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Post office open late for tax day

| Tuesday, April 15, 2003

A sign on the door inside the Belle Vernon Post office serves as a reminder to those who have waited until the last minute to file federal tax returns.

"Mail will not be postmarked for April 15, 2003, if deposited after 11:30 p.m."

For all who wait until the last minute, the hour of reckoning has come.

The Belle Vernon Post Office is the lone post office with late hours tonight. The window will remain open until 9 p.m., with final pick-up from the collection box at 11:30 p.m. A mail truck will pull out around 11:50 tonight.

This is the third straight year that the Belle Vernon office, located on Sweeney Drive in Rostraver Township, will remain open late on "tax day."

As many as 500 are expected to visit the office after 5 p.m. alone, said Dennis Jacobs, acting supervisor.

Although Christmas is the busiest day of the year for the postal department, April 15 is one of the most hectic.

An extra clerk and an extra mail carrier will be on duty to handle the added demand tonight in Belle Vernon. The postmaster also will be on duty tonight.

Most late filers either are seeking extensions or owe money. Others are just procrastinators, Jacobs added.

Many are unaware that their tax forms may have to be weighed before being mailed, Jacobs said.

"Usually the ones that procrastinate are the ones who owe money," Jacobs said. "They have their forms filled out and the check made."

The post office will serve refreshments, Jacobs said - a fitting addition to the carnival atmosphere of the evening.

"It's like a circus in here," Jacobs said. "We get people from other towns in here. They just want to see that postmark and then they're happy."

Accountant Pete Jenkins said he'll be happy to see 5 p.m. come today, when he closes his doors. The Monessen-based accountant hasn't had a day off since Dec. 26, first completing W-2 forms for more than 120 business clients and then filing tax returns for more than 1,000 individuals.

Because of the crunch, he had to begin turning away new clients in mid-March.

Jenkins laughed when he recalled a telephone call he received this morning. A man said he woke up, turned on the radio, and realized it is April 15. He asked if he could bring in his tax information - once he locates it.

"It's been crazy this year," Jenkins said. "I've had over 100 returns brought in within the last week. It gets busier every year."

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