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U.S. Postal Service officials advise filing early

April 13, 2012|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • In this file photo, Postal worker Robert Mattson makes the final pickup of mail at the blue dropboxes outside the Franklin Street office of the United States Postal Service in Hagerstown.
File photo

With the Tuesday deadline to file federal and state tax returns approaching, U.S. Postal Serviceofficials advise those who plan to file by mail to check their post-offices' hours because most branches will not have extended hours.

Among post offices in the Baltimore district — those with zip codes beginning with 210 through 219 — only the Baltimore Main Post Office at 900 E. Fayette St. will have extended hours on Tuesday, spokeswoman Yvette Singh said.

That office will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with a final collection from the box at that address at midnight, she said.

In Hagerstown, the downtown post office at 44 W. Franklin St. will be open its normal weekday hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the final collection from the box outside will be at 5 p.m., an employee said.

Extended hours were once common on tax day, but have been mostly eliminated in recent years, Singh said.

“What we’re seeing is that 77 percent of our customers who are taxpayers are e-filing, so they’re no longer coming to the postal service to mail their tax returns,” she said.

A number of tax software companies make their tax preparation and e-filing products available for free for people with income of $57,000 or less, and, regardless of income, everyone can e-file for free using online Fillable Forms, which are electronic versions of the IRS paper forms, according to www.irs.gov.

More information about those options is available at www.irs.gov/efile.

Taxpayers have until Tuesday to file this year because the usual tax deadline of April 15 falls on a Sunday, and Monday is Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, according to an IRS news release.

“According to federal law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have two extra days to file this year,” the  release said.

Taxpayers will avoid late-filing penalties if they file either their income-tax return or a request for a tax-filing extension by midnight on Tuesday, according to the IRS.


Tips for mailing tax returns

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The U.S. Postal Service issued the following tips for mailing tax returns:

  • Taxpayers are urged to avoid the typical errors made when mailing their returns each year, including: unsigned forms, not enough postage and depositing returns in collection boxes whose pickup time has past.
  • If mailing from a street-collection box, check the last pickup time to make sure your return will be collected that day. The latest collection time in the Baltimore District will be midnight at the Main Post Office, 900 E. Fayette Street.
  • Use pre-addressed labels where possible. Write clearly. Take special care to ensure that handwritten envelopes are legible. Include a return address.
  • Use first-class postage — the Internal Revenue Service recognizes the first-class letter postmark as proof a return was mailed on time.
  • Affix sufficient postage. One ounce is 45 cents, and 20 cents for each additional ounce — 2 ounces, 65 cents; 3 ounces, 85 cents, etc.
  • Double-check postage. Weigh any return that feels heavier than 1 ounce.
  • Rule of thumb: Up to five sheets of 20-pound paper in a No. 10 envelope equals 1 ounce.
  • The IRS does not accept postage-due mail even if it has the April 17 postmark; tax returns bearing insufficient postage will be returned — meaning taxpayers will be penalized for filing late tax returns.
  • For customers who send original receipts to tax agencies, registered mail is a good choice.
  • Make certain bulky envelopes are securely sealed.
  • Postal regulations require that stamped tax returns weighing 13 ounces or more must be mailed at a post office. They cannot be mailed in a collection box.
  • Automated Postal Centers, or self-service kiosks, are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at various Baltimore post offices (locations at Postal Locator on usps.com). an April 17 date stamp/postmark will be provided if the mail is deposited by the last pickup time posted on the Automated Postal Center on April 17.  Certified/return receipt service is available.
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