Lawrenceville business makes deadline a little less taxing

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Edward J. Bartosiewicz and his family have been preparing tax returns in Lawrenceville for 50 years. His father, Edward Bartosiewicz, started the business, which his mother took over upon his death.

"I more or less grew up in the business," he said. "I remember my mom and I staying up late to do them with carbon paper."

His business, at 4311 Butler St., has been built upon return customers. Each year, they drop off their forms and receipts -- sometimes neatly arranged in files, sometimes thrown into grocery bags -- and pick up the finished work a few days later.

For Lawrenceville residents looking to file their taxes today -- the deadline for filing -- there was no shortage of options. In a two-block stretch on either side of Mr. Bartosiewicz's place are offices for H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt and Liberty Tax Service, the fast-food franchises of the tax-preparation business.

"[The businesses] come in here because Lawrenceville has a lot of single-parent families that traditionally have returns that are easy to prepare and get huge refunds," said Mr. Bartosiewicz, 60, of Oakmont.

Mike Rimmel, 19, of Lawrenceville, and Deandre Henderson, 18, of Stanton Heights, were in the last hours of their last day on the job, standing on the sidewalk dressed as the Statue of Liberty. They serve as human billboards for the Liberty Tax Service office owned by Tish Heiss.

"They're great," said Ms. Heiss, 38, of Troy Hill. "They make people aware of our presence and bring in customers."

But the last day of tax season is not the frantic scene it used to be. Ms. Heiss said online filing has made it easier for people to do their own taxes, and file earlier.

She did, however, prepare more than a dozen tax returns this morning.

Yet Mr. Bartosiewicz is not concerned about the competition. Some of his customers have been coming to him for decades.

There's also the changing nature of the tax technology, he said. Once he has entered a customer's information into his computer, it can easily be referenced and reused again and again. Why would someone go across the street and have to restart that entire process, he asked.

"It's a lot easier now," he said. "That's another reason why it's not so hectic nowadays. With computers and everything, I can do most returns in about a half hour."

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