Deadline to file federal taxes is midnight this Wednesday
In the current economic times, Benjamin Franklin’s adage that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” holds as true as ever. Many people, however, forget about their federal tax returns until the last minute — in good times and bad.
With just four postal service days left until the annual April 15 deadline for tax returns, experts are cautioning procrastinators against the urge to panic.
“An average tax return doesn’t take more than 30 minutes if it’s really simple,” said Vern Lingford, office manager of Liberty Tax Service’s Coralwood office.
Cape Coral residents running late on Wednesday will also have extra time to submit their returns.
The Cape Coral Central Post office located at 1030 S.E .9th Avenue will offer full retail service — including an April 15 postmark — until 8 p.m.
A mobile unit also will be available in the Fort Myers Processing and Distribution Center’s parking lot, located at 14080 Jetport Loop Road, from 5 p.m. to midnight. Stamps, certified mail, and April 15 postmarks also will be on hand at the mobile unit.
All other post offices and contract post offices in the Fort Myers-Cape Coral area will have normal business hours.
The extended hours are not a sign that leaving returns until the last minute is endemic to Lee County, as many post offices throughout the nation will be open longer.
“Most post office areas do participate in after hours. Most places will have some offices with extended hours,” said Christina Grayson, customer relations coordinator for the Fort Myers-Cape Coral branch of the United States Postal Service.
In recent years, tax returners flirting with the deadline have had help from computer software that lets them file online.
Cape Coral resident Roger Butts has filed his returns online with Turbo Tax for the last five years. He said the joint return he files with his wife usually takes less than an hour.
“When you do it year to year to year all the information is saved . . . so you have some kind of reference,” Butts said.
Filing online is fairly straightforward for those with simple returns, but it does carry pitfalls for people with a more complicated tax return.
“It depends on how complicated your return is. If it’s very simple (filing online) is OK, but if you’re doing stock sales and other transactions, you need to know what you’re doing,” Lingford said.
He estimated that nine out of 10 amended returns he did last year for those who initially filed online received additional refunds.
Of course, for chronically late filers there is always the old-fashioned extension.
Lingford, though, cautions the extension gives people more time to file, not to pay.
“It doesn’t mean an extension of time. Even if you have an extension you’re supposed to estimate what you owe and send it in,” Lingford said.
The penalties for filing late without getting an extension vary from return to return but become more exorbitant the later the file.
“It can go as high as 25 percent of your return, depending on how late you file,” Lingford said.