Washington (July 18, 2003) -- The proposed change in the due date for electronically filed returns to April 30 is bad tax administration and tax policy, according to preparers of most of the professionally prepared returns in the U.S.

In a joint letter to the Senate Finance Committee, the American Association of Attorney-CPAs, the American Association of CPAs, the National Association of Enrolled Agents, the National Society of Accountants, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, and Padgett Business Services said that a change in the date from April 15 to April 30 for electronic filers would create taxpayer confusion.

Moreover, the letter noted, taxpayers who intend to file electronically by April 30, but are unable to do so and have failed to request an extension, will have missed the April 15 due date for the extension request and will face late-filing penalties.

The groups pointed out that taxpayers might mistakenly believe that their state tax returns are extended. In addition, they charge, the change would create estimated tax problems since many taxpayers won't understand that their estimated taxes are due before their returns are due.

"The letter covers it completely and well," said John Hewitt, chief executive of Liberty Tax Service. "The impact of a change to April 30 will be minor in terms of positives, but the negatives will be considerable. It could cause a lot of turmoil."

-- Roger Russell

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