Circumstance and one city’s holiday have given procrastinators a two-day reprieve to file their income tax returns.
The deadline is ordinarily April 15, but that fell on Sunday this year, and Monday was Emancipation Day in Washington. The holiday recognizes the date in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln ordered all slaves in Washington freed, nine months before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
IRS offices in Washington recognize the holiday, therefore the deadline this year is Tuesday. Filers who are mailing their returns must be in the post office by closing time to get the April 17 postmark.
Macon and Warner Robins post offices will close at their normal business hours. The post office in Warner Robins on Russell Parkway closes at 6 p.m., and the main Macon office on College Street closes at 6:30 p.m.
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Macon accountant Debby Layson said the two extra days haven’t cut down on the number of people filing at the last minute, and she was fully booked Monday and for Tuesday.
“It just gives them two extra days to procrastinate,” she said.
She and her husband, Tony, have done taxes at their business, On Site Business Solutions, for 30 years. When they opened, people procrastinated just as much, she said, but taxes were also done by hand then. Now technology gives them the ability to do many more tax forms at the last minute.
The most common reason people wait until the last minute is that they owe money and try to put off paying it, Layson said.
The penalty for filing late is 5 percent each month the taxes are late, up to 25 percent.
William Asbury, postmaster of the Warner Robins post office, said the office was plenty busy Monday. He expects it will be even more so Tuesday but not as much as it was years ago. The growing popularity of filing online has cut down on last-minute filers coming to the post office.
Tim Goodwin, the Macon postmaster, also said e-filing has reduced deadline traffic. People can drop their forms in the box in the parking lot, but the last pickup time is 6:30 p.m., and they must do so by then. People usually wait in line because they want to send by certified mail, tracking or have proof it has been sent, he said.
The biggest problem with people dropping their forms in a box is that they fail to use enough postage, Goodwin said, which will lead to the forms being returned.
He said the office has extra personnel at the counter to help speed people through.
“We are doing the best we can to keep the lines moving and get people on their way,” he said.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.