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Tax preparers ready for April 17 deadline
ARLINGTON Thanks to a holiday in Washington D.C., procrastinators get an extra two days to submit their income tax returns next week.
I dont know what the holiday is, but I know the extended deadline is midnight, Tuesday, April 17, said Barb Hetland, who runs Barbs Tax Service out of a cute little cubbyhole in downtown Arlington.
Theres a lot of procrastinators out there, Hetland said.
I wont turn anyone away, but if its a business owner that comes in with two big boxes of papers, I would help them apply for an extension, Hetland said. Extensions get clients an extra six months until October.
Hetland opened her downtown Arlington office in January to be more accessible for her Arlington clients. A resident of Stanwood, she managed the H&R Block office in Arlington for 14 years until three years ago when she launched her own business.
Ive picked up quite a few clients through referrals although that wasnt really my objective for opening the office, said Hetland, who spends just part of her time in a small office at 410 N. Olympic, entered through the side door of the two-story building across from the Jackson Hewitt office that also opened in January.
I am not seeing a mad rush, said Carolyn Fobes at the new Jackson Hewitt office. People havent found me here yet, she said. An Arlington resident who is happy to work in her own hometown, Fobes manages the office for David and Judi Blake, who own seven Jackson Hewitt Tax Service offices around Snohomish County.
Long-time residents of Marysville, the Blakes run two Jackson Hewitt tax offices in the Marysville area and a total of seven around the county.
They have a seasonal kiosk inside the Marysville Wal-Mart store which will close on April 17 and a second, year-round office at Quil Ceda Village in Tulalip.
Were moving the Quil Ceda Village office to the front unit and their employee, Mae Terlaje, will keep it open one or two days through the year, said Judi Blake, who has been in the tax business since 1979. Her husband is a 1976 graduate of Marysville and she graduated high school in Snohomish.
I started working with a CPA and stayed in the business, Judi Blake said. Her husband is a commercial fisherman in Alaska and has been doing taxes each winter since 1990.
They have been running Jackson Hewitt franchises since 2001.
The downtown Arlington Jackson Hewitt office is located in the north side of the former fabric store which has been subdivided by the property owners, the F & A Masons No. 129, to create several smaller offices at 403 N. Olympic Ave.
Both Fobes and Hetland plan to open their shops a couple days a week through the year after the impending deadline.
Hetland has some monthly clients that need her services all year long.
I just want to make it easy for them, she said.
Hetland started with a Block Basic Income Tax class and has taken numerous upper level courses through the years. Her plans for the future are simple.
I just want to remain small in order to maintain relationships with clients who arent satisfied with fast food tax prep, she said. I will continue giving personal attention with consistency.
The Blakes, on the other hand, have plans to start a tax training school sometime in the future.
Will all the different choices these days, such as e-file and direct deposit versus the old fashioned check in the mail, its nice to know theres someone out there ready to help. Both big chains and small independents offer a variety of payment options, from up front cash to auto deductions from the refund.
Low-income seniors who were hoping to get free help at the local libraries or senior centers are now out of luck, however. The deadline for those free or low-cost services was April 10. The Arlington Librarys free tax advice has been booked up for weeks.
IRS reminds taxpayers to remember the telephone tax refund when filing returns.
The tax rebate is available to taxpayers who paid the 3-percent federal excise tax on long-distance and bundled phone service billed from March 1, 2003 to July 31, 2006.
You must request the telephone tax refund on your 2006 return, said IRS spokesperson Judy Monahan.
Judi Blake reminds everyone to file for energy conservation tax breaks if they installed energy efficient windows, doors and hot water heaters last year, as well as child and education credits for all those college bills. Most of her Jackson Hewitt offices will be open until 9 p.m. through April 17.
How long does it take to get a tax refund?
Usually four to eight weeks after the IRS receives the paper-filed return. Those who file electronically can get their refunds in 10 days.
Is a taxpayer more likely to be audited if filing electronically?
No. The decision to audit or not to audit is based on the information shown on the return, not on how it was filed.