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Tax Freedom Day Comes Early; Filing Deadline Approaches

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HENDERSON, N.C. — Easter Sunday marks the earliest "Tax Freedom Day" in 37 years. That means a little extra cash for most North Carolinians.

See WRAL.com's 2004 Tax Section

Tax Freedom Day is the day when average full-time workers have earned enough to pay their taxes for the year. It hit on Sunday.

Last year, it arrived on April 14. In 2000, Tax Freedom Day was not until May 2.

Many people may have spent the holiday weekend filling out their tax forms. Tax preparers also have been working overtime to help people meet the Thursday deadline.

Studies show that 60 percent of American taxpayers hire someone to do their taxes. No wonder the job can be a headache. The Gettysburg Address is 269 words. The Bible is about 77,000 words. The tax code is seven million words.

The work has been piling up for Curtis Averette, a certified public accountant who has been grinding out about 15 returns a day as the deadline approaches.

It is a similar story for other CPAs.

"We've done probably more taxes than we've done in the last few years," CPA Mike Brafford said.

Tax preparers are not the only ones cashing in this year. New tax laws are translating into more money for taxpayers.

"I think it's helped both the lower-income tax payer and the higher-income tax payer," Brafford said. "Both have reduced their taxes pretty dramatically this year."

The new tax laws also scare some people away from doing their own taxes online. Instead, they do it the old fashioned way.

"We've retained a lot of people," Averette said. "They just prefer having someone do it."

People who have not filed their returns yet should not feel bad. Even the experts know how to procrastinate.

"I'll usually get an extension," said Brafford, adding that he has not done his own taxes yet. "I'll probably do it after April 15."

Said Averette: "I'm going to do it next week.

"We are just like carpenters and things like that," Averette said. "We're the last ones to get it done."

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