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Tax day: The final countdown

Balbir Purewal is a sign waver for Liberty Tax Service in Federal Way near South 320th Street and 23rd Avenue South. On April 13, he reminded people they had three days to file their returns. Today, April 15, is the deadline for filing returns to avoid interest on owed taxes or penalties for failing to file or pay on time. - Jacinda Howard/The Mirror
Balbir Purewal is a sign waver for Liberty Tax Service in Federal Way near South 320th Street and 23rd Avenue South. On April 13, he reminded people they had three days to file their returns. Today, April 15, is the deadline for filing returns to avoid interest on owed taxes or penalties for failing to file or pay on time.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard/The Mirror

April 15 is the last day for citizens, resident aliens and some nonresident aliens to file tax returns with their federal and, where applicable, state governments without penalty. Owed taxes must be paid by April 15 and requests for an extended filing date, if needed, are due as well.

It is also the last day residents will see workers dressed as the Statue of Liberty or Uncle Sam waving signs on street corners.

Taxpayers who do not file their returns or pay their taxes by April 15 may face interest on the unpaid taxes, as well as a failure-to-file penalty, in addition to what is owed. An extension on the amount of time to file must be requested and approved by the federal government for those unable to meet the deadline and hoping to avoid fees.

Balbir Purewal of Fife is a walking reminder of tax season. On April 13, he endured the rain, hail and cold to encourage last-minute filers to stop in. He's paid minimum wage to hold a sign — which counts down the days left to file tax returns — and wave to the public. Purewal used to be a contractor, but about six months ago, the economy left him with no work.

Hired through Labor Ready, he is one of a handful of workers who, since Jan. 15, have occupied the street corner of South 320th Street and 23rd Avenue South for seven-hour shifts. On good days people wave back, honk their horns or joke with him. On bad days, the biting cold and weather makes the job more difficult.

"It's a job," he said. "What can you do?"

Employing sign holders, or wavers as Liberty Tax Service calls them, is a lucrative marketing plan. Wavers replaced the Federal Way office's direct mailings, Liberty owner Dave Jacobson said.

"We used to send out 150,000 pieces of mail in the tax season, and this waver brings in more business," he said.

Filing last minute can add stress, but there are plenty of businesses still able to help those who need it. Jacobson advises to avoid procrastination. Most of those who have all their correct paperwork and are adequately prepared should be able to complete their taxes today with Liberty in 30 minutes or less, he said. Do not wait until the last minute to round up Social Security numbers, W-2s, interest collected statements and any other necessary paperwork, he said.

The IRS also offers some helpful tips at its Web site: www.irs.gov.

• Taxpayers who cannot pay the full amount owed ought to pay as much as they can by the deadline to minimize interest and penalties.

• E-filing is available, fast, accurate and easy. Most programs check for errors and necessary information. Once the return is accepted for processing, the IRS electronically acknowledges receipt of the return. This method is generally twice as fast as filing a paper return and choosing a direct deposit speeds up the process.

• Make sure paper returns are error-free so as to avoid further correspondence with the IRS.

• Double-check figures.

• Include the correct Social Security numbers.

• Sign tax returns.

• Attach all required schedules.

Check it out

Liberty Tax Service is located at 2038 23rd Ave. S. and can be reached at (253) 839-4242. Check local listings for other tax services.

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