Iowans who plan to wait until the last minute to file their federal tax returns tonight will have to file electronically, if they’re holding off until midnight. Post offices, which used to have a party atmosphere late into the night on April 15th, no longer stay open late since so many people now e-file. Richard Watkins, a postal service spokesman, says simply, times have changed.
Just four or five years ago, a majority of tax filers would send the I.R.S. a hard copy, but with the shift to electronic filing, he says now it makes less sense to send employees to the curb. An estimated 73% of Iowans will e-file this year, up eight-percent from last year. Watkins says -no- post offices across Iowa will be open until midnight tonight and virtually all of them will close at the regular time.
Watkins says to make sure of the hours at your nearest post office is to log on to the website, "www.usps.com", put in the ZIP code and it’ll bring up the hours. He says it’s a little sad to see the excitement of the late-night drive to the post office fade away.
Watkins says there was a certain spirit among the mail processing employees, who don’t ordinarily get the spotlight or see the customers like the carriers and window clerks, when they got to interact with the tax procrastinators. He says safety has also become an issue, leading to the elimination of those nighttime extravaganzas.
Police used to work with the post office to slow traffic to a crawl as cars lined up in parking lots, but in recent years, with so few cars dropping off tax forms, there were no lines and cars were able to zip right up to the mailboxes, sometimes endangering workers who were standing nearby.