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If you're planning to snail mail a paper tax return on April 15, be sure to check your local Post Office's hours

Local television news programs used to rely on a particular video for their 11 p.m. (10 p.m. Central time) Tax Day broadcasts.

You know the one, cars lining up so that the drivers can drop off their annual tax filings with a curbside U.S. Postal Service employee.

The special service ensures that the envelopes addressed to the Internal Revenue Service get an April 15 postmark. That official cancellation is recognized by the IRS as proof that a tax return has been mailed by the annual filing deadline.

But thanks to the growing popularity of e-filing, fewer folks are heading to post offices late on Tax Day.

Post office 1886
Ophir (Otago, New Zealand) Post and Telegraph Office; photo by Zaqrfv via Wikimedia Commons

Combine that with the Postal Services financial troubles that make it hard to justify overtime right now, and that means there aren't as many post offices staying open until midnight on April 15.

And that brings us to today's Daily Tax Tip: Check with your local post office to find out its hours on Monday.

If your branch closes at its normal time and you don't expect to finish filling out your tax forms until after then, use the Postal Service's office locator to find another one near you that's staying open late on Tax Day.

Snail mail return checklist: If you're sending in a paper tax return, in addition to finding a Post Office branch near you and open when you need it, here are some things to think about.

  • Mail your return first class. If you want added assurance, send it certified mail, return receipt requested.
  • Double check the postage you need. If you're mailing a lot of forms, attachments and documentation, you'll need more than one Forever stamp. Make sure you affix enough. If your return is sent back to you because it had insufficient postage, that will mean you'll face a late-filling penalty.
  • Put your return address on your envelope. Although you don't want your filing to come back to you, it's better that you get it than it to end up in a dead letter office. At least that way you can resend your return as soon as it shows up in your mail box.
  • Send your return to the right IRS office. The IRS has been consolidating its operations over the last few years, so some service centers now handle returns from different parts of the country. The IRS has an interactive map you can use to find where to send your 1040.

Finally, be patient. Although there aren't as many folks filing returns or tax extensions on April 15, Tax Day still is likely to be busy. If you end up in a long line, just take some deep breaths and be glad that your annual tax-filing taxes are almost over.

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Jason J.

Good tip. Thanks!

I can't think of anything worse than turning up to a closed Post Office on tax deadline day!

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