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Still haven't filed your return? Tax pros review common mistakes

Still haven't filed your return? Tax pro reviews common mistakes

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — Taxpayers have an extra two days to submit their taxes this year.

If you haven't already, make sure they're postmarked by the end of Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

However, tax professionals told Action News a few of their clients might need the extra time because they make the same mistake every year.

Enrolled Agent Barbara Culver said it's pretty common for folks to forget to bring something.

"We just called one of our clients because he didnt bring in any of his itemized deductions," she said.

Culver said she thinks a lot of people get worked up about taxes because they're dealing with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

“If you only get W-2’s you can probably do your tax return yourself. Unless you have special situations,”

She said its those special situations that throw people off.

Like what technically counts as a deduction.

“Some people try to deduct their work clothes," she laughed, "But the rule is if you can wear it on the street its not deductible.”

Cindy Cisney has been preparing taxes for more than a decade.

She told Action News meals are only deductible as an expense if they're closely related to a business discussion with someone else.

"Sustaining life by feeding yourself is not a deductible business expense," Cisney explained. "Neither is going out to lunch every week with your coworkers."

Culver said anything that's a personal expense isn't deductible, even a Painter's coveralls.

“There are a lot of things that used to be deductible that some people still ask about, like credit card interest.”

She said it's not, but when in doubt she tells folks to just google it.

“I guess 'google' isn’t a verb," Culver acknowledged. "But if you look it up on Google you’ll find your answer,”

She said another mistakes happen when clients under-estimate their withholding and wind up owing money at the end of the year.

The Tax Center Plus owner said nobody likes it when they owe the IRS money.

Especially the IRS.

“You can usually do an installment agreement," she said, "But if you keep doing it, the IRS calls it pyramiding.”

To avoid this she advises revisiting the number exemptions you told your employer every few years.

You can make adjustments on the W-4 form.

Culver said she also sees some confusion around what it means to file an extension.

“It’s an extension to file, not to pay," she said. "So if you owe money you should pay.”

She said these days, tax software programs prevent most mistakes before they happen, but the ones that slip through are due to user-error.

Like entering the wrong information and getting the wrong answer.

"Every situation is a learning situation," Culver said. "I learn a lot about my clients, about life in general. And about the tax system."

She said she loves helping her clients through something they find intimidating, like dealing with the government.

“I like to be in a position to be able to reassure people that the IRS isn’t the bad guy,” she said.

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