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By Mary Fan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 15, 1998

IRS deadline causes Americans to go postal today


Arizona Daily Wildcat

One of the most often-lamented and greatly-derided days in the nation is upon American citizens today - April 15.

Today is when tax forms must be shoveled out to the post office for that golden assurance of making the deadline: the postmark.

And it's catching some students unprepared.

"This year it's plain old procrastination," said pre-nursing sophomore Dawn Higgins.

On "tax day eve" yesterday, her candles burned long into the night as she pushed to meet the deadline.

"I know that I have to do it tonight and if I don't, I'm screwed," Higgins said.

Post offices are helping deadline-pushers come in under the wire by extending their hours - with some staying open tonight until midnight.

The Memorial Student Union post office is rolling back its closing time by one hour to accept forms until 5 p.m.

"We know it's hard for students - a lot of them don't have cars and going to the Cherrybell station would be a long walk," said Sharon Alicio, manager of the Student Union's post office.

Student Union postal workers will hand-deliver students' last-minute papers to the U.S. Postal Service's Sun Station to meet its collection deadline of 5:30 p.m.

"That's the reason we can't (stay) open later, we have to meet the deadline," Alicio said.

Students should make sure to hand their forms to the mail clerk rather than drop them in the box, she said.

"If people hand them to us we can also make sure they have the proper postage for the weight so they won't get them back," Alicio said. "I don't think the IRS is going to pay postage due."

And the IRS won't let those who miss the deadline go unpunished.

Fannie Smith, an IRS senior communications specialist, said the IRS will impose penalties on late filers that include a late filing fee of 5 percent per month on the balance due plus interest on the balance due at a rate of 8 percent per year, compounded daily.

The IRS won't go easy on hard liners who simply refuse to file, Smith said.

"It's a law that you file your tax timely," she said. "If you don't file a tax return willfully, if you fail to do that, then you could end up paying hefty fines and going to prison."

The IRS is trying to make it easier on recalcitrant taxpayers by making forms available online at their Web site: http://www.irs.ustreas.gov.

Those too pressed to file on time can request yet another IRS form - form 4868 - to ask for an extension until August 15.

Smith said the option is most helpful to those who have misplaced statements or need more time to assemble their records.

"It's (the form) a lot shorter but you still have to basically do your tax returns," she said.

Regardless, there's still no avoiding the post office today - the 4868 form must be postmarked by midnight.

The U.S. Postal Service Cherrybell Station, 1501 S. Cherrybell Stravenue, and several contract stations inside these Smith's Food and Drug locations will be open until midnight tonight:

902 W. Irvington Road

7050 E. 22nd St.

4036 N. First Ave.

2480 N. Swan Road

2950 W. Ina Road

7151 E. Speedway Blvd.

10450 N. La Canada

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