Wednesday, March 12, 2014
PORTLAND - Time's up.
Tax procrastinators have until midnight Monday to file their federal returns, although the Patriots Day holiday means state returns don't have to be sent until Tuesday.
Until 2010, filers in Maine and Massachusetts often had an extra day because the Patriots Day holiday sometimes fell on the same day as the April 15 tax deadline.
But three years ago, the Internal Revenue Service stopped processing paper returns in Andover, Mass., where federal workers had the day off because of the holiday commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord.
And that spelled the end of gloating to friends elsewhere about having some extra time to get the annual chore done.
Electronic returns aren't bound by geography, so they've been due on the 15th for some time.
These days, the only relief comes from Emancipation Day, a holiday in Washington, D.C., that can buy an extra day for everyone.
When the official date of the holiday, April 16, falls on a Saturday, it's observed on Friday, which coincides with tax deadline day.
This year, however, the 16th is Tuesday and it doesn't interfere with filing taxes.
So that excuse is gone.
Nonetheless, there won't be any rush to the post office Monday night or Tuesday.
Peggy Riley, a spokeswoman for the IRS, said about 80 percent of returns are filed electronically now, cutting the mail carriers out of the process.
Tom Rizzo, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Maine, said it's been almost a decade since post offices dropped the old practice of staying open late or having workers in the parking lot to collect returns to be postmarked before midnight. He said post offices will close at their normal times Monday and Tuesday night.
Some may have a special collection box that workers will empty before midnight, Rizzo said, but most post offices no longer do anything special to accommodate late filers because most of them are at home, hunched over a computer rushing to get done and hit the send button.
One place where there will be a last-minute rush is at H&R Block tax preparation offices, said Cathy Jordan, who oversees 15 offices as the district manager for the company in southern Maine.
"We get quite a few people who do wait until the last minute," she said, and preparers will be ready Monday for the last-minute rush of filers pushing to finish everything from 1040EZ returns -- the simplest -- to more complex returns for small businesses.
Jordan said the service operates seven days a week from January until the day after the deadline, but there's a palpable urgency when the calendars are flipped to April.
"The last few weeks, we've definitely been busy," she said.
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: