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One late-night window to close to tax procrastinators

By Staff | Mar 22, 2008

Southwest Floridians planning to get their taxes done just before the April 15 deadline may end up filing late if they are counting on extended hours being offered as usual at the Page Field Main Post Office.

For the first time in 15 years, that late-night, by deadline postmark option will not be available.

According to Postmaster Anne Murray’s office, construction on the office will make the drive through and drop off service impossible. Crews will soon begin work on rebuilding the office’s entire facade, making the midnight service impossible.

“We can’t do the special drive through the employee parking lot because all their construction materials are there,” said spokesperson Debra Mitchell. “If we stay open this year we’ll have the worst traffic jam because of the parking there.”

In previous years, residents as far south as Naples and as far north as Punta Gorda have driven down to the Page Field office to take advantage of the beat-the-clock service. More than 1,000 individuals took advantage of the service in previous years, though the crowds have been dwindling since Internet filing became available.

As of this week, more than 38 million Americans have already submitted their returns electronically, up from 36 million last year at the same

time period.

On Wednesday, office supply store Staples announced a plan to provide free tax return copies, up to 20 sheets, on April 15.

“We have all become so comfortable storing and sending data electronically, that many people are not keeping hard copies of important documents,” Senior Vice President of Business Services John Burke said in a prepared statement. “Nothing is easier to access and more reliable than a paper copy of your taxes.”

Both Cape Coral Staples locations, on Del Prado Boulevard and Pine Island Road, are participating in the program.

The post office’s distribution center on Jetport Loop Road will be offering a special midnight collection service, but any mail dropped off in the collection boxes there will need a postmark as there will be no retail service there. Cape Coral’s central post office in city centrum will remain open until 9 p.m., but that is the only extension of hours or service in the entire metropolitan service. All other post offices will close at their normal times with standard final pickup times as well.

With the midnight delivery option off the table, Mitchell said residents are best advised to simply get their returns done earlier and file them before the deadline. Whether the service will come back next year is up in the air as well because of the cost to keep post offices open late.

“This is a good year to get people not used to waiting until the last minute,” said Mitchell. “We have to be responsible with the money that we’re spending.”