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Few post offices open for late tax filers

IRONTON — Procrastinators, please read this warning.

If you have grown habituated to pushing the April 15 tax-filing deadline to the brink every year, the post office offers this message.

“We are done catering to you.”

For years, the U.S. Postal Service has kept a few local branches open in the Tri-State until midnight on tax-filing deadline day for those who felt like pushing the four-and-a-half month filing period to the limit.

But this year, not a single post office in the Tri-State will be open today past their normal business hours. Main post office branches in Ironton, Portsmouth, Ashland, Ky., and Huntington W. Va., will all close by 5:30 p.m.

But if you have to mail your return and need that April 15 postmark, there is one last option.

As an alternative, the main post office in Huntington, W.Va. has a 24-hour lobby and automated postage center where you can pay for postage with a credit or debit card and get a postage sticker with an April 15 postmark.

It is the only automated postage center currently operating in the area.

An April 15 postmark is required by law for your filing not to be considered late.

The U.S. Postal Service says the rise in electronic filing of tax returns is resulting in less paper filings that require a smaller amount of need of their services.

Furthermore, statistics from the Internal Revenue Service show more than half of filers now file electronically. In 2008 alone, 58 percent of people filed electronically up from 40 percent in 2003 and from 20 percent in 1998.

But with more than 40 percent of people still filing by mail, 2009 might have been the wrong year for post offices to close early.

Cindy Chaney, owner of Ironton Tax Associates said a lot more people are behind the curve this year compared to past ones.

“This year, compared to previous years, we’ve been in a situation where we have so many people filing later that before,” Chaney said.

She blamed much of it on the economy, especially for those who might owe, but also on people receiving their 1099 later than usual.

Those who know they are going to miss the April 15 deadline just might want to avoid the panic and file a six-month extension, Chaney added.

As long as you file form 4868 there would be no penalty for filing and paying the rest later – although there would be interest on the balance.

One thing Chaney did say is that 98 percent of her clients e-file their returns instead of mailing them.

“Once it is on the computer and done, it’s done,” Chaney said.