Taxpayers worried about return time stamps

Last-minute filers were confused when the post office closed at its typical time.
Friday, April 20, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:17 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Greg Gibbs didn’t sleep well Tuesday night, even though he finished his tax returns in time for the midnight deadline.

His tax-day angst was directed at the downtown post office. Unlike previous years, Gibbs said, there wasn’t any way to be sure the tax returns would be postmarked by the midnight deadline.

The usual tax filing deadline is April 15, which fell on a weekend this year. Normally that would give filers until the following Monday to submit their tax forms to the Internal Revenue Service, as it did in 2006. This year the deadline was extended an extra day for Monday’s observance of Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C.

“I didn’t get any sleep hardly (Tuesday) night, I was so worried,” Gibbs said.

In the past, the windows at the downtown post office have remained open and staffed until midnight on tax day. But this year, the staff went home at the normal 7 p.m. closing time. Gibbs, who was expecting the usual routine, said he wasn’t alone.

“There were probably 20, 30 people there, and everyone was real confused,” he said. “People were anywhere from very concerned to getting extremely annoyed and upset.”

Columbia Postmaster Jackie Cook said the downtown post office closed at its normal time this year because taxpayers have the extra time to file.

Despite the initial concern Gibbs had about paying penalties for filing his forms late, he was assured the next morning by local postal officials that his returns were postmarked by the midnight deadline.

Valerie Hughes, a communications specialist for the U.S. Postal Service, said that mail left in drop boxes at the downtown post office before midnight Tuesday received a timely postmark.

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