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12 OYS: Planning ahead minimizes stress at tax time

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, April 18, 2011

AUGUSTA---Now that the tax deadline is here, you may not want to think about taxes anymore...but experts say you should.

News 12 caught the relief of some last-minute tax filers on their way in and out of the downtown Augusta post office.

"The pressure's off now," said Timothy Green. "I'm excited about it, because the pressure's off."

"You think about it. That's one thing on your mind, this is what I got to do," said Rogerlene Williams. "Other things you can put it off. But Uncle Sam is not going to let you put this off. Can't put that off...can't put this off."

"I ain't giving it to them no sooner than they got to have it," laughed Richard Wichser.

Tax preparers were also busy today helping people file before the midnight deadline.

"Some of it I don't think is procrastination," said Steve Harvey of H&R Block. "Some just enjoy being the last person of the day."

But you don't have to stress if you plan early. How about planning now for next year? Start with keeping a folder with receipts and records of anything you can deduct.

"That way when it comes time to do your taxes, everything's in one spot," Harvey said. "So it's not a big job about running around the house trying to find all those pieces of paper that came in different times during the year."

Save your receipts, even if you're not sure whether you can deduct. Bank or credit card statements can also work. You can always look back at past tax returns to see exactly what you did.

"Don't let taxes overwhelm you, but have it in back of your mind (that) there is a tax consequence to everything we do, some good, some bad," Harvey said.

That's where a simple plan can erase much of the panic next year.

Of course, you want to be careful with what you deduct. No one wants to be audited. For instance, you can't deduct clothing, like business suits.

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