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Tax filers push deadline

April 16, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Motorists stopped their cars in the middle of traffic Thursday on West Franklin Street in Hagerstown to get out and drop off envelopes at the post office as its 8 p.m. closing approached.

Across the city, anxious tax service patrons waited to find out if they would be receiving a check from the government or writing one.

The April 15 tax deadline came and went with many residents having their taxes prepared by professionals or dropping them off at the downtown Hagerstown Post Office, which extended its hours by three hours to 8 p.m.

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Employees at the temporary office of Liberty Tax Service at Valley Mall said there was a noticeable increase in business in recent days.

"It's definitely picked up. I didn't do too many returns until the end of March," said Joe Hitzeman, a seasonal employee at Liberty. "There was no down time last night."

Kim Richardson, director of marketing and training at the Jackson Hewitt Tax Service on Northern Avenue in Hagerstown, said business always increases in mid-April with the "procrastinators."

However, there were no long lines extending outside the waiting room and people did not appear frustrated or angry.

Richardson and owner Rose Marie Schiesel said such scenes appear to be a thing of the past.

"They're actually more grateful that they could come right in and get them done," Richardson said. "They just accept that, 'I've waited this long, and I'm here; I'll wait the 30 minutes.'"

Richardson said Thursday was not the end of the business' tax season because a large number of "day laters" historically file on April 16. Other taxpayers, who requested extensions, will be in throughout the year.

Several patrons, including Jessica Kutchall and Tony Ralls, left the Jackson Hewitt office Thursday night grinning after learning they would be receiving returns.

"It's feeling real good," said Ralls, who was expecting to pay. "It was definitely worth the fee."

Outside the post office, employees were accepting tax returns at the bottom of the steps. Customer Service supervisor Pete Buonocore said there were several busy spurts early Thursday evening as the 8 p.m. closing time approached, but not as many as in previous years.

Some motorists left their cars in the middle of traffic as far as one-half block away to run up with tax mailings in hand during the 7 p.m. hour.

Joe McManus characterized himself as a procrastinator as he finished filling out his tax form at the counter of the post office at about 7:30 p.m.

"I do everything at the last minute," he said. "If it was open until midnight, I'd have been here at 11:30."

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