Worried about filing your taxes today?

Don’t be. Taxpayers get an extra three days to file this year. The filing deadline is delayed until midnight Monday because the District of Columbia observes Emancipation Day today.

That’s good news for William Leavitt.

Leavitt said he’s been preparing taxes for clients since 1953, but this is the one of the worst tax years he has ever had to contend with.

A new law that went into effect Jan. 1 requires many paid tax-return preparers to electronically file federal income tax returns for individuals, trusts and estates.

Preparers who anticipate filing 100 or more Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ and 1041 during the year must use IRS e-file, according to IRS.gov.

The requirement also applies to firms, which must compute the number of returns prepared by its members.

Between electronic filing and new people coming into his Randolph office who do not have copies of last year’s taxes, Leavitt said it is “a mess.”

“A lot of people have done their taxes on God knows what program, and they might have a copy or they might not,” Leavitt said Thursday. “It might be authentic or it might not. Those are some of the things we’ve been facing. There’s no real turn of events that the IRS has put into effect other than for businesses and so forth. It’s just a difficult tax year. One of the most difficult I’ve ever faced.”

Leavitt said a lot of individuals use programs such as TurboTax but, for some reason, don’t keep copies of previous years’ returns.

If they do that or bounce around between different tax preparers, it creates problems that take a long time to straighten out, he said.

“I can’t file unless they have last year’s copy or they’re first-time filers … they’re just coming out of school into the job market. Then we wouldn’t need a copy,” he said. “We have a whole lot of new ones coming in, and a bunch of them are on extensions already because of the complications.

“If you want the best of a tax preparer, don’t get them on April 14,” he said. “His brain is out in never never land. I think we’re all about burnt out. I know this office is.”

He said the best time to contact a tax professional is in February.

Leavitt said professionals know the tax laws. Just to stay up on the tax laws, he said his staff attends 40 credit hours of seminars annually put on by tax professional associations, the IRS and Maine Revenue Services.

He said expense tax breaks, which are especially important to small businesses or independent contractors, are good examples of what a taxpayer may not know.

“You hear it all the time,” he said. “They’ll say I’m allowed 35 cents a mile for gas. You’re wrong. You’re allowed 50 cents a mile. There’s just so many things an individual working on their own misses because they don’t know the tax laws.”

Emancipation Day marks the occasion when President Abraham Lincoln signed a law ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Lincoln signed it April 16, 1862, more than eight months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which eventually led to all slaves being freed.

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408

[email protected]