There’s no need to panic, but Tax Day is here

By Bryan Richardson

It’s time to pay the piper, Manhattan residents. Except in those instances where the piper is doing the paying.

Tax Day arrived Tuesday, two days after the typical April 15 date due to the 15th being a Sunday and the 16th being a holiday in the District of Columbia. The later date is expected to lead to decreased Tax Day panic and fewer last-minute filers.

Mark Hoffman, the post office’s customer services supervisor, was among those anticipating an easier traffic flow. “Extending to the 17th allowed many to mail yesterday,” he said. “We had pretty heavy traffic.”

Hoffman said having another post office center at Hy-Vee in addition to the two Dillons’ locations also helps traffic. The office maintained its regular hours — close at 4:30 p.m. — but Hoffman said up to four clerks, rather than the typical two, would work with the expectation of lunchtime and near closing time bringing the heaviest flow of customers.

Those who participated in Riley County Extension’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program can be counted among the early finishers. The program, in its seventh year, wrapped up Friday, nearly three months after it started Jan. 30.

Jennifer Wilson, Riley County Extension director and VITA site coordinator, said the program typically stops short of Tax Day. “That ensures we have enough time to tie up any loose ends,” Wilson said. “Sometimes a tax return doesn’t get accepted the first time.”

Wilson said the action picked up toward the end, but the busiest activity occurred in the first three weeks. “It definitely was busier this year,” she said. “We did about 50 more returns than last year. The county’s VITA program filed 442 federal returns and 482 state returns.

H&R Block prepared to stay with its customers as long as it took. The business normally closes at 9 p.m., but Tax Day could cause them to stay open until midnight depending on traffic.

This year, Sharon O’Shea, of H&R Block, doesn’t expect to see as many customers as usual due to the later Tax Day; she only had one appointment for the day. “When it’s the 16th or 17th, people don’t remember that and tend to get in earlier,” she said.

The activity for O’Shea on Tax Day involved taking care of any walk-in customers — “the procrastinators and lots of filing for extensions” — and calling people to get missing pieces of information for their tax returns. “We have to call and remind them it is Tax Day,” she said.

Waiting until the last minute obviously isn’t ideal. “It’s kind of hard when it’s busy the last day,” O’Shea said. “People forgetting something have to go home and come right back. They get frazzled.”

Contrary to what might be a reasonable assumption, O’Shea said dealing with customers on the last day isn’t a pain. “They’re usually laughing at themselves for being late,” she said. “They’re relieved to get it done.”

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