for the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners, manned a “Tax Day penny poll” table in front of the Union Street post office. For a penny, taxpayers could “vote” on what should receive the most tax money by placing their change in about a dozen trays labeled with the names of issues.

“We were interested to see what people’s opinions are,” Connolly said, noting “education” and “health” received the most pennies, but “environment and the Great Lakes” were not far behind.

Parker said many taxpayers were not happy with changes in Michigan’s taxes this filing year that include a reduction of the homestead tax credit and a pension tax.

“I haven’t heard any compliments,” Parker said.

Denise Price, an enrolled agent with H&R Block in Grand Traverse Mall, said the fact some people had to end up paying more shouldn’t have stopped them from filing their tax returns. She said the IRS enforces harsh penalties on late filings.

“Even if you owe, file your tax returns,” she said.

Parker said taxpayers also should be aware that if they filed an extension, it does not extend the time to pay.

“(They’d need) to make an estimated payment,” he said.