December 21, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
34°F
 

No more midnight runs for tax procrastinators

Jeanne Menich, of Medina, files her tax forms Monday at the Medina Post Office, 303 N. Court St. Serving her are postal workers Linda Materna, of Granger Township, and Byron Elston, of Akron. The deadline to file federal and state tax returns is midnight. But because most taxpayers now file electronically, post offices no longer stay open that late. In Ohio, only the main post office in Cleveland will have extended hours, but only until 9 p.m. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

Jeanne Menich, of Medina, files her tax forms Monday at the Medina Post Office, 303 N. Court St. Serving her are postal workers Linda Materna, of Granger Township, and Byron Elston, of Akron. The deadline to file federal and state tax returns is midnight. But because most taxpayers now file electronically, post offices no longer stay open that late. In Ohio, only the main post office in Cleveland will have extended hours, but only until 9 p.m. (DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE)

“I just don’t trust computers,” Jeanne Menich said. That’s why she came to the Medina Post Office on Monday to file her tax returns.

Menich’s allegiance to paper, envelopes and stamps makes her something of an endangered species.

The Internal Revenue Service estimates that about 85 percent of the tax returns filed by today’s deadline will be submitted electronically.

Because so few returns are mailed, the tradition of larger post offices staying open until midnight on Tax Day has gone the way of the extinct dodo — or the typewriter.

In Ohio, only Cleveland’s main post office, 2400 Orange Ave., will stay open an extra hour — until 9 p.m.

The branches in Medina, Brunswick and Wadsworth will close as usual at 5 p.m. Akron’s main post office, 675 Wolf Ledges Parkway, will close at its regular time of 6 p.m.

The loss of the extended hours isn’t new. Most post offices stopped staying open until midnight several years ago. In the last two years, only two area post offices offered extended hours. Cleveland’s main branch was open until 10 p.m. and Akron was open until 7 p.m.

Jerry Remo, the acting postmaster of the Medina Post Office, worked at the Elyria branch in the mid-1990s and remembers the days when procrastinators were treated more sympathetically.

“Elyria always was open until midnight,” he said. “We used to let customers make free copies and we’d have coffee and doughnuts.”

Unfortunately, some customers needed more.

“You’d have people asking you for tax advice at five to midnight,” he said. “All we could say was ask for an extension.”

While Remo relishes the memories, he’s resigned that “those days are gone.”

“We don’t generate enough business to stay open,” he said.

David Van Allen, the Cleveland regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said most people prefer the convenience of filing via computer.

Van Allen said that of the 148 million individual income tax returns the IRS expects to receive this year only an estimated 23 million — 15 percent — will be on paper. Last year, there were 25 million paper returns.

“Ten years ago, we’d be mobbed at this time of year,” he said. “Now we get a slight bump on April 15.”

The IRS has pushed hard for filing taxes electronically, said Julie Vereb, a supervisor who has worked at the Medina Post Office since 1998.

While the Medina branch didn’t stay open late on Tax Day — “We always referred our people to Akron” — she said the post office was where most people got their tax forms.

“We always had a stack of them in the lobby,” she said. “We haven’t had any for a long time — since about 2005 — because the IRS is encouraging people to file online.

“They have instructed us to refer people to their website.”

Tax Day tips from the Postal Service
• The deadline for filing federal and state tax returns is midnight.

• Customers who mail their returns on the 15th should check with their local post office or read the posted times on the collection box to make sure their tax return will be collected and postmarked before the deadline.

• For increased security reasons, envelopes or parcels weighing more than 13 ounces must be presented to a clerk at the window. Items weighing more than 13 ounces dropped in a collection box may be returned to the sender.

• The Internal Revenue Service will accept returns sent via Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express for those customers who would like verification that their return was delivered. The IRS accepts the postmark on the envelope as proof of timely filing.

• Check the last pick-up time if mailing in a street collection box to make sure that your return will be collected later that day.

• If possible, mail your returns using the address labels or pre-addressed envelopes sometimes provided by local, state and federal agencies.

• Always include your return address.

• Make sure your tax return has sufficient postage. If you are mailing a number of supplementary forms and schedules with your return, the envelope is likely to weigh more than 1 ounce. Note: tax agencies do not pay postage that is due. Short-paid mail is returned to sender.

• Oversized and extra-thick envelopes may require additional postage. If in doubt, use lobby scales or ask a postal clerk for assistance.

SOURCE: U.S. Postal Service

Contact David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.