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Tax forms mailed in nick of time

April 16, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Last-minute income tax filers come in all shapes, sizes, ages and genders but they seem to have two things in common - procrastination and a reluctance to give the government their hard-earned cash any sooner than necessary.

"I do this when I owe money," said Hagerstown resident Garry Knaebel as he approached the special curbside "window" set up from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday on the West Franklin Street sidewalk in front of the main Hagerstown Post Office.

By 6:30 p.m., approximately 125 tax returns had been postmarked at the curb.

Knaebel said he simply doesn't pay until the last minute.

His philosophy was shared by many who pulled up in their cars or walked in before 8 p.m. That was the magic hour when Anne Burnett, postal worker, and Bruce Rice, customer service supervisor, no longer were on the sidewalk hand-stamping federal and state tax returns for customers.

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Rice and Burnett were so efficient that many customers didn't even have to stop their vehicles - they just rolled down their windows and handed over their envelopes.

Donna Myers of Smithsburg said she was mailing her daughter's tax return, not her own.

"She always waits until the last minute," Myers said.

Jeff DeShong of Hagerstown said the explanation for his tardiness was simple. "I waited because I just wasn't in a hurry," DeShong said.

"I had other things to do," Ray Hose of Hagerstown said as he handed his return to Burnett for the postmark.

New to Washington County, Mary Ann Keyser said she always waits until April 15. "And I'm a good Democrat, too," she said.

Rhonda Simmons of Cascade and her husband prepared their taxes themselves this year. "The reason we're late filing is just because my husband is a procrastinator," she said.

Rice said the Hagerstown Post Office and others used to keep personnel on duty to take tax returns until midnight on tax day, but studies showed that wasn't practical or necessary.

"It usually peters out after 8 p.m., we've found," Rice said.

Taxpayers were able to drop off tax returns and extensions until midnight at the Franklin Street site and still get the April 15 postmark as long as the items carried enough postage, postal officials said.

Of all the late filers, one of the busiest was Robert DeBow of Falling Waters, W.Va., who got a frantic call Sunday night from his daughter, who said she hadn't done her taxes.

"I did her taxes and then I came here to mail them for her," DeBow said. "I did mine long ago and got my refund back."

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