Tax time nears

Published 11:00 pm Monday, April 9, 2012

Wil Golden, with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, helps a family with tax forms at the Pike County Extension Office in Troy, Ala., Monday, April 9, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Filing deadline approaches

As the clock ticks away, Pike County residents have less and less time to file their 2011 federal and state income tax returns.

Due to the normal deadline of April 15 falling on a weekend, the Internal Revenue Service has extended the deadline to file until April 17.

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There are a slew of websites people can visit to submit their federal tax returns for free online, but for those who prefer face-to-face free help that is available too.

Many national tax companies, such as Jackson Hewitt and H&R Block have locations in Pike County that offer no-cost filing. And the Pike County Extension Office also has a program to benefit area residents.

The Extension Office is the site of the Pike County Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. With VITA, IRS-certified and trained volunteers sponsored by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Alabama Asset Coalition Board. Generally, a person needs to have an income of $50,000 or below to qualify for assistance.

“Our area has been hit hard by the economy and families need to be able to keep as much of their earnings as possible. We want folks to pick up the phone and call to book an appointment today,” said Wil Golden, Regional Extension Agent and Site Coordinator.

Hours for appointments are flexible this week, according to Golden, but the last appointments will be available on Friday. People who’d like to take advantage of the program should call 566-0985.

Of course, the earlier you can mail a tax return the better, said Debra Fetterly, spokesperson for the Alabama and South Florida Districts of the U.S. Postal Service.

However, for procrastinators out there, as long as the return has the correct postage and is placed in a collection box before the scheduled pick-up time next Tuesday, tax returns will be postmarked on April 17. “It’s very important to observe the schedule on the collection boxes,” Fetterly said. “Not every pick-up time is the same.”

Also, Fetterly suggests having a clerk at the post office weigh the return before mailing. Returns with more than one sheet of paper may need extra postage in order to be mailed. “If you aren’t sure,” Fetterly said. “Go in and weigh it.”

No post offices in Pike County are scheduled to remain open after 5 p.m. next Tuesday. The closest office with extended hours is Montgomery and the building will be staffed until 6 p.m.

For those who will be preparing taxes on their own, the IRS has posted instructional videos on YouTube and officials are tweeting tax tips to people who follow the IRS on Twitter. The website also lists recent and popular tax scams.

to be on the lookout for and information on how to file for an extension to receive more time to get your taxes done.