- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

Procrastinators, don’t panic.

The annual last-minute rush to beat the April 15 tax-filing deadline is being extended by three days for Maryland and D.C. residents this year.

Because April 15 is a Saturday, Tax Day moves to Monday. But residents in states whose federal forms are processed by the Internal Revenue Service’s Andover, Mass., facility get another one-day extension because Monday is the Patriots Day holiday in Massachusetts.

By federal law, any time a tax deadline falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline is extended to the next business day.

As a result, all federal returns from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont are due by Tuesday.

“Given that the extra days wrap through a weekend, it allows taxpayers extra time to sit around trying to make sense of their shoe boxes full of receipts and other tax forms,” said Francis X. Degen, president of the National Association of Enrolled Agents, a trade group for tax specialists.

Patriots Day celebrates the Revolutionary War battles of Lexington and Concord and the ride of Paul Revere.

The extension gives only limited relief: Maryland state tax returns must be filed by Monday, and taxpayers cannot fill out state tax forms without completing the federal forms first.

If they cannot make the deadline, they can file for an automatic extension that will give them six months to file their returns this year, instead of the four months of previous years.

The IRS changed the processing center for D.C. and Maryland returns this year from Philadelphia to Andover in a routine administrative decision.

Virginia taxpayers still must file federal returns by Monday, but state law gives them until May 1 for state returns.

Forty-two percent of last-minute filers said busy schedules or paperwork delayed them, according to a survey by tax preparation service H&R; Block.

James Eiswerth, a Falls Church resident, said the extra weekend “relieves a lot of that pressure.”

A new job as a computer software salesman and a major car repair tied up his schedule and left him little time for taxes, he said.

“Things are pretty hectic right now,” Mr. Eiswerth said.

He plans to spend this weekend gathering papers for a last-minute dash to a professional tax preparer’s office.

The deadline extension makes no difference in the amount of money taxpayers must pay; it merely gives them more time to think about it.

Even though many Northeast returns arrive three days later than normal, the IRS anticipates “no problems whatsoever,” spokesman Jim Dupree said.

Taxpayers “have extra time to file; that’s the only real benefit,” he said.

Meanwhile, tax-preparation companies are gearing up for the annual last-minute rush.

“We got all the preparers here ready to go,” said Jack Mackercher, who owns Liberty Tax Service franchises in Arlington and Falls Church. “It’s always crazy this time of year.”

Like many Liberty offices nationwide, he plans to keep his offices open around the clock Tuesday for last-minute tax returns.

The final returns of the tax season often are the most complicated because they require the most time and work for taxpayers to gather all the proper paperwork, Mr. Mackercher said.

They also are the most likely to contain errors, tax professionals said.

“One of the many things we see this time of year is that people may hurry the process because of the approaching deadline and miss some important deductions or changes in the tax law that affects them,” said Mark Steber, vice president of Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc.

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