The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

March 4, 2013

Taxing time: Congressional gridlock complicates an already hectic job for tax preparers

JOPLIN, Mo. — Cleta Mills loves the rush of tax season. Ever since the first time she pushed a pencil on paper and worked out refund amounts 27 years ago, she learned how to channel the rush of adrenaline that comes from the mad pace of 12-hour days with barely any breaks.

"If you don't love the job, this can be very miserable," Mills said. "I love doing taxes, meeting clients and helping them. It's just a feeling I get, knowing I've helped a person get through this."

That feeling is the ultimate reward for the tax preparers who are working like crazy right now.

But this year, that reward is delayed -- or in some cases, absent.

Gridlock in the nation's capital is making for some long days and nights for local tax preparers -- not to mention some unhappy taxpayers.

"I've been a tax preparer for 27 years for H&R Block," said Mills, a preparer for H&R Block in Webb City. "It's the roughest year I've seen for tax returns going through. This is impacting people directly, a whole bunch of people."

People who would normally expect to get their return by the end of January are having to wait much longer. Others are filing electronic returns with the intention of later amending that return with a paper filing.

"This is because the IRS, our congressmen and the president got nothing signed into effect until after the first of the year," she said. "They didn't open the doors to file electronically until Jan. 30. We couldn't file for the education credit until Feb. 14. Depreciation schedules opened after the 14th of February."

The adoption credit is not even open yet, she said.

"We have clients waiting for those forms to come through to file," she said.

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