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North Dakota, IRS waving fees for late tax filing

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north dakota Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

After getting hammered by one of the biggest spring snowstorms in the state's history, some North Dakotans are catching a break.

Because of inconveniences stemming from last weekend's winter storm -- which dumped well over a foot of snow in the southwestern part of the state and beyond -- the Internal Revenue Service announced it will provide penalty relief to anyone unable to file their taxes by Monday's deadline.

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"If there's anybody in the Midwest who has been affected by the recent storms, you'll qualify for penalty relief based on reasonable cause," said IRS spokesperson Karen Connelly on Monday. "We understand that things like power outages and transportation problems can come from these types of events and that they can affect not only taxpayers, but tax professionals as well."

Though this tax season has brought more snow than in most others in the Peace Garden State, April 15 marks the annual income tax filing deadline for those who don't wish to file for an extension or pay a penalty if money is owed.

North Dakota Tax Commissioner Cory Fong said, through a statement issued by his office Monday, the state will give taxpayers who haven't yet filed some extra time.

"The severe storm has impacted taxpayers across the state who are focused now on digging out and getting back to work and school," Fong's statement said. "While I encourage taxpayers to do their best to meet (Monday's) deadline, there will undoubtedly be some taxpayers who will miss it."

Connelly said the relief would apply to the IRS' late-filing penalty, normally 5 percent per month, and the late-payment penalty, normally one-half percent per month.

Late-filers will qualify for the penalty relief as long as they address their filing or payment responsibilities "within a reasonable time" after issues relating to the storm have been resolved.

"If you don't file your taxes and you don't file an extension, you'll receive a penalty notice from the IRS," Connelly said. "If that happens, the IRS will abate those penalties. If you do receive a notice from us, you'll need to contact us and let us know that you were impacted by the storm and weren't able to file properly on time."

Connelly said abatement of penalties would be granted on a case-by-case basis, though no actual documentation would need to be provided. By law, however, the IRS cannot provide abatement on interest payments, according to the IRS release.

Liberty Tax Service Manager Eric Carr said, despite the snowstorm, deadline day was busy at its Dickinson location.

"We're doing a lot of extensions," Carr said Monday afternoon. "We've been seeing a lot of people who have waited until the last minute to get filed. The snow affected how many people we had in on (Sunday), but we were pretty well slammed (Monday)."

Carr said he expected 50 to 60 people to come through the business' doors by the end of the day Monday. He added that this tax season witnessed a 30 percent jump in business from last year, which saw a 60 percent increase from the 2010 filing season.

As of early last week, Fong said he expected roughly another 100,000 returns to come back, though the storm is likely to delay some filers even longer. Fong said most of the returns still outstanding are expected to be of the e-file variety.

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