THE COURIER NEWS: Tax deadline in Central N.J. brings out procrastinators, protesters (4/18/11)
Written by JOSHUA BURD
8:22 PM, Apr. 18, 2011|
CENTRAL JERSEY— In a time of economic uncertainty and political rancor, the deadline for filing income taxes took on different meanings across the area, depending on whom you asked.
In Pittstown in rural Hunterdon County, dozens of protesters marked tax day by organizing outside a Bank of America branch, calling for large corporations to pay billions of dollars in taxes they allegedly owe.
In Flemington and Westfield, Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., held separate events Monday to protest calls for higher taxes and to chastise the government for overspending.
Meanwhile, last-minute taxpayers in New Jersey and across the country scrambled to complete the annual task. For local accounting businesses like Liberty Tax Service in Somerville, that meant the usual rush of procrastinators.
"We had some appointments scheduled, people who actually scheduled to file on the last day," said Beverly Cannon, the office supervisor for the downtown business. "And then we had people who walked in that just waited until the last minute."
She said most of the returns completed at Liberty Tax Service are filed electronically, a growing trend in New Jersey and across the country, according to the Internal Revenue Service.
Through Sunday, more than 2.9 million New Jersey residents had "e-filed" this year, said Gregg Semanick, a regional IRS spokesman. That broke the record set last year, when 2.87 million state residents used online services, which lead to faster refunds and receipt acknowledgements from the government.
The state trend is reflected nationally, as more than 100 million taxpayers across the country have e-filed this year, according to the IRS. Nearly 1 billion tax returns have been submitted online since the program began in 1990.
Monday's protest in Pittstown, dubbed "Tax Day: Make Them Pay," was one of hundreds planned across the country under the banner of the liberal grass-roots group MoveOn.org. Robert Di Matteo, host of the local rally, said it drew about 45 demonstrators who hoisted signs and blasted a dozen major corporations that allegedly each owe more than $2 billion in back taxes.
One of those companies, Bank of America, became the focus when the group marched toward the Pittstown Road branch and delivered a "bill" for employees to deliver to corporate management.
While acknowledging that branch workers are not to blame, Di Matteo said he hopes the organization's message was clear.
"They're trying to make the lower and middle classes make sacrifices, and meanwhile, the people who created this huge economic meltdown are not really doing their fair share to help," he said. "So we just ask that they do their part."
In events that featured a different message, Lance, the congressman from Clinton Township, was joined Monday by Republicans from the state Legislature. Appearing at the Hunterdon County Courthouse in Flemington, he said the nation is overtaxed and criticized President Barack Obama's calls for tax hikes on families, small businesses and "America's job creators."
Lance said the Department of the Treasury will receive slightly more than $2 trillion in taxes and other revenue this year. But the federal government, he said, is projected to spend nearly $3.5 trillion, meaning the difference will have to be borrowed.
"The president must understand," he said. "In order to prevent the burden of our nation's fiscal crisis from being passed on to job creators and America's work force, the solution to our nation's fiscal woes is not more taxation, it's less spending."