SALT LAKE CITY — If you still haven't filed your taxes — due at midnight tonight— tax experts note that changes to the United States tax code may make it easier for procrastinators to get things done quickly.
"It's truly tax simplification for the majority of people and that's good for most people," said Salt Lake City-based H.E.B. Solutions senior tax adviser Jim Hoch. The simplification may prompt a few more individuals to take a crack at preparing and filing their own income taxes, he added.
In December 2017, Congress passed major legislation making significant changes to the country's tax laws. This tax season marks the first time the new changes will actually be of consequence to individual and business income tax filers.
For the average person, little will change, Hoch said.
"It's basically the same," he said. "(Individual tax) rates have gone down and (parents) don't have to worry about exemptions anymore."
He said some above average-earning business owners could face some complexity in their tax preparation, but for the majority of the taxpaying populous, things will be somewhat less complicated than before. He noted that most people will use the newly increased standard deduction instead of having to itemize.
According to the Utah Tax Commission website, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended federal personal exemptions while increasing the standard deduction for individual income taxes. In a special session in 2018, the Utah Legislature passed HB2003, which created a Utah personal exemption for dependents who qualify for the child tax credit on an individual filer’s federal return.
Utah lawmakers also lowered the state individual income tax rate from 5 percent to 4.95 percent. For those self-preparers, state tax officials urge taxpayers to be meticulous in their filing to avoid some mistakes that could create problems for do-it-yourselfers.
"It's important to do the little things before filing whether they are e-filing or mailing (their returns)," said Utah Tax Commission spokesman Charlie Roberts. He noted that all taxpayers must file by midnight on Monday — either electronically or by postmark in the U.S. mail.
Roberts noted that the vast majority of Utah's 1.2 million taxpayers filed their returns electronically last year, generating nearly $4 billion in state tax revenue.
"If you e-file, it's safer than the mail," he said. "If you are getting a refund, you're going to get it back faster."
For those scrambling to finish their tax returns on time, post offices will maintain regular hours on Tax Day.
Tax returns dropped off by 8:15 p.m. at the Salt Lake Main Post Office collection box, 1760 W. 2100 South, will be postmarked April 15. Returns dropped off by 8:30 p.m. at the Provo East Bay Post Office collection box, 936 S. 250 East, will also be postmarked April 15. Those locations have the state's latest collection times, according to a news release from the United States Postal Service.
Thirty-one post offices across the state have self-service kiosks that are available around the clock, the release states. Customers who print a label at a kiosk before midnight will receive an April 15 postmark.