Taxpayers scramble to meet deadline

Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009

Every April 15, last-minute taxpayers who haven't warmed up to Internet alternatives line up at post offices to mail out their federal income tax returns.

Some are self-described procrastinators, while others get the paperwork done well in advance only to learn they owe the Internal Revenue System and opt to hold on to the balance for as long as possible.

"People that pay, they're not in a hurry," Terry White said after mailing his return Wednesday afternoon at the Mendenhall Valley post office.

Ruth Vincent, a customer services manager at the branch, said snail mail traffic in general has been declining, but guessed that tax day bumps up traffic about 30 percent from a normal day. Several last-minute tax filers at the post office Wednesday shared their thoughts on the annual ritual.

Jack Lewis said he usually receives a refund, but not this year.

"Pay, pay, pay. Just because we got that extra jing," he said, referring to last year's Permanent Fund dividend and energy relief package. "I just got done at noon today. So I'm a procrastinator all the way around."

Kathe Lenz, a retiree, said she finished her tax paperwork months ago, but also owed money because of the PFD.

"Yeah, that's what set me over the edge," she said. "I wanna keep my money to myself as long as I can."

Bob Saviers gave a similar explanation for his last-minute post office run and said it was asymbolic protest.

"I'd rather keep my own money as long as I can," he said. "It's my own little Boston tea party rebellion."

Brenda Lee Hewitt filed for an extension last night through her accountant, who's responsible for the rest of the process.

"It felt pretty good," she said. "Though I guess at some point I should grow up and do them myself, but the IRS makes me nervous."

Lee Burgess, 24, rode his bicycle a few miles to the post office Wednesday to mail in his return, the first one he'd done on his own. He had a hectic week because he moved to Juneau on Monday, his car hadn't arrived yet and he had to dig up a lost W-2.

"It feels good," he said. "Haven't had to file on my own since college. My dad used to help out, so I guess I've finally grown up."

Nick Lyons maintained a Zen attitude. He said his family's taxes usually break even, so he's got no incentive to rush.

"It's just every year, I do the taxes," he said.

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