More Americans filing taxes early |

More Americans filing taxes early

Aldo Svaldi
The Denver Post

The bad economy is spurring more taxpayers to file early so they can get their refunds sooner, according to two of the area’s largest tax-preparation firms.

Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax Services are reporting big increases in the number of tax returns they have filed so far this year compared with last.

“We have seen some of our offices triple and quadruple the number the returns they have completed this year,” said Ivy Lee, an area developer for Liberty Tax Services, a national franchise. “We feel strongly it was because of the economy.”

Nationally, Liberty has seen early filing volumes increase by about 30 percent, estimates Nina Cunningham, spokeswoman for the Virginia Beach, Va.-based firm.

That is about the same increase that Larry Cox, a Jackson Hewitt franchisee, estimates he has seen this month across the 18 locations he operates in the metro area.

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“Last week, we got hit really hard,” said Cox, who had to bring in extra preparers to handle the crush.

Tough economic times are motivating people due refunds to get their tax returns filed as soon as they can, Lee said.

Liberty is seeing more people take out loans against their refunds, Lee said.

Cox said he is noticing more customers going with a less costly option that speeds up returns rather than provides loans.

“We are seeing that they are more price-conscious,” he said.

Job losses last year, along with large losses realized on investments, could mean more people who owed taxes in past years could be due a refund this year.

Rather than waiting until March or April, they are filing now.

Cox said he has heard of new customers who prepared taxes on their own coming in to get help because they can’t afford to risk an audit.

Also, employers seemed a little slow in getting out their W-2 forms last month, pushing some returns that might have been filed in January into February, Cox said.

Employers must send out W-2 forms by Jan. 31.

Not all tax preparers, however, are seeing traffic up from last year. Two smaller independent preparers contacted for this story said business was about the same as last year.

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