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E-Filing Cuts Need for the Midnight Postal Run


In case you hadn't noticed, it's tax day. Last-minute filers are scrambling to get their returns done. Those who filed by mail and are counting on late-night hours at the post office may be out of luck. Around the country, post offices have done away with extended hours on tax day as more and more people file electronically.

In Lawrence, Kansas, the branch has closed at their usual times today — either 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. Earlier today before closing time, I spoke with Judy Raney, she is the postmaster in Lawrence. She told me they used to stay open until the end of the filing day.


Ms. JUDY RANEY (Postmaster, Lawrence, Kansas): That is true. Over the years, as late as midnight, and for the last couple of years, around 7:00 p.m.

BLOCK: Uh-huh. So you just started noticing it wasn't worth waiting around until midnight for folks.

Ms. RANEY: That is - basically, that's true. The number of mailers is dwindling each year that come into the office after our normal retail hours. And so from a business point of view, it sort of was time to make a change.

BLOCK: Do you really notice it on a day like today that it doesn't look a whole lot different than a regular day?

Ms. RANEY: No. This looks different than a regular day. I don't want to say that we don't have a lot of mailers because we do.


BLOCK: Mm-hmm.

Ms. RANEY: It's just that the lines are not as long as they have been.

BLOCK: You know, I would bet when you had that late-night filing that there'd be sort of a fun little community of the people who are scrambling just to get in under the wire. That there'd a little…

Ms. RANEY: Yes.

BLOCK: …solidarity there?

Ms. RANEY: Absolutely. In fact, Lawrence has a very rich history on tax night. And it's, I believe, we're sitting at probably at least 20 years now. They have a local band called The Alferd Packer String Band that comes into the lobby and plays, and they have some cloggers who enjoy the music and do some clogging. And they make a little gauntlet that the last person to file their tax comes running through the gauntlet…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RANEY: …of balloons, and dashes in the door and mails their tax return.

BLOCK: And they're still doing that today?

Ms. RANEY: Yes. We'll be doing it today again. We just moved the time up, but we're doing it.

BLOCK: It sounds like it would be more fun at midnight.

Ms. RANEY: Yeah, it is. It actually is a whole lot of fun. A lot of people have come and enjoyed it over the years, and keep coming back every year. And, you know, we're happy that we're able to continue that part even though, you know, we've changed the time.

BLOCK: Well, it sounds like one good reason to file by mail.

Ms. RANEY: Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

BLOCK: Go see the cloggers.

Ms. RANEY: Right. Oh, and they're good, too. I've got to tell you, they're good.

BLOCK: Miss Raney, have you done your taxes?

Ms. RANEY: I actually mailed mine yesterday, so I'm not a real early bird, but I did get it — them in the day before. So - but, yes, by mail.

BLOCK: You don't do that electronic thing?

Ms. RANEY: I don't.

BLOCK: Well, you're the postmaster.

Ms. RANEY: That's right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RANEY: I have to support my business.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Well, Judy Raney, thanks so much for talking with us.

Ms. RANEY: Hey, it was great.

BLOCK: Judy Raney is the postmaster in Lawrence, Kansas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.