Procrastinating is taxing Time's up: State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein said that although nearly 75,000 tax returns came in Saturday's mail, nearly a half-million Marylanders still had not filed.

April 15, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

Armed with a cup of coffee and a No. 2 pencil, Robert Durham set out to break the habit. He spread his receipts and canceled checks across the dining room table, but three hours later he knew this year would be no different.

Mr. Durham is an admitted tax procrastinator, one of the hundreds of thousands of Marylanders scrambling to meet today's filing deadline. And although this year he set aside a Saturday morning in March for his unsuccessful try to do it himself, it wasn't until yesterday that the White Marsh man found his way to Teddy's Tax Service.

As the deadline approached -- returns must be postmarked before midnight tonight -- federal and state officials announced measures to assist those who have yet to file.

State Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein said that although nearly 75,000 tax returns came in Saturday's mail, nearly a half-million Marylanders still had not filed.

Federal Internal Revenue Service spokesman Domenic J. LaPonzina said about 30 percent of taxpayers in Maryland and Washington were waiting until the last week to file.

The last-minute rush traditionally culminates with what Mr. LaPonzina called the "procrastinators parade" at downtown Baltimore's main post office. Taxpayers have until midnight to drop off their forms at the post office and receive an April 15 postmark.

After preparing tax returns for the past 16 years, Teddy Prioleau knows all about those who file at the last minute. "Some have legitimate excuses," he said. "Some, but very few."

Mr. Durham, 38, a vice president for an electronic security system company, said he made an appointment with Mr. Prioleau on Friday, after other tax preparers said they would only have time to file a form requesting an extension.

He said he would try to file earlier next year, but admitted he probably won't keep his word.

No problem. Teddy's Tax Service has a system for dealing with chronic procrastinators.

"I'm going to call him in early December. We're going to have him out here the first week in March," Mr. Prioleau said. "We're going to break old habits."

Tax help

Maryland taxes: Taxpayers can receive assistance on state tax forms at 20 service offices in Maryland. Those offices are open today until 7 p.m. The number for state questions is (800) MD-TAXES.

Taxpayers can also receive up to five Maryland tax forms by calling the state's "forms-by-fax system" at (410) 974-FAXX.

Federal taxes: IRS offices in Maryland willbe open today from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. for anyone who needs forms or has questions. The number for federal tax questions is (800) 829-1040.

Tax help

Mailing your taxes: The U.S. Postal Service has announced that post offices in Annapolis, Frederick, Cumberland, Easton, Columbia and Salisbury will stay open until midnight tonight, as well as the main post office in Baltimore. An April 15 postmark will be applied to returns dropped before midnight in mailboxes outside the Eastport and Legion Avenue stations in Annapolis and before 11 p.m. in collection boxes outside more than 30 other post offices in the city and in Baltimore County. Other suburban post offices will stay open until 8 p.m. tonight.

For an extension: On a federal return, a taxpayer must file form 4868 and pay any estimated taxes owed. For an extension on filing Maryland taxes, use form 502E, or if you don't owe money, you may receive an extension by calling (410) 974-5829.

Pub Date: 4/15/96

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