Gary Brown: Thanks, D.C., say last-minute tax filers
Thank the people in Washington, D.C., if you look lazy today.
Not only did we have months to complete our income tax returns, this year procrastinators were given two extra days — yippee, I went to a movie on one of them and went for a long lunch on the second one — to complete and submit our federal and state tax returns.
The normal tax return filing deadline of April 15 was delayed because April 15 fell on a Sunday this year, a day when most IRS employees and postal workers are mowing their grass or playing golf or taking their dogs for walks. Even if we had shouted, and made them stop, then handed them our returns, they’d probably have rolled their eyes and forgotten about them until Monday.
But, Monday was Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia. And, according to federal law and the IRS website, “District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do.” So, “all taxpayers will have two extra days,” said the website. Thank you District of Columbians!
USING IT ALL
Well, when we were given two days, we didn’t want to waste them. When I realized a couple of weeks ago, for example, that the deadline had been extended. I could have used it as a reminder to do my taxes right then and there. I could have gotten it over with and mailed it all in.
But, then I would have had absolutely no use for my two extra days. The government might as well not have given them to me. It would have been just more of my tax dollars wasted.
So, as I recall, I went to a movie, instead. I had the extra time for it.
When it got down to the normal deadline, I could have gone ahead and done my taxes at the last minute, as I usually do. Except it wouldn’t have been the last minute. No pressure. No worry. No need to drive to the post office before midnight. I could have mailed my tax return in the morning.
The problem was I figured if I could mail it in the morning I also could do it in the morning. I could do it two mornings down the road if I wanted.
It was a lot like when Christmas fell on a Sunday last year. Why finish shopping the weekend before Christmas when you had a whole week — even one more Saturday — left before your loved ones would be demanding something with a pretty bow on it?
That’s why so many of us still will find ourselves idling our cars in the last-minute filers drive-up line at the post office tonight. We had two extra days and I’m either proud or embarrassed to say that we used every minute of them.
It happens to me often — so often that I worry the postal workers will recognize me as a regular latecomer. I try to wear a different hat every year and a different jacket and, this year, maybe a pair of those dark-rimmed glasses with the mustache on them.
I talk in a different voice each year when I say hello to the postal worker taking returns from drivers, or when I offer an unsolicited excuse for my tardiness.
“Ha, ha, I had the these returns done April 14, but the dog ate them, ha ...”
“Good thing for you that your dog ate them right away,” the postal worker is likely to answer with a wink. “He could have waited and eaten them at the last minute. He had two extra days.”