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Late Filers Have Their Pain Eased

April 16, 1998

People who waited to the last minute to file their taxes Wednesday made no apologies for their procrastination, trudging into post offices across the country as jazz music, back rubs and doughnuts helped ease their pain.

Amrish Majithia, consultant, walked into the post office in Trenton, N.J., saying he always waits until the last minute.

``Because I had to pay,″ he explained. ``I didn’t want to write the check, and I was lazy to fill out the form. They were more complicated than last year.″

Darren Stanley, 32, of St. Louis, had a simple explanation for his tardiness.

``I ain’t the kind of guy who rushes,″ Stanley said as he waited his turn at the taxpayer assistance office at the Internal Revenue Service office in downtown St. Louis.

Tax forms had to be postmarked by midnight, and many post offices expected long lines as procrastinators send an estimated 44 million federal and state tax forms in the one day.

Many post offices stayed open late and offered amenities such as curbside pickup of forms, free coffee and tax advice.

Customers at the post office in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., were serenaded by a local choral group and the jazz band Clarinet Marmalade. A blues band belted out tunes in Springfield, Mass., where several postmasters planned to perform in a conga line of ``Dancing Raisins.″

In downtown Denver, postal customers got free back massages and sandwiches. Postal worker Nancy Sitzman said they had things backward.

``They should be giving them to the postal workers,″ she said of the back rubs.

Not even old age could get people through faster.

``Do they let seniors ahead in line?″ Samuel Moss, 67, asked a guard in Baltimore, who shook his head.

Moss conceded he had no excuse for waiting to the deadline.

``I’m retired, sitting at home watching the soap operas,″ he said. ``Each year I say I’m going to do better.″

In Idaho, there actually is a place where people can beat the system.

The 500 residents of New Meadows get to file up to 8 a.m. on April 16 because its one daily mail pickup is at 2:45 p.m.

Some people even looked forward to tax day, like Jim Rodrigues in Providence, R.I.

``Best business day of the year,″ said the hot dog seller while camped outside a downtown post office.

In Atlanta, Audrey Grant got into the spirit by placing ``monster″ stamps on her returns.

``Wolf Man may go on the state taxes and Dracula on the federal taxes,″ she said. ``It just seemed the right way to end all this.″

And then there were those who arrived at the post office to procrastinate even further.

Gretchen Croft went to the Morgantown, W.Va., post office in search of an extension form, saying it was her husband’s job to do their taxes.

``We feel like we’re doing our part as Americans filing late,″ she joked. ``We’re just being good Americans.″

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