LEWISTON — Thank the calendar, thank the holiday: You get two extra days until Tax Day this year and they’ll almost certainly be busy ones. Officials in Maine expect to be flooded with 120,000 or so income tax returns over the next three days.

E-filers have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17.

As of Thursday, the state had processed 480,000 returns, 31,000 more than it had by the same date last year, said Dennis Doiron, director of Maine Revenue Services’ Income Tax Division.

“All through the filing season we’ve been a little bit ahead of where we were last year,” Doiron said. “It’s just been steady returns since January, no backlog to speak of.”

He expects to see 600,000 returns in all by Tuesday.

The state has already sent 320,000 refunds. The average size: $500.

More than 80 percent of residents filed their state income tax returns electronically. Maine-specific figures on federal income tax returns weren’t available from the Internal Revenue Service on Friday.

This year, the traditional Tax Day, April 15, falls on Sunday. Monday, April 16, is observed as Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. It’s also Patriots’ Day in Maine and Massachusetts.

Rick Patel, the owner of Liberty Tax Service on Lisbon Street in Lewiston and a location in Portland, planned to keep his shops open Saturday, Sunday and Monday for last-minute stragglers.

“People who have put it off (are) people who still don’t have their stuff together, people who are probably anticipating to pay,” Patel said.

A misconception he runs into this time of year: that filing an extension stretches out the time one has to pay. It doesn’t. Estimated tax liability is still due.

“That’s your obligation to the country, so you definitely want to file your taxes on time,” Patel said.

Phil Doucette, a certified public accountant and supervisor at Austin Associates in Auburn, said he’s seen clients get wiser. They may wait until April, but not until the last hour of the last day.

“It’s been as steady as it usually is; our staff hours are about as high as they’ve been,” Doucette said.

How to celebrate the end of another tax season?

“Tuesday night, 5 o’clock, we’re going to Marco’s,” he said. “We have a party every year.”

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Tax numbers from Maine Revenue Service

480,000: Number of income tax returns processed, January-April 12, 2012

449,000: Number processed same time last year

81.5: Percentage of residents who have e-filed, same period

80.7: Percentage that e-filed same time last year

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