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The Daily Tar Heel

Tax Deadline Spurs Last-Minute Flurry

Chapel Hill's main post office extended its hours Monday to allow area residents who had not filed taxes to do so.

The result?

Hundreds of Chapel Hill residents scrambling to have their taxes postmarked by the April 15 deadline.

On Monday, local residents flocked to the post office at 125 Estes Drive, griping about the government or their tax returns in general as U.S. Postal Service employees cheerfully sorted out the different forms.

Flat, larger Internal Revenue Service forms in the bins on the left. Smaller letters to the right.

This year, the post office on Estes Drive kept its curb open until midnight, giving procrastinators an extra opportunity to mail off their forms in time. However, latecomers who dared to let the minutes slip by took the chance of having their tax returns postmarked April 16.

Hal Patterson, a clerk at the post office, said people in Chapel Hill enjoy the frenzy of tax time.

"If you come back here around 11:30 p.m. tonight, there will be throngs of people," he said. "They enjoy doing it. It's tradition. There's many people in Chapel Hill who enjoy the camaraderie of everyone who waited till the last minute."

But David Jones, an assistant lacrosse coach at Phillips Middle School, said other factors delay taxpayers. He added that he thinks it's a good idea that the post office extends its hours to accommodate people such as schoolteachers and coaches who can't make it there during regular business hours.

"Plus, I owed, so I waited until the last minute," he said, smiling.

But some deadline pressures aren't necessarily self- or government-inflicted.

Janet McGovern of Chapel Hill said although she is a non-practicing accountant, her family members rely on her during tax return time -- a move that increases her stress surrounding tax time.

"My problem is that I always say, 'Yeah, sure I'll help you out,' and I get the forms late, so no it doesn't help my stress level," she said. "But I think everyone in the nation procrastinates."

McGovern, who bought two books of stamps Monday, mailed about 10 forms total around 5 p.m., beating the post office's deadline with hours to spare.

Last-minute filers could purchase stamps at the post office, but tax forms were not available.

Jason Coleman, a clerk at the Estes Drive location, said that while he understands the hectic nature of tax time, he thinks the situation can be avoided.

"From my experience, I think everyone should have filed their taxes early," Coleman said.

Other residents said that although they appreciated the post office's efforts, the government should figure out another way to handle taxes.

"Get rid of the graduated tax system in this country," said John Huffstetler of Chapel Hill. "I have an accountant that charges me $100 an hour, and he can't understand the tax code.

"He told me it's just a shot in the dark."

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