Last-minute tax filers likely won’t make a mad dash to the post office this Tax Day.
With the majority of Americans now opting to file personal income taxes electronically versus the traditional paper method, post offices across Augusta won’t extend their hours – like in years past – for taxpayers mailing in their returns on deadline day.
Instead, all local branches will operate within normal hours, said Stephen Seewoester, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.
“The IRS has told us that almost 90 percent are now filed electronically, so the volume is way down,” Seewoester said. “It’s not like it used to be, say, 10 years ago, for sure. It used to be kind of an event, and now it’s just pretty routine.”
By the end of March, the Internal Revenue Service had received 82 million returns through its e-file service and just 8.3 million paper receipts. Of the 148 million individual income tax returns the IRS expects to process this year, the agency projects that 23 million will come from paper returns, down seven percent from last year.
In Georgia, a record-breaking 3.1 million returns had been e-filed as of last Sunday. As a whole, about 3.7 million of the state’s 4.5 million taxpayers are expected to file electronically, said IRS spokesman Mark Green.
In South Carolina, the IRS anticipates 1.6 million of the 1.8 million returns will be done electronically, said Green, adding that the total number of returns in the Palmetto State is pegged at 2 million. Green said technology, such as smart phone apps, has made filing easy for young adults.
“It’s fast,” he said. “It’s safe. It’s accurate, but most importantly individuals know that they can get their refund back in as little as 21 days.”
At Jackson Hewitt Tax Service, less than five percent of Tracy Vance’s client base in Augusta, North Augusta and Aiken mail in their returns. A new electronic signature program put in place this season cuts down on tax prep company’s paper usage by two-thirds, which Vance considers an eco-friendly advantage.
“Personally, I feel like it is more secure digitized,” he said. “I know the safeguards that Jackson Hewitt has in place regarding their data. The only next stop is the IRS. Unless someone breaches that then those are the only two places that the person’s data is going to be. But if it’s on paper, it could be anywhere.”
On Tax Day, Green encourages taxpayers needing to file returns to avoid the post office and complete the process via an electronic device.
“I would say file electronically for the convenience and the assurance of knowing that we have received the tax return,” he said. “By doing it electronically, you’re not subject to as many errors as you would doing it by paper and by hand.”