HOUGHTON - As the hours tick away towards the deadline for filing tax returns, traffic is mounting at post offices.
Mary Newman, a clerk at the Houghton Post Office, said Saturday and Monday had both been busy, and Tuesday was shaping up to be the same way.
"There's been a lot of people coming in mailing them," she said. "I think a lot of people send them electronically, too."
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Mark Carver of the Houghton Post Office uses his free time Tuesday to mail his tax returns. Tax forms for 2008 must be filed by midnight. In the background is postal clerk Mary Newman.
Many people choose to send them through certified mail, Newman said.
"They want to make sure they get there," she said.
In a departure from past practice, the last pick up at the drop box in front of the Houghton post office will be at 5 p.m. tonight, not midnight.
For those fortunate enough to get refunds, you can choose to have the refund deposited directly into your bank account. Direct deposit is faster than a paper check; direct depositing while filing online is faster still.
Through April 3, the IRS had received more than 92 million returns, down 4.7 percent from last year. Of those, about 71 million - nearly 77 percent - were filed electronically, an increase of 5.1 percent.
Also, 18.7 percent more people had self-prepared their e-filing.
If you haven't finished your form, there's still time to file online for a six-month extension by filing Form 4868 at irs.gov.
The IRS estimates it will receive 10 million extension requests this year, up from 9.5 million last year. Of those, about 1.9 million are projected to be filed via the Internet.
Even if filing later, people are expected to pay any money owed by today.
Payments can be made online, through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System or by phone with a credit or debit card.
To arrange a monthly installment plan, people who owe $25,000 or less can apply electronically or attach Form 9465 to the front of their tax return. Taxpayers must include a proposed payment plan, including dates for withdrawal of money. There is a $105 charge for setting up the agreement, which drops to $52 for payments taken straight from the taxpayer's checking bank account; for qualified lower-income taxpayers, that amount is reduced to $43.
There are interest fees plus a late payment penalty on unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month after the due date. Returned not filed by the due date, including extensions, may incur a failure-to-file penalty.
Today's deadline for filing and paying does not apply to military personnel serving in combat zones and victims of recent floods and tornadoes in Minnesota, North Dakota and Oklahoma.
Garrett Neese can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.