This is the start of what promises to be an especially busy season for the people who prepare tax returns for a living. More taxpayers than ever are turning to the professionals to help them navigate the maze of tax changes.
You can beat the rush. In a couple of weeks, the offices of CPAs, accountants and tax preparers will become madhouses and you're going to need an appointment to get your turn at the desk and computer of a tax preparer.
Ronald and Charlotte Moore aren't wasting any time. With new tax laws in effect they want to make sure everything's in order, so they spent a Sunday afternoon working over their tax situation with a professional.
"At one time I did them," Charlotte Moore said, "but too many laws are out there now, and I don't want to get caught and have someone think I'm cheating them."
Her husband Ronald agreed. "It's a good reason to come here because every year they're changing something, and you try to read the book. You go nuts trying to figure it out; they write it for geniuses."
This year, there are even more changes than usual. The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 includes 224 changes to the tax code, and it has more people turning to someone else to do their taxes for them.
Tax preparers expect to see a 12 percent increase in business this year due to the extensive changes. Experts have been brushing up on the new laws since last summer and say they will have a major impact on many taxpayers.
Tax preparer Diana Sowell says the major changes are capital gains, sale of your home and a new home credit. "Those are three biggest changes -- and how the IRS handles earned income credit."
With all the changes, taxpayers could end up handing over a good chunk of their change to tax preparers.