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April 15, 2013

The tax man cometh

Locals adjust to lack of extra day

By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star

---- — If you think that the Colonial militias who challenged King George III’s redcoats at Lexington and Concord 238 years ago were fighting for your right to file income tax returns on Tuesday, you’re wrong.

Tax Day is today, Patriots’ Day notwithstanding.

For tax preparers, most of the work has been done.

Aileen Farago, an enrolled agent — essentially meaning she has the IRS seal of approval — for All Star Bookkeeping & Tax Service in Oneonta, said she didn’t expect today to be especially busy.

“Not so much,” she said last week. “Everything should be ... done and waiting for people to do their final signing, and that’s only a handful that we’re waiting on.”

Farago said there’s a rhythm to the tax season.

“We get a wave of people coming in at the end of February and the beginning of March, because now they’ve gotten all of their information,” she said. “Then it slows down as we’re finishing those up.

“Then, at the end of March, as people are getting amended forms, mostly for investments, that’s when they start coming in. … This last couple of weeks, is mostly people who are self-employed finally pulling their bookkeeping together.”

Rick Dickson, of Liberty Tax Service in Oneonta, agreed.

“March was a little bit slower, and it was a little bit busier last week,” he added. “But this week it has picked up noticeably,” he said last week.

Dickson said the Liberty office at 28 Oneida St. would be open over the weekend and today from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Farago said that she, too, expected to work through the weekend at her office in Clinton Plaza.

In the past, Patriots’ Day, which is celebrated on the third Monday in April in Massachusetts (it’s Patriot’s Day in Maine, although it’s not clear whether that’s because it had just one patriot) earned taxpayers in New York a one-day reprieve when it fell on April 15, because New York returns were filed to an Internal Revenue Service processing center in Andover, Mass., whose workers were off on Patriots’ Day.

No more.

The IRS ended the practice after 2007 simply because the agency changed the location of processing centers for New York returns, said Dianne Besunder, an IRS spokeswoman in New York City.

“There was no longer a New York connection to Massachusetts,” she said.

The last time New Yorkers received a Patriots’ Day extension on the tax-filing date was 2007. That year, April 15 was a Sunday, but Tax Day cannot fall on a weekend. The next day, the 16th, was Patriots’ Day — the third Monday of the month — so taxpayers actually got a two-day extension to the 17th. The 15th also fell on a Sunday last year, but Tax Day was the 16th.

Today marks the first time since 2002 that April 15 has fallen on a Monday.

The battles of Lexington and Concord, which Patriots’ Day commemorates, were fought on April 19, 1775, a Wednesday, and are considered the first military engagements of the American War of Independence. Patriots’ Day actually falls on April 19 once in a while, the next time being 2021.

So, if you thought you had a day, you really only have hours, and if you thought the U.S. Postal Service would help by keeping post offices open later, you’re wrong again.

The Postal Service started phasing out extended hours on Tax Day years ago because so many people were filing their returns online. It just wasn’t very busy on Tax Day anymore.