LONGMONT — Eric Flach suited up for his last day of work in a mint green, graduation-like gown and seven-pronged hat Friday.
After three months of standing on the sidewalk along Ken Pratt Boulevard as the living, waving Statue of Liberty, April 15 — Tax Day — was his last on the job.
“I get glad when people in the store say they saw me and my signs,” he said about being a waver for Liberty Tax Service and enticing customers to file their taxes with the firm. “In the last couple days, the guys inside said more people have mentioned me.”
That’s because the last couple of days, as they are every year, are the stressful countdown to Tax Day. Whether taxpayers do their taxes at home or have them done by a professional, midnight Friday was the official deadline for filing those returns with the Internal Revenue Service.
At the post office, in their homes and at tax services around town, Longmont procrastinators filled out forms, crunched numbers and dropped important envelopes in the mail to get their returns done by the end of the day.
“We’ve been extremely busy all week,” said Cathy Minter, postmaster at the Longmont Post Office at 201 Coffman St. “The window clerks have worked really, really hard and will probably be glad when today is over. Some people filing their taxes are not in such a good mood, but our clerks just keep smiling and covering the windows.”
Friday, the post office was open until 8 p.m. to accommodate taxpayers who might not have been able to get there during regular business hours. The post office collected mail from the outside drop boxes until midnight, and then placed that mail into specific containers to make sure returns received an April 15 postmark.
Minter, who said she staffed three extra people at the post office all week, admitted her own relief at the passage of Tax Day.
“It’s not that we don’t like the business; we’d just prefer not to have it all in one week,” she said.
Though, according to the IRS, citizens who file their taxes electronically have increased almost 8 percent since last year, Minter said the last seven days have been one of the busiest tax weeks she’s seen in her 30 years with the U.S. Postal Service.
“You’d think people would be electronically filing, but that’s not the case as far as I’ve seen,” she said. “I’ve been amazed with how busy we are.”
Travis Bahnsen, president and owner of Liberty Tax Service, said his office also has seen a lot of traffic this week. He agreed that if more people are filing electronically, he’s not seeing it.
“More people are thinking ‘Why take on the risk of doing it wrong?’ I think the number of people who are seeking professional help, not doing it at home on their computers, is increasing,” he said.
Bahnsen also speculated about why people wait until the last day to file.
“There are usually two reasons I think people wait until today,” he said. “One is flat-out procrastination, and the other is that people who owe money don’t have a lot of incentive to file.”
Judy Buck, who picked up her tax forms at the post office Friday afternoon, seemed unfazed by the approaching deadline.
“I just like to procrastinate, to avoid unpleasant tasks,” she said. “It just gives you a headache reading all of that government lingo. If they wrote it in simple language, it might be easier to get done.”
Flach, the waving Statue of Liberty, said he has enjoyed his unusual job but, like the post office and his employer, he’s ready for Tax Day to pass.
“In the beginning, it was really embarrassing, but then I got to kind of like it,” he said. “Still, I’ll be kind of happy to have it end.”
Mikenna Clokey can be reached at 303-684-5336, or by