CBS NEWSPATH – Tax day is April 18th this year, and many Americans will be getting smaller refunds. One tax expert who has been handling refunds for nearly half a century is offering some advice.

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Dottie Pfister has been helping people with their taxes since the early 1970s. Some of her clients now are the children and grandchildren of previous customers.

“It’s like old friends coming in really because they’ve seen me for so many years, like they come in, they’re ready to hug me and kiss me,” Pfister said.

The Queens, New York, H&R Block pro has seen it all. She’s warning her clients to set their expectations lower this year. The IRS reports average refunds are 11% less compared to last year, primarily due to the end of pandemic-era tax credits.

“The big change of course is the lowering of the child tax credit, and of course there’s no more gift like we got last year, which was like a big $1,400 to a lot of people,” Pfister said.

Charitable donations also have to be itemized this year.

If you’re filing at the last minute, Pfister says remember to bring all of your important documents in to your tax professional. If you want to file yourself, you can do it online for free with the IRS, if your gross income is under $73,000. Also, it’s preferable to ask to get your refund through direct deposit.

“Mailboxes unfortunately are not as safe as they used to be. So when somebody asks, what I suggest is I always suggest direct deposit,” Pfister said.

Pfister handled 600 returns last year, and she’s not slowing down and has no plans to retire.

” I’m here for the duration- I kid my clients, I tell them I’m going to put a table at the gates of Heaven- nobody’s going to get in unless they’ve done their taxes,” she said.

There are also new tax credits available for solar energy products and electric vehicles. Ask your tax professional to see if you qualify.