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Deductions increase for taxpayers

By Ed Brock

The tax onslaught is about to hit, and it's not even February.

"We're not at our peak yet," said Sharon Fontaine, manager of the H&R Block office on Macon Street in McDonough. "That should be beginning about Friday."

Between her office, three more situated around McDonough and one in Locust Grove, about 50 people a day are coming in to file returns.

"In a week or so, that will be up to 200 a day," she said.

Contrary to popular belief, the mad rush for taxpayers is during late January and early February, not mid-April.

"April 14 and 15 won't be as hectic as the next couple of weeks," she said.

There is some good news for taxpayers this year. The standard deduction in all categories has gone up this year.

For those filing as single it has risen from $4,750 for 2003 to $4,850 for 2004. Married filing jointly has risen from $9,500 to $9,700 and head of household is up from $7,000 to $7,150.

The income limit for eligibility for an earned income credit has also gone up to $30,318 for a couple with one child and $34,498 for a couple with two or more children. Last year the limit was $29,666 with one child and $33,692 with two or more children.

People who file itemized tax returns should start gathering and organizing the necessary documents. That includes the interest and property tax paid on their home, medical bills and charitable contributions.

The IRS has some other tips for tax filers, including make sure to get the right forms, don't rush through the return and make a mistake, double check your math and Social Security number and use electronic filing.

Bruce's company provides electronic filing that can result in a refund being mailed in 10 days or refund anticipation loans for those who are in a bigger hurry to spend their refund.

Also, there are some current or former residents of Clayton and Henry County to whom the IRS still owes money.

In fact the IRS is looking for 2,915 Georgians all together whose 2003 refund checks could not be delivered due to changes in address or other reasons, according to IRS spokesman Eric Erickson. The checks total $2.5 million with the average check being $884.

"If we owe you money, we want to get it to you," Erickson said in a statement. "You just need to tell us where you are."

If you're missing a refund check or want to see the status of a refund, the information is available at www.irs.gov in the "Where's My Refund?" section. The following is a list of names of people in Henry County to whom refunds are owed.

Lisa C. Richardson, Ronnie D. Clifton, Mattie S. Stroud, Angela S. Ricks, Morieus J. Colvin, Emmanuel A. Goggins, Robert L. Watkins, James O. Mangum Jr., Thomas W. Buchanan, Janice Campbell, Lucas S. Tatum, Larry W. & Barbara D. Stone, Antonio Freeman, Michael Cearley, Darryl A. Golden, Medtro Dupree, Samuel Wells, Joanna L. Delaney, Terry J. Casey, Amber N. Drummond, Jermaine A. Lott, Fhetoubon Souranhnasao, Barbara S. Johnson, Linda C. Claxton and Derrick Harper.

The IRS is also allowing generous taxpayers who make contributions to the victims of the Dec. 26 tsunami that hit Asia and parts of Africa to claim donations made before Jan. 31 on their 2004 tax return. Information on qualified charities to which a donation can be made is available at the IRS Web site.