By SHAWN RYAN
---- — PLATTSBURGH — While lawmakers held off the “fiscal cliff” as 2013 arrived, bringing relief from new tax hikes and expiring tax breaks, that action is delaying income-tax processing, too.
The IRS will not start processing tax returns until Jan. 30, but people can still have their forms prepared now and send them in.
“As long as everybody has the documents they need, 1099s and W-2s, then we can go ahead and prepare and file the tax return,” said Brian Reak, owner of several North Country H&R Block offices, including two in Plattsburgh.
“It’s just that the IRS isn’t going to accept it and start processing it until the 30th of January.”
In previous years, early filers received their refunds as soon as the last week of January.
Now, because of delays caused as Washington lawmakers settle on tax policy, the earliest returns won’t be seen until the middle of February, according to Amelia Moore, manager of Liberty Tax Service in Plattsburgh.
“What’s sad is the government is holding onto their money longer, yet our customers are not getting any benefit,” she said. “They’re not receiving any interest on their money that the government is holding onto.
“However, if a customer is late paying the IRS, they are required to pay interest and penalties on that money.”
Moore calls it a crazy year for tax preparers and said that the taxpayers are suffering the consequences.
“It’s making anybody who’s getting a refund and counting on those refunds — which a lot of people in this area do — wait an extra month before they can have access to their money.”
While both Liberty and H&R Block are filing returns now, Tax-Aide, an AARP Foundation-sponsored service that helps low- and middle-income taxpayers prepare their paperwork at no charge, will not start assisting clients until either Jan. 28 or 30.
The volunteer-run, walk-in service will set up at the Clinton County Senior Center, located at 5139 North Catherine St. in Plattsburgh. And another Tax-Aide program will operate out of