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The waiting game

Tax filing deadline looms

Tax filing deadline looms

April 17, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - John Clark is pretty predictable.

If it's tax season, he's probably late.

"I don't know. Everybody rushes to get it done. I just want to have the money later back in the year, instead of at the beginning," said Clark, a Hagerstown resident who is expecting a refund from the federal government, according to a return he filed Monday night at H&R Block on Pennsylvania Avenue.

One of life's few certainties - tax-filing deadlines - comes tonight, but how you handle the paperwork from Uncle Sam is up to you.

Clark said he always lets someone else do the math.

"I tried it once. They (mailed) one (form), and I screwed it up. I just said, 'to heck with it,'" Clark said.

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One client at H&R Block came prepared with a different approach, tax preparer Larry Carnahan said.

"There's always the possibility you're going to hear something wild," Carnahan said. "I had a guy come in one year, he owed $8,000, and his wife about fell off her chair. He turned to her and said, 'Don't worry about it. We owed the same thing last year, and we didn't pay it.'"

The Internal Revenue Service gave people two extra days to file because April 15 fell on Sunday, and April 16 was Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C. Holidays in Washington, D.C., affect the tax schedule across the nation, according to federal statute.

For Richard Ardinger, 39, of Hagerstown, the adjusted schedule allowed a few more days for delay. He said he filed taxes last year on April 14.

On Monday, Ardinger discovered he'll be getting a refund. Like Clark, he completed his forms at H&R Block.

"I'm getting a refund this year, and I waited. I could have had it two months earlier," Ardinger said.

Only a handful of clients were at the tax preparers' stations at H&R Block.

One woman sat with a pile of documents and folders spilled in front of her, while a couple at another desk discussed deduction options.

Carnahan said he had a phone call Monday about clients who have not started their taxes because of a family illness. He said people who have just started a business and don't know what forms they need sometimes are among the crowd who get a late start.

So are people who have to pay.

That's why Drew Lineberger of St. James said he typically waits to report his earnings.

"Yes, 'cause usually I owe, and I don't want to give the government my money before I absolutely have to," said Lineberger, who dropped off some forms Monday at H&R Block.

Clark had a sure-fire excuse for his near-lateness.

"I'm a procrastinator," he said.




Post office hours



Area post office branches will have extended hours tonight to accommodate last-minute tax filers.

· The Frederick (Md.) post office at 201 E. Patrick St. is open until 10 p.m.

· Hagerstown's main post office at 44 W. Franklin St. is open until 8 p.m.

· Post office branches in Martinsburg, W.Va., and Chambersburg, Pa., will operate according to their normal hours. The post office at 1355 Old Courthouse Square in Martinsburg closes at 6 p.m., and the post office at 308 Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg closes at 5 p.m.

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