By Johnny Jackson
The United States Postal Service is anticipating long lines of last-minute tax return filers this year, despite the three extra days they will have to file.
The tax-filing deadline is typically April 15, but filers will have until April 18, because of Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., on Friday, April 15. Under the federal tax code, filing deadlines cannot fall on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays.
"On any given day, post offices are going to be busy around mid-day and towards the evening," said Michael Miles, spokesman for the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Miles said several post offices throughout metro Atlanta, including in Henry and Clayton counties, will be open late to accommodate last-minute filers on April 18.
"Only two locations [in metro Atlanta] will be open until midnight," said Jacqueline Spradley, the postmaster at the Jonesboro Post Office. Those locations are the Atlanta Main Post Office, at 3900 Crown Road in Atlanta, and the Boggs Road Postal Store, at 1605 Boggs Road, in Duluth.
The Atlanta Main Post Office is scheduled to open at 6 a.m., and close at midnight, on April 18, according to USPS officials. The McDonough Post Office, at 100 Postmaster Drive in McDonough, also has extended hours. Scheduled to open at 8:30 a.m., and close at 6 p.m., it is one of 30 metro-Atlanta post offices that will be open past 5 p.m., on April 18.
Spradley warns taxpayers, who are mailing their returns at the last minute, to pay close attention to "last pick up" times at the blue collection boxes. The postmaster said those filing by mail can avoid long lines by visiting post offices earlier in the day. They can also use Automated Postal Centers (APCs), where they are available, to purchase stamps and mail returns.
Spradley advises customers to use sufficient postage -- one ounce is 44 cents, and an additional 17 cents for each added ounce, until Sunday, April 17.
Starting on Sunday, new postage rates for the second ounce of First-Class Mail pieces will increase from 17 cents to 20 cents, she noted. A tax return weighing 2 ounces, for instance, will require 64 cents in postage.
Spradley said customers should weigh any item that feels heavier than one ounce. Additionally, items weighing 13 ounces or more must be presented at the retail service counter and cannot be deposited in outside collection boxes.
Those who cannot make the deadline for filing taxes, should request a filing extension, said Mark Green, a spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Taxpayers must make their requests by the April 18 deadline.
Green said a projected 275,000 Georgians will request an extension, which will give taxpayers an additional six months, until Oct. 17, to file their tax return. The extension, he reiterated, is an extension of time to file, and not an extension of time to pay.
Tax-services providers, H&R Block, Inc., estimates that more than 10 million taxpayers, nationwide, applied for a tax-filing extension last year, and avoided the 5-percent, monthly penalty for failure to file.
H&R Block offices are offering free tax-extension filing this year, from April 1 through the April 18 tax-filing deadline, according to Jason Campbell, district manager of H&R Block.
Campbell said requesting an extension can help ensure that taxpayers file an accurate return, that claims all the credits and deductions they are due.
"Rushing can cause last-minute filers to forget necessary paperwork, and miss out on claiming key tax credits and deductions that may reduce their tax bill, and keep more money in their wallets," Campbell said.
To learn more about filing returns or extensions, visit the IRS at www.IRS.gov.