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Due date to file U.S. taxes just around the corner
2-day grace period this year
OGDEN, Utah (CNN) -- The U.S. income tax filing deadline is fast approaching and millions of taxpayers are scurrying to figure out how much they owe, or in the case of the lucky ones, how much they'll get back.
Because the traditional April 15 tax deadline falls on a Saturday this year, tax filers have until midnight, Monday, April 17, to file their returns, according to the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.
Forms are pouring in to the 10 Internal Revenue Service centers. The busiest center is located in Ogden, Utah. Workers process the forms at something called Tingle tables, so named for Jim Tingle, an IRS employee who designed the tables back in the 1960s.
The tables have several bins to help workers quickly sort tax forms.
"On the average, an extractor can sort 150 to 200 documents an hour," said Janice Searle, manager of the mail sorting unit at the Ogden facility. "In a day's time, they can extract 1,500 to 2,000 documents a day."
The IRS has tried in the past to automate the sorting process, but it turns out tax documents are as hard to sort as they are to fill out -- so the job still is done by hand.
The Ogden center employs more than 5,700 workers during the peak tax filing season and processes more than 20.5 million business and individual tax forms, according to the IRS.
As of March 10, tax refunds were up 10 percent over 1998 and the average refund was $1,731, according to IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti.
Many tax filers are using the Internet to research their tax questions or to file electronically. The IRS Web site allows users to download forms and offers links to partner sites where returns may be electronically filed.
Several sites charge fees to file taxes. Others, like www.e1040.com, offer help with tax-related questions.
Technology Correspondent Rick Lockridge and Correspondent Jeff Flock contributed to this report.
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