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More free tax advice

April 09, 1997

Tri-State tax preparers offered the following tips to make the inevitable a little less painless:

- File early, especially if your tax situation is complex.

- If you can't pay the full amount you owe by April 15 pay what you can and file for an extension to minimize penalties and interest due.

Failing to file anything by April 15 can result in penalties of up to 25 percent of the amount of taxes due, according to Phil Cox, a partner in the Martinsburg, W.Va., CPA firm of Cox Nichols Holliday.

- Getting a big refund is a mixed blessing. While for some people it means "saving" money they couldn't spend, it also isn't earning any interest while the government keeps it.

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- Save all tax records. "Keep all your receipts, if you itemize," advised Donna Stavish, a partner in Creative Accounting Services in Fairplay.

Think about taxes year round, making contributions and keeping receipts that can reduce your tax burden, she said.

- Be careful of details, especially when filling out tax returns at the last minute. Make sure all Social Security numbers on returns are correct.

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