Some local residents file their tax returns within the first month, but many wait until the final hour

by: JASON CHANEY - Local certified public accountant Mike Mohan was working away on stacks of tax returns this past Friday.

For many people, today is one of the biggest deadlines of the year.

Anyone who pays taxes each year assuredly knows that April 15 is the last day to file your tax returns.

This had traditionally led to large lines at post offices around the country as people who waited until the last minute scrambled to turn in their returns on time.

Nowadays, the scene on April 15 has shifted a bit. The Prineville Post Office still sees its share of traffic leading up to the big day, but online filing has shifted much of the last-minute hustle to the home computer.

"There is certainly not as much (customer traffic) as there used to be," said Prineville Post Master Brian Moore, "but there is still quite a bit actually. It's one of those days that we know to make sure we have enough staffing on hand."

Moore went on to stress that customers now need to turn in their taxes to the post office by 1:45 p.m., or risk them going out too late.

"If they just leave it in their private mailbox, there is a good chance it is not going to go out until the next day's mail," he said.

For local certified public accountant Mike Mohan, online is the only option he can take with his clients.

“The post office is a memory,” he remarked. “All professional preparers are required to e-file most of the tax returns.” Mohan said the only time they rely on standard mail is when they need to send documents to out-of-area customers for signatures, but he added that even those can often be taken care of via email or fax.

Although the method of delivery has changed in recent years, the rush to make the April 15 deadline has remained much the same — and different handle the deadline in different ways.

There are those — perhaps driven by the anticipation of a refund or a relatively simple filing process — who take care of their taxes well ahead of the deadline.

“We completed 40 percent of the tax returns that we were going to do for the filing season in the first month,” Mohan said.

Those with more complex returns, or who those who have to pay, tend to wait longer.

“The numbers (of returns) gets smaller, but the time spent on them — we go from returns that take us a half an hour to do to returns that take us 10 hours to do.”

For the filing season, Mohan and his staff put in as many as 90 hours a week, laboring right through the weekends. Even that isn’t enough. They add three more seasonal employees to get the job done.

In spite of all this work to make the deadline, Mohan admits that April 15, the day that causes others so much anxiety and stress, is typically pretty quiet.

“When you get to that final deadline and you have been pushing pretty hard for a long time, it’s a little easier to make mistakes, so we try not to do really monumental projects at the last minute,” Mohan explained. “A lot of the time, the day is kind of anticlimactic because we try to get everything figured out so we are not super hectic on the last day.”

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