The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday March 21st

‘The check is in the mail’ could soon be a legal excuse

WASHINGTON, D.C. (MCT) — With Postal Service cuts threatening to slow mail delivery, a group of lawmakers is pushing legislation to require banks, credit card companies and other businesses to credit a customer’s account on the date a payment is postmarked rather than the date it is received.

The Postmark Payment Act is similar to a 1995 bill that had bipartisan support but never made it through Congress in the face of opposition from banks and other industries that warned it could lead to higher costs. Similar opposition is expected with the new effort.

“We do not think a company’s success or profitability should be tied to the U.S. Postal Service,” a spokeswoman for the American Financial Services Association said Tuesday.

But Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., the bill’s chief sponsor, sees a greater need for the bill now as the Postal Service considers cuts to mail service.

“Each month, thousands of Americans are charged late fees and penalties for bills they believed in good faith they had paid on time, through no fault of their own,” he said in a statement.

Proponents of the bill note that the Internal Revenue Service uses the postmark as proof that a taxpayer mailed his or her tax return on or before the deadline.

Postal officials have delayed until mid-May plans to change delivery standards for first-class mail and close facilities, to give lawmakers time to explore a financial reform plan.

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