MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - With April 15, the usual tax deadline, falling on a Sunday and Monday being recognized as a federal holiday, people had two extra days to get everything in order and file their taxes. The deadline to file is midnight on Tuesday.
Tax preparers like Vickie Patterson, who works at Freedom Tax Service in Montgomery, said Tuesday was hectic.
"The last day of filing is real crazy," Patterson said. "We have been busy most of the morning and expect to pick up again as people are getting off work."
Curtis Stewart, a deputy commissioner at the Alabama Department of Revenue, said the department received an influx of returns on the last day.
"There is a rush at the end like there always is," Stewart said.
However, despite high volume, he said the department has actually been processing state returns more quickly this year than in past years. The department has processed about 1.6 million individual income tax returns. As of Tuesday, it has processed 790,000 refunds, which is more than $380 million. That's 178,000 more than this time last year.
Stewart admitted refunds may take longer for people who waited until the last day to file.
Those who were using the IRS website to file on Tuesday may have run into some difficulty due to the online server being down for a substantial part of the last filing day. Officials announced there will be an extension.
There has also been some confusion about how the federal tax law President Trump signed into law last December will impact tax filing and refunds. The effective date for that law was Jan. 1, 2018, so the 2017 taxes being filed currently will not be impacted.
In fact, Stewart said he does not anticipate many major changes in state tax returns next year either. However, Patterson, who prepares federal taxes as well as state taxes, said she is already hearing concerns from her clients. While the taxes currently being filed won't be impacted by the change, the taxes being collected during this time are. Patterson said her biggest concern is for homeowners, particularly those who earn high income.
"They'll possibly end up owing, unless they have other deductions that they could take," Patterson said.
She said this is because of the part of the law that caps federal deductions for state or local property and income or sales tax at $10,000, where before they were unlimited.
"They won't be able to take the deductions that they could normally take," Patterson said.
While Patterson said she anticipates an added layer of stress this day next year, she said she is glad the frenzy of this year's filing is coming to a close. The Alabama Department of Revenue suggests these tips for those who still need to file:
1. Review your state and federal returns from last year, use them as a guide when completing your returns.
2. Gather all your documents used to prepare your taxes (W-2s, 1099's, 1098's, receipts, mileage logs, etc.). Keep your supporting documentation with your return in the event that your return is audited.
3. Verify all SSNs entered on the return - Some of the most common mistakes taxpayers make when rushing to meet the deadline include putting down an incorrect Social Security number for a child or spouse.
4. E-file and use direct deposit – and once you've e-filed pay attention to your email for the e-file acknowledgment – If you do not receive an email stating that the return has been accepted, it is not filed. If you do not receive an acceptance, log back into your software to check for error messages.
5. If you file by paper return, do not forget to sign the return. Not signing the return will slow down the processing of your refund.
6. If you need more time, Alabama offers an automatic six-month extension to file (no form is necessary). The automatic extension is for filing only; if you estimate you will have tax due on your return, you should make an extension payment on or before April 17, 2018. Any tax paid after April 17, will be charged interest and late payment penalty. You can obtain an automatic six-month extension for your federal return by submitting I.R.S. Form 4868 by the filing date.
7. If you have your return ready, but can't pay what you owe now, you should go ahead and file and pay what you can now.
8. Download and register with the Alabama eID prior to filing. The eID allows the department to verify your identity and allows you to confirm that you filed the return that was received by the Department. By securing your tax return with your eID, your tax refund will receive priority processing. Go to Alabamaeid.com for more information.
9. Refund expectations – because of the volume of returns filed at the April 17 deadline, it will take longer to process your refund. To check the status of your refund, go to our website at www.revenue.alabama.gov, then click on "Where's My Refund," or call our 24-hour toll-free Refund Hotline at 1-855-894-7391.
The deadline is midnight on Tuesday.