Tax Changes Mean Confusion For East Texans

For many people, tax laws might as well be written in Swahili. The IRS is reporting 146,000 Texans are due a tax refund on unfiled 1999 taxes. They have until this April 15th to file, or they'll lose that refund.

It's just another example of the confusing nature of income tax. Like many Americans, T.G. Hornischer prefers to have somebody else do his taxes.

"They're very confusing," he admits, "For a person who's not familiar with all the tax laws, and that sort of thing it's a lot of information to look at."

Every year, a there are a wad of new laws to worry about. H & R Block Office Manager Patricia Scott says that's why most people come to the,

"Most people that come in are really unaware of all the laws that have changed," she says. "They don't realize that as preparers, we have to go to school to be able to do this."

"Last year alone we had over 600 changes in laws and this year we have quite a few also."

Among some of the new tax laws to look for, the child tax credit has been increased.

"Each child that's under the age of 17," Scott explains, "They're allowed 600 dollars if they have a tax liability, and it really helps a lot of people."

The out-of-pocket expense deduction for teachers has changed, and the length of time you can deduct student loan payments is extended.

"That's really good for a lot of people," Scott says, "Because they can't pay their student loan in sixty months. Now they can use that deduction as long as they're paying on them."

When dealing with a whole year's finances, knowledge is power. Learning about this year's changes can really help out next year.

"She explained some of the differences between some of the laws for this year and actually gave me advice that maybe I could start preparing for this year," Hornischer says.

"I may get a refund, we all hope for that," he smiles.

Reid Kerr ( reporting.