By Jonathan Hardison
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Uncle Sam is trying to make it easier for you to pay your taxes on time this year. Saturday, four IRS locations across the Alabama opened their doors for special hours, that includes a couple of branches in the Birmingham area.
This was the 2nd Saturday in as many months that the IRS opened up to answer questions or help taxpayers file their returns.
The IRS says it's trying to answer questions for folks who may not be able to afford professional help preparing their returns this year because of the bad economy.
"Where we've seen the increase is in the number of people filing from their own home computers," IRS spokesperson Dan Boone said. "In Alabama we've had an 8.4% increase in people doing their own returns from their own computer."
But if you do it yourself, you may miss out on a chance to be part of a national trend that has the average tax return this year up by about 10% over 2009. You have to know where to look. The earned income tax credit is meant to give a break to workers who were employed for part of last year, but didn't make very much money. This year it's open to more families.
"The earned income credit has been expanded to families with 3 children instead of just 2, so some larger families may be able to get a bigger refund because of that," Boone said.
Boone says it's also worried by a big delay in filings.
"It looks like we'll have a little bit bigger surge as we go into April of people filing later, possibly delaying because they owe taxes and they're just not sure how they'll pay," said Boone. "And we want them to know we'll work with them as much as we can."
If you owe money but can't pay it all right now, Boone says the most important thing is to file your return on time to avoid adding a late penalty to what you already owe. You can file asking for an extension, and if you owe less than $25,000, you can set up a payment plan online at http://www.irs.gov without ever going into a branch office.
"We want them to know we are glad to discuss the options as far as payment plans and other things that might help them out," Boone said.
If you'd like more information about payment plans or have questions about when other branches may be open on weekends, you can call 1-800-829-1040.
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