Nation/World

Out Of Time Late Tax Filers Remain True To Form

Nancy McDaniel sat alone at a table in the U.S. Court House lobby Friday morning and slowly filled out her federal income tax return.

Because she supplemented her income last year by doing sewing projects at home, McDaniel said she was using longer and more complex forms.

“I have no time. I still don’t,” she said. “But I took it off anyway.”

Besides, McDaniel added, she didn’t have everything she needed at home, and Internal Revenue Service officials were available at the courthouse to answer her questions.

Calculator at her elbow, she was scribbling figures, not knowing if the end result would be a check for taxes due or a refund for taxes overpaid.

McDaniel was just one of many who’ll take time this Easter weekend to deal with one of life’s more unpleasant certainties.

The witching hour, normally midnight April 15, was postponed until Monday because of Easter. With no major changes in tax laws plus the extra time, tax preparers and IRS officials said the flow of last-minute filers seems slower than last year.

IRS spokeswoman Judy Monahan said almost 10,000 more returns had been filed in Washington by midweek than in 1994.

Still, some 450,000 Washington residents were expected to mail their tax forms between Wednesday and Monday, said Monahan, whose office is in Seattle. That’s about 17 percent of the 2.7 million taxpayers in the state.

Kathy Schuerger is another one of those late filers. She emerged from the IRS office Thursday and said she was pleased with the rapid service.

Completion of the family’s Form 1040A, the short form, had taken less than an hour, and had cost nothing, she said.

“I’m done,” she said happily.

Foot traffic both days was relatively subdued, confirming reports by IRS officials that the 1995 tax season locally and statewide has been, well, untaxing.

Specialist Bobbi Piacquadio said there have been periodic surges in Spokane activity, but added that overall “It’s been a pretty easy year.”

Nevertheless, about 5 percent of state residents will use Form 4868 to delay filing for another four months, she said.

U.S. Postal Service and IRS officials in Spokane are repeating programs to assist taxpayers with a bent for punching the clock - if not Uncle Sam himself - at the last possible minute.

Piacquadio said volunteers will staff several sites today and Monday to help fill out returns and extension forms.

If filers indicate they cannot pay their full obligation, she said, the representatives can discuss installment programs or short-term extensions, she said.

But Piacquadio warned that complex returns will have to be prepared by professionals.

“We will be able to prepare the basic tax return,” she said.

Today, assistance will be available at the University City Mall from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., at the Hillyard Library from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and at the Regal Post Office from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

IRS counselors will also be available between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. by calling 1-800-829-1040.

Seven sites will be open Monday, with hours staggered to cover the period from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The sites are:

U.S. Court House Lobby from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Northside Library from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

NorthTown Mall Parking Lot, southwest corner, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Shadle Post Office from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Manito Post Office from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Yokes’s Pac’n Save stores on Foothills Drive and East Sprague from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Returns can also be mailed at NorthTown and the two Post Office locations until midnight.

Postal Service spokeswoman Kathy Hamilton said employees will also be postmarking returns at the Opportunity Post Office, Fairchild Air Force Base and the Mail Processing Center at 703 E. Trent, which annually becomes the epicenter of last-minute filing activity.

“Last year it took about 20 minutes to get through there because of the congestion,” Hamilton said. “The other sites are a much quicker run-through.”

Post offices in Colville and College Place will also be open until midnight.

To help expedite the processing in Spokane, Hamilton said, the Postal Service would have about 20 workers at the Trent site, and the city has agreed to provide extra patrolmen to direct traffic.

But for many the hubbub adds a kick to an evening in which thousands will likely be mailing off sizable checks with their tax forms.

Hamilton said last year radio personalities and vendors giving out pizza, ice cream and doughnuts flocked to the scene.

“It was really a jubilant atmosphere,” she said. “People know they’re in good company.”

Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream representatives again will be at the Trent postal site handing out samples between 4 and 11 p.m.

Hamilton said some broadcast outlets also have indicated they will be there again this year. Postal workers will try to enhance the atmosphere by wearing red-and-white-striped vests.

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Post offices extend hours Taxpayers can go to five Spokane post offices until midnight Monday to mail their tax returns by the deadline. This year, they will have two extra days to mail returns because the normal April 15 deadline fell on a Saturday. The five locations that are accepting returns until midnight include: The Spokane Mail Processing Center, 703 E. Trent. Manito Post Office, 3120 S. Grand. Opportunity Branch, 11712 E. Sprague. Shadle-Garland Post Office, 1903 W. Garland. NorthTown Shopping Center, southwest corner lot at Division and Wellesley. Some other Eastern Washington post offices offering tax return collection until midnight Monday include Colville, College Place and Fairchild Air Force Base. In Coeur d’Alene, the post office will not extend its hours. However, a postal employee will collect all the returns from collection boxes at Coeur d’Alene’s post office, 111 Seventh Street, at midnight Monday.

This sidebar appeared with the story: Post offices extend hours Taxpayers can go to five Spokane post offices until midnight Monday to mail their tax returns by the deadline. This year, they will have two extra days to mail returns because the normal April 15 deadline fell on a Saturday. The five locations that are accepting returns until midnight include: The Spokane Mail Processing Center, 703 E. Trent. Manito Post Office, 3120 S. Grand. Opportunity Branch, 11712 E. Sprague. Shadle-Garland Post Office, 1903 W. Garland. NorthTown Shopping Center, southwest corner lot at Division and Wellesley. Some other Eastern Washington post offices offering tax return collection until midnight Monday include Colville, College Place and Fairchild Air Force Base. In Coeur d’Alene, the post office will not extend its hours. However, a postal employee will collect all the returns from collection boxes at Coeur d’Alene’s post office, 111 Seventh Street, at midnight Monday.



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