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Income tax filers find their way on final day

April 16, 2005|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Traffic moved at a snail's pace Friday on West Franklin Street as motorists formed lines of bumper-to bumper traffic to mail their tax returns at Hagerstown's main post office.

"It's not too terribly bad," postal lobby director Tim McCoy said.

Inside the post office, customers were waited on quickly.

McCoy was one of five postal workers staffing the counter in the main lobby, and around the corner customers also could use a new automated postal center machine.

"It does everything a real postal worker would do, with a few exceptions," said Pete Buonocore, a customer service supervisor.

In addition, two postal workers were stationed outside to accept stamped returns, saving customers a trip inside.

"We didn't want people to have to wait in line, so we brought in extra staff," McCoy said.

All too familiar with the stress of filing taxes on the April 15 deadline, McCoy said postal officials wanted to make the day less stressful for customers.

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"We wanted people to leave here with a good experience and not to have to wait in more lines inside here," he said.

The main post office extended its hours until 8 p.m. By 7 p.m., McCoy said the customer flow had been steady most of the day.

Across town, phones rang off the hook at Jackson Hewitt Tax Service on Northern Avenue.

Part-time receptionist Rita Orr said she answered about 20 calls during her first hour at work Friday afternoon.

"Many were wanting to file extensions because they couldn't find all their paperwork, and they were wanting to know if they could come in and just have their state taxes done," Orr said.

Terrie and Rodger Lewis of Hagerstown were among the last-minute tax filers.

"The tax code is so complicated, I'm scared to death of going to jail," Rodger Lewis said.

While Friday was busy, Thursday was even busier at H&R Block's tax office on Pennsylvania Avenue, said Judy Flora, a client service coordinator.

"Yesterday was horrible," Flora said. "People were panicking and the phone has been ringing off the hook."

Lynn and Sandra Jamison of Sharpsburg arrived at 6 p.m. and by 6:15 p.m., the couple was on their way out the door expecting a tax refund.

"They're very quick and efficient here," Sandra Jamison said.

"We waited so long because we knew we were going to get money back," Lynn Jamison said. "We can always use it (refund) for gas if for nothing else."

Clint Newman said he wasn't procrastinating, but the demands of his six-day workweek kept him from getting his taxes done sooner.

"I already had everything done," Newman said. "I just came in here to let them do the math."

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