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Tax filing deadline

Liberty Tax Service's Maria Herrera helps prepare a 2017 tax return for Oto, Iowa, residents Terry, left, and Drema Pedersen in Sioux City on Friday. The filing deadline is typically April 15, but due to that date falling on a Sunday this year, and the Washington D.C. Emancipation Day holiday observed on Monday, the 2018 Tax Day is Tuesday, April 17.

SIOUX CITY -- For more than 30 years, Frank Gray served as Sioux City's city treasurer.

Now retired, he still finds himself crunching numbers.

Gray is one of the approximately 50 volunteers offering free tax services for people making $53,000 or less through the Internal Revenue Service's Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at the Center for Siouxland.

"I got involved in the program two years ago after hearing (VITA director) Lori (Scott) talk about it on the radio," Gray said, inside the organization's 715 Douglas St. offices. "I've been hard at work ever since."

The center assists about 1,500 people, annually, with their returns.

April 15 is normally the final day U.S. filers must submit their returns and pay Uncle Sam. However, due to April 15 being on a Sunday and the Washington D.C. Emancipation Day holiday being observed on Monday, procrastinators have a few extra days to get their taxes done.

You now have until Tuesday, April 17, to file your federal income tax forms without having to pay a penalty. State tax returns in Nebraska also must be filed by Tuesday, while Iowans have until April 30 to file their state returns. South Dakotans don't have to worry about this because the Rushmore State is one of the few in the country that doesn't have an income tax.

About 2 in 10 Americans wait until the very last minute to file their federal returns.

"Tax preparers are busy at the start of the season before hitting a bit of a lull," Gray explained. "For the final week, we're just swamped."

Gray said some people simply put things off to the last minute. Liberty Tax Services tax preparer Kristi Kranz said other reasons may be at play.

"A person might have issue getting a particular form from an employer," she explained. "Or sometimes, a person owes money and doesn't see the need to pay earlier than necessary." 

Like Gray, Kranz said the final days of the season will also be "crunch time" at the 1321 Nebraska St. tax preparation service location.

For on-the-fly filers, be sure to bring valid photo IDs, Social Security cards, copies of last year's tax returns or a transcript, proof of income and interest statements, and bank information for direct deposit when getting your taxes done.    

Even if you can't make the deadline, all isn't lost. You can file for a free extension through irs.gov or by using the paper form 4868.

"Don't worry," Gray said. "We'll be available after April 17."

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