With the deadline to file personal income tax returns just about two weeks away, the Internal Revenue Service urges people to stop procrastinating.
"Buckle down and get it done," said IRS spokeswoman Jennifer Jenkins.
With April 15 falling on a Sunday and Emancipation Day being observed in the nation's capital on April 16, the deadline to file is midnight April 17, Jenkins said.
Typically, those who anticipate getting a refund file early and those who owe money delay filing their returns, Jenkins said.
"Even if you owe, with e-file you can set it up so your payment doesn't come out until the 17th. That gets a lot of stress off of your shoulders. You don't have the deadline hanging over you," Jenkins said.
More people are filing their returns electronically.
Jenkins said people are finding that it is easier to do that than doing it on paper.
"We expect about 80 percent of people to e-file this year," she said. "Ninety percent of people who e-file and use direct deposit have their returns within a 10- to 21-day window."
The majority of taxpayers get a refund, with the average refund this year about $3,000, Jenkins said.
The tax season has been going as well as can be expected.
"We have installed a higher level of screening to catch returns that trigger red flags for refund fraud. We are using a higher level of screening and security," Jenkins said.
Clapper Bookkeeping and Tax Service in Duncansville has been busy getting returns ready for area residents.
"This is the busiest we have been since we opened six years ago. We have a lot of new clients," said owner Chris Clapper.
Many of those who haven't filed their returns can do so for free. Jenkins said the IRS offers a free file program online for those who earn $57,000 or less.
"If you are Internet savvy and don't have multiple holdings, try the free file," she said. "Sixty to 65 percent of people earn $57,000 or less. There are a lot of people who could save money."
At least one local tax office has been affected by the free file.
"We have been a little slower this year. In my opinion, it is because of the free file they can do on the Internet now," said Jane Veloz, office manager at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, Duncansville.
In addition to April 17 being the date to file taxes, it is also the deadline to file for an extension.
"Your money is still due April 17. If you don't pay, interest will accrue," Jenkins said. "File your paperwork by the 17th to avoid getting a late filing penalty."
She also advised taxpayers to plan ahead to make the next tax season easier. She said if people have a system to file their documents through the year, they'll be ready when their W-2 forms come out in January.
"You can just add up your numbers and don't have to go hunting for things you need to show you are eligible for credits or deductions," Jenkins said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.