Photo by Matt Stensland
North Routt County resident Tonja Coates works with United States Postal Service clerk Ken Gibbon to mail taxes Monday at the post office, 200 Lincoln Ave. The post office is anticipating a steady stream of last-minute tax filers today. The main Steamboat post office closes at 5 p.m. today, its usual time.
Steamboat Springs It's Christmas in April, or at least it feels like it at the Lincoln Avenue branch of the U.S. Postal Service.
The state and federal tax deadline is today, and last-minute filers have been crowding the post office to get their envelopes postmarked in time.
Postal clerk Ken Gibbon said Monday afternoon that unlike Christmas, the tax rush at the post office lasts only a couple of days.
"And they're mailing different things, too," Gibbon said. "(At) Christmas time, they're mailing fun things."
Local post offices aren't extending their April 15 hours, as some branches do to accommodate the deadline rush.
The main Steamboat Springs post office at 200 Lincoln Ave. will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. The Sundance at Fish Creek location will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"It's going to be rockin' busy all day," postal supervisor Tim O'Brien said.
The Hayden Post Office will be open from 8:45 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Oak Creek's branch will be open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 to 5 p.m.
To ensure tax returns receive the April 15 postmark, people using mailboxes or mail drops should check to see what the last pick-up time is.
For example, O'Brien said the last pick-up time for the boxes outside the main post office is 4 p.m. The last pick-up for the mail drop inside the front doors is 4:30 p.m. People need to be at the counter by 5 p.m.
Lines likely are to pour out the doors at Steamboat post offices today, O'Brien said. People want to make sure they have the correct amount of postage, and some also choose to mail their tax returns via certified mail, which requires the assistance of a clerk.
For many, using certified mail is worth the extra time and money.
"That way the IRS can't say, 'We never got this,'" O'Brien said.
To expedite the process, O'Brien encourages people to have certified mail forms prepared and affixed to the envelopes by the time they reach the counter.
By being prepared, North Routt County resident Tonja Coates was able to mail her personal returns in the morning and those of her bosses in the afternoon.
"I'm glad it's over, but it went very smoothly and went fast," Coates said.
For some Steamboat residents, such as Bob Del Valle, the tax season will not end today. He said he is filing an extension and expects a refund.
By filing an extension, those who need extra time to prepare their taxes will not get out of writing a check by today if they owe the government money.
"I like to say it's an extension of time to file, not an extension of time to pay," said Steamboat accountant Paul Strong, who expected to be working late into Monday night finishing some of the 200 returns he typically prepares in a given year.
Filing an extension also will delay when a person receives his or her rebate check from the federal government. Strong said people will not receive their rebate until they file their completed 2007 taxes.
The most common questions this tax season have pertained to the rebate, Strong said.
"People are wondering if they are going to get it," he said. "A common misconception is if they file an extension they won't get it."
As part of the $146 billion Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 passed by Congress in January, people who file a 2007 tax return could receive as much as $600 for individual returns and $1,200 for joint tax-filers. The U.S. Treasury will begin mailing the checks in May. Lawmakers hoped citizens would use the money to buy things.
Strong said many of his clients have told him they plan to pay bills with the extra cash.
"That wasn't the idea of Congress and the president when they passed it," Strong said.