A taxing obligation

Nicole Stempak

Long lines greet last-minute filers at post offices

Sharon Westover, of Kent, mailed her taxes during her lunch hour yesterday. She said she always waits until April 15 to send in her taxes. STEPHANIE DEVER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

Craig Dance’s single thought on April 15: retiring.

Dance has been a window clerk at the Kent Post Office for 32 years.

“It used to be that you couldn’t get in or out of the post office,” Dance said shortly before noon. “Actually, we needed people to direct traffic; it’s not that we wanted them, but we needed them.”

Despite the lull in the action – there were only eight people waiting at the time – Dance said long lines aren’t unexpected. Yesterday was the last day for taxpayers to file their taxes.

“As long as (the envelope) is postmarked, it will be on time as far as we’re concerned,” said Eric Erickson, Ohio and West Virginia spokesperson for the Internal Revenue Service.

Postmaster David Mercer said the lines would be “hot and cold” throughout the day.

“As people get their taxes done, they rush them over,” he said.

While waiting in line, Rachelle Harnevious, sophomore business management major, said she procrastinated this year.

By the numbers

5.4 million total expected returns

277,600 expected extensions filed

3.48 million returns filed so far

2.5 million filed electronically

$2.87 the cost to process a paper return

$.35 the cost to process an electronic return

– as of March 28. Source: Eric Erickson, Ohio and West Virginia spokesperson for the Internal Revenue Service.

“Actually, I always have somebody do my taxes, and I did them myself this year,” she said.

Kent resident Sharon Westover said she usually waits until the last day to mail her taxes. Yesterday, she was mailing her taxes on her lunch hour.

“We always owe taxes, so we wait till the last possible minute,” she said.

This year, Mercer said the post office is trying to stay ahead by organizing the tax forms as they come in.

“Basically, this year we are trying to isolate the tax forms,” he said.

Federal, state and city income tax forms are being separated into different bins. Both federal and state taxes were taken last night to the Akron post office for sorting. Local taxes will be picked up separately by the city.

Mercer said he expected a mad rush when the office closed at 5:30 p.m., which is when most area post offices also close.

Kent resident Butch Morrette said the line extended to the entrance doors about 10 a.m. yesterday.

“You should have been here an hour ago,” he said. “I didn’t stay. It was too crowded. I hate lines.”

He said he came back to the post office an hour later after seeing there were fewer cars in the lot. But Morrette wasn’t waiting to mail his taxes; instead, he was mailing something his wife sold on e-Bay. He filed electronically this year.

Window clerk Bob Schultz said it’s always busy this time of year.

“I asked a customer yesterday (how long they were in line), and they waited 15 minutes,” he said. “We’ve tried to move everybody along as quickly as possible, although some people have more complicated transactions and it takes a little bit longer.”

“We’ll always have people knocking on our door wanting things postmarked,” he said, adding the office tries to accommodate them.

Erickson said post offices do a good job of accommodating the IRS.

“We certainly appreciate all the work the postal workers do for us,” he said.

Contact general assignment reporter Nicole Stempak at [email protected].