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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Van Nuys Post Office, April 15th Deadline, Some People get Unfairly Penalized for being late when they are not.


The headlights were on but nobody was home on Sherman Way in Van Nuys California as about a dozen cars were temporarily abandoned while the drivers turned sprinters made a mad, but hopeless dash to get their income tax returns officially in by midnight, April 15th, 2009.

I think the Van Nuys Postal station does an excellent job overall of getting last day income tax filers accommodated, but the final 1/2 hour before midnight is when things start go wrong and some people get unfairly penalized even though they actually were on time.

Here's what happens as the IRS tax day clock approaches midnight, people start arriving who didn't finish their income tax papers but wisely realized getting to the station before midnight is just as important as arriving late with their return already completed. These unfinished income tax filers pull up just past where the drop off point is and park their car while they finish their return! These stop, fill out, and clog traffic filers end up penalizing those who already finished their income tax returns and just want to drop them off and go.

Factor in that others will park on Sherman Way just past the outside mail drop off point and then go inside the building to drop off their return, once again clogging the same drop off area and causing the line of cars on Sherman Way to unnecessarily back up.

To make matters worse, some of the streetside postal employee stations are being shut down prior to midnight because traffic flow does lighten up a bit from 11::30pm onward. The one outside drop off position that was still going strong in front of the Van Nuys Station included a postal worker heroically trying to help keep the line of traffic moving by asking motorists to honk their horns at the cars idling just a few feet in front of them. This postal employee probably helped some filers make it on time with her car honking strategy.

I would advise that when some of the outside mail drop off stations shut down before midnight that an employee or two shift to traffic control to help ensure traffic not clog up just past the one remaining pick up station in front of Van Nuys.

I don't know if IRS rules do not allow anyone standing in line inside a postal building to be considered on time even if it is after midnight, but they should. By extension to that rule, anybody still in line in their car, on the street, should be allowed to have their return be counted as on time as well.

I observed all of this after dropping off my envelope and then holding my protest signs against Chase Bank (
CHASE BANK, KEEP YOUR WORD! and promoting Daily-Protest.com I made sure I was not a distraction to the street line of filers so I positioned myself after the drop off station. That was when I started to notice the late minute filers clogging up the street.

Suggestion for the Post Office and the IRS, allow a post office issue "Midnight Stamp" to be used on those who clearly were in line when midnight happened, but were victimized by those clogging Sherman Way just past the drop off point. The Midnight Stamp serves two purposes, it allows the Post Office not to lie about whether something was posted by the midnight deadline, and it provides some fairness for those who would have been on time if not for traffic bunching up on Sherman Way just past the drop off point.

Let us not judge why some people came at the last minute, lets just be fair.

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