The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

April 15, 2014

Post Offices busy just before today's tax deadline

— SUNBURY — Bill Shambach plopped his three envelopes addressed to tax collectors on the counter of the Post Office on North Third Street at 12:15 p.m. this afternoon — four hours before the office closed for the day.

It’s Tax Day — April 15 — and the 76-year-old city man just had his paperwork completed by H&R Block in Shamokin that morning and came to the Sunbury post office to mail it out in order to avoid missing the midnight deadline.

“I usually have to pay in, so it doesn’t matter to me when I do it. It’s just one of those things,” he said.

Shambach is one of 35 million people who were expected to wait until the last five days to file their taxes, according the IRS.

A telling sign on how busy the day has been can be seen at the H&R Block in Sunbury: a receptionist who responded to The Daily Item’s request for comment said, “Everybody is busy right now. They don’t really have time to even take a lunch break.”

Sunbury Post Office service sales associate Sherry Swineford said customers have been “coming in waves” to the facility.

With 17 years at the city office, Swineford said people often wait until the last minute, but “we’re here for them and we get it all sent out.”

This is also the first year that the United State Postal Service (USPS) is not extending office hours on April 15 to accommodate the extra influx of people.

“Things are changing. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and state government are encouraging people to electronically file, so we’re not seeing as many people yesterday and today (Monday and Tuesday),” said USPS central Pennsylvania spokesperson Karen Mazurkiewicz. “If they want to get their taxes out today, they would have to get there during the regular business hours.”

More than 90 percent of all tax returns are now filed electronically, according to the IRS.

In 2006, USPS postmarked 115 million pieces of mail on Tax Day; comparatively, the number was 86.5 million last April 15, Mazurkiewicz said.

As of April 10, the IRS had received nearly 100 million tax returns, and 12 million taxpayers will have requested extensions by the filing deadline, giving them an extra six months to file.

The fastest and easiest way to get the extra time is through the Free File link on IRS.gov. In a matter of minutes, anyone, regardless of income, can use this free service to electronically request an automatic tax-filing extension on Form 4868.

However, penalties for filing late federal tax returns apply only to people who owe money.

To determine post office hours and when mail in blue boxes is picked up, visit the USPS’s website.

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