On Monday afternoon, Las Vegas resident Drea Hopper walked up to the front desk of the downtown U.S. Postal Service office after waiting 30 minutes in line, tax return in hand.
Hopper had completed the paperwork last month, but mailing it to the IRS slipped her mind when she was put on bed rest after a car accident. It wasn’t until somebody mentioned Tax Day that Hopper remembered.
“Procrastination!” she said as she handed over two white envelopes. She’d made the cutoff for Tax Day mailings to the IRS by an hour and a half.
According to a statement from the IRS, about 50 million taxpayers had yet to file as of Friday, accounting for about one-third of returns. Rod Spurgeon, a spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service, said stores across the valley were bracing themselves for last-minute filers.
Postal Service offices in the Las Vegas Valley had normal operating hours Monday, with most closing between 4 and 5 p.m. Spurgeon said the offices had extra staff working to help the process go smoothly.
“Tax Day is something we plan for well in advance,” Spurgeon said. “We make sure we have enough individuals in the parking lot and in the office itself to make a speedy transaction.”
Waiting until the last minute
Las Vegas resident Jeffrey Balcom said he has been filing his tax returns on Tax Day for the past five years.
“If this place was open at midnight, I’d be here at 11:59,” he said at the post office on Las Vegas Boulevard. That way, “I can hold on to (the money) as long as possible. … Hopefully the truck breaks down taking this to San Francisco.”
Although he beat the post office’s closing time by one hour, Balcom said he isn’t worried about the forms being sent on time; he believes the process of filling out the forms is much more stressful.
According to personal finance website WalletHub, the average American spends 11 hours and $200 to complete an annual income tax return form.
It’s no wonder, then, that some push off filing taxes until the last minute. A 2019 report from WalletHub found that half of those surveyed would rather do jury duty than file taxes. More than 10 percent of respondents said they would rather swim with sharks.
IRS spokesman Raphael Tulino said the easiest way for procrastinators to file on time is by “hitting enter.”
With so many submitting documents electronically — the IRS expected 90 percent of returns would be filed online last year — Tulino said filing taxes in the U.S. is more convenient than ever before.
The average tax refund this year was $2,957 as of last month, according to WalletHub.
Weston, Massachusetts native Mike Myers was in town Monday for a conference, but that didn’t stop him from filing his taxes on time.
“This is my first time filing in Vegas,” he said. “I took an Uber from Wynn to get here.”
The U.S. Postal System said a paper tax return is considered on time if it’s addressed correctly, has enough postage and is postmarked by April 15.
For those whose returns didn’t make the cut, the IRS can enforce penalties. The failure-to-file penalty is generally more than the failure-to-pay penalty.
The fee for filing late is usually 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month the return is late, and won’t exceed 25 percent of unpaid taxes. Failing to pay by the tax deadline results in a penalty of half a percent of the unpaid taxes each month after the due date.
How to get help
Internal Revenue Service spokesman Raphael Tulino said taxpayers with questions can set up an appointment with the Las Vegas IRS office at 110 N. City Parkway.
He reminded Nevadans to be wary of tax scams.
“Under no circumstance is the IRS going to call you out of the blue, asking for a tax payment,” Tulino said. The IRS usaully only contacts taxpayers by mail.