More tax filers are procrastinating this year -- or perhaps planning to skip out on Uncle Sam altogether -- as they deal with unemployment, shrinking incomes and other fallout from the recession.
The number of returns filed by April 3, the latest date for which figures have been compiled by the IRS, is down 2.5% from last year. And at least one expert says she expects more people to hide from the IRS because they can't afford to pay what they owe.
Although some taxpayers will be hit hard with tax bills, others may be surprised at new tax credits stemming from stimulus programs, tax professionals say.
Regardless, experts say people should file even if they owe more than they can pay. Tax professionals say it's better to file and work out a deal with the IRS than to ignore the agency. This year, the IRS has expanded powers to strike deals with cash-strapped taxpayers.
Some tax preparers also say they've noticed a decline in business. Two days before the filing deadline last year, the Liberty Tax Service franchise at First Street and Shaw Avenue processed three times as many tax returns as it did on that day this year, said Carol Aldecoa, who co-owns four Liberty locations in the area.
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